Number 4: Cataclysm
If you were reading the site earlier this year, you'll remember that our first word about what was in the new expansion came long before BlizzCon did -- multiple leaks, some believable, some not, shaped our idea of what we'd be getting in the game's third add-on. Way back on July 1st, reader Ryan noticed for us that Blizzard had applied for a Cataclysm trademark, and from there, things spiraled out into rumors and speculation. Halloween masks first hinted at the new worgen and goblin races, and then a whole flood of leaks and updates appeared. At BlizzCon we heard the first official word, and after that, we were overwhelmed with information -- Deathwing was returning, Path of the Titans would lead us on after level 85, and the entire old world of Azeroth was changing for everyone, for good. Old quests revisited, old zones revamped. Obviously, Cataclysm will already be one of the biggest stories of 2010, but it took up a lot of 2009 as well.
Number 3: The Martin Fury scandal
On our end of the year list, there's only one single news post that does better than everything Cataclysm, and of course it's this story about an uber powerful chestpiece that fell into the wrong in-game hands. A player opened up his mailbox one day to find the legendary Martin Fury, a piece of armor meant only for GMs, and he did what lots of other players at the time would have done: he took it to Ulduar, the newest progression raid in the game, and started bring the place down, grabbing all of the loot he could. Blizzard, of course, found out, and they banned him, though lots of players claimed that since they'd sent the item to him in the first place, it wasn't his fault. But more than anything, this story captured our readers' imagination. If you found Martin Fury in your mailbox, what would you have done?
Number 2: Patch 3.3
This is it, the content patch that we've waited so long for, and yet what we've really wanted to see (Arthas and the Lich King facing responsibility for that day so long ago in Lordaeron's throne room) isn't coming until we unlock it all next year. In the meantime, however, we've got three new 5-mans to get through (including one with the most epic 5-man lore we've seen yet), a new rep to grind, and probably the most significant addition to the game in a long time: the Dungeon Finder has completely changed the way we're running non-raid instances. Patch 3.3 had huge expectations, and while it'll be a long time (we hear April) before we're completely done with it, it's lived up to all of them so far.