Revrant: (What's the best new quest of the expansion?) The Bears Up There. Climb a tree, grab bear cubs, throw them screaming through the air, and they explode if you miss.Good gravy -- this is the third year I've written a Best of the Year series for WoW Insider! Longtime readers will probably know the drill, but if you don't, from today through Dec. 31, you'll find an article each day recapping the best and most representative articles published on WoW Insider for a given month. Depending on the month, the collection of articles you'll find numbers between 5% and 15% of what we published. We've tried hard to pick the stuff that best captured WoW's fast-changing zeitgeist.
Cataclysm was still a fresh expansion in January 2011, with the attendant problems and pleasures that new expansions bring. The trend that's most apparent here as I look through our January articles is the amount of discussion over the problems with the Dungeon Finder, leveling, and Tol Barad. Suffice it to say that January was an incredibly prolific month for our editorialists.
Patch 4.1: What we know so far As Alex later noted, basically everything we learned about patch 4.1 at BlizzCon turned out not to, um, be in patch 4.1.
Tol Barad hotfixed to reward 360 honor on offensive win The previous reward had been 1,800 honor, which encouraged a hitherto unknown degree of inter-faction cooperation as players cheerfully traded wins. Whoops.
Cory Stockton addresses Tol Barad balance Mr. Stockton had a frank discussion of the problems that Blizzard had encountered balancing both Wintergrasp and Tol Barad. McCurley responded.
A survey of gear levels in current 10- and 25-man Cataclysm raiding GuildOx crunched the numbers on who was raiding Cataclysm content and in what. The results were a little odd, but commenters quickly figured out what was going on.
Blizzard working on ways to improve the Dungeon Finder And you're going see a boatload of reasons below as to why it did.
Cataclysm sells 4.7 million copies in one month This is our surprised face.
Don't panic about those WoW magazine subscription renewal notices This won't be the last you'll see of problems with the magazine this year ...
Should level-capped players be put into content they outgear? Stonecore was probably the most widely despised dungeon available to leveling players, with a number of punitive mechanics even on normal. Getting it twice in a row at 85 with none of the ilevel 333 upgrades needed to enter heroics pushed Fox to ask if there was something fundamentally wrong with Blizzard's approach to the normal/heroic split.
Is comparing your game to World of Warcraft really such a good idea? In which Sacco is once again psychic: "I haven't played Rift yet (I'll leave that to Massively), but if its ad campaign was the only weighing factor toward my purchasing it, I would chalk it up as a Family Guy and move on."
Officers' Quarters: Be kind to your tanks and healers DPSers languished in Dungeon Finder queues that were often 45 minutes or more, and guild tanks and healers were badly overworked trying to keep up with the demand.
The lack of wands in Cataclysm Alex looks at early Cataclysm itemization and asks: Where the hell are all the wands? For non-spirit classes, there was a disturbing lack of options before heroics, and the situation's reoccurred with various slots for different classes since.
The middle of the pack is a fine place to be Josh takes a dim view of the assertion that specs doing median DPS are somehow being ill-served.
Officers' Quarters: How a guild dies Scott Andrews' long-running guild bit the dust, and he had observations to share with the rest of us. Perhaps most pointedly, "Even a long-established guild cannot survive without an adequate number of active and motivated officers."
Making the Dungeon Finder suck less Heartbourne over at Lore Hound had some interesting observations on Blizzard's choices for reducing Dungeon Finder waits. Our suggestion? Ride the social networking craze.
WoW Moviewatch: Kung Fu Pandaren The creators are the sort of people who, in addition to their ability to create a damn fine machinima, should probably be buying lottery tickets.
Ozruk breaks some mad beats upon his body This made Stonecore marginally more fun. Funnier, at least.
WoW Moviewatch: The End of the World As We Know It A surprisingly slick and funny take on the REM classic.
WoW Moviewatch: Mad World of Warcraft Cataclysm A clever set of lyrics and great vocals got high marks from our readers.
WoW Moviewatch: Cataclysm Millionaire This defies description. Just watch it.
Spiritual Guidance: A Monstrous Compendium for the mind-controlling shadow priest If you're one of those people who plays a priest largely for the vindictive pleasure of mind-controlling a mob to its unsightly death, you will enjoy this disturbingly comprehensive guide. Seek help, Fox.
Raid Rx: Handling healer mana in raids A conversation between Matt Low and Joe Perez resulted in a great article examining how healers fared under the Cataclysm model. Paladins and priests dominated early raid healing, with shaman being dragged along primarily for Mana Tide Totem, and druids ... well, druids weren't doing so well. A big wave of buffs had just been announced for everyone but shaman on the patch 4.0.6 PTR, and Matt wondered what was going on.
Totem Talk: It's all about the mana tide Less than two weeks later, we found out.
Shifting Perspectives: Feral cat druid DPS 101 Chase Hasbrouck's inaugural column for WoW Insider, and a fine look at a spec that became a Battleground terror in Cataclysm.
Lichborne: The great death knight Cataclysm tanking stat weight debate Death knight tanks were in a weird place as the expansion started due to the spec's reliance on Death Strike as a survival mechanic.
Blood Sport: Drain Mana's removal and its impact on arena Healers thought this was the best idea ever. Christian wasn't so sure.
Scattered Shots: Understanding the PTR process As hysteria about upcoming survival nerfs mounted, Frostheim took the time to explain the PTR process.
The Light and How to Swing It: One heal or two Early healing wasn't all that efficient, and raiding healers were desperate to get the most from blues and early epics. Chase figured out a way to get two particular talents to play nice with each other and the paladin's new holy power resource.
Scattered Shots: Why hunters are better than every other class Frostheim gives 50 reasons why hunters are the best class in the game. Skepticism is widespread from the rest of the staff.
Blood Sport: An early analysis of Cataclysm PvP Christian was generally pleased with how things were turning out.
Odds and ends
Gold Capped: The effect of mega-blogs on your business Hint: Your secret techniques aren't so secret, and the clever capitalist will always account for new entrants to his market.
Drama Mamas: Letter-writers tell what happened next One of the problems with advice columns is that all too often you never find out what happened after the initial letter. Fortunately, we heard back from players who'd had issues with animal cruelty, fitting in as a transgender player, shyness, and hacking.
Breakfast Topic: What's the best new quest of the expansion? One of the huge perks of Cataclysm was a wide assortment of new quests, and many were genuinely funny and memorable. A short list of common favorites:
- The worgen and goblin leveling experiences in Gilneas and Kezan
- Gnomebliteration in Uldum (a thinly disguised Katamari Damacy clone)
- The John J. Keeshan quests in Redridge ("AHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHH!")
- Welcome to the Machine in Hillsbrad
- Anything to do with Lilian Voss or Silverpine Forest
- The caravan quests in the Eastern Plaguelands
- The Day that Deathwing Came in Badlands
- The Ballad of Maximillian in Un'Goro Crater
- The Absent-Minded Prospector in Darkshore
The OverAchiever: A guide to basic archaeology and its achievements Archaeology had just begun to drive people batty, and Blizzard started implementing a number of changes designed to make the profession less grindy -- or at least more lucrative.
The Lawbringer: The lessons of globalization and gold farming The world is getting smaller but not always in ways that are good for everybody.
The crazy, hidden critter plateau What happens when bored programmers and flying mounts in the old world meet.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009 and Best of 2010 series.
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!