Dev Watercooler: Cataclysm talent tree post-mortem Read carefully. A lot of the things that they're not happy about here are the reason that the Mists of Pandaria talent system is so radically different from its predecessors.
Patch 4.2: No justice points over the cap This was definitely not one of the decisions that went down well with the WoW community.
Ask the Devs scrapped, new Q&A coming soon There was actually a short period where WoW Insider took the blame for this, thanks to an irritated Shifting Perspectives column (that I, uh, kinda wrote; you'll find it below) on how bad the tanking Ask the Devs had been. Fortunately, it turns out Blizzard hadn't liked the format, either, and decided to move to a new system. Whew.
Instance servers busted, Lord Ahune to blame What it is with Lord Ahune and massive bugs?
Does Cataclysm have too much potential content? I hadn't really considered this until Rossi's essay, but he's got a good point. Cataclysm storylines are an embarrassment of lore riches, and you can argue that most of the zones never reached their full potential. (On a personal note, I would love to see the tol'vir again at some point.) Even the new leveling content has some really good stories with as-yet-unclear resolutions.
The Lawbringer: China, forced labor, and why we must stop buying gold Remember that article we talked about in May about Chinese prisoners being forced to farm gold? McCurley wasn't going to let that one slide. One of the most discussion-worthy Lawbringers of the year.
Cataclysm Post-Mortem: Hyjal and Vashj'ir We started our Cataclysm post-mortem series with a look at the first zones leveling players are likely to encounter. The point that jumped out at me most here is something that Alex and Mat both agree on, and it's similar to something Daniel Whitcomb wrote more than two years ago: It is OK to let players lose. Comments here are equally outstanding.
Nothing gold can stay: Change and the game's development I like to think of this as a spiritual cousin to the Classic nostalgia machinima you'll see below.
Officers' Quarters: The three biggest mistakes new guild leaders make The best way to deal with problems is never letting them happen in the first place.
Officers' Quarters: The strategy behind casual motivation I'm not sure what I can write here that's not going to refer you back to the Officers' Quarters I just glossed. Whatever's important to your guild, whatever policies you want most consistently enforced -- get them in writing!
Arts and entertainment
WoW Moviewatch: Classic nostalgia As much as you might miss 40-man raids and Molten Core and the old world's many little eccentricities, the old days weren't so great. No, really -- they weren't. Snap out of it.
WoW Moviewatch: Are WoW Cataclysm graphics good? One of the many things I like about Wowcrendor is his genuine and obvious affection for a game he otherwise lampoons so mercilessly.
WoW Moviewatch: True Guts The mother-and-son team at Swathe Productions (the folks behind Murder on the Booty Bay Express back in February) return with a great little piece spoofing True Grit. Gankers, griefers, and node stealers really are the lawless in Azeroth, aren't they?
WoW Moviewatch: Part of your guild A wonderful mix of real-life and in-game footage set to a repurposed Part of Your World.
WoW Moviewatch: World of Warcraft is dead A second Wowcrendor video for the month, this one done with Jesse Cox on the various things that have killed WoW, which has a remarkable zombie-like ability to keep coming back for more.
WoW Moviewatch: Meet the Hunter Lagspike Films has never once disappointed. Brilliant voice acting, great animations, and razor-sharp comic timing all turn this into yet another instant classic.
WoW Moviewatch: How to tell if your BG will fail Good Lord, Wowcrendor did a lot this month. However, this outing may fall into the "too accurate to be anything other than depressing" category.
Spiritual Guidance: What Alliance race is best for shadow priests? "I was thinking about starting this particular column with some kind of bold statement such as 'Fox Van Allen is a racist,' but that could hurt my future political career."
Encrypted Text: Rogues need to be number one I am slightly more amenable to this line of argument than I used to be, given the sore point that is the lack of resto druid cooldowns. However, Chase makes a compelling argument that rogues have suffered unusually harsh penalties from the advent of more complicated Cataclysm raid mechanics, and the least-played class isn't going to improve its standings as long as its DPS is so poor.
Blood Sport: Iron sharpens iron, part 2, and part 3 A series of stories on how a multi-season gladiator worked his way up the ladder and the lessons to be drawn from it. Even if you don't PvP, this is a great piece.
Spiritual Guidance: Progression vs. farm, identifying the right raid spec I loved this post. Folks, it's OK to take talents that are relevant to your own personal situation, even if they're not popular picks elsewhere. Really! No, I'm serious. Maybe the muleheadedness over the issue is why Blizzard's eighty-sixing the present talent system.
Totem Talk: State of the enhancement shaman address A comprehensive history of the enhancement spec and where it stood in relation to others as patch 4.2 bore down on us.
Encrypted Text: A rogue's resumé There are certain things that a recruitment officer or guild leader is going to look for while they're advertising for a rogue. This is how to vault ahead of the competition. Dawn wrote a similar post for Spiritual Guidance later that month for priests who were a little further ahead in the application process.
Shifting Perspectives: Why the tank Q&A sucked Most of the Ask the Devs outings this year were pretty good, but I was less than happy with how the tanking version turned out. I wasn't the only one.
Lichborne: Why the death knight blood tree needs tweaks Don't get us wrong -- nobody denies that a well-played blood death knight is a powerhouse. But as Daniel observes, all too often you're doing twice the work for the same results as other tanks.
Breakfast Topic: How do you prefer to access hard modes? This was a topic that got touched upon in a later OverAchiever. There as here, players are generally agreed that Ulduar was the pinnacle of both raiding and raid design. Trouble is, it was a lot of work -- perhaps too much -- on Blizzard's end.
15 Minutes of Fame: MIT Media Lab director Joichi Ito on WoW and part 2 This was fascinating. Ito is an old-school gamer with an academic's eye for what makes games tick, and he's no slouch when it comes to WoW. Possibly the most stand-out point raised in the interview is one concerning a study done on guild rules and stability, which didn't have the result you'd expect.
WoW Rookie: A raid rookie's lexicon of raiding language We get a surprising number of requests to cover the oft-esoteric language that pops up in MMORPGs to shorthand the various stuff you'll encounter. Here's the raiding edition. I was amused to see that the term "floor tank" is now part of the common lexicon.
Gold Capped: Firelands panic sell-off "Just like in the real world, when the value of something you bought plummets, it's rarely a good time to sell."
Drama Mamas: The trouble with unwanted sexual attention A very tricky issue to navigate, and one that's made more -- or perhaps less? -- complicated by the fact that the sex of the players concerned is deliberately left out. So who's telling the truth here? Do you try to deal with this subtly by letting the alleged stalker know, as Lisa puts it, that the jig is up? Or did you err on the side of Robin's Spousal Unit and conclude that at least one of the parties concerned will ultimately have to leave the guild?
Gold Capped: How to reach the gold cap Fox is the 1%.
Know Your Lore: Tauren origins and tinfoil hats A great outing of KYL that, as with all great tinfoil hat columns, raises more questions than it actually answers. However, the answer that Rossi proposes here to the question of why the tauren exist and why their culture is the way it is isn't all that implausible.
WoW Archivist: The legacy of Leeroy Jenkins I was shocked at just how far the Leeroy Jenkins phenomenon managed to make it out of Azeroth.
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!