Imagine a game in which 6 fantasy races face off for regional dominance. Alliances are formed and bands are dispatched. As the conflict wages on the forces must be increased and become more focused in order to be successful. The game I just described definitely is not Ethnos, but it’s pretty close.
The game takes place on a mythical island called Ethnos. The island is inhabited by numerous fantasy races. There’s no shortage of elves, dwarves and wizards. But we also have more unique factions like merefolk, centaurs, and skeletons. While the setting isn’t completely unique or original, it works.
Many of us are familiar with the classic Ticket to Ride. One could consider Ethnos the fantasy, area majority nephew of Ticket to Ride. A player’s turn is quite simple. Draw a card or play a band of cards. You have the choice of adding one of the face up cards from the table to your hand or drawing blind off the top of the deck. The alternative is playing a band, and adding a control marker. A band consists of a set of cards all the same race or the same color.
There is a good amount of thought that goes into creating a band, specifically the topmost card. The color of this card determines which region your control marker will be placed in. The race of the card will determine what special action you are allowed to take, with each races action being unique. Play continues for 3 years, each ending when a 3rd dragon card is drawn from the deck. At the end of each year the different regions will score based on which players have the most markers present.
Occasionally a game comes along that is undeniably great. The game is filled to the brim with small and simple choices. Each of these choices, though, feels meaningful and important. And despite the large amount of planning and decisions to be made, turns are incredible quick. But in the end there is no greater feeling than turns of lucky card draws then throwing down a 6 card band to take control of an area just turns before the 3rd dragon card is drawn.
It’s highly repayable and plays quickly, making it great for gamers and their non-gaming families. If you aren’t sick and tired of the same old fantasy tropes, odds are you’ll love the game. So yes, I believe it’s for you, and anyone else you’re fortunate enough to teach it to.