After a few times around the block, the general "feel" of months like February 2012 becomes pretty familiar. The combination of aging raid content, an approaching expansion, and a lot of stuff going on with the business end of WoW combined for several weeks' worth of commentary on the meta-game and what was going on with Blizzard HQ. This was a month with a lot of interesting news, and it also turned out to be a fabulous time for Moviewatch and the arts scene.
Matt Rossi: I'm starting to think Neltharion was the tank for the dragon aspects' regular 5-man group.
WoW Insider is looking for a warlock columnist ... again. Fortunately, we got Megan within a few weeks, but the warlock columnist position has acquired a certain Defense Against the Dark Arts aura around here.
Famous poetry responsible for Cataclysm item names? Flavor Text notices something odd going on in certain ilevel brackets. Somewhere on the Blizzard team, an English major is laughing.
1 million people signed up for the WoW annual pass Not too shocking, and as Sacco notes, the Annual Pass is actually a better deal for Blizzard than it looks.
Heart of the Aspects mount now available for $25 Sparkledragon. That is all.
Blizzard opposes Valve's DOTA trademark application We had to wait until May to see how this panned out.
Yak mounts lumbering your way in Mists of Pandaria This turned out to be one of the most popular articles of the month, which befuddled staffers. Apparently people really like yaks.
Italian version of WoW coming soon WoW continues its inevitable conquest of the globe. We'd first seen rumblings of Italian language support in 2009, but we're still not sure whether that was related.
Blizzard laying off 600 staff globally (updated) Blizzard cut 600 positions, most of them non-development and none of them related to World of Warcraft. Commenters speculate that the company's astronomical growth over a relatively short period of time led to bloat in management and support staff. We hope everyone landed on their feet.
Ol' Grumpy and the specter of pointless elitism The beginning of this article is so good that I'll repeat it: "(I) have a bit of a problem. (I've) started tanking for pickup groups lately. I guess technically that means I have two problems, but doctors probably can prescribe some medication or something for white-hot eruptions of seething rage. I'm starting to think Neltharion was the tank for the dragon aspects' regular 5-man group."
Should there be a hide option for Real ID? Sometimes you just need to be left the hell alone.
Officers' Quarters: 6 tips for new guilds in the era of perks The best benefit to guild advancement isn't spamming its level in trade chat while you're recruiting. We recommend a more holistic approach.
We need to manage our expectations about Mists of Pandaria Prompted by Bashiok's statement on the anticipation then building for Diablo 3, Gray says bluntly: Over-hyping a game creates a problem where it didn't exist. The specter of a large and active community of fans actually damaging its own experience with a game is not a comfortable one.
The case for cross-faction Real ID raiding Blizzard has systematically removed all other impediments to real-life friends' playing together. Should this one stay sacred?
What I want to see from Mists of Pandaria PvP The developers had advertised a major return to inter-faction hostility in MoP, and Olivia was going to hold them to it. If PvP's going to be a central focus of an expansion, she points out, it shouldn't be among the least efficient ways to level and gear a character.
5 not-so-simple ways Blizzard can fix the World of Warcraft auction house Fox is under no illusions that his suggestions would be easy to implement, but they'd make life a lot better for anyone starting from zero or trapped on a small server with an inefficient market.
WoW Moviewatch: I'll Fight For You Antimatter's love letter to his guild, with a great mash-up for a soundtrack.
Around Azeroth: Love over gold A very well-timed snapshot from two players riding the brand-new Heart of the Aspects.
Eye-catching, fantastic art from Ginny Higerd I don't have the space to do justice to this here -- please click over for the full gallery!
WoW Moviewatch: Stupid Hair I think Dawn put it best -- "This video confuses me, and I like it."
WoW Moviewatch: How to tell if your Warsong Gulch will fail Wowcrendor once again nails the humor in agonizing truth. By the way, that distant scream you hear is coming from Olivia, who wrote this about two weeks later.
WoW Moviewatch: RP-PvP events on Defias Brotherhood RP-PvP servers tend to be ignored, but when there's a really active community behind them, you can make a pretty strong argument that they're the best way to experience the game.
Scattered Shots: Frostheim's interview with an imaginary Ghostcrawler Whenever the hunter class underperforms, subscriber numbers dip, the moon falls out of orbit, and doomsday cults begin to proliferate. Or something.
5 ways to fail at battlegrounds Olivia does not have a high opinion of your battleground shenanigans.
A priest's guide to class romance Dawn and Frostheim had kicked around the idea of doing a class horoscope column, but never got around to it. Dawn cannibalized the material and went for broke. Notable for its advice that dating fellow priests is essentially a form of incest, that mages can easily be exploited for portals, and that hunters may feign more than death.
Do mages really need 3 competitive PvE specs? Archmage Pants concludes that they do, but it may not be for the reason you think.
Scattered Shots: 5 things other classes can learn from hunters "Whether it's your mouse or the keyboard of a voice-activated "GTFO of the fire!" command, the most powerful damage reduction ability in the game is to suck it up and just move out of the way, even if that means interrupting a cast (which, admittedly, we don't have to do -- ever)."
The Light and How to Swing It: In defense of Inquisition "I am probably most proud of this column for the year," says Desmond. A stellar piece arguing that Inquisition, a key contributor to retribution DPS, was an equally significant contributor to the spec's most intractable problems.
Dragon Soul nerfs There was a lot of disagreement even among staffers as to whether Blizzard's nerfs to Dragon Soul were good for the game. Adam thought so: Desmond wasn't so sure.
Encrypted Text: No'Kaled makes its claim for the throne The three rogue specs didn't get equal use from Fangs of the Father, and combat players found themselves in the middle of a lot of complicated math to figure out which version of which weapon would do them the most good. Chase walks you through it, but admits, "I hate that there are weapons that are even in the same ballpark as the legendary daggers."
Spiritual Guidance: Diagnosing bad shadow priest DPS Fox demonstrates the fine art of picking raid logs apart to figure out where your damage is going wrong.
I write about dragons on the internet, Dad Anne's lovely piece on explaining WoW and her WoW Insider gig to her family mirrors the experience a lot of our staffers have had. As Sacco once said, sometimes it's just easiest to say you're a journalist and omit that the subject matter is elves. Josh runs with the theme and argues that the admission of being a gamer bears a few similarities to coming out as gay.
How to transmogrify your clothie into High Inquisitor Whitemane Transmogrification was still pretty new in February, and we couldn't help but notice that plate-wearers (with access to every armor class in the game) had things a little easier than others. Dawn decided to rectify this with a guide to looking like one of the game's most popular NPCs.
Addons that you wish were still around The comment section is a pretty instructive look at the weird emotional attachments we tend to form with little bits of code. Oh, and people really miss Mazzle, AVR, and Cartographer, even if elements of them have migrated elsewhere.
Know Your Lore: 5 remarkable relationships from Warcraft lore In some ways, this is Rossi's pre-emptive counterpoint to a KYL Anne published four months later on women in Warcraft and why they often seem underdeveloped. Even so, both are in broad agreement that it's a consistent problem.
I love Ashkandi "A legendary will always end up in the bank. Ashkandi is forever." I feel the same way about my beloved feral staves.
Potions, portals, and scrolls of recall: How to get around Azeroth as quickly as possible An exhaustive guide to Azeroth's transport options, because walking is for suckers.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.