July 2009 was defined by two dominant trends -- waiting for patch 3.2 to hit, and an increasing amount of information starting to flow that would be confirmed one month later at BlizzCon.
Blizzard files trademark for Cataclysm: Gee, we wonder why?
Arcane Brilliance: Five things every mage should do before they ding 80: Archmage Pants guides you through some things that should be on every leveling mage's checklist before the endgame.
Encrypted Text: Fan of Knives mechanics deep-dive: Chase Christian runs across a rogue on his server who's able to kill people in an interesting manner, and goes on the theorycrafting warpath to figure out how he's doing it.
Worgen Garwal hotfixed, now untameable: Worgen pets were, for a brief period, universally agreed to be the coolest thing in the game before being hotfixed into oblivion. Reason given? Something vague concerning why Blizzard doesn't want hunters to have humanoid pets. Yes. Yes, that must be it.
The dying hunter: On the subject of hunters (and more broadly, pure DPS classes), Schramm takes a look at some statistics. The comments section here is gold.
Officers' Quarters: Critical mass: How many raiders should your guild ideally recruit? Just how deep can the bench get before people get unhappy and start leaving? Is there an ideal size for a raid team, and how can you build toward it?
Blogatelle signs off: Another major WoW blog shutters, though not before giving us a great deal of insightful and interesting commentary on WoW roleplay. It took an insane amount of work on their part, but I still their Play Files are among the best writing on WoW's social context and how each race perceives the others.
WoW, Casually: Playing with your preschooler: As Robin observes, video games can be a surprisingly good way to teach young children about the difference between reality and fantasy, the difference between right and wrong, and -- as every experience WoW player knows -- the importance of staying the hell out of trade chat.
How to get your blog crashed by WoW.com: Every day, our inbox gets a ton of messages from bloggers requesting links. This article is about what's likely to happen when you do get linked, why you might not necessarily get what you wanted out of it, and why we do (and don't) link people.
Know your lore: A second look at Maiev Shadowsong: I'm slightly biased because it irritates me that so few people point out Tyrande's jaw-dropping behavior in Warcraft III, but I thought this article by Alex was one of the best lore pieces we had this year, and one that really dug into why Maiev Shadowsong is the way she is.
What if we lost: An argument for losing a major lore-based battle: Daniel's right. Sometimes, it's more fun and immersive to lose, and it's something I suspect Blizzard had in mind designing ICC. Halls of Reflection is fun because you escape, not because you win.
Is WoW being run by its B team? Is that bad?: Great point made by Eliah concerning the "B team" supposedly running WoW; just because Blizzard's design philosophy has changed and the game's being staffed by new people doesn't mean that the game's worse off than it was a few years ago.
Preparing for BlizzCon: Expect geeks behaving badly: The troubling part about hitting a gamer convention is that too many people are used to the anonymity of the internet.
Sam Raimi to direct WoW movie: Geeks everywhere /sob, /cheer.
The Light and How to Swing It: Five things every paladin must do, period: Zach takes a page from Christian Belt's column and sets down some rules for the paladins among us.
New Halloween masks point to a new playable race?: The floodgates crack a little more.
Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a druid: Hard as it is to criticize my own class, I wanted to be as honest as possible about why you would (or wouldn't) want to play a druid. Advantages? Unlimited versatility and the sheer fun of the class. Disadvantages? Being among the first players to be forced out of the role you enjoy in order to accommodate how everyone else wants to play.
2009'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.com!