Another busy, busy month. June 2012 was equal parts restrospective work on what Cataclysm had brought to the table, and looking ahead to Mists of Pandaria to see what would change.
This was also a period when real-life concerns intruded on the game world in a fairly unpleasant manner. You'll see what I mean past the cut.
Mat McCurley and Kelly Aarons say goodbye to WoW Insider /salute to both, who are sorely missed. This is Mat's final Lawbringer, and this is Kelly's final comic. I've had to cheat a bit by bumping the final Safe Passage to our June 2012 article rather than April when it originally ran. I still hold out hope of finding out what happened with Ash'gor's story.
Watch Kungen's level 60 hardcore Diablo 3 character die unceremoniously Ever need to reassure yourself that even the pros have their bad days? Alex has you covered.
Google maps reaches WoW, part one and part two A surprisingly addictive set of sites and projects has sprung up mapping Azeroth using Google's API. Don't click these unless you've got some time on your hands.
A mass murderer played World of Warcraft and you should all feel bad The news that Anders Breivik had been a WoW player was unwelcome at best, because we all know what happens when the media seizes on the "Video games make you violent" narrative. An irritated Adam goes to work stomping the myths.
Mists of Pandaria beta: Level 90 flying and where to get it One of the most popular articles of the year, perhaps because finding where you could train Wisdom of the Four Winds wasn't all that intuitive.
Rumor: Vivendi plans to sell Activision Blizzard It hasn't happened as I write this in December, but not for lack of trying. The asking price was $8.1 billion; so far, no takers. As Steve1 pointed out in the comments a few days later, it's not that Activision Blizzard is doing poorly, but Vivendi needs some cash.
IGN discovers the Aubrey Plaza WoW commercial that never aired We thought the shelved version was better than the one that did make it to the airwaves.
The day Fox's account got hacked -- and how you can learn from his mistakes No matter how sure you are that you're safe, you're not -- and this was the day after Blizzard had to issue an account security alert because the EU branch of Riot Games got hacked. As Fox says, a few moments are all it takes to lose everything. Get. An. Authenticator.
Cross-realm play and the rise of the funsucker Robin points out that cross-realm zones replicate the most problematic element of the Dungeon Finder, which is the total lack of accountability on the part of "fun-sucking" players who can simply disappear back to their own servers.
Know Your Lore: Why Garrosh Hellscream shouldn't die In which Anne becomes the first (and possibly only) person in the entire WoW community to argue that Garrosh doesn't deserve to meet the business end of an axe.
Officers' Quarters: 9 warning signs that your raid leader is bad Good raid leaders exemplify the kind of conduct that they would like to see from the raid. When they don't, nothing good is on the horizon.
The bounty of Cataclysm Rossi wasn't convinced the Cataclysm naysayers, and argued that the expansion did a lot more for players than they're typically willing to credit. Personally, I think Cataclysm needs to be seen as a "transitional" expansion and something that Blizzard arguably had to do at some point during WoW's lifespan.
What exactly is up with women in Warcraft lore? A sobering analysis of the relative lack of compelling female figures in the Warcraft mythos. It's not that they're not there -- it's that the women who are present in the lore are almost always poorly developed or wind up becoming "barnacle" characters for their male counterparts. Jaina seems to be the exception to this (for now), but it's a disturbing trend. And, as a legion of readers yell in the comments, can we get rid of bikini armor while we're at it?
The 5 best raid encounters in Cataclysm With Dragon Soul now soundly beaten, this was an inevitable question, and Chase opines that Cataclysm's best boss fights are (with perhaps one exception) all in tier 11 and 12. The comments section is notable for a lengthy series of disagreements on exactly where Ragnaros and Alysrazor belong on the list, if they belong at all. It's a vivid reminder that not every class and spec will have the same experience on a fight, although those of us on pheromone duty with Garalon right now already know that.
And naturally, if you're gonna talk about the best encounters, you have to talk about --
The 5 worst raid encounters in Cataclysm Dragon Soul features more prominently here. There's bad RNG and good RNG, Chase writes, and DS had a lot of the former. And, as a disgruntled PaulWatkins argues, "Al'Akir comes from the Malygos school of Stupidly Different Final Phases That Might as Well be Two Separate Fights."
Blizzard announces Student Art Contest winners And they are gorgeous. Again, click over for the full gallery on Blizzard's site.
WoW Moviewatch: Dremlock 5 An unfinished but still completely badass WoW riff on the Pokemon theme.
Mists of Pandaria:（╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ The single greatest item that has ever been introduced to this game. Gray had taken an early peek at it the week before when it was datamined, but Dawn nabbed video pretty much the moment it went live on the beta.
WoW Moviewatch: The Story 2 Two words: Cranius and Legs. Hell yes, it's among the best of the year.
Around Azeroth: And all the pieces matter Akussa of Draka (US-H) experiments with tilt shift layers and comes up with two screenshots that play havoc with your perception of Gilneas.
Moving desktop wallpaper brings tranquil WoW scenes to life Disciplinary Action got bored with old-fashioned static desktops and decided to do something about it.
WoW Moviewatch: I Am the Warlock This is basically a trailer for the warlock class. Might be a good idea to re-run this sometime soon given the class' continuing population concerns, actually ...
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
So you want to play a windweaver, brewmaster, or mistweaver monk? Damn, Chase was busy this month. I'm cheating here as the mistweaver article was published in July, but the full series was among the community's earliest and most comprehensive looks at what the monk class brought to the table and how its mechanics different from existing classes.
The OverAchiever: In which Alliance has it much worse than Horde For most achievements, there won't be any serious difference to the difficulty regardless of whether you play Alliance or Horde. However, with Cataclysm's shake-up to central Orgrimmar and Garrosh's relocation to the most heavily-trafficked portion of the city, Alliance has an absolute nightmare on its hands trying to get Death to the Warchief! done.
Lichborne: Fixes death knights need for Mists of Pandaria, part one and part two Death knights are a well-designed class overall, but they'd been plagued by a number of nagging issues throughout Cataclysm that didn't seem to budge despite Blizzard's tinkering.
Blood Pact: Warlock tanks are void where prohibited Remember the huge dust-up about warlock tanks? It started in June and reached hysterical levels over the summer as tanks feared being pushed out of 5-man jobs. Megan and Matticus pottered around with the Dark Apotheosis on the MoP beta and came to the conclusion that traditional tanks didn't have much to fear.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: 2007 to 2012 in warrior years Rossi celebrates 5 years on the job as the warrior columnist. From all of us rage-users to the godfather of the red bar, skål!
Shifting Perspectives: Lifebloom is like broccoli, and other lies my mother told me Not long afterwards, Blizzard increased Lifebloom and Harmony's timers, allowing resto druids to have a bit more fun with the spec while still "eating their broccoli," as it were.
Blood Pact: The problems haunting affliction Megan had previously written about affliction's problems with the self-healing nerf, and returned in June to examine the spec in minute detail. As Marsico9 notes in the comments, the risk versus return on the class feels off, and maybe that's the reason for its population issues.
The Light and How to Swing It: 4 necessary elements of a successful tank UI One of the more under-appreciated reasons for tanking success is how quickly and cleanly you can access information. Walsh walks you through it.
Odds and Ends
Know Your Lore: King Varian Wrynn, or how I learned to love the jerk "You know," mused Anne, "for a Horde player I certainly write a lot of Alliance articles."
I met the critter guy Dawn relates a story about meeting Blizzard's "critter guy" at the previous year's BlizzCon. A very sweet article about the power of human connection as exemplified by ingame skunk spawns. No, really.
WoW Archivist: Blackrock Depths, WoW's ultimate dungeon I'm inclined to agree with the monkier "WoW's ultimate dungeon," and Scott's summary of what made it so badass: "BRD wasn't just a dungeon. It was a civilization, and you were there to bring it to its knees."
Transmog your way into a classic plate DPS clown suit "Because we really did raid looking like that."
Which race has the creepiest-looking children? Goblins, followed by humans, apparently.
WoW Archivist: Massacre at the Crossroads Newer players may never have experienced this, but the Crossroads was once the site of major interfaction battles for control of a key Horde quest hub. An excellent piece that I suspect will make experienced players think about their own days in that blood-soaked and oddly enjoyable bit of hell.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.
2012'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!