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Subject: Thoughts after several 3 and 4 player games rss

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Edward B.
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I've played about about five to six game of Ethnos (three and four player matches) and just wanted to share some thoughts.

It combines a lot of the qualities I like in games: reasonable playing time, quick to learn and teach, straightforward actions with some tactical/strategic depth, and diversity in the set up of each game.

First the game clocks in at around an hour, standing by the playing time posted on the box. Always appreciate an honest game. If you're going to take four hours, do so, but don't tell me two!

Set up is quick and simple. Randomly shuffle and distribute some scoring tiles on the board, randomly pick the tribes (decks) you'll play with, and player colors. Shuffle the cards, deal one to each player, player count x2 face up for draw pool, and that's it! (Well, and shuffle the three age-ending dragons into the bottom part of the deck.)

On your turn, you only have two actions you can take. A) Draw a card, either from the face up offerings or from the deck. Or B) Play a group of cards that match either color or tribe.

Now, you may be thinking this is too simple. But the thing I really enjoy about this game is the amount of thinking encapsulated by these two choices. Playing small bands of cards early on can be really good because it gets control markers out on the board, where there are plenty of points to be had. But saving up for larger bands can be good because they are in themselves worth more points and a lot of the tribes powers trigger off of the size of the band.

Every time you play a bad, you choose a card to lead. This has two consequences. First, it determines what area of the board you can play your control marker. Second, it determines what special ability you get to use, which is based off of tribe.

It can be useful to try to save up for a large band led by a merfolk, for example, because you get to move up on a special merfolk track a number of spaces equal to the number of cards you played. Not only is this worth potential points at the end of round/age, but it could also give you a free marker that may not only be placed anywhere on the board but is also free of the normal stricture that you must play cards exceeding your current total of markers in that area.

Each of the 12 tribes has a unique power. Well, halflings sorta don't but the fact that their deck is twice as large opens up new opportunities. (Or so I'd assume. It's the one tribe I haven't played with yet.)

The fact that you're only choosing five (for 2-3 players games) or six (for 4-6 player games) tribes per game means you're almost always going to have a different set up, a different pool of potentially strategies and combinations.

Another thing I like is how each age of the game ends randomly with the draw of the three dragon cards. It adds a great push your luck element to the end of the game. Do you want to try and push getting that extra giant card so you can play the largest band and nab extra points? Or go with the safe bet and play smaller band before the game ends?

There's two main complaints I've heard of this game, and neither of them bother me. The first is that there's not enough strategy/actions/all you do is draw off the top. As I've mentioned already, there's a considerable amount of thought and be had out of taking only one of two actions. Also, I like that turns go fast. Drawing off the top deck might seem “boring” but it takes two seconds. Then you have your hand to consider and whether to make the best of it or push your luck/be patient for discards. And turns generally move very fast in this game. You're not waiting long before it's your turn again.

The second is criticism of the art. The art of the character cards is pretty good. The board is a bit simplistic with generic fantasy names, but the six regions are easy to tell apart, there's enough space for the control markers, and there's a scoring track around the side. Clean and functional.

I've enjoyed this game a lot. I rank it an 8 currently and hope to get many more plays out of it.
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Jona Nelson
Germany
Cologne
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I totally agree with you. Ethnos is an excellent game, which I like to bring out regularly. It plays lightning quick (yesterday I got a 3P-game into a 30min span, teaching it to two new players) and has a great balance between quickness of decisions and depth of strategy.

But boy is that game ugly. I don't like the artwork of the cards or the artworks of the board. The box cover is ok, but in my opinion promises a war like game that just isn't in the box. On the plus side, I gotta say: The art doesn't bother me at all during the game. It's just too fast of a game to give you time looking at the cards (or the board for that matter).

So, do I wish the game would have been made prettier: YES! (I'm really thinking about retheming this one). Does it bother me during the game? No.


The second issue I've got with the game is the pricing. I know CMON often produces high-priced games but usually those games have great miniatures. Ethnos doesn't have those. It's essentially a card game. It's like Dominion with a small board and some tokes added. And it's 40$ in the US, almost 45€ in Europe! Maybe that's due to the Asmodee european distribution, but it's overpriced for the material provided.

Unfortunately, I don't think that it will have the hit it deserves on the market. Due to the theme, the artwork and the price tag, a lot of people won't look into it. So I really hope for a retheme with a better artwork and a lower price point to really boost the game into front and center, because this game deserves it.

9/10 (without considering the art, obviously)
 
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Robert Purdon

Twinsburg
Ohio
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It's certainly very subjective, but I've gotta disagree regarding the art (we agree about the game itself). I like it quite a bit - John Howe is one of the all time best and is one of the driving forces behind a large percentage of folks' visual interpretations of high fantasy in general. Now the main board itself I do agree is completely bleh, and the plastic bits are meh, but the card art is very nice imo.

Regarding MSRP, the example you provided in Dominion has a base MSRP of $44.95. Ethnos is less at $39.99 and you can usually get it for closer to 30. I think that's very reasonable and well worth it.
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Edward B.
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I bought this at my local gaming store for around $35, including tax. I think that's reasonable considering you're getting a board, markers and cards. Although I do like the art on the cards and find the board perfectly acceptable, I do agree the tokens could have been a bit better. I like the colors but they are a little fiddly.

I've played this several more times, and I keep wanting to play it. I think I'm wearing my game group out with it, but I like it more and more.
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Jona Nelson
Germany
Cologne
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Nice to hear, that not everyone dislikes the artwork as much as I do.

As to the pricing: Looks like the pricing in the US is quite ok. I agree that 30-35$ is a very fair price. Nevertheless, in Germany it's 45€, which is close to 55$ and that is more than I'd normally be willing to pay for such a game.
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Edward B.
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Ouch! I wonder why it is so much more expensive in Germany.

I don't know if I would have picked it up for $55. Maybe $40. It is a very good game, but for better or worse I tend to judge price on components.
 
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Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
Washington
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It's a really solid game.

The board is too big, unless you are playing with lots of players.

The art is by THE Lord of the Rings artist, it's just rather generic.

It's a really solid game.

Would buy a five or six tribe expansion in a minute.
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Robert Purdon

Twinsburg
Ohio
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Windopaene wrote:

Would buy a five or six tribe expansion in a minute.


I need expansions for this thing, like NOW.
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Stephen Michael Hickey
New Zealand
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I like the art work on the cards and the board is ok too. At least it's not just 6 coloured regions.

I just find the box art dull.

I really like the art design on the tokens but they could have been designed betted to clip together.

Great game all the same.
 
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