Review – Ethnos
A set collection, area control game.
Year Published: 2017
Designer: Paolo Mori
Publisher: CMON Limited
Game Time: ~60 mins
Set-up Time: ~3 mins
Mechanisms: Area Control, Card Drafting, Set Collection
How to win: Score the most glory by controlling regions, playing large bands and scoring other points through various Race special abilities.
In Ethnos, players call upon the support of giants, merfolk, halfings, minotaurs, and other fantasy tribes to help them gain control of the land. After three ages of play, whoever has collected the most glory wins!
Set Up, Game Play & Game End
So, one thing I like about this game is that I FINALLY found a version of this mechanism that I like. When either taking a card from an available selection or playing them as a set works well in Ticket to Ride, but I didn’t really like the game. Royals took a step closer but still fell a little flat for me after a couple of plays. This one does it.
The variation of the races each game makes for a tonne of things to think about. Only half of those available are so you’re never really playing the same game each time. Also, due to them not being in the game all the time there’s no ‘one strategy’.
Speaking of which, none of the races feel overpowered and they’re actually quite well balanced. You’ll have a preference sure but none are really ‘must haves’. If you play a decent sized band you’ve done something right no matter the leader of that band.
Having said that, the trolls are strong. All races will give points if you happen upon a few of them but the Troll tokens that break ties during the area control part of the game is strong. Mostly as you’re taking points from opponents as well as gaining them.
The combination of races each game is important and leads to interesting combos. Having Skeletons and Halflings together is… interesting, as are Dwarves and Skeletons.
The major downside is the shuffling. You have to do a good proper shuffle 3 times per game and I mean a PROPER shuffle. As a round progresses the cards are sorted into colour and race as sets are played so a full stack shuffle is required. Petty I know but still…
Finally, there is a bit of luck of course. If the card you need isn’t available you could top deck one if you’re lucky. You could ‘draw into’ cards of the same race or region. Maybe someone plays a band and cards there hand giving you access to the card you need.
An awesome game with plenty of variation.
I give it 7/10