World of Ether is a decentralized, collectible dueling game on the Ethereum blockchain. Anyone who’s ever played Pokémon will be familiar with the main concept of World of Ether and will also understand how strangely addictive it can be to gather cards to duel them against other players. It’s a perfect concept for blockchain technology too. Finally, you fully own the digital cards you buy. There’s no intermediary to control, devalue, or make obsolete any of the assets you buy in World of Ether.

The cards that you buy in World of Ether depict monsters called Etherians. You can buy Etherians using the game’s built-in marketplace, and it’s the first thing you’ll do when you start the game. There’s no tutorial for new players and you don’t receive a starting card to explore the game without spending money. This being said, there are tooltips that give an explanation of what each tab does, and the game is straightforward enough to quickly understand much of it.

The first thing I noticed when I started playing is that the developers have paid attention to the design of their game. Not only is the general design of their website beautiful, but each individual Etherian is beautifully drawn too. While many collectible DGames have great design, as it’s an important component to encourage people to collect more, World of Ether stands out with the unique design of their monsters. It mustn’t be easy drawing new monsters, but the team behind World of Ether has succeeded wonderfully.

Don’t tell me these monsters aren’t very well-designed

Each species of Etherian has a nicely-written story behind it too. For example, the Trilatinous, on the bottom right of the above screenshot, is a jelly-like Etherian where the males are tetrahedrons (a triangular pyramid) and the females are pentahedrons (a solid figure with five faces). They don’t have eyes, but they map their surroundings by sensing small vibrations. They usually reside in tight, dark spaces, where they attack their prey by engulfing them with their body. They turn red with blood as they digest their victims.

Etherians come in four grades of rarity: common, uncommon, rare, and legendary. They can be subdivided into five types: sun, ocean, life, death, and astral. Each type has its own color and design aesthetic. Sun Etherians represent light, warmth, flying, and fire. Ocean Etherians represent water, depth, and mystery. Life Etherians fertility and vegetation. Death Etherians demise, undoing, and finality. Astral Etherians intelligence, psychic ability, and the metaphysical. Each Etherian species has a male and female variant.

Some of the Ocean Etherians in the marketplace

Currently, there are 200 species of Etherian. You can browse through all 200 in a tab called the Woedex (quite likely named after the Pokédex). What makes World of Ether different from other digital collectible DGames is that its developers cannot flood the market with new species of Etherians. Whereas the developers behind games like Blockchain Cuties or CryptoKitties can introduce new collectibles however and whenever they please, the developers of World of Ether decided this was too centralized. As such, they limited their own abilities to introduce new species, in favor of staying true to one of the fundamental principles of blockchain technology: decentralization.

However, this doesn’t mean that World of Ether is limited to 200 Etherian species forever. Instead, the developers gave the power to the players. Every time a player breeds a male with a female Etherian, they’ll have a slim chance of discovering a new Etherian species. Once a new species is discovered, other players will be able to breed with that species. The Woedex says which player has discovered which species. Browsing through the Woedex, you’ll notice that not all 200 species have been discovered yet. So there are still plenty of reasons to keep breeding your Etherians.

Etherian #200 is yet to be discovered

Buying an Etherian doesn’t have to be expensive. The cheapest Etherians start at 0.008 ETH. Interestingly, males are much cheaper than females. Currently, there’s one female Etherian available for 0.012 ETH, after which prices are over 0.02 ETH. Considering the price of Ethereum has skyrocketed from $165 to $265 over the course of a few days, that means a female Etherian will set you back $5 easily. Expect to spend around $10 or more for two to three diverse Etherians.

Whenever you breed an Etherian, the type, rarity, and its Battle Points (more on that later) will be generated at random. There’s no specific logic to breeding. If you breed a sun Etherian with another sun Etherian, you may end up with an astral Etherian. The developers have chosen to go down this route so as to maintain decentralization on their platform. There’s no genetic code they can fiddle with that will affect breeding results.

There are three ways to breed a new Etherian. The first and most obvious one is to breed one of your male Etherians with one of your female ones. They’ll create an egg and you will, in time, have a new Etherian to add to your collection. The second way, particularly useful if you only have one gender in your collection, is to breed one of your Etherians with one of the Etherians available for sire on the marketplace.

There’s a third way too. You can buy an egg directly from the game itself. However, and this has me puzzled a bit, buying such an egg is incredibly expensive. The egg costs 0.93 ETH, which is around $250 in today’s price. Even if buying an egg this way would produce a legendary Etherian, it would still be a stretch to justify spending that money on an egg.

Why would you spend $250 on an egg?

I appreciate that the developers want to set a high price for rare eggs, because they don’t want gamers to flood the market with rare Etherians, but $250 is so high I can’t imagine anyone spending that money at such an early stage in the game’s popularity. If World of Ether becomes as popular as CryptoKitties, perhaps, but I feel that $25, instead of $250, would’ve found a much better balance between making this feature somewhat accessible, while also keeping most gamers away.

In the same tab where you can buy an egg, there’s also information on crystals. Each Etherian type has its own crystal, and each crystal has a unique function. A sun crystal allows you to breed an Etherian at no cost. An ocean crystal allows you to change the gender of an Etherian you own. A life crystal reduces an Etherian’s age by one and removes its fatigue. A death crystal allows you to sacrifice three Etherians to bring an egg into existence (so there’s a fourth way to get an egg). The game doesn’t really explain what an astral crystal does. All it says is that it will “affect the next breed only.” It’s for the players to find out what it does.

Crystals are earned in battle, once you reach level fifty, which leads us to the final, biggest component of World of Ether: battles. Once you have two Etherians, you can engage other people in a 2v2 battle. Each Etherian has a damage attack, an attack that does damage with a delay or over time, and some type of support spell. For example, the Trilatinous, which I spoke about above, has a Night Strike attack, which is a pure damage attack, a Virus attack, which does a lot of damage after three turns, and an Evil Virus spell, which heals the Trilatinous for 150 points.

The stats of my first Etherian

Each Etherian has Battle Points (BP), which are its health points, and Energy Points (EP), which are reduced whenever you choose to attack or cast a spell. I like that the names of the attacks of each Etherian correspond to the story that the developers have written about them, another sign that they’ve put great care into the creation of their monsters.

The actual battles are similar to Pokémon battles. You use your attacks at your best judgment, considering your and your opponent’s Etherian’s BP and EP points. Etherians fight one at a time, but you can swap them out whenever you want during a battle, something that’s a good idea when your fighting Etherian is running out of EP points.

My Etherians fighting some strange potato bird

However, a big drawback of the fighting mechanism in World of Ether is that you have to sign every action you take. At every step in the battle, MetaMask will pop up and ask you to sign a new (free) transaction. It’s not a complete show-stopper, considering it’s a turn-based game and you have enough time to choose your next move, but it’s a nuisance nonetheless. Although the developers seem set on creating a very decentralized game, World of Ether could really do with taking this part of their game off-chain.

But there is potential here. Let’s first acknowledge that any DGame where you can actually do something with your digital collectibles is already a step ahead of a DGame where you can only trade and breed. The fact that you can use your Etherians in Pokémon-like battles, with attacks that are relevant to each Etherian’s story, is a big plus.

Secondly, despite MetaMask popping up all the time, it’s fun to battle in World of Ether. Three attacks, plus the ability to swap and rest your Etherian, and the fact that you’re fighting different species of Etherian in every battle, allow for enough complexity to keep these battles interesting.

Once you’ve won enough battles, you’ll level up. Leveling up will allow you to fight and breed with more exclusive Etherians. However, I don’t quite know how many battles it takes to reach a new level. I’ve currently lost zero battles and won three, and I’m still on level zero. It seems to me that battle results either take days before they’re verified on the Ethereum blockchain or that there’s a bug in the game, because I’m still on zero wins and losses on the leaderboard.

The Magnivoid requires you to be level 30 before you can use it

It never takes long before you can find another player to fight against, regardless of the time of day. That’s a good sign. It means that people are playing World of Ether. However, despite player activity in the game and on the game’s Discord channels, updates from the developers have been minimal. The game went live on the 24th of November, the last Medium update was the 19th of December, and the last announcement they made in their Discord channel was the 9th of February.

That’s not to say the developers aren’t reachable. In fact, World of Ether has a full page on the developers behind the game, all of whom can be found on LinkedIn too. Alain Goodman, the founder of World of Ether, is also the co-founder of Beginner Programmers, which is considered one of the largest blockchain Meetup groups in the world. They do plenty of classes teaching developers how to write contracts in Solidity, Ethereum’s programming language.

All in all, they’re a credible and transparent team. World of Ether is a beautifully designed game, something that’s apparent in the graphic design of the Etherians, but also in the stories behind them. It’s even evident in the spacey, sci-fi music that plays when you start the game. World of Ether pays attention to details, and it shows. It might have a few hiccups here and there, but this is a beautiful game, and one that I encourage people to have a look at, if only to better understand how to design a game that’s appealing to the eye.

If you’d like to play World of Ether, you can find it in The DGaming Store.