I'm working on a creature-capture/battling game (think Pokemon for the genre, but nothing trademarked and a more adult tone), and it will be story-centric.
Background of the World
Gemini is a nation split across two islands, Castor and Pollux, joined only by a single bridge with "Gemini Tower" in the middle (midgame "boss battle" location, so to speak). A century or two ago, creatures now known as "Spawn" began to appear on the islands; scientists' best guess is that they came from an alternate universe through some kind of weak point -- or Nexus -- between worlds, though no one knows for sure. What we do know is that the species of Spawn vary wildly in abilities, intelligence, and form, but that they can all be classified into one of several tribes and types. The types refer to what kinds of abilities they have, the tribes refer to their common ideologies, strategies in battle, and approaches to life. Once people figured out how to capture Spawn -- some consider this "enslavement" and have started a very strong anti-Spawn-capture movement -- they began using the Spawn for their own purposes, be they political, militaristic, or otherwise.
As time went on, partly accelerated by the appearance of Spawn, the two islands became highly economically disparate. Castor became an island of poverty and squalor, while Pollux became an island of technology, wealth, and luxury. To keep the populace from rebelling to the point of being impossible to contain, the Gemini government instituted a rewards program of sorts: anyone who can prove themselves useful to the country by capturing and utilizing Spawn successfully enough to best the most renowned commanders will be afforded relocation from Castor to Pollux, with all expenses paid for life in exchange for service to the Gemini Spawn Special Forces.
The player begins as a citizen of Castor whose mother is ill, but who cannot afford her treatment. They decide to complete their "Proof of Aptitude" (that "rewards program") in hopes that they can bring their mother to Pollux and save her. The game ensues from there.
Now the question...
Mechanically, the tribes serve to emphasize combinations of strategies, since every battle will be at least 2-on-2. For instance, you may want one offensive Spawn out with a healer to support it, etc. The types serve as predictors of strengths and weaknesses, just as in the Pokemon games.
However, to keep the game balanced, there should be no "objectively best" type or tribe to use. No matter what types or tribes I capture, there should always be at least one type worse than me and at least one type stronger than me. (Non-transitivity, like Rock-Paper-Scissors.) In other words: the strengths/weaknesses of each type relative to the others should form one or more cycles.
I could just throw the types into a random cycle and call it a day, but I would like sensible in-world reasons for why Type A is better than Type B but worse than Type C, for instance. I haven't been able to figure out cycles where each type has a sensible reason for being weaker than or stronger than another. There's always one type left with a match-up that doesn't make sense.
The types are as follows (tribes aren't very relevant, I don't think):
Mind: Abilities focus on mental manipulation; these Spawn are highly intelligent and can mess with others' brains directly.
Body: Abilities focus on raw strength, either strong attacks or high physical defense; these Spawn are large, heavy, and/or muscular, and often are skilled at melee attacks.
Ethereal: Abilities are spirit-like; these Spawn come from universes where life evolved from very non-dense matter, like gasses and vapors; or else their bodies are partially "anchored" to their home universe, leading to ghostly properties in the universe of Gemini.
Nature: Abilities focus on manipulation of nature, a la plants, terrain, weather, etc.; these Spawn are effectively either druids or symbiotes.
Artifice: Abilities focus on equipment and tech, and these Spawn tend to be modular; these Spawn have highly advanced technology and rely so strongly on it that they can be at a disadvantage if their tech is unavailable for any reason.
Can anyone help me find a way to organize those types into cycles of strengths and weaknesses, such that every type has at least one strength and one weakness, but also provide an in-world explanation for why each is strong or weak against another?
The best I could come up with was "Mind > Ethereal > Body > Mind", with the explanation that "in order to manipulate peoples' minds remotely, the Mind Spawn are controlling energy in their brains, which gives them an advantage over Ethereal Spawn who are mostly kept coherent in Gemini with energy control; Ethereal Spawn have an advantage over Body Spawn because physical attacks would pass through them; and Body Spawn have an advantage over Mind Spawn because their focus on physicality has rendered most of them fairly dim and instinctual, giving Mind Spawn less to work with." But this leaves out Nature and Artifice, and just having those two loop doesn't make much sense, since any explanation of why Nature is stronger than Artifice inherently invalidates any explanation of why Artifice would be stronger than Nature.