You Should Check Out Friends At The Table. I Just Think They’re Neat.

I spent most of last night (technically the 13th, not the 22nd, since I write these a week ahead of time and then juggled all of this week’s posts around so I could tell everyone how much I enjoyed the Diablo IV beta) watching the Friends at the Table crew (well, most of them) play King of the Castle on Twitch. I participated a little bit, since you can sign up to become a noble in the kingdom playing out on a stream game if the streamer has it set up correctly (and I can’t think of why you wouldn’t, given the fun I had last night), and it was a very enjoyable experience. Between the amazingly accurate Gilbert Gottfried impression, one of the players using a fun voice changer for her roles, and the overall humor of the group, I recommend checking them out (this link is to the YouTube upload of their stream). It was a very fun time and while there will be some loss of fun because you can’t participate in the voting after the stream has ended, it is still a hilarious few hours of a video game that is absolutely worth your time. There’s even a wonderful, friendly troll and a campaign to legalize a plant that makes everyone feel great when they’re around it all the time.

I’ve always enjoyed a group voting game. Not specifically because of the voting, mind you, just because of the kind of humor and general experience that usually accompanies game like this when you play it with a group of people you like. Or, in this case, as a part of a community of people who generally share your values (like the importance of sending your chancellor to seduce a fish man and talking things out with a troll who broke into your dungeons rather than turning towards war or murder, respectively). You can have a lot of fun as the group leans into or out of your expectations, and the whole “try to convince people to pick your favorite option from a list of largely inconsequential items” is one of my favorite things to do. I could see myself playing this game, if I ever had enough people to play with. I don’t know that I’ll ever have that, but it’s fun to imagine.

It has been a lot of fun to follow along as the Friends at the Table crew do more streaming stuff. They had a pretty quiet period for a few months there, between the end of their seventh season and the start of their eighth (which they livestreamed on March 9th). They livestreamed a bunch of games as they worked through the pre-season for their latest series, Palisade, but those felt very few and far-between. This last season break was the first one I’ve experienced after catching up to their current releases, so it felt strange to have to wait so long to listen to the next thing. It was weird and I wound up going on a long journey of re-listening to Season 6 in preparation for Season 8 and then re-listening to Season 4 since it has some of my favorite moments from anything they’ve done so far. Having the streaming stuff they’ve done to fall back on has been nice, even if it hasn’t entirely placated the desire I feel for more of their wonderful storytelling.

Now, though, as the eighth season runs its course while they also continue streaming stuff, I find myself spending more time watching the recordings when they’re uploaded to YouTube or catching them live on Twitch during the rare occasions that I can afford to divert my attention when they stream something (they live all over North America, in multiple time zones, so they tend to stream earlier than I’m available so the eastern time zone folks don’t wind up staying up super late). I don’t know if my recent push to open up my entertainment options is paying out or if I’m just seeing my love of the Friends at the Table podcast morph into a love of pretty much anything they do. Frankly, I’m sure the distinction doesn’t matters much right now, seeing as I’m just enjoying having something else to think about than my upcoming trip and my related preparations.

Ultimately, I’m just glad to see that they’re doing stuff again. I know the pandemic hit them hard, just like it hit most of us, and that they’ve openly spoken about the struggles they’ve faced to keep up with the patreon content strategy they came up with in 2017 since so many of them rely on the income that generates nowadays. It makes sense that they’d be trepidatious about making any major changes to what has worked in the past, but I’m glad they spent the time to figure it out and shift things around a bit. I hope it works out for them. The stories they’ve produced have been immensely helpful to me over the past year or two (I genuinely can’t remember anymore because time is a mess and what even is the past) and I want nothing but comfort and success for them.

Anyway, you should check out what they’re doing. The entire cast is great and you’re going to find something to love in the wide variety of stuff they’ve been doing since 2014.

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