Ethnos is a mythical realm filled with creatures big and small. As the last Age ended, war and revolt left the inhabitants without someone to lead them into their future. Giants, Dwarves, Elves, and Centaurs have not traditionally gotten along, but a leader is a diplomat as much as a warrior. Now, you’ll have to bring the residents of Ethnos together under one rule. Over the course of three Ages, you will gather followers and convince them to band together to conquer the six Kingdoms. Featuring a classic design by Paolo Mori and breathtaking illustrations by legendary artist John Howe, Ethnos transports you to a world on the brink of disaster. Only a steady hand and a pure heart will be able to lead the inhabitants of Ethnos into the future.
Item Code: CMNETH001
The initial setup plays a huge role in Ethnos. The game consists of twelve tribes, but only five or six are used each game, depending on the number of players. Since each race plays very differently, this creates a huge variety from game to game. In addition, Ethnos is an area-control game, with the different areas of the map worth differing numbers of points, even from round to round. Since these point values are determined by tokens that are randomly drawn during setup, the ways players will focus on different parts of the map will shift between games.
Each player starts with one ally card from the deck of selected tribes shuffled together. Then, on your turn, you can either draw a new card or play a band of allies from your hand. Some ally cards begin the game face up, so you can choose from among those when drawing. However, these face-up cards are not replaced when taken, so your options will wane as time goes on. If there’s nothing face up you want, you can draw blindly from the deck. When you play a band, however, any unused cards left in your hand are discarded face up to join the options for all the players to draw from.
What really brings the game to life are the various tribe powers. When you play a band, you’ll choose one to be your leader. All the cards in your band have to either be of the same tribe or of the same color (representing one of the regions of the map), but you’ll only resolve the special ability of your leader’s tribe. These special abilities range from the Centaurs, allowing you to immediately play another band before having to discard, to the Giants, letting you claim the Giants token and gain points if your Giant band is the biggest.
After playing your band, you can place a control marker in the region of the map that matches your leader’s region. To keep things interesting, though, your band has to be bigger than the number of control markers you already have in that region, so there’s a build-up throughout the game as it becomes more and more difficult to increase your control of a particular area.
Three dragon cards lie in wait in the allies deck, and when the last is drawn, the Age ends. Players discard all their remaining cards, and the round is scored. Each region is worth a number of points depending on the round number and the token that region received during setup. Points are split in ties, and second and third place only score in later rounds, when the lower-value tokens used in previous rounds determine the points for the lower-control players. Since control markers don’t leave at the end of an Age, this means players can build up control and score a little bit early on and then shift their focus to other areas while those earlier-placed markers continue to earn them points in the second and third round.
After three rounds, the game ends, and the player with the most points wins! For such a simple set-collection game, there is plenty to strategize about. The different tribe combinations keep things interesting from game to game, and the random point tokens for the regions means there’s no set strategy for how to try to take control of the map. It’s also very important to choose your cards carefully, as the ones you can’t use to form your band must be discarded, creating more options for all your opponents. Ethnos is simple to learn, but it provides plenty to engage with, and with the dark fantasy art and theme, reminiscent of popular properties, there’s plenty of appeal for established board gamers as well as newcomers to the hobby.