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Math Class: A Clan's Year One Story

Let’s warp back to summer of 2013. I’m getting ready to head to the gym for a workout. While waiting on a buddy, I’m scrolling through Twitter. I see a Tweet asking for another guest on a Destiny themed roundtable, and reply that I am open. The DM comes in. Ten minutes later, the stream starts, and one of the most rewarding journeys of my life is kicked off.

I’m Watts, I play Destiny, and I never made it to the gym.

Truth is, I had only grazed the surface of Destiny interest. At the time before this roundtable, I had been digging through the Alpha Lupi ARG on Like IRIS before it, Alpha Lupi had a way of further sucking me into the Bungie rabbit hole. I’d begun digging back into my old internet stomping grounds, re-connecting with old friends, and shooting a few messages out to see what folks had been up to in the limbo days between the end of Bungie-era Halo and Destiny.

I’ve been around the Bungie community for quite a while. Throughout college, I was hyper active on the B.NET forums. I founded a group named 118 that was strictly dedicated to community betterment. We just wrote a ton of long, antagonizing pieces about the internet being dumb. Foman banned me a lot. Even before that, I played competitive Halo. I attended several MLG events, and a host of local LANs. Then real life took over and I started the transition into balancing IRL responsibilities and gaming. Needless to say, that hardcore element all but fell away. Then I saw the Bungie ViDoc, Pathways Out Of Darkness.

Bungie was back.

That previously mentioned roundtable introduced me to a few new friends. Notably, it connected me with what would become the base Destiny community. That group of people eventually led me to meet ExpBountyHunter, who spewed on for hours about this PrimeGuard thing that he and one other were starting up. Exp was a spry dude; super excited about what Destiny would have to offer. It was infectious. So me being the elitist dickbag that I am, instantly thought that I could show this group a thing or two about shooters. I submitted an application to this PrimeGuard, which awarded me a reply:

Tell us about your MMO experience.

I’ve raided in WoW once. I hated it.

I don’t know if you’re going to be a good fit for our raid teams, but we could maybe mold you. We can figure that out. Welcome to PrimeGuard!

LOLEASY. I was in PrimeGuard. I was PS4 member number two. And I had begun a journey that would take me to some very exciting places.

A few days later, I met with Bounty who introduced me to Rex. After speaking and coming to the conclusion that the clan would primarily be playing Destiny on the Xbox One, I was put in charge of the PS4 division - mainly because I was adamant that would be the best console for Destiny. I instantly started building. We got the website up, revamped the application process, and started promoting the hell out of the “most hardcore Destiny clan” to ever exist. At this point, we were equal points Xbox and Playstation (sitting at around 40 members). It was also during this time that I met leopardstealth. He wasn’t in to clans, but had a Halo background. Also he made a funny video. Back then, that was really all it took for admission into PG. I had also kept in touch with Datto after the roundtable. He was looking for a clan, but wanted to focus specifically on YouTube. I’d continue to bug the shit out of him in the coming months.

These were the early days. The speculation heavy, bone-dry, information-lacking, “think about what it can be” days. We salivated over becoming the best Destiny players in the world. Hype levels would suddenly rise for any information released from Bungie — we found new members at each of those peak moments. At the start it was mostly older WoW guys intrigued by what Bungie was trying to do. Xbox, at this point, was still the primary console of the clan.

Then came E3. The Sony presser aired, and the Alpha was announced.

From this point forward, PrimeGuard was an explosion of activity, excitement, and raw growth. Folks applied left and right. I was streaming daily. Primecast hit record numbers. But, also, a huge shift occurred. With PS4 being the exclusive console of the Alpha, it became readily apparent where the content would be released first. The majority of PrimeGuard switched consoles, and I was thrust into a seat at the leadership table.

At this point, PrimeGuard was a dominant force in the community. We were seen as the hardcore clan to join — the best of the best. We had also made some very public, very serious, promises concerning the first raid. We declared to the world that we would be absolute and undisputed first to clear it. The community fixated on that, and it became part of our persona.

The next milestone was RTX.

5 absolute gamers posing for a photo at Rooster Teeth Expo in 2014

If I had to describe a moment as the watershed when I had gone all in, RTX would be it. It was the first meeting of a few of us PrimeGuard guys IRL, and a threshold of realization for myself as a leader.

This happened over drinks with Deej.

From the September 2014 Bungie Weekly Update:

It was at the Rooster Teeth Expo in Austin that I first met members from PRIMEGUARD. Even then, their Clan was widely known to the would-be community that was waiting for Destiny. Their objective was clear: They would be the first virtual fighting unit to beat the Raid in Destiny.

After a great day at RTX, and a few Margaritas to cut the Texas heat, I got to talking some trash.

“What if you’re not the first?” I asked Watts, one of PRIMEGUARD’s fearless leaders. “What if some random, unknown entity sneaks across the finish line before you guys?”

“We’ll still play together,” Watts insisted. “We’ve become friends.”

That conversation sums up a huge shift in my ideals about games. I had always been insanely competitive. I was about the W, and nothing else. Here I was, a few margs in, and I was about nothing but my clan, my friends. At this point, I could have cared less about world first. It was about what we had created and the people we had brought together. PrimeGuard ceased to be an outlet to win for me and became, for that moment, something I wanted to pour my soul into making great.

From here, PrimeGuard was more of the same — but intently focused. Beta came around and the clan destroyed it. We also launched a new website, blog, and made some revisions to the podcast. But, notably, Datto finally decided to join our ranks. It was a huge win for PrimeGuard in terms of visibility and solidified us as the clan for serious Destiny play.

Right before launch, we locked down recruiting and began to anticipate for what was to come. Raid teams weren’t assigned at all yet, as we wanted to see who all had progressed the furthest in terms of level before making that call. Raiding was our moment to do something huge. This was what the entirety of the clan was about, and they were eager to show it.

The rest is history. PrimeGuard was the first clan to conquer the Vault of Glass. Also, the second. With Atheon vanquished, we kept our promise to the world. To this day, I will always count that as my most amazing accomplishment in a game. Being a part of the first team to ever take down a raid in Destiny will always stand at the top of my digital trophy case.

Destiny screenshot: 6 Guardians posing in The Tower after conquering the Vault of Glass

PrimeGuard was now on top of the world, with nowhere to go but down.

After world first, we quickly became complacent. We were the best. No one else was the best; PrimeGuard was the best. Every individual in the clan chiseled their elitist prickery into the internet at any available moment, myself included. Even after Invigorate claimed hard mode, we still kept the elitism train rolling as fast as it could go.

From here, there were politics, drama, and harsh words aplenty.

“You’re not good enough to be in PrimeGuard” became something that I ended up telling far too many applicants. I’m not proud of that.

The strict code of jerkisms that we had nurtured to life became a mantra that was reflexively adopted into clan leadership. We wanted the best, and no one else. A directive was instituted to thin the roster and only begin allowing the best of the best through PrimeGuard’s glossy gates. Also, during this time, the Xbox piece of the clan was completely excised. Rules began to pop up left and right at the whim of whoever wanted to be asshole of the day. A culture of finely tuned, militaristic, skill was the goal. The result turned out to be a mess of bitter, elitist pricks that wanted nothing more than another world first.

Crota’s End launched and the VoG World First squads fell flat on their asses. PrimeGuard ceded the stage to players the internet had never even heard of. It would be this failure that kicked the fall of PrimeGuard into motion.

Slack screenshot: “Datto: watts at least mention we got world 3rd crotus! lol”

PrimeGuard limped on for months to come. We attempted to plan for what was next, but that never yielded any measurable results. The virtual beatings continued, and morale never improved. That being said, it was never absolutely terrible. Everyone that continued meet the “PG Standard” was still having a great time playing games together. One of the main problems was that those folks missed the members that had been kicked out.

And that, is what finally pushed me away. As one of the primary leaders of PrimeGuard, I felt I had significant say. I felt that the three of us, at the time, should converse on any issue and work together to solve it. That notion was never realized, and continued to be blatantly ignored. Members were kicked out on a whim, some for personal vendettas, some for clan technicalities, and some because leadership simply felt like it. I didn’t agree with this in the slightest.

If my vote doesn’t count as a leader, I’m out


And then I closed TeamSpeak on PrimeGuard for the last time.

From there, I called a few close clan friends to make sure I wasn’t unknowingly being a dickbag. They agreed with my decision. Then I spun up that fateful Mumble server.

Word got around, as it does. By the end of the week, all PrimeGuardians, sans three, new and old, probies and not, had joined me. The split was complete.

From here on out, there were few politics. The collective many that followed proceeded to help with direction, decision, and overall strategy. Mainly, because we had the chance to create something that we wanted from scratch. It was agreed that anyone to ever be a part of PG would be allowed into our new clan, that any landmark decision would simply be voted on, and that we’d have a minimal, trusted, leadership.

Honestly, the hardest part of it all was choosing a name. It took fucking weeks. You’d laugh if you saw the spreadsheet, so here it is.

LOLWTF… Math Class. We were now Math Class.

In terms of origins, all of you old schooler Bungie fans will like this. Way back when, there was a Pentathalon team named Team Math. I stole that name for my raid group while still a part of PrimeGuard. Then, the PvP nights we had were called “Math Class”, because they were instructional, custom matches. Before that, they were called CruTips, blame leopardstealth for that.

Math Class has consistently remained a clan focused, foremost, on people. To this day, Math Class has become something that I love deeply. I’m immensely proud of what it has grown into and the people that I’ve had the chance to meet throughout that journey.

So, it was, Math Class became a thing.

The Math Class logo: a pink and blue owl

My advice to anyone that is currently part of a clan, or considering starting a clan, is to not let the clan overshadow the people that compose it. Clans will accomplish things, and face many challenges. There is no world in which that will never be the case. Push through it and listen to everyone. No opinion is too small, no life circumstance too menial, and no person too insignificant. Clans should be about people, and I’m glad I could share the journey of how I came to that realization.

Around a dozen Math Class members posing at PAX 2015 with DeeJ

Year one for this group of guys and gals has been a landslide of obstacles and a fountain of joys. I’m excited to see where year two of Destiny drives it.

Math Class roster as of September 2015: #

  • nanowatts
  • Outhouse
  • leopardstealth
  • Datto
  • Fraser
  • Furchten
  • Violet
  • alrightbudlight
  • Valkain
  • Oobie
  • Marrec
  • Waffles
  • Major Bones
  • Zepik
  • Striker
  • Hycubis
  • Skutch
  • Jez
  • Wide Eyes
  • Helljumper
  • Yoshi
  • Gobi
  • Matty
  • DanielOut
  • Art
  • Lyfoon
  • Jonny
  • Aubes
  • FineLemming
  • GnappyAssassin
  • Stargazer
  • Sidorio
  • PyroManiacal
  • Cyredge
  • LennonVC
  • MaxFever
  • Tilloucifer
  • WilderMercy
  • Veinq
  • TheEternalDream
  • Bent
  • Jagers
  • snabobo
  • Falkon
  • Almighty
  • Tewbookoo
  • Invictus
  • Konixa
  • Bounce