The Blizzard Watch staff’s favorite posts of 2018
In some parts of the world, it will already be 2019 by the time this post goes live. But for us here at Blizzard Watch, we still have a bit of time before the clock ticks over and our lives suddenly become 2019 lives. So, we decided it would be fun to look back on the year and pick out some of our favorite pieces of writing from 2018. I mean, all the cool kids do it, so why not us, right?
Below are what the various Blizzard Watch writers had to say when asked about their favorite piece(s) from the past year — not surprisingly, not everyone could pick just one. Before diving in, however, I want to give a big shout out to the batch of writers who joined us in 2018. Their contributions helped keep everything moving, and their additions to the team gave us more voices. Let’s start with their picks, eh?
“The Warbringer: Jaina cinematic is probably my favorite video that Blizzard has done. It tells a story, has a killer song, and looks drop dead gorgeous. I was very nearly ready to change my Horde axe for an Alliance sword when I saw it. Picking my favorite post of the year was easy — It had to be my first. Not only was it my first post on Blizzard Watch, but it was my first post anywhere!
“I’d like to give a big thanks to Liz, Anne, Mitch, and Anna for helping me to become the best writer I can be. I’ve never had a job like this before. Especially one where I’m proud to talk about what I’m doing, and having this much fun. I just had my 51st article go up, and I can’t wait to see how many more I’ll have written by this time next year!”
“Anytime I write about Mercy, it’s a snapshot of how I consider her place in Overwatch’s current meta. It’s been a long road of balance changes to for her and to analyze them is to reveal the intentions and implications of the team’s warping design philosophy. Every time something happens to her, it’s positioned as relief from a simple problem, so I wrote this piece to deconstruct that. Because it’s far from a simple problem.
“Even if the numbers in this piece are now slightly different in the live game, Overwatch still has this open wound that needs more than a Twitch streamer or a professional player’s remarks to treat. This piece highlights the flaws in assuming hero changes exist in a vacuum and it argues for a game that believes in purposeful imbalance like it did when it launched two years ago.”
“For me, #1 is the gallery about dying on pointy things. It’s #1 because it probably exemplifies best the kind of crazy things we do in Spectacular Death. The next is the gallery of graveyards because the two kind of go hand-in-hand. After that, it’s the outhouses gallery.
“In terms of writing an article, I think my favorite has been the one about getting a chicken in the Waycrest Manor World Quest.
“As I said in the article, I’m not a collector, per se — although I just got the achievement for having 800 distinct battle pets — I had no idea I had that many. I liked, very much, how my guild rallied and ran Waycrest for anyone who wanted to get a chicken. I received a number of whispers thanking me for the article. So, you get a chicken and you get a chicken and you get a chicken…”
Anna’s top pick was a wholesome one — about our favorite Scrollsage and her joining of Twitter.
“This year, I wrote other posts that are technically better. There are a few which better represent my personal and career development as well. I wrote every dang week of Overwatch League. There was the hectic mess of BlizzCon, which I worked as an Editor — 2 weeks after getting the job pro-tem when Adam went on paternity leave. Trial by fire.
“I also got to write the Queue for the first time. That was surreal for me, because I first started blogging in earnest after looking at the requirements for an opening at WoW Insider. I had formal training as a writer but I was woefully out of practice, so I decided to write my own — every dang week — about pet battling.
“Joining the crew when Blizzard Watch launched cemented my love for an already great community, and the embrace given to Maryann Strossner is emblematic of that. Getting to highlight her was a joy, and seeing her get to deliver her famous line to the crowd at BlizzCon as they absolutely erupt still makes me teary. It is never too late. Make 2019 the year you do that thing — you know the one.”
Like many, Scott couldn’t pick just one — so he went with three!
“I was helping out with BlizzCon coverage and, entirely by happenstance, the task of breaking out the Diablo Immortal announcement fell to me. I tried to put a good face on it and stay positive in the initial post. In my heart, however, I knew that Blizzard had just done something incredibly tone deaf that would tarnish their reputation for a long, long time. Later that weekend, I posted my thoughts about exactly what Blizzard had done and how the backlash could have been avoided.
“BlizzCon 2019 has a lot of work to do to make up for what happened last fall. I look forward to writing about how the Diablo 4 announcement more than made up for the Immortal PR catastrophe.”
“I always had a weird feeling about Artifacts in WoW, ever since they were announced. A nameless anxiety, that as amazing as it would be to wield these weapons, it meant something seismic was subtly shifting within WoW. We learned in BFA that Artifacts were just the first iteration of Blizzard’s long-term plan: to create “rental” bonuses and abilities that players would only use for one expansion. I’m not sure this is a healthy direction for the game, and this article laid out why. Later, when we all experienced Battle for Azeroth firsthand, I think it reinforced a lot of what I wrote about here.”
“The Thori’dal incident from 2008 is a perfect example of how passionate players were about WoW in its early years — and how guilds controlled access to both raiding content and loot. Before the Group Finder and LFR, it was difficult to even set foot in a raid zone without a guild. This was especially true during The Burning Crusade. With all that power came the ability to make truly terrible decisions, as one guild proved.”
Rossi had quite the year, with several Diablo Know Your Lore posts — which were then conveniently rounded up! Said Rossi, “I like [this post] because it shows off how many Diablo KYL posts we’ve done. Turns out a lot.”
But Diablo isn’t the only thing we write KYLs about, and Rossi has a couple other top picks:
- On the origins of the Drust
- On Saurfang and why you should care about him
- “Because Gnomes are awesome”
On top of that, Rossi was key in bringing our Character Profiles and editorial content to life. If you’ve never read one of those profiles, hoo boy — you’re missing out!
“I summed it up in the article, but after over 11 years of reporting on WoW I finally met Chris Metzen at BlizzCon and he was gracious and kind and funny. I never thought meeting him would be a fanboy moment for me, but I surprised myself how much it meant to me when he complimented the site. Easily the highlight of the year for me.”
“This was a hard decision, but the best content I produced this year was ‘How to have 5000g at the start of every Hearthstone expansion.‘ The post was born out of my own struggles to keep up with Hearthstone’s new release schedule without spending more real life currency than I was comfortable with. This kind of guide is something I still haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s helpful, informative and unique to our site.
“A close runner up was ‘Smash your enemies in melee or blow them up from range as a Survival Hunter in Battle for Azeroth.’ This post was a culmination of my time in the Battle for Azeroth beta. Not only did Survival Hunters undergo some of the largest changes from Legion to Battle for Azeroth, but personally, this article was part of my decision to switch from Paladin to Survival Hunter as my main (though I’m more often BM these days thanks to the melee unfriendly design of Uldir and the new class specific raid buffs).
“‘BlizzCon 2018 Hearthstone: What’s Next Liveblog‘ marked a big moment for me as my first ever Live Blog, and represented an expanded role in with our Blizzcon coverage this year. I took the day off from the “day job” and had a single day where my primary focus was writing for the site and I loved every minute of it. This also led to my seven year old son and I watching the Ashe trailer together and getting him into Overwatch, and to a lesser extent, World of Warcraft. Being able to share my passion for Blizzard games with him was a highlight of my year.
“I loved the nostalgia trips I made writing ‘Remembering WoW Classic: The Paladin class in Vanilla‘ and ‘No, you aren’t going to burn through content too quickly in Classic WoW.’ If the T&E rumors of Tinkers turn out to be unfounded, I see myself spending plenty of time with my Classic character. I’m leaning Warrior. HonorsSword?”
My ultimate nemesis picked a post not on Priests, but on leveling changes as a result of patch 7.3.5’s scaling mechanics.
“It’s an odd one to pick, but it calls to my obsessive need to research everything. I liked doing it because I hadn’t seen much about the nitty gritty and full details of level scaling, and stuff like this is what I tend to look up on my own anyway. So many guides will gloss over or give an overview of what’s going on, and I really liked being able to dive in and do a full breakdown of all the zone ranges and scaling.
“When you’re on a low-level character, WoW only tends to show what you can queue for or go to right then, with big ?? for anything too high above you. It’s annoying to have to log over to a max level character every time you want to check future leveling ranges. I felt it was important to have a full list available somewhere on the internet.”
Anne had but two picks and little to say about them — but that’s because the posts themselves say so much. Especially the one about stealing candy from children and buying a dead cat. Yeah, feels like an Anne pick.
Y’know, sending this request out to the team, I wasn’t surprised to see a few people respond with more than one post. But I didn’t actually realize how hard it would be to pick one post until I went down the line and did the same thing myself. When I boiled down my posts to my favorites of 2018, I ended up with… 10 posts. Oops.
That said, I’m going to go ahead and say my top pick of 2018 was my post on the delightfully, terrifyingly creepy Abby Lewis and her lovely quest chain in Drustvar. The post itself isn’t much more than a rundown of the quests, but it reminds me of the first time I set foot in Drustvar and the first time I saw Abby. It was one of those experiences that just stuck out to me so much because it was everything I loved in a zone — and I had to write about it!
The others? Most of them fall into categories that either take a long-form, critical look at what Blizzard’s doing in its games, or an examination of what other games are doing that I’d love to see Blizzard do. It’s fun to take a step back and look at Blizzard from a more critical angle, whether that be criticism or feedback, and I’m proud of having done that on more than one occasion this year. It’s writing I enjoy, and I hope to do more of it in the future.
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