Beta, beta, and more beta ... and for some reason, an awful lot of completely random stuff this month. Seriously, there's no rhyme or reason to the array of one-off articles we wrote in April.
bim.shield.spec Cross-faction romance! They are star-crossed lovers, for certain ... Oh wait, never mind. Method is faction-changing to Horde.
Also, we got a new comment system. We thought that was pretty cool.
WoW Insider receives new comment system, apocalypse imminent The most frequent complaint we've gotten since the birth of the site (apart from the mystery of my continued employment) has been a godawful comment system that ate babies, kicked puppies, savaged commodities markets, and pushed people off cliffs. Alex was the lucky/unlucky person tasked with announcing our move to Livefyre, and while we admit it's not a 100% perfect solution, he says bluntly, "Anybody calling for the old system back is completely insane." Gray ran a short tutorial on how to use it shortly after.
Bizarre Blizzard interviews Cory Stockton and Dave Kosak were both interviewed by an Asian fan site with poor English. How to get around the language barrier? Have them answer a series of yes-or-no questions with flashcards. Their ability to keep a straight face (mostly) through this was masterful.
Final 400,000 Annual Pass Mists of Pandaria beta invites sent out It took about a month for Blizzard to grant beta access to all 1.2 million Annual pass subscribers. Well, there was certainly no shortage of players this time to help stress-test the servers.
GuildOx player analysis highlights the warlock decline While reviewing 2012, I'm continually struck by how the concern over warlock and rogue numbers almost feels like background radiation. In addition, GuildOx had a very instructive look at spec popularity. Fangs of the Father had a massive impact on rogue population, but it didn't seem to stick.
Predicting Mists of Pandaria's release date Swing and a hit! We were two days off from our "long" prediction, as MoP was released on Sep. 25. We were slightly less accurate with patch 5.0.1, being off by about two weeks.
Ghostcrawler talks college, game design, and his path to Blizzard Ghostcrawler has always fascinated me as that rarest of species, Homo sapiens nerfreticus, the scientist who can write well and handle an audience. Great interview, and it also contains his (accurate, we think) take on why the ending to Mass Effect 3 was so devastating to players. This also article saw the descent of Adam's first banhammer under the new comment system.
Complexity of systems and player retention Remember Cynwise's series of posts that we talked about during the March 2012 article? Warlock class numbers (or more accurately, the lack of them) made even Rossi, our hardcore warrior, sit up and take a look: "Cyn's comparison of the destruction rotation in Wrath and Cataclysm shows a rotation with seven elements mushroom out to one with 14 elements to remember and consider. That if X, then Y flowchart just got as complex as a subway map."
Which playable race is most evil? Robin's sticking by her answer, which is the blood elves, but that wasn't the most popular choice. This article's an interesting counterpoint to The most wicked creatures in WoW from March.
Why is Blizzard still OK with gender inequality in World of Warcraft? An unsettling essay, an enormous comments section, and a little more than a week later, this.
Officers' Quarters: From girlfriend to guild leader Pour yourself a stiff drink before reading this one, folks. The letter writer appears in the comments to confirm that, yep, there's been a mass exodus from the guild in question.
This, too, shall pass: Balance and imbalance in the World of Warcraft The takeaway? The game is never actually balanced.
WoW Insider's guide to being a productive Mists of Pandaria beta tester Sometimes it's not quite as simple as, "Don't be a jerk."
How Blizzard's over-caution saved it from a PR nightmare The issue of microtransactions and DLC in games is a contentious one at best, and as Mat examined Funcom's The Secret World and its profit structure, it became obvious just how exquisitely careful Blizzard has been about dipping its toes into additional paid content.
A response to the "Do you like PvP?" Breakfast Topic Olivia had written one of the most popular and contentious Breakfast Topics of the year earlier, and -- as our resident PvP guru -- returned to correct misconceptions and make suggestions to PvP-phobic players.
Did flying mounts ruin Azeroth? It's easy to wax nostalgic about a set of difficulties you no longer have to face.
WoW Moviewatch: Edge of Time III They aren't kidding when they ask you to watch in HD.
WoW Moviewatch: Mists of Pandaria Beta Is Not a Joke Like snarkygoldish, I'd been hoping for Wowcrendor's lava tester to re-emerge here, but no such luck.
WoW Moviewatch: Dragonwrath: A Legendary Musical One of the commenters' favorites of the year and a gorgeous piece.
WoW Moviewatch: Crueler Heads Prevail Oblivious Films' winning entry to the 48 Hour Film Project, and deservedly so. "He was a prince; he never did run out of swans."
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Rage forever changes in Mists of Pandaria How your resource system works (or doesn't) is destiny in WoW. Rossi evaluates the MoP rage changes and how they're likely to affect the class.
Encrypted Text: Bringing fun back to the rogue class In some ways, this seems like a subject of more immediate concern to us here in December.
The returning-to-WoW checklist Gray's guide could probably answer a good 30% of the questions we get through the tipline.
Shifting Perspectives: The joy of panic "But do we have to have Savage Defense or Frenzied Regeneration up all the time? The rage bar says no. Your heal team says yes. Your DPSers are too busy trying to reach the bottom of the glue pot to form a coherent opinion."
Quadriplegic player establishes resources beachhead for other disabled gamers We'd interviewed Quadilious in 2009 about his experience in progression raiding as a quadriplegic, and he's gotten so many questions about how he does it that he created his own website and series of instructional videos.
Roleplay addons for the beginner: FlagRSP2 and FlagRSP Cataclysm Shortly after running a guide to MyRoleplay, Anne wrote another another wonderful guide to the use of the must-have addons for getting the most out of RP servers.
WoW geek love brings two players together on a reality show This one got some play in the mainstream media as well. To summarize, two contestants on a British speed-dating show suddenly discover they both play WoW. The conversation that ensues keeps the participants chatting happily while utterly mystifying the hosts.
What are WoW players searching for on Google? Frostheim looked at the classes, systems, and items that WoW players were most interested in finding from the classic game through to the present. Think you know what's popular? There might be a few surprises here.
3 items to unload and 3 to stock up on before Mists of Pandaria Want to become king of the market? Prediction is your friend. I think everything in this article turned out to be accurate with the possible exception of vanity pets, due to the introduction of the account-wide model.
Why Game of Thrones' Hodor has come back to the World of Warcraft It's somewhat ironic that the dark side in SW:TOR is actually WoW.
Know Your Lore: Velen the Prophet As Anne dryly observed in backroom discussion, "Velen is a brilliant character who's seriously underutilized (along with, oh, I don't know, the entire draenei race)."
Zerg Rush attacks your Google search Yep, this still works.
The unspoken etiquette of world boss encounters Matticus anticipates an issue that's fated to become a Really Big Deal. The mere mention of Galleon on my server is enough to drive most raiders into a frothing rage.
18 observations from a leveling healer The spiritual successor to our 20 observations from a leveling tank back in January.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.