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The Raiding Pinnacle: Method

Article originally posted on Manaflask

Welcome to the Raiding Pinnacle, where the top guilds share their opinions on raiding, WoW in general and everything else you might want to know about them. This installment features Method, the No.2 guild in the last Tier of content and the current leaders on Firelands progress. They got the World First on Baleroc the Gatekeeper less than a day ago and are, as of this writing, still the only guild to have done so. So let's find out what exactly gives them the drive and ambition to keep raiding when everyone else has gone to sleep and snag that WF on the so far hardest boss in the new instance. (Obviously the interview was done before Firelands progress, as I doubt they have enough time to even tab out at the moment).

We will also have answers from the GM of Method, Sco, and will update this article as soon as they are in. They should also cover the current heroic race so stay tuned.

Let's start with some introductions.

Hello, my name is Panagiotis “Xabok” Rekoutis. I am 23 years old and living in Patras, Greece. I am the Priest class leader of Method! I started playing World of Warcraft on December 2005. I played on Stormscale EU for almost 4 years until I migrated to Xavius. My first character was a Priest named Xabok and I still play him as my main. On March 2010 I decided to take a step forward in my competitive gaming and apply and eventually got accepted as a trial at Method. Looking back to what I have achieved in Method so far I feel proud and very lucky to be a part of this amazing guild.

I finished my studies in computer science but I’ve been unemployed for the last two months as the company I was working for collapsed (economy crisis anyone?). I love to jog, travel and, after being a martial artist practitioner for a fair amount of years, I have to admit I am a huge fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as well.


You're the 2nd best guild in the world atm, what is special or different about your guild that got you to this position?

By quickly looking at the failed trials thread on our forums I can say that we have had around eighty people who have trialed with us since Lich King heroic first fell. Most failed to get past their trial period, very few succeeded, and even fewer are still playing . What changed since then is that Method got picky! We were lucky, of course, to receive good applications and we wouldn’t have had today’s success if we didn’t. And no offence meant to anyone who left during this period, with only a couple of exceptions, every new member who replaced the ones who left is far better. Also, the guild back then had around forty members and today we have around thirty. So, good recruitment brought us to this position and I have to admit that the good work with recruitment still continues. I can honestly say, at least for the period I’ve been in Method, that our roster is stronger than ever before and we’re aiming for a top rank in Firelands.


Your guild is composed of players from many different countries.  Does this ever become a problem, in regards to communication, or even cultural differences? Do you think the single-country guilds like Paragon or For the Horde have an advantage because of that?

I can see the advantage of a guild speaking the same language; I also have to admit that in times of great pressure if I want to talk to a fellow raider to do something during the encounter and he/she is Greek like me then I start talking Greek. But, definitely what matters the most in a guild is that everyone has the same goal in the game. If every member shares the same passion and dedication to achieve the guild's goals then you have made the biggest step toward success. So yes, I see the advantage, but it surely isn’t the most important thing.


What else do you think Method does differently from other guilds?

I haven’t been in another top ranked guild myself in order to know exactly what the differences are, so I will have to compare the statements from other top raiders on how they do stuff. So, something different that I have to admit we do during progress is correcting things that went badly the previous try and pull again, find another mistake after wiping to it, discuss what the problem was very fast and pull again, wipe,  fast discuss, perhaps new assignments, pull again, and never stop with that procedure till the boss is finally down or people start feinting from exhaustion. We are very stubborn. Also, we don’t sit and discuss for like one hour before we do another pull and calculate all odds. Is that good or bad? I don’t know. But it seems it worked for us during the last tier of progress at least.


Time investment in raiding. Do you think it's basically a necessity to be able to raid almost all day every day now in order to be competitive in the World First race?

Absolutely. If you want to compete for top ranks you have to play all day, every day. Skilled players aren’t only gathered in the top 5 or 10 guilds. There are loads of extremely good players and extremely good guilds that have insane progress for the amount of time they  spend on the game. It is really critical to be able to raid a lot during progress to achieve top ranks. At tier 11 the race time invested played a huge part on the ranking of the guilds. The progress was long and tiresome. No gating and trying to down Sinestra heroic, for example, with several blue pieces still equipped wasn’t pretty at all. About Firelands progress: I think it will be different. We have tested almost all bosses on heroic difficulty so far and I have to admit they seem pretty killable. I don’t think the progress in Firelands will take that long, perhaps two weeks. But most definitely the time invested in there will play a major part deciding which guild will be ranked at what spot.


What's your opinion on the non-raiding side of Cataclysm?

I play the game for the raids; I don’t PvP, I don’t farm achievements, I don’t quest. Mostly, when I don’t raid I do 5-man instances with my alts. I have a fury/prot warrior named Zabok and an unholy death knight named Sabok and I have to admit they loved the gear from Amani heroics so they could pull their weight when they got to do some alt raids. :P


Was the Tier 11 progress length too much? How did it impact the guild and what would you change about it?

I never imagined the progress length of tier 11 content to be so long. The bosses were very challenging with the gear we had available at that point. It became obvious after the first week of hard modes that progress would take a long time. You needed loads of gear to get past several bosses that you simply couldn’t do with a full blue-geared raid, and other bosses that required a fairly good geared raid to get beaten (Ascendant Council, phase 3 anyone?). I would welcome a gating system or just the fights to be generally a bit easier and more doable with less gear. Not easy to the level that Naxxramas 25 was, but something closer to Sartharion 3 drakes I’d say.


Encounter difficulty, did Cata really live up to the "harder" image it went for?

When it comes to raiding hard modes, yes. Even now during farm we might wipe to the easiest of the bosses just because no one pays the required attention and a chain reaction of terrible mistakes happen that eventually wipe us. But, all the bosses require attention on hard mode now. During ICC, for example, you had the farm buff and even with the biggest of mistakes the dps and healing was so huge that you could do fights with 15 people alive and not wipe. Mistake tolerance was huge back then. I remember raids where we just exploded the oozes on Putricide like kids failing on balloons and no one was dying.


Class balance and class stacking - one of the more controversial issues of this expansion so far, what are your thoughts on it?  Do you think it has become a must-have ingredient of the raiding culture now if you want to be in the top?

Class stacking helps on encounters and gives you the privilege of “ignoring” certain abilities of the fight. It makes your life easier. Method didn’t take that approach last tier and I would say that we most likely won’t do it this upcoming progress either. But, that doesn’t mean we are against it. I promise you if Nefarian was killable with only ten plus feral druids for more than the first kill we would have taken that approach as well.


Best and worst encounters in this raid tier.

Least fun: Conclave of Wind.
Most fun: Sinestra I guess – it was a huge relief after the boss was dead.


What's your overall opinion of raid Tier 11?

Pretty long and tiresome race. Bosses that weren't doable without a decently geared raid. We enjoyed it and hated it at the same time.



PTR testing of new raid instances.

- Do you hate it as much as other guilds?

It’s a necessary  evil! If a guild decides not to raid on the PTR it has a disadvantage on information about the fight itself. During the race for world first you really want to have as much information in your hands as possible for the least time wasted on trying positioning, movement, and cooldown synchronization tactics, whatever would make you faster on finding the suitable tactic to kill the boss in question.

 - Do you think that it really is necessary, could Blizzard test the stuff internally well enough if they tried properly?

Well obviously “if they they tried properly.” We weren’t able to test final bosses, such as, for example, Sinestra or Algalon or the Lich King, of course. They did that by themselves and they will do it for Ragnaros now as well. It’s the same principle – If you do testing for one boss , do it for all by yourself or let us test all. We can see the downsides on that though. If we had tested hard mode Algalon on the PTR, no need to say how bad that would be on such an easy boss – that the only thing that made him hard was that he was available only one hour per week.

And if Blizzard tests alone we can see how many bugs are in the encounters and guilds getting punished for “testing encounters live”, Saronite bombs anyone on the Lich King platform? I guess Blizzard game testers aren’t so pro on their rotation (lol). And also the Sinestra orb bug - which was such an obvious bug - I don’t want to know how they managed to miss something like that, testing hard mode encounters on god mode I guess.
Assembling a squad of dedicated encounter testers would be such a nice move from Blizzard and I am talking about a proper 25man raid and 10man raid setup of testers here.

- How much of an impact is it on the real progression race when it starts?

Top guilds that don’t have access to the PTR are getting affected by it. Not to the degree that they represent it (but I don’t blame them since they haven’t done PTR with 400ms and buggy fights with “invisible” spiders shooting you so you mostly waste 90% of the time invested on the PTR) but I can sincerely say that it is giving us a minor advantage. Because, at least, our attitude toward the boss is different. You know you have killed this boss before, so you trust you can do it again.


Favorites!

- Raid instances
Ulduar.

- Boss encounters
C’thun.

- Expansion
WotLK.

- Tier set design(s)
Tier3, Faith.

- New Features
I like the changes to 5-man with so many additions lately. Also the latest new improvement is really awesome: being able to invite RealID friends of yours to do 5-mans with is a win. On the other hand, it’s sad that you have to pay extra for that service.

- 5 man dungeons
The new Zul’Aman is nice!

- Game(s) aside from WoW
I am not that much into games anymore outside of WoW. I used to play when I was younger, like being very competitive in Counter-Strike, WarCraft3 or DotA but I don’t play anything  else anymore. I use my free time either on WoW or other hobbies.


Do many/any of your members PvP and is it a part of the guild itself? What about Rated BGs, do you fix guild groups and go own it up?

I personally don’t PvP and don’t do rated BGs , but there are some people in the guild that like doing it. I don’t.



You've had a good look at the new bosses coming in 4.2, what are your overall thoughts on them?

Fights look pretty killable to me so far. Will have to see how they will be released on live to have a better idea of it. But I don’t believe progress will take more than two weeks, which is pretty fine by me as it’s summer and I need to get my sexy tan. :)


Which one was your favorite and which one do you think is best designed?

Majordomo is a very well designed fight and I think tops my favorite list so far. The boss swaps forms and changes his abilities depending how close you stand. Pretty cool mechanics. It's also a dps and hps test. I can’t wait to pwn this noob boss on live to be honest. :P


Do you think Blizzard is doing a good job of fixing the issues you encountered, and do you think the raid will be bug-free when it releases?

I don’t believe there was a content release so far with zero bugs. I also don’t believe Firelands will be the first content release to be totally bug free. On the PTR the bug fixing process was extremely slow. Beth’tilac is a good example of that; we went there 3 different nights to test her. And all 3 times there was the same bug which made the boss impossible to test. All I hope for is bugs that will not affect the race.


Do you think this will be the right amount of bosses for progress?

I guess what really matters is the difficulty of the bosses. You might have five hard bosses like in Bastion of Twillight, apart from Halfus. And you might have eleven easy bosses like in ICC, apart from Lich King. What I prefer most is ~3 weeks of progress; the number of bosses is irrelevant. Difficulty is what matters.


Casuals and Hard-corers (it's a word), do you think Blizzard are doing a good job of catering to both?

Well it’s a question about balancing it so that Blizzard is reaching out to as many of their subscribers to keep them pleased but still making the game appeal to people coming to try it for the first time. What Blizzard has done over the past few years is pretty much opening up more content so more players will have the chance to experience it instead of the top guilds being the only guilds who are doing all of the content. But when having to take the casual players into consideration they can’t please all the hardcore players with the difficult encounters with really difficult and demanding mechanics since most of those mechanics would have to be a crucial part of the encounter which would make it close to impossible for them to later nerf the encounters, so that the casuals would be able to do them. Something when looking at catering to casuals vs hard-corers, most people don’t take into consideration that people have gotten a lot better at playing their class/spec. This results in people knowing how to use or abuse class abilities and counter mechanics in fights which forces Blizzard to constantly try to come up with new “KILLER” abilities which will make it hard to nerf the fight once progression is over and the next tier is close. The fights as they are today are starting to get pretty simple for the top raiders.

Looking at Firelands you don’t really need any boss mods to do the bosses. Of course they make it easier but the boss mods are far from needed since Blizzard has started to feed the raiders with so much information via raid announcements and chat messages which is just another way of catering to the casuals. This results in making the hardcore progress a lot easier than it used to be when you basically had nothing and had to wipe over and over to learn the abilities and see when the phases change, if new abilities are gonna come into play and so on. Now it’s just about reading the Dungeon Journal and you know pretty much everything. Looking objectively at the balance between the two it’s pretty obvious to see that Blizzard are heading in the direction of catering more to the casuals since that group of players are the biggest part of the subscribers.


In closing, do you think we're headed in the right direction in top-end raiding, on Blizzard's side and on the guild's side?

I don't believe there is an absolute answer to that question. Blizzard is heading towards the correct direction but there are always parts that don't satisfy you. Call it boss difficulty or progress length etc. I know they can't satisfy everyone, because not all of us have the same expectations about the game so that makes their work very hard.
As far as I am concerned, I am happy about the game so far. If I wasn't I would have stopped playing it.

 
And for the very end, let's kick it old-school: