February 2013 was largely consumed with PTR work in anticipation of patch 5.2, and I'd be remiss not to mention the insane amount of work that Matticus did to get us up-to-date and accurate information on what to expect in the Throne of Thunder. Apart from that, February saw a run of great raid and guild recruitment videos in Moviewatch (not all of which I was able to include here, regrettably) and a noticeable streak of class-based introspection.
Burning Legion begins Russian invasion The Chelyabinsk meteor hit southern Russia in mid-February, and its entry and impact were captured on several dashboard and security cameras. WoW players were quick to recognize the meteor's extreme resemblance to certain ingame phenomena. As lucho_pinto in the comments quipped, "Best pre-expansion event ever."
Patch 5.2 and beyond with Dave Kosak A great interview on what to expect story-wise from the Throne of the Thunder King patch and how they worked on details behind the scenes.
Patch 5.2: The Thunder King official trailer An amazing trailer for an equally amazing raid. Here's where you'll hear that spooky poem that Kosak was talking about in the interview above.
World of Warcraft down to 9.6 million subscribers It seems silly to argue that doom is at hand when WoW is doing 10 times the business of its MMO rivals at its worst. I'm a fan of Lanceg's comment that WoW's biggest hurdle in retaining players is not necessarily the game itself.
Server outcast in South Korea rekindles WoW community The end to this story was not at all what we anticipated. More of this, please.
World of Warcraft study under fire in Congress North Carolina State University blew through $1.2 million in federal funds to test WoW's impact on cognitive function on older adults. Except it wasn't $1.2 million, it was $5,000. Oh, and the money came from the state, not the feds, and it was a pilot study had some promising results, which interested the National Science Foundation enough to fund a larger one that might help us prevent mental deterioration in the elderly. But apart from that, the House Majority Leader was totally accurate!
Opinions and Editorials
Ol' Grumpy and the dumbing down debate Ol' Grumpy rears his head to scold the players who think that the removal of pointless mechanics constitutes "dumbing down" the game. Does anyone out there actually miss the agony of gear advancement during classic?
What is the meaning of gear? Does gear exist to serve your goals within the game, or is gear the goal itself?
Nethaera puts the Knaak hate in perspective I'm sticking this in the Opinion section because you'll find an awful lot of them in the comments. On that note, we reviewed the first part of Dawn of the Aspects later in the month.
The burnout series I'm using this as a catch-all term for three articles written by Rossi and Anne on their guild's implosion and recovery: Should WoW broaden its appeal or narrow its core audience? This spawned an unusually thoughtful comments section, and with the benefit of hindsight, it also anticipates a lot of developer commentary at BlizzCon about too much convenience actually being a bad thing for the game. Arts and Entertainment
WoW Moviewatch: Lord of the Blings A truly epic, story-driven machinima that you don't see much of anymore. It doesn't hurt that it's also really funny.
How I write short stories for Blizzard We scored a coup in January by hiring Sarah Pine, who won Blizzard's first creative writing contest and then went on to write three short stories for them. This article was an excellent peek into the collaborative process with the Blizzard team, and how carefully everything is vetted before it becomes part of the official lore.
WoW Moviewatch: What is a guild to you? Possibly the best guild recruitment video we've ever seen with an unbelievable Morgan Freeman impression (no, really).
WoW Moviewatch: How to win at keyboard turning I would have been tempted to include this anyway for no other reason than the comment section, but the "Do you know what you can do with a millisecond?" section is inspired brilliance.
Around Azeroth: Not fade away The screenshot is beautiful. The story behind it is better.
WoW Moviewatch: Harlem Shake v9002 Remember the Harlem Shake craze? This is one of the better-done versions.
These vintage-style WoW travel posters could level up your decor When we got word of Josh Atack's old-school travel posters, there were only two, but now he's done Dalaran, Undercity, Zangarmarsh, Ironforge, and Thunder Bluff. An inspired idea.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
5 stupid-awesome uses for Glyph of Disguise My vote goes to the Sra'thik Hivelord.
Oondasta has the best loot table in the entire universe "What?" says Rossi in backchannel discussion. "He does."
Challenge mode whiz-kids spill their strategies This is actually the second part of a two-part interview with Nerthfu and Bouleau on the effort to get world-record times in challenge modes. An incredible interview, and they turned out to be depressingly accurate on the strengths and weaknesses that certain classes have in the format. I returned to this series for tips while putting together a challenge mode group later in the year.
The Light and How to Swing It: Putting the retribution back in retribution How to be completely evil, paladin-style.
Why should warlocks have all the class quest fun? The overwhelming consensus from players is that they shouldn't, and there's a lot of nostalgia in the comments over the now-vanished series of class-specific quests.
Should Moonglade return to being the druid's Peak of Serenity? And on that note, Robin nails something that a long-time druid players miss, which is the sense of Moonglade as a special and unique place for the class.
Encrypted Text: What would make you play a rogue? Class populations are still dicey at best for the rogue and warlock, and Chase visits an issue that's baffling to us all: What makes people play or not play a certain class? Are fewer people playing rogues because the class is less "fun" in comparison to others, or is something else going on?
Odds and Ends
WoW Archivist: Life and death For most of us, WoW is a fun game and a way to spend time with friends, but it's occasionally had a very high-profile impact on peoples' lives, for better or worse. Warning: There are severe feels ahead.
Lord Kazzak needs to visit Stormwind again, a lot has changed Agreed. Long before I ever played WoW myself, I'd seen videos of Kazzak rampaging through Stormwind with players diving for cover and thought it looked like a lot of fun.
WRUP: The dungeon most hated It'd be hard to name one dungeon as the absolute worst, but there's a pretty obvious series of frequent-flyers among the "most hated" camp.
The complete guide to roleplay in WoW We ended the All the World's a Stage column, but we wanted to go out with a bang. When Anne says complete, she means complete.
Know Your Lore: The strategy and tactics of Garrosh Hellscream As Rossi observes, Garrosh might be a great tactician, but his long-term strategic vision is no better than his grasp of military logistics. Saurfang's lecture in Warsong Hold was a sign of things to come.
The unfiltered Adriane Curry gets Explicit "When I hosted the live coverage of DirecTV at the last BlizzCon, I actually worked into the deal that all my guildies get passes." Damn!
My first week as Horde Joe's essay is a vivid reminder of how much the game can change once seen from the "other side."
Risk, on the board and in life A seemingly-innocuous Queue question results in Adam pulling no punches on the subject of personal health.
Are you a rare? Some race-class combinations are rare than others -- a lot rarer. And, as commenters point out, this is long before we even add gender to the mix.
A farewell to yaks There was an exploit with the toy item Ruthers' Harness that allowed you to summon an unlimited number of yaks to follow you around. Dawn, feeling a sense of responsibility that I admit I would never have felt myself, kept it quiet until the exploit was fixed because she and Olivia "both agreed that yaks should never be used for evil."
WoW Archivist: It's a secret to everybody -- the Linken quest line This was one of classic WoW's greatest quest series, and we miss it. Scott takes you on a trip down memory lane.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009, Best of 2010, Best of 2011, and Best of 2012 series.
2013'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!