I originally saw Eko at gencon. The box design and game pieces caught my eye, sadly I made the mistake of not giving it a try. Once gencon died down and my wallet started gaining population, I decided to find a copy. This was no easy task being in the US. I couldn't find a single copy in the US and prices over seas seemed steep. Finally someone posted a copy in the bgg marketplace and I snagged it.
Theme and components
It's hard to argue that the game components aren't beautiful. I enjoy simplistic design and being I grew up on the avatar cartoon, it strongly appealed to me. Once I played it however, the theme sort of fell short. The box and card art has strong elemental themes (of which I'm a big fan). But the rules really don't emulate them. Quite frankly the game play is more thematic of feudal japan. Which, personally, I think would have been more appropriate. The components are very well made and their simplistic design really hits home for me.
Rules as they are written
I'm a stickler for how rules are written, and perhaps it was a translation error but ekos rules leave some gaps. Don't get me wrong, they're easy to learn, but I found myself questioning things after reading them. Most of them flow well and I can't see it ever being difficult to explain to someone.
The games simple, sort of fits in right along side regular checkers. Time will tell if that simplicity elicits any sort of real strategy, but it's an easy game. I feel in some areas they tried to make it complex for the sake of strategy, but I'm not sure that it's needed. Sometimes the simplest games are the best in my opinion.