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Ages Play Time Players
14+ 45-60 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Paolo Mori

Manufacturer(s): CoolMiniOrNotInc.

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  • WARNING: Choking Hazard - Small Parts

Product Description

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!

In more detail, the land of Ethnos contains twelve tribes of fantasy creatures, and in each game you choose six of them (five in a 2/3-player game), then create a deck with only the creatures in those tribes. The cards come in six colors, which match the six regions of Ethnos. Place three glory tokens in each region, arranging them from low to high.

Each player starts the game with one card in hand, then 4-12 cards are placed face up on the table. On a turn, a player either recruits an ally or plays a band of allies. In the former case, you take a face-up card (without replacing it from the deck) or the top card of the deck and add it to your hand. In the latter case, you choose a set of cards in your hand that match either in tribe or in color, play them in front of you on the table, then discard all other cards in hand. You then place one or more tokens in the region that matches the color of the top card just played, and you use the power of the tribe member on the top card just played.

At the end of the first age, whoever has the most tokens in a region scores the glory shown on the first token. After the second age, the players with the most and secondmost tokens score glory equal to the values shown on the first and second tokens. Players score again after the third age, then whoever has the most glory wins. (Games with two and three players last only two ages.)

Product Information


  • 1 Main Game Board
  • 156 Control Markers
  • 18 Glory Tokens
  • 156 Tribe Cards
  • 12 Setup Cards
  • 3 Dragon Cards
  • 1 Double-Sided Merfolk Board
  • 6 Orc Horde Boards
  • 6 Troll Tokens
  • 1 Double-Sided Giant Token

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 1 review

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Ethnos: One for the collection, great gateway game
June 30, 2017

Executive Summary: This game is really solid game. I didn't expect this game to grab me like it did but the simplicity of the gameplay along with the strategy and tension really create a great experience for the players. If you enjoy set collection, area majority, and variable powers, then you need to play this game.

Game play Not going to go into depth on the game play since Rodney Smith at Watch It Played has created a how to play video on this game, and others have actually done a great job explaining just how simple this game is to play in the Board Game Geek Forums. But to give you an idea, you are collecting cards so you can place a control markers in a region so at the end of an age, you will score victory points. Whoever has the most victory points at the end of three ages is the winner. While simple, there are some really solid decisions that must be made in this game.

Pros There are twelve factions in this game and during setup, you will randomly draw six of those factions to play with. After requesting the assistance of a gentleman who is getting his PHD in Stats, he reminded me that there will be 924 possible combinations that you could play. Not sure about you, but that is plenty of replay options for me. Then again, you could find the combo that you like best and just stick to it.

This is an area majority versus an area control. Whenever I introduce a game that has a certain look to it, my friends always ask if this is Small World and they asked it with this game. It isn't that they dislike Small World, but it isn't a favorite for them. They are not big fans of the area control, so when this had no battles and it was just who had the most markers, they really liked that mechanic. Also, whoever has the most markers will score the points that are shown for that age. These points are determined randomly at the start of the game which brings us to another really nice aspect of the game.

At the end of each of the three ages, players will score the indicated points for that age. Because these points are placed randomly in the areas, then sorted in ascending order, can make certain areas on the board more valuable than others. This might not agree with everyone, but this element adds more decision on the sets you play and the strategy you implore as you play. Do you forgo control in this one area and let others fight it out or do you try to be the one to gain the points each round and sacrifice other areas. Very simple decisions, but they impact the sets that you are collecting.

Iin order to place a marker in a location, you must exceed the current count of markers you have it that area. In other words, you have one marker there, you must play a set of two cards and so on. New players to the game will often find themselves just playing enough cards to place a marker and forgetting that at the end of an age, sets that you played are worth points. This element of scoring brings another enjoyable aspect to Ethnos.

Unlike other set collection games, Ethnos doesn't allow you to keep cards in your hand once you play a set, they must go back to the inventory where the other players will have access to them. That is right, they aren't discarded, they are now part of the inventory pool that people may pick from. There is some hard decisions to make here in how you build the sets because you want to deny the other players, but then it might not be the most strategic play for you. That balance makes this more than just a collect and play cards game. You really need to think about the sets your are building, especially with a hand size limit of 10.

Final pro is on the tension. The end of an age is marked when the third dragon is revealed from the draw deck which at the start of the game, the lower half was seeded with three copies. I mentioned that the players can draw from the inventory or the draw deck. When the inventory is gone, players must pick from the draw deck. As each dragon is revealed, the tension builds for players wonder if they will get their chance to play their last set. Players can also try and rush to the third dragon in hopes of scoring the areas before other players can gain control. This can easily come into play when certain races are being used in the game. Anyway you look at it, this is a great timing mechanism that adds the level of tension to a game that I enjoy.

Cons: The artwork on the board is nothing amazing, but it works. In a six player game, the areas can become tight with the markers and usually someone spills them over, but yeah, dexterity was just added to the game.

As stated at the beginning, Ethnos is a game that I will keep in the collection and use along with other entry level games to teach new gamers the basic mechanisms of set collection, card powers, and area management.

Other Resources for Ethnos:

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