Another busy month! As you'd expect, more and more news related to BlizzCon picked up as October drew to a close, but this was also a heavy period for editorial work.
We also had some of the best machinima of the year in October, and I'd like to draw some particular attention to The Phantom of the Battlegrounds. What a brilliant piece.
EU guild Method takes World-First Garrosh-25 heroic Congratulations! This fight looks like a nightmare from beginning to end, though Method thought Siegecrafter and Paragons ranked higher in terms of difficulty.
Blizzard wins 2 year legal battle against WoW bot creator Glider went down first, and has now been joined by Shadow Bot and Pocket Gnome. Cute names can't save you in court.
Heroes of the Storm: The renamed Blizzard All-Stars We were willing to accept any name change after the teaser that came with this, though there was a minor Finland-related hiccup.
A plea for information on input lag in Siege of Orgrimmar 25-man raiding has been plagued with more latency problems than its 10-man counterpart, and while AOE heals were thought to be at the bottom of it, toning them down didn't solve the issue completely.
Activision Vivendi injunction lifted by Delaware Supreme Court This cleared the way for Activision-Blizzard to make a clean break from Vivendi after a challenge in September.
Flexible raiding's magic numbers Breakpoints in flex raiding did odd things to raid composition for the minority of players who ran the numbers on it, but as Ion Hazzikostas pointed out the following day, raid size is designed to scale faster than the difficulty of the content. Flex scaling is being overhauled for Warlords to deal with the breakpoint issue (if it hasn't been already).
Potential new WoW feature caught on video Did we ever get an explanation for this? The implications of being able to scale your character for low-level content are pretty interesting, and there was a good Community Blog Topic on just that subject a bit later in the month.
Beginners' guide to card picks in Hearthstone arena Olivia had written an editorial in September expressing some well-placed frustration with the learning curve in Hearthstone, but a Reddit user named pulandit wasn't too far behind with a comprehensive guide.
Opinions and Editorials
The disconcerting sensation of contentment That alien sensation you feel might be happiness. Don't move or you'll spoil it.
Community Blog Topic results: Most and least favorite expansion Wrath was the runaway favorite. Cataclysm was the least loved. People argue the virtues and sins of Burning Crusade and Mists a lot.
Love and hate in the Timeless Isle The island was a new way for Blizzard to give players daily content without making it feel like a slog. As Olivia observes, you can pick and choose exactly how you want to spend time there, and even though it's not flawless, it's a much better model than the endless run of dailies we had at the beginning of the expansion.
How the draenei make WoW a better place I would have settled for any explanation concerning their combat and casting animations, but as Rossi points out, they're also an attempt to reverse-engineer the eredar of Warcraft III. They look like demons, and they're genetically indistinct from them, but they're not. Why? They choose not to be.
The bag space problem We didn't have to wait too long to get some much-needed reassurance at BlizzCon. All hail the toy box!
Should Proving Grounds be an entry requirement for LFG content? This was a good question: Should you be able to get into higher content than your gear would otherwise allow if you had a silver medal (or better) on your toon through the proving grounds? Players are divided on the merits of this suggestion, and something that keeps cropping up in the comments is that it'd be a great thing to do if the proving grounds were equally difficult for all classes ... which they're not. Food for thought.
Yes, we need no new classes Sarah lays out the case for not introducing more classes to the game for the forseeable future. Yes, getting a new class is exciting, but is it really what the game or players need? The most compelling point, I think, is that class homogenization has also diluted the impact of new classes. The "homogenizing" changes made were necessary for 10-man raiding to exist at all, but every decision has a cost.
Looking for Raid must not be destroyed LFR attracts a number of complaints, but its loss would be felt just as keenly as the dungeon finder's if it went the way of the dodo.
World of Warcraft's peculiar time dilation We've occasionally visited the subject of WoW and its "time jumps" before (mostly in relation to the bizarre death knight leveling experience), but this is another angle on it. Transmogrification, the huge age range between players, and different times at which they picked up the game all have their own part to play. Which year is it? All of them.
A lack of triumph "It feels less like anyone won, and more like everyone found the amount of losing they felt was enough."
How Diablo 3 has improved transmog and why WoW should steal it We would really, really like to see account-specific transmog items rather than character-specific ones.
Arts and Entertainment
Warcraft movie release date announced December 18, 2015 to be exact.
WoW Moviewatch: KMRLC Murloc Radio This is weird beyond belief, but we couldn't stop laughing.
Around Azeroth: A literal /gkick Someone needs to read more Officers' Quarters.
Around Azeroth: Doom on the balcony Kiting Huolon to the Vale? How is that even possible? One of the players involved pops up in the comments to explain. Turns out it took them a good 45 minutes, but well worth it.
WoW Moviewatch: Two Battles at Once Defending the farm, one curb-stomp on a Belieber #YOLO-hashtagging gnome at a time.
WoW Moviewatch: Unsung Heroes of Azeroth We think this is Slightly Impressive's best work, and that's saying something. SI had a banner year.
Around Azeroth: Lightning Rod Getting a good picture of lightning in the game is fiendishly difficult, but it's amazing when it happens.
WoW Moviewatch: Attack on Orgrimmar I agree with Gray that the credits sequence is a little out of control here, but the animation is stunning. We'd like to see more from Suge.
Fantasy character artist explodes onto the WoW community scene Not surprisingly, the comments are full of peoples' favorite works by Noxychu.
WoW Moviewatch: The Druid We had two not-to-be-missed machinima nearly back to back at the end of October, and this is the first. There's not a lot of really good story-driven pieces out there these days, but The Druid belongs to that rareified group.
WoW Moviewatch: The Phantom of the Battlegrounds A huge favorite here among our staffers and readers. Beautifully shot, animated, and sung. Please watch this.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
How do we define melee friendly? Here's an idea: Take Cinderfall and do everything absolutely the opposite. That's a good start. (I have mentioned Cinderfall here previously and admit that I am bitter.) As an aside, the mechanics that Rossi describes in this article are exactly the reason that we split the raid on the Dark Shaman encounter.
Blood Pact: How to fly a fighter jet, part 1 "Battlestar Galactica marathons on Netflix and progression raiding make for interesting brainstorms." Or, why Starbuck's ability to fly a jet she's never been in affects has something to teach you about organizing a UI.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Tier 16 set bonuses Rossi's description of this in team discussion was, shall we say, terse: "Worst set bonuses ever."
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: AOE vs. Single Target Being able to do a lot of AOE damage isn't an acceptable trade-off for lagging behind on single targets.
Odds and Ends
WoW Archivist: Spells we've lost We really miss a lot of the old "flavor" spells that, even if they were only situationally useful, really added a lot to our classes. As a druid, I also miss Soothe Animal far more than I thought I would. It was wonderful to run through an aggressive pack of animal mobs and feel like I could only pass through them safely because ... well, that was just what my class was all about. As a tank, the loss of AOE taunts is occasionally problematic as well.
The Mists of Pandaria that never was MoP was a very different game in the early beta. I have to admit that the first quest lines sound really compelling -- the sense of being alone in a vast land with nothing to rely on but your wits and weapons -- and I'd love to see that again elsewhere.
Know Your Lore: A brief summary of the Pandaria campaign This is an invaluable piece for returning players (of whom there appeared to be many, judging from /r/wow and our inbox) who wanted a guide to the political background of the Siege of Orgrimmar.
WoW Archivist: WoW's most terrifying monsters There is still no explanation for the "2-ton Devilsaur/Fel Reaver out of nowhere" problem in Un'goro and Hellfire.
Know Your Lore: Do not despair "What the destruction of Y'Shaarj's heart means for Pandaria is simple - a return to being a living part of the world."
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, Best of 2011, and Best of 2012 series.