Today is the Festival of Aether and your once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove you are ready to be a Master Mage. You’ll compete with the other Magi to Summon Raw Elements from the Aether Realm and perform feats of wonder to dazzle the judges. But Magic isn’t always easy. You’ll have to trade shrewdly with your opponents to secure the Elements you need if you can’t Summon them yourself. Beware, other dangers also lurk in the Aether Realm. Preparations are over and your chance is now. Reveal your Magical skills and claim the title of Master Mage…
Aether Magic, our debut game from designer Matt Worden, was announced this past week on our mailing list and now we’re sharing with you! The game is going through it’s final rounds of playtesting but it’s at a point where we are excited to share it publicly.
In Aether Magic, you compete against fellow magi in the Festival of Aether and earn the title of Master Mage! Your goal is simple: Achieve the most talent points by summoning raw elements from the Aether Realm, trading rune coins and magic tokens with other Magi players, and transforming your elements into wondrous feats of magic. Beware though, dangers live in the Aether Realm. It will take careful summoning and shrewd planning to win. Aether Magic plays 3-6 players, runs 30 to 60 minutes, and is recommended for ages 8 and up.
We knew we wanted to sign Aether Magic from the first time we played it. We fell in love with many aspects of the game and those elements are echoed by our playtesters as well.
Aether Magic is often described as a “solid medium weight” game. We wanted to open our product line with something that had substance without compromising accessibility. For example, there are many unique choices within the game, like which summoned element are you going to keep, which you are going to trade, and how are you going to place them on your table of transformation. Meanwhile, the other players get to decide how badly you need the offered element and what you’re willing to trade for it.
On the same note, others described the game as a “series of simple choices.” Even though players have multiple choices every turn, they are presented in easy to consume bites.
Lee, Kyle, and I are social gamers and enjoy working with, benefiting from, or screwing over other players. This is Aether Magic’s strongest area; it’s highly interactive. As hinted in the description, the auction/ trading phase guarantees players interacting multiple times in each round. Table-talk is encouraged as you try to persuade and heckle the other players into the best deals. These elements keep the game moving and engaging from turn to turn.
While the theme greatly changed from the original “For Goods and Honor” that Matt submitted to us, the mechanics and feel changed only slightly. Of course tweaks were made. We cleaned up the dice battling/ defending system, iterated the end game trigger, and simplified the scoring. Even at the time of this post we’re waiting on feedback to see what other adjustments might need to be done. However, the mechanics and feel of the gameplay remains intact. Overall, it’s becoming more polished and fluid with each revision.
Fun Factor/ Emotional Response
Every game strives to be fun. However, not every game produces an emotional response. The times when a player stands before making a crucial dice roll. Or the slow peak-at-the-corner-of-the-card flip before revealing a game altering outcome. Yelling at another player across the table for not conducting the best trade. And laughing so hard you cry and pee a little. Hopefully you’ve experienced these moments in your own game circles (except the peeing part). We’re proud to say Aether Magic delivers many of the responses you’d expect from a great game.
The nastigan tokens are one example of bringing forth those emotional responses. We loved the nastigans and what they do for the game so much that they are the only thematic piece carried over from the original version. Nastigans are the variable. They mess with players and complicate their strategies. They are creatures that inhabit the Aether Realm (the place you are summoning elements from in order to perform your magical feats). As a young Mage, you are very likely to summon a nastigan by mistake. It’s your job to defend against the irritated and pesky creature or allow it to steal your elements and bring them back to the Aether Realm. As the game progresses, the more likely you are to summon a nastigan.
Between the anticipation of accidentally summoning one from the Aether Realm and the suspense of defending elements by dice rolls, most of our players have developed a love/ hate affection for the nastigans. In every playtest thus far, we get the “Oh man, that sucks!” from a player who’s drawn a 3rd nastigan and the victory fist pumps when the Nastigans are defeated and banished back to the Aether Realm.
As mentioned, the game is in it’s final stage of testing. We’ve received a lot of help from our designer and publisher friends on the rules and multiple playtests from gamers in the Grand Rapids area. Thank you! I will be taking the game with me to Protospiel Milwaukee to get more feedback as well.
We’re figuring out how to bring the best quality for the best value and we’ll be signing on our artist hopefully within the month. Things continue to be going better than we hoped for. Thank you to everyone who continues to support us and the podcast. You help give validity to what we’re doing.