Our staffers and columnists went into overdrive preparing for patch 5.0.4 and the eventual release of Mists, so opinion/editorial work took a backseat to class preparation. However, we did find time for haikus, Tides of War, the MoP cinematic, and a little shopping.
MusedMoose: I stood in fire. / Everyone stood in fire. / It's an achievement.
TristanLeonard: No one remembers / Yor'sahj's name in my guild. / We call him "Skittles."
JeffLaBowski: Thank you, Olivia. / Now I'm counting all my words. / I ran out of beer.
metaphyzxx: I'm glad to be done / With this stupid expansion. / Bring on the pandas.
Docteurmi: Less QQ, more haiku.
Mists of Pandaria cinematic now available Bad. Ass. We collected player reactions from around the community as well. Oh, and if you look hard, there's an easter egg in the Jade Forest ...
Blizzard security breach, no evidence that financial data was compromised Angry users in the comments are met by IT professionals who point out that this is the first time that Blizzard's been hacked, which is a little early to establish a trend. And another reminder, folks: GET AN AUTHENTICATOR.
WoW Insider interviews author Christie Golden We had published a spoiler-free review of Tides of War a week before and generally liked it. Golden had some interesting notes on characterization, particularly one concerning Garrosh and why he's not necessarily as strong as he seems.
Blizzard working on new models of humans and orcs I don't think we'll see the revamps to the vanilla races for a long time, but it's cool to wonder about what Blizzard's doing in the meantime.
Mega Bloks: Goblin Zeppelin Ambush hands-on We were generally quite pleased with this outing from Mega Bloks, although our review was delayed for a good two weeks while Alex tore Wisconsin apart looking for his camera and, failing to find it, bought a new one.
What to expect from patch 5.0.4 The Mists of Pandaria content patch dropped on the 28th, and we wanted players to be ready for it. Judging from the traffic numbers, they did too. Oh, and we ran a full class guide.
Addons ready for 5.0.4 (and where to get them) Major patches tend to play havoc with addons, and a little planning goes a long way. Olivia did the legwork for players who wanted a hassle-free transition to MoP's content patch.
LFR, lockouts, and why Blizzard isn't your nanny "At some point, we need to take responsibility for how we consume content, not demand the game be changed to prevent us from doing so."
How World of Warcraft could save your business This one isn't ours -- it's a video of the researcher and writer John Seely Brown's explanation for why hiring a WoW guild leader is a safer bet than a generic MBA. If you can run a guild, shepherd a pack of quarreling guildies through a heroic raid, and construct a fair and equitable means of loot distribution, you've probably got the people-management skills needed to run a business. Then again, those of us who read Officers' Quarters already know this. And on that note --
Officers' Quarters: 5 ways to retain members in Mists In which prior planning doesn't just prevent poor performance -- it prevents an exodus of players uncertain about where your guild is going, and what place they have within it.
Healers need something like the raid dummies DPSers have a means of practicing and perfecting their rotations. Healers are pretty much restricted to on-the-job training, as it were. Wouldn't it be useful if they had more opportunity to practice without the pressure of having to keep a group or raid alive?
WoW Moviewatch: If Women Ruled WoW 2 An all-star voice cast contributes to a machinima that's primarily about making an unsettling point. The best satire bites, and this one has teeth.
Around Azeroth: How to kill your dragon I wish I'd thought of this for movement-dependent boss fights.
Cataclysm: Your reviews in haiku I might be stretching it a bit to call this "art," but what the hell. The comments are amazing.
WoW Moviewatch: Fear and Loathing in Pandaria: Kun-Lai Summit Part of a series from Baron Soosdon, all of which is well worth your time, but I picked his personal favorite zone to feature.
WoW Moviewatch: Vanilla WoW in a minute "Decurse. Decurse. Decurse. Decurse."
Travels through Azeroth and Outland returns One of the most popular fan works ever created, Travels through Azeroth and Outland is now following its narrator through Cataclysm and (we hope) Mists of Pandaria content. Seriously, folks, read this if you haven't. It will change how you experience the game, and all for the better.
WoW Moviewatch: Condottieri recruitment video "Contact any online member with the promo code I SAW THE EFFING VIDEO and you may be the next super-leet raid member." Yeah, we laughed.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
Scattered Shots: A closer look at the hunter rare tames in Mists of Pandaria Blizzard went into overdrive producing cool rares for hunters during Cataclysm and MoP, and Frostheim's got all you pet obsessives covered.
Encrypted Text: Rogue celebrities and the lack thereof How do we calculate the impact of even a single high-profile player to a class? If the purpose of a famous player is to show the uninitiated what can be done with a class, as Chase observes, then the rogue cup runneth dry.
A monk's refuge: Exploring the Peak of Serenity in Mists of Pandaria "Once you've done your training for the day, though, what else is there to do at Peak of Serenity? Shopping? Shopping."
Blood Pact: Transmog your Felguard's weapons, and other minor glyphs The siren call of shopping for felguard loot was also too much for Megan to handle.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Mists of Pandaria Arms 101 "I finally got to open an article with Patti Smyth."
Blood Pact: Guide to grimoires and demons There'd been a small uptick in warlock population numbers by August, and Megan decided it was time to run a 101 guide to pets and their uses for anyone new to the class.
Noble houses and nobility in roleplay This edition of All the World's a Stage fascinated me. There's a case to be made for roleplaying a member of the dwindling noble classes in WoW, but the class carries a lot of historical baggage.
The Drama Mamas guide to teen video gaming and World of Warcraft The Mamas have written a lot over the years about how to incorporate gaming into family life responsibly, and after getting a letter from a teen player who doesn't feel he/she's being treated fairly, make a number of suggestions on how to introduce a more realistic perspective on WoW to the folks.
Know Your Lore: A requiem for Staghelm Fandral Staghelm was one of the more unpopular figures in the lore, and his story didn't attract much attention when he wound up becoming a boss in the Firelands. However, he represents the loss of serious storytelling potential.
WoW Archivist: A fluffy history of companion pets A great history of non-combat pets, their attraction to players, and how Blizzard's approach to them has evolved. Awwwww.
Phat Loot Phriday: Rabbit Sometimes they're not so awwwww. The pet battle system resulted in a surprising set of ringers. Who knew mechanical gnomes were such badasses?
The OverAchiever: How to find the new cloud serpent mounts in Mists of Pandaria Oddly, this is still getting a lot of traffic even four months later, maybe because keeping track of all the serpents and where they come from gets confusing.
WoW Archivist: Patch 2.0.3: The first pre-expansion event I dearly wish I'd been around for this, lag and all.
Theramore: A short history Alliance players will want to read this to know what they're losing. Horde players will want to read this to know what they're blowing up.
WoW Archivist: Vanilla WoW's most hidden quest line We'd really like to see more "hidden" quests like this return to the game. As Scott observes, one undeniable aspect of the game's advancement is that WoW seems to reward exploration much less than it used to.
The long game of the naaru, part one and part two It took him a while to get around to it, but Rossi sends a volley back to Anne over the "naaru are actually evil" theory.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.