Bearheals: (on archaeology) The smallest distance between two points is a bunch of erratic zigzags.
After patch 4.3 went live in late November, class columnists and commenters busied themselves with the new 5-mans and Dragon Soul raid. I think it's safe to say that Raid Finder problems have dominated December commentary. Players loved it as a feature, but they hated the various cheats that guilds used to get themselves to a four-piece tier bonus as quickly as possible, and they especially hated the outbreak of loot greed. More on this past the cut.
That wraps up our look back at 2011, and I'm looking forward to a bright, happy, and hopefully less trees-falling-on-my-house-filled 2012, even if the world is apparently scheduled to come to a crashing halt next December. Happy New Year, everyone, and if you're out partying tonight, stay safe.
Aiding the Alliance: The idle Varian Wrynn A lot of Alliance players' dissatisfaction can be tracked to a series of seemingly inactive faction leaders, and even Varian Wrynn -- once the most likely to take the fight to the Horde -- has been curiously silent for the length of Cataclysm.
The tainted race to world first If you take nothing else away from McCurley's Lawbringer on the rash of cheating that broke out as soon as patch 4.3 hit, take this: People find ways around everything.
Cataclysm Post-Morten: Uldum Alex hates Uldum. Mat's a little more equivocal. Neither thinks that Harrison Jones should have figured as prominently in the zone as he did. Judging from comments I saw earlier from players concerning the zone who loved the Indiana Jones story line, this is either a polarizing point, or the story just doesn't age all that well through multiple alts.
Officers' Quarters: Members turned poachers As Scott observes, you'll have a really hard time getting the truth out of people who have a compelling reason to be dishonest. Readers are not happy with the defecting raid leader in this situation.
What the Raid Finder's success means for the future of accessible content As Rossi reminds us, sometimes the most unexpected features change the game forever. For me, the most compelling point made here is that raid groups will expect everyone to have seen the content through the Raid Finder at first, and it may be the only means by which 25-man raiding survives at all.
WoW Moviewatch: 12 Days of Smack Talkin' Gamebreaker TV did an absolutely brilliant send-up of the 12 Days of Christmas by contrasting the WoW experience with SW:TOR. Honestly, I don't have the descriptive powers to convey just how clever and funny the video is -- just watch it.
The Broken Doll roleplaying storyline chills hundreds on Moon Guard For ages, we'd been getting questions from players about what on earth was going on with the creepy mail they were getting with Hangman's Nooses and letters stating, "Your days are numbered." Lisa got to talk to Dalavesta, the chessmaster behind it. Honestly, this is one of the best arguments I've ever seen for how player-created content could revolutionize the game, and we were really glad to see that Blizzard gotten in touch with Dalavesta.
Dungeon Dan Makes Dungeons Fun Again Myndflame comes up with another serious win, and one that had me bust out laughing at the appearance of the DPS-spec bear druid. "Ouch! You're standing in the fire!" "I like it here!" "Move out of the fire!" "No!"
Classes, raiding, and PvP
Tips for great success in the Raid Finder As with most things in life, the mantra "Don't be a jerk" will stand you in good stead here. Oh, and the 25-man raiding model also means "25 opportunities for someone to disconnect, go away from keyboard, or otherwise wander off into unknown territory," so you might want to grab a family-sized serving of patience.
The state of DPS in early Dragon Soul It's too early to know exactly how raid balance is going to fare in the long run (rogues don't have their legendary daggers yet), but Frostheim was surprised and pleased to see that, for the most part, class balance is an awful lot closer than it was in the Firelands. That said, fire mages seem to be owning the meters to an alarming degree.
Odds and ends
Drama Mamas: Falsely accused of public cybersex Every so often, people get to wondering why so many female players never say anything in Vent or let on that they're female at all. This is one of the reasons why. Lisa and Robin's advice? Get the hell out of Dodge.
A day in the life of Bashiok Blizzard had started a cool little series examining the average days of a variety of different team members, and Micah Whipple -- better known to the WoW community as the beloved Bashiok -- threw himself on this particular grenade. We approved.
2011's drawing to a close, and we're wrapping up the most interesting articles we've published all year, one day at a time. Join us every day for the next twelve days with this year's best of WoW Insider!