Skip to Content

Ethereal 9: The Realm connecting the known Universe

Ethereal 9 is an Abstract Strategy game focusing on the Conquest of nine (9) Realms. As a Ruler of a Realm, your goal is to not just "Win the Battle" ... but also to "Win the War!"

Each Chapter, a "Ethereal" card is drawn to depict the connectivity of the "Ethereal Realm" to all the other nine (9) Realms. The First (1st) Phase is the "Construction" Phase where each player plays ten (10) "Realm Tiles" of their choice, one (1) per turn each, one player at a time.

Once the shape of the "Ethereal Realm" is determined, the Second (2nd) Phase begins which is the "Conquest" Phase. During this phase, players will try to outwit their opponents by engaging one (or more) opponent in small skirmishes (Battles). Each victory by any given player increases the odds that he/she may be the winning Ruler!

During this phase, players rely on "Champions" to increase their odds in Battle and rely on strengths or weaknesses of each "Realm". Each "Champion" also determines the size of his/her army and the range of those forces. The greater the Range and Army Size, the more dangerous the foe.

"Champions" are divided into four (4) distinct categories:

1. Soldier (+ Operator = Recruit): Allow a player to add more forces to the battle.

2. Magical (- Operator = Disband): Allow a player to remove forces from a battle.

3. Guild (/ Operator = Shrink): Allow a player to divide forces in a battle.

4. Warlord (x Operator = Grow): Allow a player to multiply forces in a battle.

Each player has a "micro" deck of ten (10) "Champions"... Each Battle Round, five (5) cards are drawn from each player's deck. Subsequently only three (3) of those five cards will be used to battle in the round.

Each "Champion" can affect the army used in a Battle according to his/her type (as stated above - per operator). There are "strict" rules to building a "micro" deck which restrict the forces that can be used in order to "balance" the game. Those rules must be followed when doing "off-line" construction of your deck.

The goal of the game is to "win the war!" To win a given "Chapter", a certain amount of Victory Points must be accumulated during skirmishes and/or a quantity of "Conquered" Realms is achieved (to end the Chapter).

The First player to win three (3) Chapters is the winner of the game.

The duration of the game depends on the number of players -- the more players, the longer the game. Victory Points as an alternate winning goal prevent too many skirmishes and allow the game to progress in terms of chapters too.

Note: This is to offset, players dueling for territory across multiple skirmishes (Battles). For example, one player conquering one "Realm" and then his opponent (against the odds) decides to try to re-conquer the realm -- and this can occur multiple times.

Victory Points ensure that this type of "back-and-forth" doesn't stop or even slow the game...

Note #2: This "game" does not use any dice. The primary elements of strategy are "Tile Placement" and "Deck-Construction". The only luck factor is drawing "Champions" but this is offset with the tiered solution of having ten (10) and only drawing five (5) and using up to three (3) "Champions" in Battles.


Varying levels of strategy

In the second (2nd) Phase "Conquest", as I mentioned in the topic, there are no dice in this game. Originally another "incarnation" of this game used 4d6s where one die was a wildcard. I've since removed this in favor of a "deterministic" solution which makes the game less "luck-prone".

Even if the dice version was a bit random, the idea was that each player could allocate dice powers as they saw fit. But I was thinking about a person who told me: "I don't play dice games..." And figured maybe I could do without the dice and make the game a little more "deterministic".

Although there is still some "partial hidden information", you still construct your party of three (3) "Champions" BLINDLY ... meaning your opponents don't know what forces you have and you don't know theirs until the skirmish begins (the Battle).

During the Battle there is an element of "randomness" but this is the way combat goes. Everything is about ODDS, what have you done to improve your odds of a victory. What has your opponent done to sway the skirmish to his favor, etc. And sometimes "luck" turns against you...

So although the "game" is mostly deterministic, there is some level of randomness. Otherwise the game would be too repetitive without any variance.


Anyone have any comments/feedback

Was just wondering if this "sounds" like a good "Game Idea" or not?! I consider it more of an "idea" because there is no "working prototype" just yet. So the "idea" is what is fueling my interest in developing this game further.

Has anyone heard of anything "similar"?! Other games with a similar style of game play -- or is this "idea" fairly "novel"???

When playing with "Tiles", I always think that a 2-Phased approach is "better" because the first is all about "Abstract Strategy" and "Tile Placement". It's very simple, but as per the "Realm Tiles"; there is great flexibility to how to place the tiles and what effect that might have on the 2nd Phase.

Thoughts, anyone?! Maybe some comments/feedback too...


The champions' powers->theme and art.


The powers, theme started me thinking about the armies as something amorphous--not just abstract, but flat out weird. (Memory triggered: in the computer game realm, when the market was flooded with real-time-strategy games with recognizable tropes, there was the sleeper The Tone Rebellion.)

Rather than realm tiles, I wonder how army tiles might work, perhaps hexagonal, where placement arrangement is related to powers. (I envision battles of shiny etheral blobs, growing, shrinking and splitting where the physicality of the game complements the weirdness of the theme.)

What is your vision of this as it's actually on the table?

My vision is... something like this:

Mosker wrote:
What is your vision of this as it's actually on the table?

I'm glad you asked.

So basically on the table, you will build a inter-dimensional "realm" which connects to other nine (9) worlds. Each world is ruled by a different Race. The shape of the Ethereal inter-dimensional realm varies accordingly. You are like an "Overseer" of one of the nine (9) Races. Your goal is to conquer the known "Universe" by winning multiple "chapters". Each "chapter" is in essence one configuration...

Each "gateway" is meant for one or more "Champions" to descend and combat opposing worlds. Like a "dimensional" doors where Champions can descend upon the worlds beneath the "Ethereal" realm.

The conquest mechanics are "area control" and "worker placement".

Some inspiration

I found myself inspired with "Ultima", not sure which game... Towards the END of the game you climb into a realm that is not Britannia and not Space. It's not a dungeon either... It's some kind of "ethereal" realm and that's where my inspiration for "Realm Tiles" came from.

Sure I've had the idea for "Game Tiles" a while ago - but no game to suit them... That is until NOW!


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Syndicate content

blog | by Dr. Radut