The best of WoW Insider: December 2013

And now we come to a close with the final entry in our Best of WoW Insider series. This was a slower month for editorial work in comparison to October and November, but a busier one for features and the arts scene. Thanks for hanging with us while we wrapped up the year, and we hope you'll stick around for whatever 2014 decides to bring.

Happy New Year, everyone! Stay safe out there tonight and we'll see you back in Azeroth.


Popular WoW streamer Swifty detained by police during live stream Someone called in a false report that Swifty was threatening someone with a knife. As Shunli in the comments points out, this is actually an example of "swatting," a deeply irresponsible prank we're more accustomed to seeing in Hollywood. Not a fad we're happy to see expand.

Raegwyn caps MoP content with solo Dark Animus kill Before you start the howls over how death knights are massively overpowered, keep in mind that avoiding ugly death on this fight was a matter of milliseconds. Also, I'm a little in love with the phrase, "Remember ... What doesn't kill you gives you Vengeance."

Some forum advice for the next Ghostcrawler Mysteriously absent from this list of otherwise very realistic advice is the phrase Don't bother. You'll find a more in-depth examination of what Adam Holisky termed the "Ghostcrawler experiment" here.

Nick Yee's new book delves into the psychology of MMO players We are big fans of Dr. Yee and have interviewed him before on the site. It's good to see gaming and MMOs getting more academic attention.

Warlords of Draenor: Blizzard's Group Finder will allow leaders to filter applicants I plan to subject all would-be members of my PUG raids to something like this. Oh, that's not how filters work, you say? I care not.

The NSA is still in your WoW, watching you kill internet dragons Not really shocking -- we'd gotten news about this as early as 2008 -- but we did get a hilarious comment section out of it, a Daily Show bit, and a take from Slightly Impressive pleading for a little sympathy for NSA employees who are subjected to trade chat.

Help Blizzard software engineer Ron Nakada beat cancer This went viral around the extended Blizzard fan community and deserved to. Hang in there, Ron.

WoW account hackers sentenced to 2 years in Chinese prison Has this ever happened before?

Opinions and Editorials

Community Blog Topic: Pitch your World of Warcraft expansion There are a lot of really creative suggestions in the comments, just as there were among the bloggers. Quite a few people want a gnome-centric expansion for some reason.

What was the worst of Mists of Pandaria? The dailies at the beginning of the expansion rank pretty high here, but so does reputation gating, PvP on the Timeless Isle, a fairly small selection of 5-man dungeons, and justice points being close to useless.

Coming home to Azeroth Something Sally wrote here really jolted me. For people who move around a lot, the time you've spent ingame may be the longest you've spent in one "place."

Top 10 must-have rare cards in Hearthstone As someone who is incredibly bad at Hearthstone, I plan to blame my abysmal performance on the fact that I have none of these. Or these.

World of Warcraft, complexity, and design vs. sprawl "The more we get, whether it be classes, spells and abilities, stats on gear - the more we get, the more we have. The more we have, the more has to be demanded of us for the sake of challenge - if there's no effort involved, then victory is meaningless, whether it be in killing a raid boss or winning a BG. Without effort there is no fun."

The quest you had (or wanted) to skip Poop quests, anything involving kidnapping or torture, and Nesingwary are all common features in the comments.

Arts and Entertainment

Warcraft movie cast announced by Legendary Pictures Prayer of the WoW fandom: Oh God, please don't let this movie suck.

WoW Moviewatch: Crossing the chain A really funny offering from Mooclucking. It's best not to think about your Argent Squire/Gruntling, really: The implications are just too horrifying. We also had a good laugh at The Culling of Arthas a bit later in the month, though that's a much weirder film.

WoW Moviewatch: Back to the Draenor "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits patch 6.0, you're going to see some serious s%#t."

WoW Moviewatch: Blow vs. Garrosh Hellscream This was a great year for raid videos with epic, cinematic introductions, and Suge delivered again.

Around Azeroth: Do we fear death? Throw a chess set in there and get a camera. It worked for Bergman.

"Invincible" and other great WoW arrangements by June Lee I didn't think that "Invincible" would work without a full orchestra but was very happy to be proven wrong. Included above -- it's just that beautiful.

Holiday songs: I'm grouping these two excellent parodies here: Here Comes Dinosaur and Jingle Bells: Warlords of Draenor. The former is something I plan to play over Teamspeak the next time we screw up a Thok raid.

Around Azeroth: I see strange flashes in the sky above, and spend the night in the drive-in with the one that I love Possibly the most beautiful screenshot of ingame fireworks I've ever seen.

WoW Moviewatch: The goblin who stole Winter Veil This was another fan favorite and an exceptionally well-crafted story.

Classes, Raiding, and PvP

Scattered Shots: Mining Celestalon's tweets for hunter information I think the biggest revelation here is that the new tertiary stats in WoD will get passed to pets too, which is not currently the case with the array of trinkets in Siege that experiment with their mechanics, e.g., Haromm's Talisman.

I forgot what class I was playing Simple title. The issue it discusses it considerably less so.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: 2013 the Warrior way "I learn things writing this column. For instance, last week, I learned that 53 people will make comments on a post about ability bloat for warriors, and almost none of you will defend Cleave."

Blood Pact: Multitarget DPS and situational awareness Megan had run a Blood Pact on the basics of setting up a UI to maximize your DPS, but some fine-tuning is always necessary to make sure the information you want is going to be where you need it. "Differentiating positional stuff in raid is fun for me," she wrote in back-channel discussion. "I blame the marching band years I had."

Arcane Brilliance: Putting the brilliance back in arcane Arcane has attracted a lot of derision from non-mage players for being a "three-button spec," but it's a great deal more complex than it initially appears. Nevertheless, the prejudice remains and does little to help nudge people toward the spec or even retain them there. I would argue this article is less about arcane mages and more about the impact of erroneous perceptions on spec desirability.

Odds and Ends

WoW Archivist: Patch 2.4: Fury of the Sunwell This was easily one of WoW's most memorable and exciting patches, although the raid content it introduced was among the most brutal the game has ever seen. Pre-nerf M'uru was the stuff of nightmares.

Shado-Pan transmog and player-created games The Shado-Pan helm is indeed made of win and awesome. The inability to get the rest of the NPCs' gear, not so much so. "That's okay," said players. "Making our own version is a minigame."

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Alternate Azeroth One of the most interesting things to consider about the alternate universe that Garrosh creates is that Azeroth isn't necessarily better off for having avoided the invasion of the original, fel-tainted Horde.

How the Sha of Happiness conquered BlizzCon 2013 Shappi is one of the most extraordinary people in the WoW fandom, and this was a fascinating interview.

Know Your Lore: Draka, daughter of Kelkar "Nobody ever talks about Draka, which is a pity because Draka is awesome." Thrall's mother, in case the name's not familiar to you.

15 Minutes of Fame: Where are they now? WoW personalities, 2008-2012 I loved this. It's a privilege to read about these people in their interviews, and an equal one to glimpse what they're up to as time has passed. You'll see some familiar and beloved folks from 15 Minutes here.

What we leave behind We can wreck a sizable portion of the Jade Forest, set the Sha loose all across the continent, endanger the local townsfolk, and wreak havoc on the pandarens' cherished sense of balance, but what really bothers us is the idea of leaving Dog behind. We're hoping he accompanies us to our garrisons in ...well, an alternate dimension on another planet. God, we're really terrible people, aren't we?

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up, part 1 -- Classic WoW This article reminds me a lot of a contest floating around discussion sites a while ago to describe your college major in 7 words or less. The winning entry for international relations was: These nations hate you. This is why.

10 things to do once you hit level 90 We noticed quite a few players returning to the game for patch 5.4 and thought a quick guide to your to-do list at 90 would be helpful.

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.

2013'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!