A Merry Christmas to all those of you who celebrate! Today we're going to tackle June 2010, which was a relatively slow month for us. The Cataclysm beta was in full swing at that point, but most of our staffers didn't yet have keys. Raid content on the live servers got a slight boost with the introduction of the Ruby Sanctum, but apart from that, this was largely a month's worth of waiting on beta news and examining what Wrath's legacy would be to the game. Incidentally, it was a great month for The Lawbringer column.
World of Warcraft patch 3.3.5 notes Patch 3.3.5 went live, and with it the Ruby Sanctum -- Wrath's last raid.
Patch 3.3.5: Changes to vote kick incoming The vote kick system for the dungeon finder was tinkered with to reward players who kick less often. I've often wondered what my own statistics on this look like; as the tank, I seem to end up with the responsibility to initiate a vote kick on disconnected or AFK players much more frequently than when I'm healing.
Cataclysm beta: Cataclysm will bring dwarf and troll warlocks This was a sudden announcement that nobody really anticipated, and I've always wondered if it had anything to do with Blizzard's desire to shore up the population of pure DPS classes.
Opinions and editorials
Officers' Quarters: In defense of guild talents Blizzard had just announced the cancellation of Path of the Titans and the guild talent system. Scott -- someone who'd seen soul- and guild-destroying drama bots like Immortal, rare drop raid mounts, and the 5 > 10 > 25 raid progression of The Burning Crusade -- wasn't entirely sure that the stated reasons for the scrapping of the talent system are valid.
Wrath retrospective: Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader, part one and Wrath retrospective: Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader, part two Mat looked at the good and bad developments of WoW's patch 3.1 and 3.2 raid content. Ulduar got very high marks from players, but ToC got a somewhat middling reaction.
Wrath retrospective: Lore and the art of storytelling Anne, one of our resident lore columnists, turned a critical eye to what worked and what didn't with Blizzard's efforts to make the game a more immersive experience.
Wrath retrospective: What we learned from death knights Tyler went through the death knight class with a fine-toothed comb, examining the class' impact on tanking, DPS, and PvP. He offered what I thought was particularly cogent commentary on the difficulty of balancing a class designed to tank from any of its three talent trees, and it's not surprising that Blizzard wound up abandoning the idea.
The Lawbringer: Why you'll never buy gold from Blizzard There are a number of commonsense reasons for Blizzard not to sell gold, but Mat dug into some of the legal and financial realities of gold acquiring value in the real world.
The Lawbringer: The history of Blizzard and MDY (Glider) and The Lawbringer: MDY vs. Blizzard Q&A Amy took readers from the beginning of the Glider (a botting program specifically designed to bypass Blizzard's Warden software) controversy through its end, answering questions on why the lawsuit happened and what Glider had cost Blizzard for the years it had battled to get the botting program shut down.
Arts and entertainment
WoW Moviewatch: Avatar Days The intensely thoughtful trailer to the documentary Avatar Days with a particularly moving end. As we've observed on WoW Insider previously, how you think about your character tends to reflect how you think about yourself.
15 Minutes of Fame: Film pros shoot raiding lifestyle documentary Blood Legion is still on the warpath for a world-first in Cataclysm. This story has by no means ended.
Classes, raiding, and PvP
Raid Rx: Is addon-less healing possible? Addons have long been a sore point with healers, who've observed that the default Blizzard raid frames aren't great for the role. Matticus broke it down by what you need and where you need it. Blizzard would later revamp the default raid frames for Cataclysm, incorporating a few features seen in addons like Grid and Vuhdo.
Spiritual Guidance: Soloing 5-man content the shadow priest way Tanks? We don't need no stinkin' tanks. Fox attempts to prove that shadow priests are as awesome "as five other players put together."
Spiritual Guidance: For the love of Lightwell Lightwell was one of the most routinely mocked talents in the game, and even in June, as many as 83 percent of holy priests didn't take the talent. Dawn argued that players weren't thinking hard enough about the contexts in which it could be used. Also, sandwiches.
Shifting Perspectives: Fun with race choice Allie press-ganged a more fashion-conscious friend to comment on the druidic possibilities of some decidedly non-druidic races. Features commentary on woodland animal gunshot wounds, Stalinist realism, and "the hippie orc movement," as Lissanna of Restokin termed it.
The Art of War(craft): Surviving battleground PUGs Zach, our resident battleground junkie, has always been an excellent source of advice for even the newbiest of newbies encountering their first bits of PvP. An incomparable guide to surviving that perennial source of endless frustration -- the battleground PUG.
WoW Rookie: Popping for Power This was something I always thought more useful than it might outwardly appear. When and how to use Bloodlust/Heroism to its best advantage isn't just determined by fight conditions -- how to get the most out of it is a question with no consistent answer across different classes and specs.
Drama Mamas: The curious case of That Guy vs. the spineless jellyfish Most people have had this happen at least once or twice if they've played for any length of time. It's another reminder that raid leading's difficulty doesn't primarily lie in the encounters themselves, but how you develop, empower, and deal with people.
Blood Sport: Griefers in arena There is no end to humanity's inventiveness when guns, gold, or glory is on the line -- or in WoW's case, just bragging rights.
Odds and ends
All the World's a Stage: Four ways to know you've jumped the shark Not just for Fonzie anymore!
Gold Capped: GDKP raiding for fun and profit One of the more interesting sociological trends during Wrath was the growth of the GDKP -- or "gold bid" -- raids. While a common practice on Asian servers for years, it's only just begun to make inroads into Western servers.
Know Your Lore: The vrykul The ancestors of humanity, in vivid and exquisitely violent life.
2010'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!