Raiding Research Online

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Archive for the ‘elite’

New poll and audio interview with members of DREAM Paragon

February 17, 2012 By: Ladan Category: Cataclysm, elite, podcast, raiding, raiding guild

New poll about 25-man raiding guilds

I’ve put a new poll up for you to weigh in on. I’m trying to get an idea how what we’re observing/thinking about what I see as a dwindling in the 25-man raiding numbers. Is this true? What are you noticing about your own server?

New interview with members of Paragon

I just completed an audio interview with some of the guys from Paragon. We talked about Tier 13, membership changes, class disadvantages, the dwindling state of 25-man raiding, and the future of the raiding scene with MoP on the horizon.

And I do get into some fun personal stuff too! Anyway, it’s in two parts and also housed on my youtube channel. Do enjoy. :)

Exodus Interview, Part 2

February 01, 2012 By: Ladan Category: Cataclysm, elite, media, podcast, raiding, raiding guild, World of Warcraft

Hi again, everyone.. can you believe it’s February?

Anyways! I’ve posted the 2nd part of my interview with Exodus, the US raiding guild that ended up ranked 9th in the overall Tier 13 race and 7th in the 25-man race. I think this part of our interview is particularly interesting. I ask them about their past experiences with bug exploits and bans, and we talk about the ethics around the issue. The guys were remarkably open and unapologetic in their views, which I’m sure will trigger some debate but also just seems to highlight to me the complexity of the issue.

Enjoy and do chime in on your thoughts around the issues raised in the discussion.

The “saddest world second ever” (Part 2)

November 17, 2011 By: Ladan Category: boss fights, Cataclysm, elite, Firelands, progress raiding, raiding, raiding guild

If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to peruse Part 1 of this post first.

NOTE: This post does contain some strong language. I apologise to the faint of heart, but I believe that most of those who bother to actually read my walls of text will be capable of coping with a few strong words uttered in the heat of the moment.

And so we continue our exploration of the experience of Method over the summer…

Let me preface this part by explaining that a lot of my observations in this section are based on listening to and documenting the audio recordings the guild made for me of their attempts on both Majordomo and their early attempts on Ragnaros in early July 2011. This was captured by Xabok for me while they were live raiding. Now, unless I’m corrected, I believe I’m the first academic to receive, and Method is the first elite raiding guild to actually make, recordings like this for the sake of research. (That’s the geeky kind of thing that gets an academic researcher giddy…) I’m only excerpting a tiny portion of what was said for the sake of brevity and to try and capture the experiences and feelings of the raiders involved. Method has always been pretty willing to point to their own mistakes (you only have to watch some of their funnier “first kill” videos to see that they will often add on a minute or two of footage showing their fail wipes before getting to the actual successful kill) and I think this willingness to help me out with my research request says a lot about them and about raiders in general, particularly about our brutal honesty about things. We know we usually fail a LOT before we finally succeed. And even after we succeed we’ll often fail all over again.

On some level, reading these experiences of a top level guild might be comforting to those guilds that are further down the raiding path and who might mistakenly believe they are the only ones who have missteps and mistakes along the way. Trust me, we all do,  just at a different pace and in different ways. It’s much harder to be open about our mistakes than our successes, so thank you to Method for allowing me to observe your experiences. I’d have to say it took character. :)

Majordomo: Saddest World Second Ever

For Method guild members, the penultimate heroic boss fight (Majordomo) proved a genuine test of their guild’s orientation toward the competitive and actually allows for a compelling exploration of how competition is enacted in different ways during a contested raiding race. Majordomo took, according to Valiane’s estimates, 71 tries before the group was able to defeat him. This is in stark contrast to the estimate of 23 tries (in total, mind you) on the first four bosses. (I tried to wrap my own mind around the fact that guilds at Method’s level need so few tries before actually defeating the majority of heroic bosses in a given instance. But anyway…) Method determined a tactic early on that they knew would help them defeat the boss as long as it was executed properly. But things did not go so well, according to Trekkie:

We had a strategy… [but] every try was some kind of execution fail one after another. The second try we tried that tactic we got him down to like 30% or whatever and that’s basically the whole fight.

So the guild knew they had a working tactic but their execution of it was letting them down. The frustration over these “execution fails” were audible on the TS recording. Why? Well, the guild knew that every failure on their part meant that the now five-hour advantage they had on Paragon was being squandered away. Sco, the guild master, can be heard quietly but unrelentingly attempting to refocus the guild by making what reads like a prophetic statement:

Ask yourself if you want to kill this boss before Paragon as we’re playing like shit please. This boss is actually not that hard and I think you don’t realise we’re going to lose the world first on this fight.

All is not lost at this point yet, however. Majordomo has still yet to be downed by any guild (it’s some time before Paragon actually get him down). And an attempt to refocus appears audible on the recordings as the group starts all over again. This time the fight is as successful as they’ve been so far. Calm and controlled, members of the group call out information, others inform the group of their actions, some warn the group of the various Gamic devices from the boss. (If you need a reminder of how this boss plays out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh8rZZm_-ng) It appears to be going well, the boss’ health, after a concerted and prolonged effort of about 8 minutes, has been diminished to under 10%–the end appears nigh. The world first is in hand. The group sounds focused, oriented, and animated. Instructions are handed out efficiently, encouragement is offered, pleas are uttered (mostly by the guys who are laying there dead already, forced to watch/listen from the sidelines):

Nuke nuke, come on!

Nuke please…!

Come on…

Oh nice nice…!

Go go go go…!

And then they wipe.

1.4 million.. 0.4% wipe.

Fuck, oh my God…

1.4 million, that’s oh my God…

They had managed to reduce the boss’ health pool by 99.6% and only 0.4% remained. Anyone who’s raided before understands how painful this is. To have gotten so close only to fail at the last moment. The group has failed. They must collect themselves, return to the raiding instance, and start again. General disappointment with the group’s failure to master or exhibit the skill it knows it can are muttered, “We almost don’t deserve a world first with this play, honestly”. This kind of talk is not unfamiliar to any of who have experienced progress raiding. The idea of “deserving” that accomplishment can often come into question when we are not performing to par, even if that par is based on achieving a personal or guild best. I think what struck me the most when I was listening to the recordings at this point was how familiar this all sounded. How often have I heard a raid leader or raid member say something similar in an attempt to jolt some improved performance into the group or at least vent at the perceived inability to succeed?

The group goes at it again. For we’re resilient and persistent if we’re nothing else. And yet…

Another wipe.

And then… simply these words on TS:

Paragon got it.

Fuck.

The TS channel, which had been up until this point quite active with various members of the 25-player group speaking even in the wake of the 0.4% wipe, goes silent for almost 1 minute. For me listening to the recording, that minute felt like an hour.  It is about 01:30 am game time at this point and Paragon had only killed Majordomo a few minutes earlier. The race to down Majordomo first was over.

And then, like a knife cutting through dense air, a singular voice is heard on TS:

If we kill it this night it should still be fine.

This was in reference, I am later told, to the idea that if they can still kill Majordomo soon they would have about the same amount of time to work on Ragnaros, thus levelling the playing field for the final contest once more. So the group must shake off that 0.4% wipe, get over their failure to defeat the game mechanics, and overcome their demoralized state over losing the world first on this boss to Paragon and concentrate on the goal of beating Paragon in the overall fight.

Somehow this statement helps the group. They start up again. It’s not a perfect “getting back on the horse”, however. They have one more wipe. But by the time the group has collected for its second try since learning that Paragon has killed Majordomo, they are a more focused group, although not quite what they had been. Things have definitely changed. I hear a quieter, less animated discussion than I had heard earlier in the recording. Are they more focused than ever? Tired? Fed up? Maybe all of the above. And then:

There he goes… come on…

It’s beserk.. he’s dead, he’s dead.

Finally.

Fucking…

Good job, guys.

It’s done.

The saddest world second ever.

It is. Indeed, indeed.

It is 02:09 am. Method has achieved the world second kill of Majordomo on heroic mode. No small feat for us mere raiding mortals, but it’s a pitiful recompense to these competitively oriented guys. I can feel the disappointment in their voices, the subdued reaction to the kill being indicative of the guild’s failure, at that moment, to achieve its external competitive goals—killing the boss ahead of Paragon. And when I asked Rogerbrown later why he felt this kill was the “saddest world second ever” (as he had said on that night in July), this was his explanation:

Sad because obviously we could have got the kill before them and we had an advantage over Paragon. Not as big as it seemed in our heads, but we had at least 5 hours ahead of them to start with.. so we felt like we lost our chance there to get a world first and it was demoralizing.

So while the Majordomo fight was not the most contested fight in the Firelands race, it proved quite disappointing for the guild.

But at that point what could the guild do? Well, shake it off. They allowed themselves a few minutes of post-kill analysis and then moved on. And that they did—with a dash, that very same night, to clear the trash and get a peek at Ragnaros. Can’t let a failure to win hold you back from continuing to try and win, after all.

And what of Ragnaros? Well, it was not a simple fight and the race, at least at first, appeared it would last a long time. Method assumed every other guild was at the same impasse. But then Paragon got him down. Xabok, guild officer and raider in Method, explains how they learned about the kill, which initially surprised them all:

We were finishing our raid, we had just killed Ragnaros on normal mode and waiting on the nerfs. And the gear reset and Sco is like officers come down and we have a meeting and 5 minutes in Artzie comes in and says Paragon killed it and we’re all like what the fuck because we just said the boss is impossible. So I was like, they did it or they cheated or we just got outplayed. And we waited on the movie and we were like, ok we got outplayed.

Paragon’s successful killing of Ragnaros came a week before Method was able to successfully kill him and the guild acknowledged that in that fight that they had been “outplayed”. In my later discussions with the group there seems to be a state of polite acceptance over the Ragnaros kill. It seems to be less painful, less of a sting than the Majordomo fight. I know that placing 2nd is still not good enough for them, but they acknowledged that Paragon just outperformed them to get it done first. I suppose you could say it was good sportsmanship. Shakaroz, with over six weeks to think about the experience, offered the following analysis of their competitive experience in the raiding instance:

It’s like we won the first half of the instance. Against Baleroc we won against them but then they caught up with us at Majordomo. We went into Ragnaros being sort of equal, we had a point each and then it was the final showdown so I think we were, I was at least perceiving Paragon as equal to us at that point and when they killed the boss it really came as a shock to a lot of people because I didn’t expect them to be able to kill it. And a lot of us were talking about Ragnaros being impassable and previously we had been talking about not raiding as much and waiting on nerfs, at least a phase 4 nerf so we could do it with 4 meteors. We did not expect Ragnaros to be killable at that point.

And adding to that analysis, Rogerbrown notes:

When Paragon killed the boss, yeah, we, even though we were shocked or whatever I at least didn’t feel like we didn’t do our best—meaning that it wasn’t skill wise that we failed or anything like that so the only flaw was that we didn’t have the alts or the roster big enough to accommodate the tactics. It was pretty much fail preparation and not fail tactics.

So for Shakaroz and Rogerbrown the failure on Ragnaros was about external factors that they had not planned for or accommodated, “fail preparation” and a belief that “Ragnaros being impassable”. And what I believe made the Majordomo kill a greater frustration to those I spoke with was the idea of a “fail execution”, or the inability of the members of the group to properly execute the correct strategy. This idea of different forms and consequences of group failure is really well represented in raiding, which enables us, I think, to have a varied response to the reasons that we fail, not just in a game but in life too. What’s important to note here is that they did not blame their failure on Ragnaros on the failure of skill or ability, necessarily. If anything is to be “blamed” here, it might be the groups’ acknowledged “fail preparation” for how to handle the boss fights in such a tight race.

The poignancy of the group’s strong negative reaction to the Majordomo failure (despite the fact that the failure did not mean they would necessarily lose the overall race against Paragon) seems to point to the significance that these additional levels of competition and performance play for raiding guilds. It’s not simply about the overall winning of the race, it’s about how they win it and, subsequently, how they lose it. Do you prefer to lose to internal factors that you can control or external ones that you can’t control? What is a worse fate?  And for Method, those factors that they knew they had a control over in that Majordomo fight—the accurate execution of a proven game tactic (Gamic competition), their own performance and ability levels (Internal competition)—had not been successful and that proved to be a significant and unacceptable failure on their part. This illustrates the significance of these types of competitive attitudes amongst raiders and indicates that how you win (or lose) is just as important as winning itself.

The next tier of raiding is almost upon us and, as usual, the race starts all over again. Will Paragon retain its throne? Will Method achieve its goal of unseating them? And what of the other elite raiding guilds that are also hoping to claim their stake and ranking? After all, it’s not just about those two guilds. I’ll be on the sidelines—as usual—waiting to hear how things are going and who is moving up and down the ranks, thoroughly enjoying the rollercoaster ride these guys put me on!

What makes a raiding guild ‘elite’ and this week’s raid-themed musical medley

June 10, 2011 By: Ladan Category: elite, progress raiding, raid-themed musical medley, raiding guild, raiding research

This week’s topics will cover some thoughts I’ve been having about what makes for an elite raiding guild and will wrap up with this week’s raid-themed musical medley.

What is an elite raiding guild?

If I’ve spoken to you about my research, you know that I’ve been speaking with raiders from all sorts of backgrounds and rankings. This is helping me document the most complete picture of what we are doing in the raiding community and how we like to pursue our love of raiding. In addition to casual, social, hard core, and high-level raiding guilds, I’ve also had a chance to speak to quite a few of what I call the ‘elite raiding guilds’ about their experiences. These experiences have been extremely rewarding and the next few blog posts will be about my time speaking to guilds like Inner Sanctum, For the Horde, and Ensidia. I also have a very long overdue post about the amazing interviews I did with Blood Legion and Premonition many moons ago.

So what makes an ‘elite raiding guild’ elite? Well this brings me to some interesting ideas about what and how we describe guilds in raiding. For example, a guild might be called social or casual while another could be called hard core or elite. These descriptive terms are often based on two factors: level of success and raiding schedule. One might also add in skill level, but that’s somewhat problematic as I’m finding variation in skill at different levels. But in the case of what we often refer to as elite raiding guilds, I’d say they generally fall within the top 50 or 100 of the world rankings (though these numbers seem arbitrary and are even contested by those who fall in the top rankings). But more than that I’d say that the designation of elite could relate to the pace of progression. If a raiding guild has successfully cleared all of the latest tier or heroic raiding content and has been comfortably farming the content for a significant period of time (like the past few months), I’d say that puts them in the area of elite, moreso than hard core. Another criteria for an elite raiding guild would be competitiveness. On some level these guilds are looking for top rankings in the world or their region. They gear up for this strategically and are often found on the public test realm (PTR) before new content comes out to give themselves an added advantage once the content goes live. If we look at the current pace of progression, for example, and consider the two least killed bosses–heroic Al’Akir and Ascendant Council–we’re only in the hundreds as far as guilds who have cleared all of the content. And I’d say that the number of those who are actually comfortably farming raid content is even smaller.

I think I’d be hard pressed to find someone who’d argue with me about the fact that guilds like Paragon, Method, Adept, Ensidia, vodka, and For the Horde are clear examples of elite raiding guilds. I think I could even safely say that every guild that cleared the content within, say, 2.5-3 months of release are elite raiding guilds. But does it have to stop there? Is it about the activities of these guilds? Their skill? Their mind set? Is it a title of distinction that we (or Blizzard’s achievements) bestow on the select few? I recall back in November/December when I did the raider personality test with Paragon that when I asked the raiders responding to identify what type of guild they were in, some members of known elite raiding guilds (Paragon, in particular) were a bit concerned about being able to verify if the raiders who reported they were in elite guilds were in fact in those guilds. Why do we need to verify it? Is there a kind of status or identity that we have associated with the term ‘elite’ that needs protecting or preserving for the deserving few?

And what about the elite raider him or herself? Do they only exist in elite raiding guilds? Haven’t we all got raiders in our guilds–even at the most casual levels–that just seem to significantly exceed the skill and mindset level of the rest of the team? Those guys who just seem to get the fights without even having to think about them very much or who never ever seem to make mistakes? I can say that from speaking with and observing raiders in casual/social guilds and even more so in the hard core or high-level guilds we definitely have ‘elite’ raiders in those guilds too. They just seem to have an innate ability to raid well. Their decision to remain with a lower ranked guild may have more to do with the social side of raiding than the performance side. They want to play with their friends or don’t want to let their raiding guild down.

So what makes an elite raider elite? Or an elite raiding guild elite? I’m not exactly sure but they are definitely questions that are on my mind! And you can imagine that this leads to a whole other level of questions about what it means to call a guild social? Casual? Focused? Hard core? High-level? Hybrid? We may never have a perfect definition, at least not one that will ever satisfy all raiders out there.

Raid-Themed Musical Medley: Grunge!

I am taking a slightly different approach to this week’s medley, but hey this is my idea so I get to make the rules, right? Anyway, it’s a grunge music themed medley! This medley was created for someone dear to me who is going through an extremely difficult time right now–you know who you are and I hope you enjoy these selections; I even got Pearl Jam in there! ;)

First up we have the lords of grunge, Nirvana, covering a Meat Puppets’ song ‘Lake of Fire’. I believe the concept is quite self explanatory, particularly with Firelands coming! Just remember: lake of fire = bad.

Next up this song reminds me of those days and days of wipes during progress raiding: Soundgarden’s ‘Fell on Black Days’. We keep falling and falling, failing and failing… until something finally clicks and we get that pesky boss. What’s next?

And finally, to round us up, we have Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’. This song immediately reminded me of that classic fight scenario where everyone is dead except for a single tank and healer. The boss is at less than 1% and manages to die from the remaining dots and whatever damage the tank and healer can do. Yes, mr. tank and ms. healer–’you’re still alive…’ Now go raise the dead.

Do you have a Method?

May 21, 2011 By: Ladan Category: boss fights, Cataclysm, elite, raiding, raiding guild

Note: Yes, it’s another wall of text! But I tried to fix this with some music and video footage… I just had too much to write about my wonderful chat with Method and this is just barely touching the surface!

Preamble: A raid-influenced musical medley!

I’ve never added music to a blog post before but lately I’ve been accused of creating walls of text… so listen to this music while you read! Or don’t! At least enjoy the breaks in the wall of text!

I should preface this by saying my taste in music is as varied as there are stars in the sky, so my selections here are more of a whimsical attempt to represent common raiding elements through a particular genre of music. I’ll do a Nirvana or Arcade F ire one next….

Anyway allow me to present “Raiding deadmau5 style”:

  • “Raise your weapon”–well, duh… it’s a raid and melee have to do more than just stand there looking pretty with their big weapons….
  • “Move for me”–how many times do I have to tell you to move and get out of the fire/goo/crash/lava? Yes, you!

Also, I’d say these songs reflect more how I felt about my discussion with Method than anything else. Plus I had the awesome deadmau5 on my mind. Enjoy, guys. :) See below for the actual article…

Introducing Method

So what do you get when you put seven Greeks, a Welsh guy, a Scouser, and a couple Scots together and then add a dash of Danish and Swedish, a bit of Romanian, a sprinkling of Dutch, a healthy measure of French and German, a splash of Finnish and Portuguese, a pinch of Serbian and Polish, with a generous helping of an allegedly cross-dressing American*…?

(*Sorry, Shaam, I could not resist…. ;) )

No it’s not a United Nations meeting or the participants in an ill-fated holiday at a Mediterranean beach resort…  it is Method. You might have heard of them? That guild that’s been nipping at the ankles of Paragon? Well, they’re an OK guild… three world firsts during Cataclysm, eight world seconds. Not bad. Maybe they are better than OK…. Actually, one might even say they are extraordinary.

I can safely say speaking with Method was a very eventful two hours of my life. We laughed, we cried. We talked about our feelings, we shared our thoughts on the future. But seriously, if I had to pick one word to sum up my impression of Method it would be “certitude.” And before you have to look that word up, allow me to provide a definition:

The state of being certain; complete assurance; confidence.

Method exemplifies certitude to me because in our discussion they didn’t just talk about what their goals are with raiding but they feel certain that they can do it. And what’s that? Well, they want to be the world #1. (As Rogerbrown said, “It’s the one thing Method hasn’t done yet.”)  I can relate to that. No one likes to be in 2nd place. For some reason it feels even worse than 3rd or 4th place. It is *almost* number one. It’s so close you can taste it. But Method feels more ready than ever to try and dethrone Paragon. Sco, Method’s GM puts it quite succinctly: “”Our progress on this tier was good. It’s quite high in regards to our previous finishes. And I feel like our roster since progress has gotten even stronger. Realistically achieving that top position has never been better for the guild.” Certitude? Most assuredly.

Method speaks about: The progress race, “broken 10-man,” and dungeon journals

It was a tight race during the first tier of progression raiding. According to wowprogress’ ranking criteria, less than 600 points (out of a maximum of 42000 points possible) separated Method and Paragon from each other when all was said and done. In fact, the top four guilds (Paragon, Method, Ensidia, and For the Horde) were extremely close in the final rankings. But that’s how the elite raiding guilds like it. In some recent footage taken at a gathering in China, some elite raiders from Paragon (ranked 1st) and For the Horde (ranked 4th) were interviewed saying that having strong teams to compete against was integral to their enjoyment and focus during the progress race.

Progression racing is challenging, both by design and circumstance. It requires a lot of time and focus and can often present a series of unexpected bumps in the road, like trying to master the encounters while Blizzard is still tweaking them. Members of Method pointed out how during progress raiding one guild would get a boss down using one particular approach but when they would try and use a similar approach it would not work because Blizzard had  “fixed” it between tries: “The worst thing was when Paragon killed something and then afterwards it was fixed so no other guild could kill it using the same mechanics.”

If you remember any of the back-and-forth during the progress race, some members of high level guilds vented stress about this in different ways, with some occasionally blaming certain guilds for “questionable tactics or mechanics” and others pointing to a flaw in the way the encounters get “hotfixed” between attempts. I asked Method how this experience was for them and where they fell in the debate–it was clear they found this more an issue with the approach to raid design and did not hold any hostility toward any particular guild for this. As one member pointed out, “Of course when we’re in the middle of progress we’re a bit aggressive to each other because in the end we want to win. But afterwards, when you look at it and how it went, you don’t really blame them—you can’t blame them.” Their “blame” seemed more directed toward the way in which mechanics for encounters were changed right after they were used.

Their criticism of how raiding mechanics are handled and improved extended also to the 10-man raiding race. While Method itself did not engage in 10-man raiding they acknowledge the “broken” nature of the encounters at that level and the fact that it took game designers a long time to introduce changes. “10-man raiding this tier was just sh**. They didn’t test it and it was not tuned at all,” Padmay says. “You can see how much they care when you see when they patch things for 10-man so late in the game. We’re about 4 or 5 months into the new content and they realised some abilities are impossible on 10-man and they are just now fixing them,” notes Rogerbrown.

“I think that’s why they forced us to test 10-man on the PTR this time, so it’s not so screwed up,” explains Padmay.

Another area that members Method chimed in on was the inclusion of so much information about heroic raid encounters in the forthcoming Dungeon Journal (see my last blog post about this). Though the comments below show that not every member feels the same way about it:

  • “There is only one boss we can’t see on the PTR, but the mechanics are in there, so basically there is nothing left to explore.”
  • “It’s like reading the end of the book, it’s like spoilers.”
  • “It’s a nice idea and it’s not bad but how they approach and how everything is available, that shouldn’t be right now.”
  • “Would be better if came out two months after.”
  • “It’s maybe not that bad but it’s like a puzzle you’re making and you know what the puzzle will look like. But you have to put them there though. It’s not going to do it itself. The boss won’t just die because you read the journal.”
  • “It fits the image of WoW turning casual.”

The atmosphere of Method

Method isn’t just a place where good raiding happens, however. It’s got the other key components I’m finding are essential to any raiding guild’s long term success: stability, a positive social atmosphere, and a commitment to each other. Sco, with the pride typical of a person who established and spearheaded this guild since its inception six years ago, stresses the longevity and stability of the guild: “I would say this is the final resting place for 90% of the players [who join Method]. I mean there is nowhere else for them to go if they want the pinnacle of raiding. Method’s pretty much among the best international groups that you can get.”

And just like with every other well established guild I have ever spoken to (from the most casual to the elitist of the elite) having a positive social atmosphere is integral to the success of the guild. They are often on TS and IRC chatting while they play, they like to do other things between the hard core content, and they have met up in real life (yes I have given visual proof of this along with some questionable singing and pole dancing on the part of a certain guild member!). And another area of focus for a lot of elite raiders between new raid content is focusing on other games, such as Starcraft 2. Some are competing, but most are just enjoying watching the competitions unfold. When I asked how they would compare the competition of WoW with the competition of SC2, Padmay explained it’s “Completely different as you can live off of playing SC2 but not with a game like WoW with its large teams.”

Method has some similarities to other elite raiding guilds that may help support raiding success at this level: similar demographics (average age is early 20s and mostly male), the required skill set, and a lifestyle (through work or school) that allows a schedule flexible enough to tackle the demanding progress raiding schedule when it hits.  Another important fact that seems pervasive in and fundamental to all successful raiding guilds (and I’m not just talking about elite guilds here) is a respect for the aims and goals of the group and, often, its leaders. Method members kept pointing to the valuable role that their GM Sco has played in the smooth functioning of the guild. Their respect for him and the guild’s goals was evident when we spoke. They also jokingly said that Sco’s “commanding voice” has “scared” them at times. “If it’s not you being yelled at, then you find it pretty hilarious, but otherwise it can be pretty scary” said one (mostly joking). “We need good leadership and Sco provides that.”

What’s your Method for a world first?

And Method had their share of spectacular world firsts during the last progress race: Magmaw, Atramedes, Chimaeron (on 25 man; Ensidia actually achieved the overall world first on 10-man). Below is the video of their Magmaw fight. I absolutely loved watching this video–even rewatched it a couple times! I particularly liked their relaxed, calm (well mostly calm) demeanor while they casually down this boss for the first time. The laughter and jokes you can hear on vent point to the positive atmosphere in the guild that I experienced when I interviewed them. I could tell they were loving what they were doing. And considering the guys spent up to 12-14 hours a day during peak progress raid time, their cordial, spirited attitude says a lot about the guild. Trust me, if you can make jokes and sincerely laugh after spending that much time together, you must have something good going.

And the progress raiding is intense. “We had maybe 7-10 days off out of a two month period,” explained one member. And working around the clock was not unheard off for the guild, though they knew when to stop if the group kept making the same mistakes due to exhaustion. Of course this did not prevent them from getting a few kills in the middle of the night (in fact, their world #2 Conclave kill was at 4.30 am game time!).

Method vs. Magmaw: World First

Personal favourites in this video: 1. Vent is just free running, “having a blast” and 2. The phone ringing at 4:29 or so.

As far as their approach to raiding goes, it felt very similar to what I’m learning about the other top guilds: A loose structure with some specific instructions given but, overall, mechanisms like vent or TS are used for ongoing discussion and feedback while individual raiders are just expected to “do their job.” There are very few reminders to move at certain times or react in a particular way: they are just doing it. Obviously when we watch kill videos and the like, we’re only seeing a raiding guild when they are achieving success–we don’t see their 6,931 wipes–but I think in the case of Method here, we have had a nice opportunity to watch their PTR footage and the same ongoing discussion and feedback seems to be happening here. I actually asked the guys if the PTR chatter was normal for them and they all emphasised that it was.

And speaking of PTR and raiding and listening to Method, tonight (Saturday, May 21st) they are appearing on Nordrassil radio! Live! Go check it out. I will be. :) http://www.nordrassilradio.com/site/method-live/