This is the fifth year that I've done the Best of WoW Insider series, and I have rarely encountered a month in which it was harder to cut so much out in pursuit of the "best." March 2013 was embarrassingly full of riches. I mean, any month in which a major patch drops is always interesting, but this one just had a tidal wave of great commentary, screenshots, art, and machinima. I apologize to everyone and everything that I had to leave out.
The end of the month did get a bit quieter. I can't tell whether that's because players settled down a little to work on the content, or if it's because Bioshock: Infinite dropped on the 26th and everyone played themselves into a state of collapse.
Patch 5.2 official patch notes Patch 5.2 went live on March 5, and there was much rejoicing (unless you were a fire mage).
Ghostcrawler and Daxxarri talk classes in 5.2 A series of developer articles on class changes in patch 5.2 and (more importantly) why they had been made.
A guide to looting the Troves of the Thunder King An exhaustive amount of work by Anne gave us all the information we needed to hit this scenario like the fist of an angry god.
Patch 5.2: Beasts of Fable and Elite Battle Pet walkthrough Judging by the traffic, people bookmarked this and are still using it regularly 9 months later.
Short-lived bug gives windwalker monks huge damage numbers Windwalker monks needed a buff and got one. Oh, boy, did they ever get one.
Draztal ends the "WoW is too easy now" argument in a long and beautiful post "If you are going to read one blue post this year, make it this one."
DREAM Paragon take world-first heroic Lei Shen 20 days after the patch, and the guy is no cakewalk even now. Congratulations!
Opinions and Editorials
Ready to storm the Throne of Thunder Without any new raid content since MoP went live, players were going a little stir-crazy waiting for all of the goodies in patch 5.2. Also, dinosaurs.
Five reasons patch 5.2 will pull you back into WoW Because dinosaurs.
Why head to the Isle of Giants? More dinosaurs.
War is all hell: The use of moral ambiguity in Warcraft We genuinely liked the Dalaran quest series that resulted from patch 5.1 and want to see more of it and war's "corrosive effect on morality" in WoW. As an extension on this theme, I'd recommend Sarah's The Horde rebellion, loyalty, and leadership from later in the month on why characters with divided loyalties are so compelling.
What will the mystery feature be? Several things, as it happened. Rossi correctly guessed that "raid scaling" (now known to us as flex raiding) was in the works, although I'm not sure that any of us anticipated it would become the standard raid model in the next expansion.
Shut up and take my money: Thoughts on Blizzard's paid services A sobering essay from Kristin on why the need to keep services like server and faction transfers from being abused creates its own set of problems. We don't really have any issues with the fees for cosmetic services, but recruiting off-server can be a major hassle due to the real-life expense involved. Blizzard's answer would eventually be connected realms.
Guild leadership and guild leveling As Rossi wrote in team discussion, "We still don't have an alternative to the 'Guild master owns the guild' model, and I really think we should."
Arts and Entertainment
WoW Moviewatch: Oh, Great, Yet Another WoW Harlem Shake Video We came so close to never running another one of these, and then Baron Soosdon did one.
Sam Raimi explains why he's not directing the Warcraft movie The saga continues ... until you find out that someone else has creative control, in which case it comes to a crashing halt. We updated this with a cryptic tweet from Rob Pardo hinting that more was going on as well.
WoW Moviewatch: Banquet party in Orgrimmar Some machinima films are about beautiful art and music, or telling a compelling story, or exploring fables in a dreamlike landscape. Some of them are about dropping thousands of banquets in a major city because you can.
Around Azeroth: Good luck, you'll need it Around Azeroth succinctly captures the difficulty of pugging Oondasta. Due to the lack of skeletons in the Chinese version of WoW, this is what they get to see. Perhaps inevitably, Oondasta was nerfed shortly after.
WoW Moviewatch: How to trick people into thinking you're okay at PvP A depressingly accurate film from Slightly Impressive, who was on a roll this month with How You Should Feel About WoW and Stuff PvPers Say too.
Around Azeroth: Remain in light This one's a little hard to look at now. One of the most beautiful screenshots of the year.
WoW Moviewatch: Dinosaucers: Horridon I should really just include everything that Fifth Element did this year, and TMNT: Tortos was possibly the better example to single out. Good guilds deserve to have a mad genius making videos for them like this.
Five World of Warcraft machinimas you need to know about I would have included Warrior's Dream in the top five, but would be hard-pressed to have booted any of those present out. Do not miss the comments.
Classes, Raiding, and PvP
Officers' Quarters: Casual raiding's demise? "As I've written many times, casual raiding should not mean lazy or selfish raiding. Too often, casual raiding guilds encourage this behavior and call it a virtue because they're not 'judging' anyone."
The 15 nastiest trash clears of WoW Writing this was therapeutic. Vade retro, SSC trash!
Cynwise dissects patch 5.2's battleground scaling Not all of it was good news. Fortunately, the hit issue turned out to be a bug that got hotfixed.
Blood Pact: Thundering on and on about raid gear in patch 5.2 Hilariously, even Megan is forced to concur that Oondasta does in fact have the best loot table in the world, but "the squishy spellcaster ilevel 522 items look like we got the unimaginative end of the stick."
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Arms in 5.2 Arms as a spec never really found a happy medium this year, though I did enjoy Rossi's description of the play style as having a "drinky-bird feeling."
Blood Pact: On the usefulness of SimulationCraft In which the numbers spit out by a helpful theorycrafting tool are not necessarily a mandate for you to pursue within the game.
What's stopping you from PvPing? A cause, and a solution Adam was prompted to this one after asking the same question on Twitter and getting an avalanche of replies, most of them saying some version of the phrase, "The other players."
Blood Pact: To summon or not to summon, that's the question Some of the more annoying mechanics related to pets have been removed, but the AI still has its issues.
Lichborne: The hidden skills of the tank I feel like this and Adam's essay on tanking should be required reading for anyone interested in making the switch to a tank spec.
Resto druids vs. the world 2: War harder Don't look at the combat logs. Just assume it's your own damn fault.
Hunters get more pet slots: Running out of things to complain about Meh, we'll find something.
Odds and Ends
Are you a rare? Reader requests edition We followed up an earlier article to look at underplayed race/class combinations and threw in a peek at gender as well. TLDR: Here's hoping that Blizzard never programs an achievement requiring you to find a female dwarf death knight.
How one 5-minute AFK cost one WoW player 476,000 gold Why small children are not to be trusted in the presence of cute, adorable, awesome, and expensive pets.
The OverAchiever: The game's 13 vanished titles Or, why the people on your server with Death's Demise will never wear anything else.
WoW Archivist: Blizzard's April Fools jokes are more real than you think The April Fools jokes that Blizzard has done over the years have been stellar pranks, but as Scott reminds us, the pandaren were once among them. I miss Crabby.
Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: Carved by similar hands This is one of those things that's so crazy you almost hope it's true. While you're at it, you should probably read Anne's KYL on the mogu.
The video gamer's guide to time management Foremost among this advice is finding a guild and friends with an approach to the game that's similar to your own, as Robin and Lisa also observed in a later Drama Mamas column.
WoW Archivist: 11 moments from WoW's history that should become scenarios The "50 DKP Minus" scenario should be turned into another Proving Grounds: Show you're capable of raiding without raining death on everyone around you.
Texts from Azeroth This merits the same kind of warning we give before linking TVTropes.
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!