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…
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*â€¦?
(*Sorry, Shaam, I could not resistâ€¦. )
No itâ€™s not a United Nations meeting or the participants in an ill-fated holiday at a Mediterranean beach resortâ€¦ Â it is Method. You might have heard of them? That guild thatâ€™s been nipping at the ankles of Paragon? Well, theyâ€™re an OK guildâ€¦ three world firsts during Cataclysm, eight world seconds. Not bad. Maybe they are better than OKâ€¦. 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 â€œcertitude.â€ 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 didnâ€™t just talk about what their goals are with raiding but they feel certain that they can do it. And whatâ€™s that? Well, they want to be the world #1. (As Rogerbrown said, “It’s the one thing Method hasn’t done yet.”)Â 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. Itâ€™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. Itâ€™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 thatâ€™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 hadÂ “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 weâ€™re in the middle of progress weâ€™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 donâ€™t really blame themâ€”you canâ€™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. Methodâ€™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.Â 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/