Happy holidays everyone! I hope the Cataclysm is continuing to be fun for you and all your friends in the game. This is the time of year when Larisa over at Pink Pigtail Inn takes a look back with her readers and the blogosphere at large as to the biggest happenings in Azeroth in 2010. Without further ado, here is the Healer Trek vote for the 2010 PPI awards.
1. Best Raid Instance - Icecrown Citadel. Since the Cataclysm first tier raids are not eligible and only Ruby Sanctum came out during calendar year 2010, the only remaining choice is ICC. However, that should not take away from one of the better designed raid instances in the game's history. ICC was a nice capstone for the scourge storylines in WOTLK, and the Lich King fight at 80 was a real challenge even at the 30% buff. Defeating Lich King may be my most memorable raid experience ever in World of Warcraft because you really felt like you earned the Kingslayer title. The first bosses were nice and easy but the difficulty ramped up appropriately all the way to Arthas.
2. Least Successful Raid Instance - Ruby Sanctum. I did throw ToC back into the mix here, but Ruby Sanctum was largely played for a week or two and then completely ignored by the playerbase. Considering ICC had been out for 8 or 9 months and nothing else was going on in the game, this instance was a complete flop. I made one attempt on Halion with my guild, but even the mini-bosses were relatively glitchy and difficult to handle. People have no patience for that, especially when the gear is a waste of time late in an expansion. The raid should have given more unique rewards, and then it might have succeeded.
3. Most Longed For Instance - Icecrown Citadel. For over a year, all we saw were short cutscenes and one large Wrathgate story movie featuring Arthas, the whole reason we were in Northrend. Especially after the flop of Trial of the Crusader, an instance with lots of challenging trash and 13 diverse bosses on varying difficulty was just what the doctor ordered. The downfall of the Lich King was certainly the thing everyone looked forward to in 2010.
4. Silliest Gold Sink - Dual Spec (at 1000 gold). One of the worst feelings in the world is paying one price for a product or service and then seeing that same product go on sale shortly thereafter with no way for you to pay less. In 2010, I spent 4000 gold on dual spec for four characters. This happened because I like to heal, but leveling in healer spec is not always a good idea. However, right after buying it on my druid and my paladin, the price dropped to 100 gold. Then again to 10 gold! For those of us who got in at the going rate of 1000 gold, it was money well spent but a gold sink compared to how it is given away today.
5. Biggest Addition to the Game - Looking For Group (LFG) Interface. The runner-up in 2009 still resonates as just as important as Dual Spec. LFG has changed the way we play, allowing instant grouping across servers and basically killing the trade chat groupings PUG'gers had to deal with previously. There's still no replacement for a good guild-based instance group, but when in doubt or during down hours, LFG allows you to play the game you want to rather than be forced to do something else.
6. Best Quest - The Twilight Cultist Pre-Cataclysm Quest Chains. In the final days before The Shattering of Azeroth, the first taste of Cataclysm arrived in some quirky quest chains around Orgrimmar and Stormwind for about a month. In addition to random elemental attacks all over the world, you got to infiltrate the Twilight Cultists and try to undermine their efforts to bring on the end of the world and destruction of the major cities. It was a compelling and different take on telling a story, and a job well done by Blizzard for a one-time event.
7. Ugliest Tabard - Kirin Tor. Maybe purple is attractive to mages and other Dalaran lovers, but it just looks awful with most serious gear. By the time you got good gear, the last thing you wanted to do was cover it up with a big ugly eye. Yet that's just what the Kirin Tor offered. Better than Wyrmrest Accord, but not by much.
8. Favorite Non-Combat Pet - Pandaren Monk. While I personally would never pay real money for an in-game pet, the cash-based offerings have not been disappointing for those who want to give their characters something a bit more special. Perhaps my minor infatuation with Kung Fu Panda colors my judgment here, but seeing that little Pandaren bust out some kung fu kicks always makes me giggle and smile. And that is precisely what a non-combat pet is for!
9. Biggest Community Controversy - Real ID snafus. I really should say the guild cap, but that only affected my guild Alea Iacta Est and a small handful of others. A much bigges issue was the release of Real ID without control over "friends of friends list" and other features, followed by the near disaster that was requiring Real ID's to be used on the official blizzard forums. Real ID is a great tool, but like Facebook, you have to enable users to maintain their privacy and Blizzard just did not consider these items well enough, especially when it came to forum posts. Blizzard employees get hate mail and harassed by forum trolls, so why would they expect the rest of the world to subject themselves willingly to that harassment? Blizzard underestimated the potential downside to Real ID, and the community outcry was just enough to save the day.
10. Most Charming Blizzard Employee - Russell Brower. Sorry if that's misspelled, but Brower is the musical director for World of Warcraft and has done a great series of interviews on The Instance podcast in 2010. Brower always seems more than happy to share as much as he can about musical direction of the game and upcoming patches or expansions. It is great to see someone so proficient and so passionate working behind the scenes to make a critical aspect of our beloved game better. If you are playing Cataclysm without the music on, you are missing something great.
11. Best Podcast - The Instance. Randy and Scott hit 200 episodes a couple months ago, which is simply astounding for a world of warcraft podcast. This is usually the first WoW podcast people run into and it remains one of the best. Special kudos go to Randy Jordan, who must write two hours worth of good discussion content for the show every week or nearly every week. Passion for the game is what makes a podcast great and these two guys managed to keep passion going during a rough summer and autumn downtime for nearly everyone else in the community of bloggers and podcasters. The oldest podcast is the best for 2010.
12. Biggest Blog Facelift - Other than Matticus, who has already won, I cannot think of a real notable facelift of any of the bloggers I follow. I am certain some out there did better than what I did with modifying the header, so I'll leave this category to those who know better. Besides, when pink is available, why pick anything else. Honorable mention goes to arkslaw for an updated banner, even though he updates about as much as me which is to say not often!
13. Most memorable blog post - The PuG and the following entries from Gevlon. Just when it looked like Gevlon had blown all out of steam with his economic take on the world of warcraft, he decided to take on a new project with a bold announcement. Following his success in taking down Ulduar in blues, he thought up a PuG guild where his anti-socialist ways and super efficiency are valued above all else. If you want to see raiding treated like a business, this is a fascinating set of entries to follow that continues to this day. In fact, this is really the entry that spawned a whole new Gevlon.
14. Most Noticed Blogger Breakthrough - Lathere and Cassandri at HoTs and DoTs. Although the sisters from Australia had more entries in six months of 2009 than they had in all of 2010, their fun style has put them on many blogrolls of others I follow. That's as good an indication as any that this blog is having a major breakthrough. And how could you not appreciate the name?
15. Most Solid Content Provider - Matt Low both at World of Matticus and wow Insider. Matt Low is probably the face of the healing wow community, and although he does get some assistance from co-writers at WOM, he still manages to produce multiple quality articles every month. Plus, his perspective on raiding and leading a raiding guild provide valuable insights to other guild officers and even the regular guild members of other guilds who wonder what goes on behind the scenes.
16. Most Hugged Blogger - Tobold. One of the most solid content providers of the past two years has gotten into some battles but keeps blogging and coming back strong because his community supports him well. There's nobody that stands out like Phaelia and BRK from a year ago, but Tobold deserves all his hugs as well!
17. Hottest Blogosphere Topic - Real ID. Not only does it count as the most controversial happening in the community at large, but Real ID set the blogging community on fire more than any Cataclysmic announcements. Whether you were for or against the changes, everybody had something to say.
18. Best Writer - John Patricelli at Big Bear Butt. I'm not a tank, this I accept. Sure I find it fun on the Death Knight from time to time, but my attempt to tank with my druid have been fail fail fail. However, Patricelli explains things so well about tanking that even I feel like I can get it (as a healer). That's a great achievement, and he's entertaining to read to boot. Definitely my favorite read of 2010.