Four races of wizards, adepts of four magical schools, collide in a brutal fight for world domination. Etherlords, an iconic strategy created by Nival, became a bestseller in the world and earned highest grades from critics.Etherlords is an exciting mix of turn-based strategy and fantasy trading card game.
User reviews:
Mixed (72 reviews) - 43% of the 72 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Nov 12, 2001

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Packages that include this game

Buy Etherlords Bundle

Includes 2 items: Etherlords, Etherlords II



“This is the best game ever released in the turn-based fantasy genre.”
87/100 – GameSpy

“Having missions that take hours upon hours to finish is a difficult feature to sell to gamers that may have limited time to spare.”
81/100 – IGN

“Although the grand strategy is a bit misguided, the tactical combat is a splendid twist on the concept of collectible card games.”
81/100 – GameSpot

About This Game

Four races of wizards, adepts of four magical schools, collide in a brutal fight for world domination. Etherlords, an iconic strategy created by Nival, became a bestseller in the world and earned highest grades from critics.

Etherlords is an exciting mix of turn-based strategy and fantasy trading card game. Innovative game mechanics that first appeared in this game formed the basics of most modern games of this genre.

Key Features

  • 4 races of magical creatures, each with their own unique lands, architecture, spells and strategy;
  • 2 battle campaigns for each two allied races;
  • More than 300 spells, including sorcery, battle magic, summoning and rituals;
  • More than 10 game levels, all connected by one storyline;
  • 64 heroes of all races; their parameters, special abilities and selected skills progress with each level gained.
  • Individual battle style for each hero with the help of their unique sets of spells;
  • A combination of magical battle system based on table games and strategic use of resources;
  • Full 3D turn-based battles with unlimited variety of tactical decisions;

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows
    • Processor: Pentium II 266 MHz
    • Memory: 64 MB RAM
    • DirectX: Version 7.0
    • Storage: 1500 MB available space
    • OS: Windows
    • Processor: Pentium II 450 MHz
    • Memory: 128 MB RAM
    • DirectX: Version 7.0
    • Storage: 1500 MB available space
Helpful customer reviews
33 of 36 people (92%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 14
Etherlords is a strategy defense combined with a neat and challenging card game combat hailing from Nival Interactive, a small Russian development team that will take on the formidable feat of developing Heroes of Might and Magic V, eventually later on. As a side note, alongside its quite improved sequel Etherlords II, the game holds a special place for me; meaning many frustrating hours of deck building and combat practice during 2001-2004. I was about to shed tears of joy when I first managed to beat this one!

In the world of Ether, there comes a time when the way to the Temple of Time is finally open. The old legend states that whoever holds dominion over the Temple shall rule the power of Ether, the substance of all magic and creation. Four distinct nations of the realm: druidic Vitals, aloof Kinets, fierce Chaots and decaying Synthets all begin a race towards the Temple to challenge the master of the world: the White Lord. Only one shall succeed and overcome the challenges of becoming the next White Lord. As the saying goes: "The Ether enslaves the ones who obey it, and destroys the ones who do not".

I suspect that neither European nor American market are familiar with this challenging and enjoyable series, so I'll try to make a resume for the game dynamics. In its essence, Etherlords is a strategy game which presents the player an isometric map with a capital city, resources to gather and monsters to challenge. With each combat your hero overcomes, he/she levels up to unlock a selection of abilities. You have to make sure that you protect your base and gather needed resources to wage war at the same time. Here, we basically have a Heroes of Might and Magic alternative.

The combat itself on the other hand, is a variation of Magic the Gathering card game where your hero and the enemy faces each other, with monsters to summon and spells to alter the battlefield. Here is where things get complicated: you will be collecting the spells throughout the strategy map and you will have a limited number of spells that your deck may hold any given time. For each spell acquired, you will also need the appropriate resources which determines how many times that spell can be cast. Thus, you have to establish a careful balance between the game's strategy and card game elements. Easier said than done, this restriction quickly becomes tricky to handle. When you decide to change one card, you can easily find yourself travelling to the other side of the map, while an enemy hero silently marches towards your capital.

Graphics are fairly outdated, but still charming enough in my opinion. The environment and character animations are colorful exaggerations that we are already familiar from Warcraft III or King's Bounty series. Camera settings are usually a bit distasteful, inconveniently choosing to focus on random figures, but hey! No one promised an A+ game. What we have here is an old, challenging strategy and card game that certainly doesn't hold hands with the player.

There is a truckload of negative reviews about the game out there, complaining about constant crashes or not being able to run the game at all on modern systems. These issues are long gone. The worst that you should be expecting is that you may have to run the game from the directory rather than the Steam shortcut which doesn't record playtime. Otherwise, it works fine. The campaign is fairly long - with two concurrently occurring separate scenarios. You can always run an independent strategy or dueling session too.

I strongly suggest giving Etherlords a chance if you either enjoy strategy or card games, or that you'd be curious about a successful combination of the two. Take it when you're feeling up for a challenge.

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44 of 49 people (90%) found this review helpful
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 5, 2014
Basically, if you don't mind doing a little workaround to get it to run and you like strategy games where you summon monsters and cast spells and it doesn't bother you if it is from 2001, then you may well like this game.

Using Win7 64-bit initially the game kept crashing every 2 minutes so I checked the Community and learned to get it to run you need to run the game directly from the exe (default: Steam\Steamapps\common\Etherlords\Etherlords.exe) rather than hitting Play on Steam. You will also need to use the following compatibility settings on the exe: Disable visual themes, Disable desktop composition, Disable display scaling on high DPI settings, and Run this program as an administrator. Fortunately if you do all that you can then make a shortcut and not have to go through all that trouble more than once.

Anyway the game itself is complex but fun, it is like combination Turn-Based Strategy and Magic the Gathering. You have a base to defend and you can summon heroes who go out on the map to explore, fight, and capture to increase the variety of resources you have (the strategy part). The heroes in turn engage in battles with monsters or other heroes they come across, and the heroes do so by summoning their own creatures and casting spells from the spellbook you have them set with (the MTG part). They also get XP and levels from the fights in order to gain new skills.

Things get more complicated there since beyond the basics, you will need to purchase higher level spells from shops you find on the map but to do so you will need certain resources, of the specified varieties for the spell. Not only that but you will also need resources purchased at a different shop in order to even cast the spell in battle. That can make it a little frustrating since you might get a really cool new spell but not have the resources to cast it, or you may run out after using it a couple times. The battles are fun and fast-paced enough to keep it interesting and there is even an option to auto-battle if you feel impatient and the AI is decent enough to win unless you are at a disadvantage, and of course you can resume control at any time.

Some things you may not like, tooltips don't appear by hovering but instead by right-clicking so get used to doing that a lot. The tutorials consist of just blocks of text that appear the first time you click on something new and you will probably learn more by doing, or through the right-click tooltips. The camera is not always where you want it to be in battles and the default view has the minimap upside down so that was strange. Resource management gets in the way of enjoying new spells sometimes. The enemies are unfairly advantaged in that they do not seem to be as limited as you in their spells/resources. Also it's an older game so don't expect super graphics, but I will say the number of different monsters is cool and they look decent.
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16 of 17 people (94%) found this review helpful
32.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 1, 2014
One of the old school classics.
Since the game was developed by Nival (Russian based), western market might not be familiar with the game.

However there are few points why you might be interested to play this game even though it has been 13 years since it was released:

- Game is Hard. No kidding, even normal difficulty will have you thinking over on what kind of strategy and builds you must use to win every campaing map.
- Game is played out on a strategic map (similar to HOMM) & tactical battles (collectible card game).

Some points to think before trying it out:
- Game is Hard. It is a double edged sword...when playing campaign, think of it like a puzzle game (remember HOMM campaigns with impossible odds, but when you knew a particular trick it became easy).
- Game runs on a locked 4:3 resolution.
- Game pace is rather slow (you can improve it by choosing various game options, but still)

However, I would recommend it to anyone born in 20th century. There is also a sequel which is nearly the same but improved (oh the times when sequels were actually good).
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19 of 34 people (56%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 31, 2014
Several attempts to play Etherlords only ended in computer lockup. I use a Pavillion g7 with windows 8.1 and have only had one other (solved) issued with about 70 different games played thru Steam. The game just freezes and you can hear the sound sticking. Only Ctl/Alt/Del will get you out.

With that being said I bought the game bundled with Etherlords 2, which works fine and seems like a significantly better game than the original, which I was only able to play in tiny segments.

In summary, don't bother with Etherlords, but Etherlords 2 has so far been enjoyable for a follow the path and battle monsters with trading card deck, turn based battles. The battles are interesting due to strategic card play depending on luck of the draw cards.

I think I will get bored with this long before it ends, but Etherlords 2 is a well thought out game, despite it's predicessor.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 30, 2015
THIS GAME WILL CRUSH which is common for old pc titles . You simply have to follow few steps to fix it though .

Old fix worked for me . Try that one first so you can play with sound .

Etherlords 1 is similar to Heroes of Might and Magic but battles play like a 3D card game .

I played Etherlords2 first and I got to admit that this one is superior to the suqeal . Second game is basicly same thing only without the hole Town vs Town concept .

Some will say that this game tried too hard to be heroes of might and magic but I still think its very uniqe and deserves your attention .

Etherlords1 is amazing card game and for few $ its absolutely worth it .
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