Now is precisely the perfect moment to enter The Adventure Zone. No matter when you read this article, it will be the perfect time, because there is no bad time to start The Adventure Zone, but considering the popular RPG podcast is currently transitioning between storylines and will be testing the waters for the next few months, there is no better time than right now. So, whether this is your first time listening to the show and you want to know which episodes to look forward to, or you're just looking for a refresher before the first official episode of the Commitment Arc drops on October 19th, here is a spoiler-free look back at the Balance Arc and some of its greatest hits.
1. Episode 4: Here There Be Gerblins - Chapter 4
"Hallo, hallo, welcome to my cave."
The episode where nearly everyone gets hooked (if you weren't already). We meet the first of many beloved female characters. Griffin creates one of the best voices he's come up with. The boys' first fight meets a surprising end. It's become such a staple of the show and the fanbase that the majority of it is currently being fully animated by fans to be released later this year, and for good reason.
2. Episode 12: Murder On The Rockport Limited - Chapter 2
"You saving your spells for that?"
This is possibly the funniest episode of the whole show, simply because the jokes never stop. Griffin introduces character after character and the boys choose to antagonize every one of them. Basically no dice are rolled, so the whole episode is just good, old-fashioned improv.
3. Episode 21: Petals To The Metal - Chapter 4
"Everything's gonna be fine."
Every moment of the race in Petals to the Metal is great, but these moments leading up to it are gold. In the first half of Episode 21, Hurley delivers some backstory and becomes the first NPC to really share one. In the second half, the boys each take turns trying to hilariously break into a heavily guarded gang headquarters, creating both a funny moment and an interesting look into how each person thinks to tackle a problem.
4. Episode 32: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter 4
"I prostate myself in front of you." "Nope." "What?"
A goof-filled episode and the introduction of everyone's favorite robot. The fun of trying to solve riddles along with the gang carries over from the previous episode, carting hilarious divine intervention and a frantic Stone of Farspeech call. The crinkle-tinkles continue.
5. Episode 40: Lunar Interlude III - Rest and Relaxation
"Why? What is that? What is L-U-P?"
This is the first episode formatted in a way that would become essential to future episodes: each character's story is delivered in a one-on-one session with Griffin, leading to the development of some beautiful character relationships, more heartfelt moments, and some very funny improv. It's also full dramatic irony and foreshadowing as the story begins to come together, which is always fun.
6. Episode 48: The Eleventh Hour - Chapter 8
"I said, 'I love you, Jules.'"
For most, this is the first episode that hits hard. There are moments in Petals to the Metal and Crystal Kingdom that are emotional, but Episode 48 goes one step further. It uses the newly established Lunar Interlude format to address each character's history, regrets, and past loves. The Eleventh Hour is often called the best of the Balance Arc, and this episode definitely solidifies that title.
7. Episode 50: Lunar Interlude IV - The Calm Before The Storm
"I have something that I think is really gonna interest you."
Each Lunar Interlude becomes progressively more serious, and while this one does deliver intense moments for each of the main characters, each of these sections contains the same, if not more, heart than the previous ones. Also, Taako pulls of the greatest stunts of all time in the Fantasy Costco.
8. Live Boston Stunt Spectacular
"As I say to the wife before I hop into bed, make room for Greg!"
This was the first live show made available to non-donors. Like most live shows, it is ridiculous and improbable and very, very fun. The sheer absurdity abound in every live show basically maxes out on this one.
9. Episode 56: The Suffering Game - Chapter 6
The first half of this episode manages to wrap up the fight from the previous episode in what may be the most absurd way possible, but the second half is what puts this episode on the list. From the last twenty minutes comes one of the series' most iconic moments, one that even the show's creators say was such a major turning point in the characters' relationships that it set the tone for every episode that followed.
10. Episode 59: Lunar Interlude V - Reunion Tour, Part 2
"We're nearly caught up now. Have you been paying attention?"
Though the Balance Arc wouldn't end for another ten episodes, this Lunar Interlude is when the finale truly begins. Three years worth of foreshadowing finally come to fruition as some light is shed on the Director. Some heartbreak precedes and follows.
11. Episode 62: The Stolen Century - Chapter 3
The Adventure Zone becomes the anime it's always dreamed of being as the boys get a beach episode. It's the shortest episode in the series and definitely the sweetest. Beach episodes always seem to come right before shows go for the kill, though, don't they?
12. Episode 66: The Stolen Century - Chapter 7
Though this episode is full of moments that everyone knew were coming, it still hurts to see them play out. Even the audio effects in this one should have been obvious, but, somehow, they continue to be shocking. The first half of the episode is only marginally kinder.
13. Episode 68: Story And Song - Finale, Part 2
"How...how did you do that?"
It's hopeful and exciting and ridiculous and I love all two hours of it.
BONUS: MaxFunDrive2015 Bonus Episode
"Wo--Okay, a lot of things just happened in that sentence."
This prequel episode is available only to MaxFun donors, so you may only hear it if you decide to donate a few dollars to the network, but it's definitely worth it. If you don't want to donate, everything in this episode is revealed down the line, but the jokes and voices here are hard to beat. Also, getting to see these boys meet for the first time is really something.