A demo of Aetherium

Anvil 8 Games is one of the many companies here showing off their games at Adepticon.
While moseying through one of the gaming areas, I came across their demos for Aetherium, the game they’re currently funding over on Kickstarter. So I sat down and tried out the game.

Aetherium is both the name of the game as well as the setting. Think a little bit Tron, a little bit The Matix and a little bit Inception and you’ll get an idea of what the Aetherium is. The game is played on a grid board. On the board are terrain tiles. However, the tiles don’t cover the entirety of the grid. The spaces in-between the tiles can be moved across… but at a price. More on that in a bit.

The game is heroic scale and is skirmish in style, so players will have a half-dozen miniatures or so on the table at a given time. There are 3 types of model in the game: Avatars, Functions and Programs. Avatars are the commanders/generals of your force. They’re the real power-hitters and the focus of a force. Programs are the squads of the game. Functions are the independent solos.

The game uses an interesting system for activations. It’s an alternating-activation system, but at the start of the round, both players use a set of cards representing each avatar, function and program in their army and put them in order of how they want to activate. This is done in secret, so your opponent doesn’t know which unit you’ll be activating next in your sequence.

When a model/unit activates, it gets so many Cycle Points (CP) which it can use to move around the board and also be used to capture Nodes. Nodes are at the center of those terrain tiles and essentially cause an area of “normal space” in the chaotic Noise of the Aetherium. Anyway, along with the CP, models can be Overlocked a number of times (depending on the unit). To Overclock a model, you spend Ram and the model can move an extra square. RAM’s other use is actually moving around the tiles on the board. You can spend RAM to move tiles 1 square per RAM spent. However, you can’t cause them to overlap or go off the board. You also can’t move tiles controlled by opponents.

Attacks use specialized D12s. There are 4 symbols on the dice, with 3 of each symbol. One of the three also has a gear around it, meaning that’s the Disrupt symbol. Dusrupts come up essentially as a way to cause special abilities to trigger on models. Attacks generally roll 3 dice and you’re looking to match up the symbols you roll with the 3 symbols of your model’s attack. The more symbols you match up, the stronger your attack hits. So if you match 1 symbol, it’s a light hit. 2 matches is a medium hit. 3 matches is a strong hit. Depending on the model making the attack, each of those will do various amounts of damage.

Each model has a damage track and when it’s filled up, that model is removed. When you lose an avatar or function, or all the models in a program, there’s additional damage to the player’s console and some sort of universal effect will take place (such as having to shuffle their order stack or you lose the ability to make back strikes on enemies and so forth).

I enjoyed my demo of Aetherium. Obviously, being a demo, there’s plenty more to get into with the game that I didn’t get a chance to try. The game is very tactical in how you decide to use your RAM and being able to move tiles around. At one point, I was able to swing a tile around and cause the enemy avatar to be right next to mine, who’d been pushed off the regular tiles and into the Noise. Even the guy giving the demo didn’t see that one coming.

As I mentioned, Anvil 8 is currently running their Kickstarter campaign for Aetherium. They’re more than halfway to their goal with still plenty of time to go. So check it out.