November was possibly the most introspective month of a very introspective year. We'd had enough experience in Mists of Pandaria to sit back, take stock of what was working and what didn't seem to be, and start digging into the latter. Primarily, that meant LFR and the nigh-endless series of dailies.
But that didn't mean people weren't enjoying the expansion. Judging from the explosion of blog posts, commentary, and machinima hitting the airwaves in November, they were enjoying it a lot.
Blizzard responds: Security lawsuit without merit The law firm Carney, Williams, Bates, Pulliam, & Bowman, PLLC filed a class action lawsuit against Activision Blizzard accusing it of "negligent and deceptive practices related to its customers' account security." Did anyone bother to point out to them that authenticators exist primarily because of a little problem known as PEBKAC? (Well, I assume Blizzard's lawyers did.)
World of Warcraft's top 20 guild names Curiously, all of them are one-word only. In case you're wondering, Ascension clocks in at #1.
Murder this innocent creature, win fabulous prizes Title of the year. Admittedly, the reward for the killing of Manglemaw's Mother is less fabulous than we would like.
Bashiok confirms LFR no longer shows raid progress People who drop LFR early tend to leave newcomers with an endless series of half-finished or mostly-finished runs. Blizzard's trying to discourage the equally-endless series of declines from people who want a full run by refusing to show its progress. Players started trying to get around it pretty quickly, even if the proposed solutions didn't work.
Blizzard's tribute to 8 years of World of Warcraft A beautifully-done video celebrating 8 years (!) of WoW.
Opinions and Editorials
Why feedback works and why it matters Enthusiasm and emotion about the game are good, but past a certain threshold, you're a poo-flinging monkey who isn't doing anybody any good. An enormous comment section results, and it turns out a lot of players are tired of how people use the forums.
A solution to the LFR "problem" Dan Desmond revisits a topic that Olivia had talked about on Gamebreaker.tv at the very beginning of the month -- namely, the pressure that so many players feel to run LFR each week even if they're already in normal or heroic raids. It's a lot harder to change player culture than it is to change the game itself.
Is the new LFR loot system working for you? Feeling pressured into it or constantly getting half-finished runs wasn't the end of players' gripes with LFR this month. Big Bear Butt had written a post explaining exactly how the new two-roll loot system worked which made more sense than we'd seen previously. As he observes, the down side to the new system is that your odds of getting a drop can't improve outside of Blizzard's internal tweaking, but that doesn't mean the new approach didn't have a lot going for it.
Dailies and story development People had quickly soured on MoP's seemingly endless line of dailies, and Anne worked to untangle what was so different about this expansion's approach that had caused such widespread antipathy. The problem may lie, not in the grind itself, but in how many of the quests concerned just don't seem to move the story forward at all.
Tanks, healers, and a daily problem Low-damage characters are having particular problems keeping up with all the dailies. Like Desmond and Olivia, I think players feel pressured to run as much content as possible for the sake of their guilds, and when you're a tank or a healer, that pressure ratchets exponentially. Bonus points for the tank population, which has such a long wait for LFR.
The evolving design of reputation Rossi is not enthusiastic about reputation in a general sense, but he agrees with Blizzard that the old "championing" system from Wrath consolidated too much of the game's experience. He suggests a hybrid of Wrath and MoP's approach.
Reputation in review: The August Celestials Now there's a good question -- how the hell can you do so much for the Celestials during the leveling process and still start at neutral reputation with them?
Anduin Wrynn broke my heart Hey, jackass -- if I save your life, do you think you could find the time to remember my name? Alex.Szeto has a great point in the comments about generic NPCs who apparently feel comfortable calling you by your first name the moment they meet you, while some high-ranking muckety muck can't get it right even while you're wiping Deathwing's blood from your sword.
WoW Moviewatch: Who's Watching Me? At first glance, this doesn't look like it's anything special, but the joke just keeps building.
WoW Moviewatch: Warcraft Babies I'm amazed someone didn't think of this earlier, but what a brilliant way to milk comedic value from the cutesy series of "pet" raid bosses.
Around Azeroth: Dragon envy In my opinion, the most gorgeous shot of the year.
WoW Moviewatch: Pandaren Style Of the many Gangnam Style parodies and remixes that emerged on the machinima scene this year, this is by far one of the best-executed. Not too surprising, as its creator is also responsible for the famous World of Warcraft: Dancing video.
WoW Moviewatch: Tillers Are Greedy "Gina, I found some Lovely Apples and I don't know what to do with them." "You give them as gifts to people you want to like you more." "So I'm bribing them?" "No, they are gifts." "But I mean, it's the same concept." "I like Marsh Lilies."
WoW Moviewatch: The Other Sha "Bow down before the minor frustrations of your life of privilege!"
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
State of DPS in Mists of Pandaria Frostheim revived the popular series to see how classes shape up in the beginning of the expansion. "If you'll recall, the DPS spread in Dragon Soul, while not perfect, was actually the closest to balanced we had seen in WoW history," he writes. "So did Mists of Pandaria improve upon this balance? Or did we end up with boss mechanics and new abilities that widened the gap? The only way to find out is to sort through all the data, and then make pretty graphs out of them."
Resto druids vs. the world: Healer balance in tier 14 "Monks kicked your dog, seduced your mom, stole your XBox, and drove off in your car." Also, never underestimate how much Deep Healing can contribute to the volatility of shaman performance. Find a bad raid and stick with it, kids!
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Racial abilities and warriors A subject that Rossi hadn't revisited for four years. I rather like pmarsico9's comment that the best racial ability for tauren is how amazing they look in tier 6 with a Bulwark of Azzinoth.
Blizzard talks about Brawler's Guild Olivia had been the first of us to hit the patch 5.1 PTR to see what was going on in WoW's version of Fight Club, and followed Blizzard's development of the idea closely. Not long after, she published a follow-up to this article critiquing the PTR implementation and wondering whether portions of the Guild could be instanced to enable more accessibility to players. Great content isn't so great if you spend more time waiting for it than you do experiencing it.
Blood Pact: Zeroing in on the purpose of spell hit Prompted by a Ghostcrawler comment on whether hit was an interesting stat, Megan wrote what turned out to be a polarizing column on the advantages of getting hit-capped. As she pointed out, just about every sim you run assumes you're capped, and there aren't a whole lot of high-level warlocks skimping on the stat. Langis in the comments also observes that SW:TOR had an interesting mechanic in which any hit above the cap would automatically convert to another useful stat. Sounds good to me.
Addon Spotlight: Cooldown tracking and Personal cooldown tracking A great mini-series on how to set up your UI to keep track of two necessary bits of knowledge for raiding or PvP: What's the cooldown on my abilities, and when can our death knight hit Army of the Dead again?
What's the perfect transmog? "Perfect" is hard to quantify, but I suspect Dawn's prank on her boyfriend isn't it.
Know Your Lore, TFH Edition: When is a well not a well? "The Well of Eternity didn't represent power. It represented the answer to a question Sargeras had been asking himself repeatedly, for untold centuries: How does one kill a Titan?" A fantastic joint effort between Anne and Rossi.
WoW Archivist: Patch 2.1, The Black Temple Hot damn, what an amazing patch. The sheer amount of content released during The Burning Crusade is still mind-boggling.
Gok'lokk's Shell brings beauty to Pandaria How to get your Botticelli on in WoW. Around Azeroth had its own take on this rather unique item.
Know Your Lore: WoW for Dummies: Alliance, Horde, and evils of old A three-part series that will get you up to speed as quickly as possible on your faction's backstory and the game's historical context.
Druid blogger Lissanna lowers the boom(kin) on autism research I'm biased in that I've known Lissanna for years now, but this was a fantastic interview.
Officers' Quarters: 10 tips for successful guild events Occasionally I wonder if Scott is doing himself a disservice by not writing psychology textbooks on the side.
WoW Archivist: How forum trolls broke a CM Player responses to their torment of Tseric still make my blood boil: Hey, come on now," one wrote. "It's all in good fun. No, it's not, you miserable little twerp, it's cyber-bullying in everything but name only. Oddly, Scott published this a mere two days after Rossi's plea for more sanity on the forums. The GIFT is alive and well.
Know Your Lore, TFH: Flesh of the Makers Anne and Rossi don't usually tackle the same material, but their opinions on the Divine Bell text differed substantively from each other.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, and Best of 2011 series.