There isn't really lore behind emblems at all, but if you needed to justify it, I'd use what Eddy suggested in yesterday's comments. Before the Kirin Tor (or the Ashen Verdict or whoever else) will give you your sweet epics, you need to prove that you've been contributing to the cause. Do your fair share of the work, they'll let you pick out something good.
"If Blizzard is considering mandatory authenticators, should I wait to buy mine in case they give them out for free?"
No, absolutely not. It's only something they're considering. It might happen tomorrow (probably not), but it may never happen. If you're trying to decide between now or later when it comes to an authenticator, go with now.
"What's the purpose of even having battlegroups anymore? If all players were in one big pool, rather than separated into their battlegroups, wouldn't it be easier to find players using the random dungeon feature, and wouldn't battlegrounds start much faster?"
The battlegroups are largely identical to the physical server clusters, and thus it takes little to no time for those servers to communicate with each other. For example, I'm on the Whirlwind battlegroup. Whirlwind is located in Seattle. The only other battlegroup in Seattle is Emberstorm. They can communicate with each other almost instantly, but if you threw Stormstrike from Boston into the mix, game performance would suffer.
The reason these clusters are split up in the first place is to allow players to pick servers closer to their physical location. Someone living in New York City would benefit greatly from picking a server in Boston rather than a server in Seattle. Being in the Midwest, I probably would be better off playing on a server in the Dallas datacenter(s), but we picked a west coast cluster for some reason. Probably because we didn't actually understand the difference at the time.
If all of the servers were in one location, they could much more easily give us one big pool of players to pull from, but that would cause performance to suffer in other areas.
"Are the Cataclysm zones going to be designed so that a newly formed level 80 can hop right into the new areas and start leveling to 85? because I'm debating weather to use this time to level another character to 80 (and try to be done before cataclysm comes out) or max out my current characters and do end game content."
As far as we know, yes. That's how previous expansions have been done, and we have no reason to believe Cataclysm will be any different. In fact, it's very likely that the Cataclysm starting zones will be doable as early as level 78 or 79.
"Why are there are no good tanking heirlooms? Seems like that would improve the number of tanks in the game."
You know, I wish I knew the answer to this question. I suppose it's assumed that nobody is really going to tank their way to level 80, but with the addition of the dungeon finder, I would really appreciate it. I feel bad tanking in heirloom Valor on my warrior when, in theory, I could be wearing tank pieces instead. I would pick up tanking heirlooms in an instant.
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