Critical Role : the Mighty Nein

Mighty Nein is Critical Role’s second campaign. The first campaign was Vox Machina (119 ep, 3.5 hour each).

The second campaign began in January of 2018. Due to Covid, there was around 3 months of hiatus in 2020.

The cast remains the same although roles are changed obviously. Matthew Mercer remains the DM as expected.

Now, as for the name “Mighty Nein”, it is strongly suggested that it is “Mighty 9”. Although Critical Role has not explained why they chose the nine, it’s clear where the nine has come from, at least for me.

Personally, I believe the 9 has come from Scanlan’s 9th level counterspell from Vox Machina. It was the most powerful moment in the first campaign. It has left a very powerful mark. So, it doesn’t surprise that they’ve decided to go with “Mighty 9”.

Now, the Mighty Nein cast

Travis Willingham as Fjord. He is a half-orc warlock. He is usually level-headed and a leader material for the Mighty Nein. But he isn’t without his flaws. He has a tendency to roll weirdly low to resist fear. A fun fact. Travis in real life is afraid of ghosts.

Laura Baily as Jester Lavorre. She is a tiefling cleric of Trickery domain. She becomes the star of the second campaign and pulls off the most powerful move ever in Critical Role campaigns. (Hint: Cupcake)

As with all tieflings, Jester is chaotic and erratic. Her background has made her even more chaotic and erratic than normal; she was raised in a brothel where she observed sexual acts from very early age.

Consequently, Jester tends to draw dicks on walls and such.

Marisha Ray as Beauregard (Beau). A human monk with a family that runs a winery. Just like in the first campaign, Beau hasn’t left a lot of memories for me.

An issue with characters Marisha Ray plays is that, to me at least, her characters are too round. In other words, her characters do not generally have memorable qualities. That is not necessarily a bad thing because not every member has to be whacky.

Sam Rigel as Nott, she is a goblin rouge.
Now, Nott is not an actual goblin. She is cursed. Her real form is revealed much later. As a goblin, her charisma score is really low. It’s -3 which creates hilarious moments in the campaign.

Nott has many problems. Just to name a few, an alcohol addiction, a strong tendency to steal, even from the Mighty Nein, and a strong desire not to lose, especially in gambling. She will sometimes resort to violence if things don’t go her ways.

Taliesin Jaffe as Mollymauk “Molly” Tealeaf. He is a tiefling blood hunter. Unfortunately, Molly dies early in the campaign. So, he rolls another character which is –

Caduceus Clay, a firblog cleric of Grave domain. It is very likely that Tailesin was forced to roll another cleric because Jester has turned out to be a very offensive cleric, barely healing anyone. It’s somewhat surprising because, in the previous campaign, Laura as Vex was a healing machine as a ranger. But then, I suppose that is what roleplaying is about.

Mr. Clay is a very reserved character. He really is a proper cleric.

Ashley Johnson as Yasha Nydoorin. She is an aasimar barbarian. While a barbarian, she is probably most subdued one. Her hobbies include reading books and collecting flowers which give out the opposite vibe of a barbarian.

Ashley misses a large portion of the second campaign from episode 10 to 90 or so. However, her contract with Blind spot ends when the campaign reaches its climax. She has been ever present in the show since.

I am just glad that she is finally going to stick around. While not a brilliant D&D player, her presence adds another layer of dynamic between members. Beau is the one who benefits the most from her presence in the second campaign.

Liam O’Brian as Caleb Widogast, a human wizard who has a PTSD about fire. He is notorious for not taking showers, thus smelling really bad. Also, it should be noted that fire bolt and fire ball are probably the most frequently used spells by wizards in D&D.

In other words, Liam has given his character a big handicap. But he is okay with small fires, like fire bolt. Fire balls, he does have an issue with.

The second campaign ended with 141 episodes. The last episode lasted over 7 hours.

I repeat, 7 hours.

A group of “nerdy-ass voice actors” sat around for over 7 hours for a D&D episode. That’s a record.

The story of the Mighty Nein begins in a tavern where a group of Jester, Fjord, and Beau encounters Caleb and Nott. Molly and Yasha also tag along temporarily. The two are members of a circus nearby.

A small zombie outbreak occurs while the newly met friends watch the circus which is forcefully disbanded soon after. This allows Molly and Yasha to be freed, and the characters to form a group.

Their first task is to investigate the zombie outbreak, and this is how their grand adventure begins.

Do you need to watch the first campaign?

Now, if you are wondering whether you need to have watched Vox Machina, the answer is maybe. First of all, you do not need to know the first campaign to enjoy the second one. However, there are a few moments where you may wish you had watched the first campaign.

In my book, the biggest moment for that is episode 102 where a lost mother of a Vox Machina character is found by the Mighty Nein. Other than that instance, all other cases are subtle.

There are some clear differences between Vox Machina and Mighty Nein.

The first thing is technical difficulties. Vox Machina had a lot of audio issues as well as not-so-good video quality. Both issues were prominent during early part of Vox Machina. Most of technical difficulties were ironed out by the end of the first campaign.
As a direct result, there is virtually no technical difficulties with the Mighty Nein episodes. It’s a real smooth ride.

The second is budget. This is shown by the intro sequence and props they use in the show. The first campaign had cosplayed intro that wasn’t high quality. The second campaign has a high grade professionally animated intro.

In Vox Machina episodes, Matt Mercer frequently used improvised maps (drawings on papers) and there weren’t figurines dedicated to the cast until much later.

In the Mighty Nein episodes, everything is ready from get-go: the figures, maps, and such.

The third is probably subjective one. Vox Machina was streamed by Geek & Sundry. Critical Role still had control but not 100%. It has been rumored that Geek & Sundry exercised their authority in choosing guest players for marketing purposes. It’s just rumors though.

Coincidence or not, there were a lot of guest players in its early life for Vox Machina.

Critical Role broke off Geek & Sundry in very early campaign (Around episode 22 or so), which means CR has had 100% control over the show for the majority of the campaign. There have been very few guest characters ever since.

Personally, I favor the Mighty Nein over Vox Machina simply because it is more polished. But my favorite character from Critical Role is Scanlan Shorthalt from Vox Machina. Jester comes close second.

To be honest, I wasn’t really invested in the Might Nein early on. I think it was around episode 45 where things started to look better. The real golden part of the campaign is from episode 90 +. It keeps getting better from that point.

Which is good because it is always better to end on high rather than low.

In my opinion, it is Ashley Johnson who had been a missing link in the Mighty Nein. She does miss a very large block of the campaign. It is only after she rejoins where things start to click.

In Vox Machina, she was largely missing, even in the last episode. I was quite let down by that. Thankfully, she rejoins the crew at a crucial moment in the second campaign.

Again, you do not need to watch the first campaign to start on the second one. In fact, you do not need to begin from episode 1 to begin with. The story is a marathon, and you can miss some parts.

For me, I watched the Mighty Nein episode 1 to 11. Then started watching from 45+. Then stopped around 60 or so. Then resumed after episode 85ish. I went back to watch previous episodes only when I felt I was completely lost.

As long as you have the general grasp on the big picture, you will be alright. After all, you won’t remember everything. I mean it’s 3.5 hours per an episode. Of course, you are not going to remember everything. Who could?

Just relax and enjoy the ride at your own pace.

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