Etherfields Board Game

Imagine waking up in the dream world. You don’t know who you are or how to get back home, but nothing could be worse than staying stuck like this forever.

Players: 1-4

Game Time: 90-180min

Complexity: High

Age: 12+

Release Year: 2020

Etherfields board game is a mysterious narrative adventure that will throw you in the middle of the world of dreams. This game is a mixture of deck building, escape room-like puzzles, a mysterious story, multiple endings, and character progression.

This cooperative game is designed for up to 4 players. And you will play the role of one of the four characters, which are Tough Guy, Free Spirit, Gambler, or Specialist. Each one of those characters has its own unique abilities.

You and the other players will find yourself stuck in a dream world, where you can not wake up or recall who you are. So you must cooperate to find your way out before time runs out.

To solve the mystery and escape from this dream world’s ever-shifting logic, players will need to stretch their minds. They must look at it in a whole new way.

Game Components

Etherfields is a modern board game that merges a lot of various mechanisms into a cooperative storybook, deck-building, exploration, and campaign game. It is another beautiful game from Awaken Realms. The Gameplay was created by Michał Oracz.

The artwork is like a nightmare with its dark colors, but it does look impressive. The detailed miniatures of the Etherfields game are what really steal this show, adding an impressive presence to the table.

The art and miniatures are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They are beautiful and creepy and also dark and inviting. Those components are detailed and unique as well. It is an experience, not a game.

Etherfields Core Box includes all unlocked Stretch Goals and Creatures of Etherfields miniature expansion.

This big package is also full of a lot of stuff. Some of those items include The storybook, rulebook, playing cards, a huge 6-fold board, and some masks that are mostly oversized. You use them on your first adventure. Besides the top-notch plastic components, that is pretty nice.

With all this stuff, perhaps it is better to picture the miniatures in the tray in order to return them back to their place correctly.

 Game Characters

1-The Gambler

The Gambler is a good choice if you want to roll the dice and bet on your luck. The Gambler is someone who often relies on luck, but she can also manipulate it.

She’s always looking for ways to deceive others but considers it a game, not something serious. Unfortunately, she often underestimates the gravity of her situation, and when faced with reality, she pretends that everything is just fine.

2-The Specialist

The Specialist is an expert engineer and craftsman. When you play as a Specialist, you’ll be relying on using Progress cards to provide constant bonuses during the game and slowly build up an engine powerful enough to win.

Instead of choosing quick, violent solutions to the problems that may be difficult for some people, specialists choose peaceful discourses and in-depth analysis over fast or brutal ones. He is more knowledgeable than all the other Dreamers. He is a leader.

3-The Tough Guy

The tenacious and resilient tough guy prefers simple actions, mostly using brute force. The tough guy is always there for you when things get rough.

He doesn’t like prattling and thinking about problems over and over, but you may rely on him when in trouble.

The tough guy would never hesitate to do anything for the other dreamers, even sacrificing himself. He may look grim, but he is composed and cool until something unleashes his anger.

4-The Free Spirit

This character enjoys bending the rules, even if these are the main rules of the game. She is not the one who will let anything get in her way, including laws and barriers.

The Free Spirit identifies with her consciousness and soul, and sometimes, she acts in a childish manner.

Gameplay Overview

Throughout the game, players will experience Etherfields in two various areas. These two various sections are the Dreamscape board and the Dreamworlds Map.

Every board consists of tile cards that are coordinated in a specified order. These tiles involve spawn points for puzzles, monsters, clues, and objectives.

The Dreamworld Map is your world board, where you and other players will wander through an overworld, including up to 8 map tiles placed at the board’s bottom.

While at the top of the board, there is the dreamscape map that sorts out all of those random encounters(slumber) and missions ( dreams).

1-Choose Your Character

When the game starts, you’ll select your dreamer with the corresponding deck and dive into the dream world. When a player takes their turn, they’ll spend cards in hand to create intent. The intent is the resource you use to move your model around, interact with objects, play other cards, and do a myriad of other things.

2– The Dreamworld Map

The Dreamers will try to explore the overworld by moving their miniatures. This miniature will represent the entire team. The group is moving one space at a time, and the members must immediately resolve any icons on that particular square before going to the next one.

The game board comes with many unique spaces and a few common ones, with a function that could be considered spoilers. Some of those spoiler-free spaces include :

Slumber cards

The red exclamation mark represents the Slumber cards. In these spaces, Players will have to pick and resolve the top tile from the slumber deck. In most cases, this will point the Dreamer to the dreamscape board section for a short scrimmage with otherwise familiar enemies.

Fate deck

However, the blue exclamation point represents the Fate deck. In these spaces, the players will draw the top card from the Fate deck. The Fate cards essentially work as the Etherfields random event cards.

Some of these cards will require players to expand the size of the skirmish area, Slumber encounters, and insert a slumber map tile to the board. Other cards will be like a more traditional event card.

Gateways

Through the game, Gamers will reveal Gates to different Dreams. These dreams are where the real adventure and fun of Etherfields lie.

If the players want to access these Dreams, They must proceed to the overworld area to the Gateway space designated on the Dream’s Gate card. Then they had to spend the required resources. A circular green swirl represents the Gateways on the map.

Keys

Throughout the game, Keys are given to the gamers on a lot of different occasions as rewards.

But, in the overworld, If the gamers land on a space with a depicted key, then the keys will be granted to players. They can use them to enter dreamscapes and open the aforementioned Gateways.

3-The Dreamscape Map

The upper section of this board is where you’ll find both Slumber and dreamscape areas. This is where the worst and the best parts of this game occur. Moving about the overworld will trigger small Skirmishes that include horrors for each confronting them face-to-face.

Slumber entities in this game possess a variety of different abilities that force players to adapt their strategies when facing them. For example, some entities can’t be interacted with while they’re still in the dark, so you’ll need to find ways around and light up spaces before engaging in combat against these foes.

Other times an entity might run around the map, dropping tokens that the gamers have to clean up in order to advance.

The game’s best part is the number of clever puzzles within the Dreams. If you want to earn those keys required for these interesting dreams, you’ll have to go through a number of slumbers. New Slumbers will be a fun experience for the first or second time.

When you gather the needed keys to enter a Dream, you will then go to the specific Gateway. Then you have to discard the required number of keys. The chosen Gate will provide the Dreamers with all the needed information to set up the dream.

After that, the players will spread out the Dream map tiles on the board. They will check the maps and interact with the story icons and icons in the map spaces.

These icons come with a description and number next to them. Plus, they are all color-coded. The description will help the player to know what to do in a specific space. But the number indicates which script the players need to read from the Book of Secrets.

In this card game, the Dreamer discards cards from his hand to activate the power on the lower half of the card or to use an Intent. The system of this game is vaguely similar to the Arkham Horror RPG game.

4-Using An Intent

Etherfields Board Game has three types of Intent. Each of these Intent has a different coded color for ease.

The yellow triangle is the Move Intent. So you can use the yellow Move Intent for any actions that require athletics. This Intent is most commonly used when you move from one area to another; however, you may use it to jump, climb, or swim.

While the red diamond represents the Assault Intent, players can use it to commit more aggressive actions. Assault Intent is used for any action that would need brute strength. Some of those actions are moving heavy objects or prying open a safe.

Finally, the bright green circle represents the Contact Intent. This Intent helps the Dreamers to interact with different items in a friendlier manner compared with Assault. You can use this one when you scout an area, talk to a character or open a door with a key.

Every player specializes in the various uses of Intent to be better at exploration, combat, and card manipulation. When the game starts, the gamers will have a predetermined number of cards in their decks; however, throughout the game, it will change and grow over time.

Every gamer will start with a deck of 20 cards that are specific to the character and his special ability. Awaken Realms made a great design selection that included the character’s special abilities on the back of the cards of the starting deck.

Players need to discard the top card and spend a resource to activate the character ability. For instance, The Tough Guy can decrease the amount of Distress he takes when he spends 2 Assault Intents and also discard the top card from his deck.

Through the game, there will be a chance for the Dreamers to gain secret Influence cards in Dreamscapes. So gamers can add those influence cards to customize their deck throughout the game.

However, when the number of generic or Dreamscape-associated influence cards is increased, it lowers the possibility of your character-specific card being in your deck top. This will limit the probability of using your special cards. That is why Etherfield’s players prefer to keep the deck as small as possible.

Game Experience

Etherfields comes with a steep learning curve. So maybe you should go directly to the tutorial mission and only use the rulebook to read the setup instructions.

The tutorial will teach the players how to navigate the Dreamscape board and how to use the cards for resources and actions. It does a great job at that. The rulebook is packed with info and filled with beautiful artwork, but its layout is confusing and problematic.

The deckbuilding aspect of this game is really fun, and you can get very deep depending on your selected Dreamer card. Every Dreamer has a unique play style that he will build through the game.

You will enjoy that you can strategize and upgrade your deck to make up for the weaknesses of the others. In the Etherfields board game, you will feel some control in this world of dreams.

Dreamworld’s map will be a little confusing when you are playing it for the first time. The game, without a lot of explanation, tosses the players into the macro mechanics.

The longer the Etherfields board game goes on, it will continue to add more and more distinct, unique mechanics. This will require the players to learn constantly and to remember a big amount of rules which are constantly in effect.

When you get into the game and understand the rules and how it all works, it will become a little easier. Unfortunately, to introduce new gamers, you have to restart the game completely; otherwise, it will be almost impossible.

The Dream Missions are unique, and some are quite creepy. Those dreams happen when you pass through the Dream Gate. The game has varying Dream Gate missions, and it takes a great effort to make every dream memorable and unique with its innovative mechanics.

You will greatly enjoy how there are a lot of different paths in the story. You can deal with enemies inside your dreams and slumbers in many ways.

For example, you can try to talk to the enemy if your role is not a strong combat-based character and find out if you are able to defuse the situation.

The Etherfields board game has an unpredictable and cryptic story. The players will find the enigmatic nature of the story really enjoyable. It has many twists and turns that will keep you guessing what happens next until the end, where it all comes together in an interesting way.

Our Opinion About The Etherfields Board Game

Etherfields board game is a cooperative game where you can play solo or with a team of four players. If board games are helpful to reveal the stress of the day, Etherfields will steal you from this world and throw you into the world of dreams. This game is for those people who are looking for something new.

It is a different bg experience where you will go through dream after dream until you become the dream master. Also, you can use the whole team’s special ability to overcome any obstacles that come your way during this exciting adventure.

The core game needs co-op teamwork and building a great strategy for the players to win. So if you like to solve puzzles and build strategies, you will love this game.

The game package comes with a lot of components and rules. For those players who explore the ethereal world from the beginning, the Awaken Realms tutorial will make it easy for them to learn. But the drop-in gamers may struggle to understand all the pieces at work.

Speaking about the game replayability, when the dreamers solve the puzzles of Etherfields, they will not get the same excitement level out of repeat playthroughs.

Finally, if you want to add one more dream crawler to your team, you can take a look at the Etherfields: 5th Player Expansion. This game can take up to five players.