Personal Ranking: #8 (2017 ranking)

Time to Play (in my experience): 45 minutes

Age Level: I think that this would work with anyone as young as 9.

Difficulty Level:  2 (5-10 minutes to teach, 90 minutes or less to play)

Type of Game: Set Collection and Area Majority. Set collection means that you are collecting sets (Rummy is a good example of set collection). In this case you are collecting races and/or colors. Area majority means that you try to have the most tokens or presence in particular areas. In this case, you are placing tokens out on the map of Ethnos.

Game Setting: The legendary land of Ethnos inhabited by various races of Elves, Dwarves, Giants… etc. It sounds a lot nerdier than the gameplay actually is.

Brief overview of how to play: On your turn you either draw a card or play a band. If you draw a card, you either take a card blindly off the top or take a face up card from the table. If you play a band you must match either colors (lands on the map) or races. For instance you play a band of dwarves or a band of blue. The top card of your band signifies where you can place a token and also the special power provided by the band. The game is played over three rounds where the end of each round happens immediately after a third dragon card is revealed from the stack of cards. Scoring then occurs. After the third round, a final scoring happens and you see who is the winner.

An example of some of the cards. I chose this combination to show that colors come in different races and races come in different colors. There's the blue elf and the red elf (or the Rhea elf and the Straton elf I guess), for example.

How many players does it play?: 2-6

Ideal number?: 4-6

Why do I love/recommend this game?:

Really exciting “push-your luck” element. Each round immediately ends when the third dragon is revealed. The cards left in your hand are immediately discarded and you don’t get to use them. Since the three dragon cards are shuffled into the bottom half of the deck, you never know exactly when the round is going to end once you’ve passed the halfway point. Since you can’t both take a card and play a band on your turn, once a dragon is revealed, you are constantly asking yourself whether you should take just one more card and hope it gets back to you, or just play your band.

The “discard the rest of your hand” bit. One of the most interesting things about this game is that when you play a band, any card that does not match the decided race or the color gets discarded face up into the center. Now everyone else also has access to those cards. For instance, lets say you have 4 minotaurs, a wizard, a merfolk, and a halfling, you can play the 4 minotaurs, but you have to give up the rest. When you end your turn after playing a band, you have nothing in your hand (usually). This is an incredibly fun and interesting part to this game. We usually refer to these discards as “junk” and start chanting “junk! junk!” when someone plays a band and has a lot of cards left in his/her hand. “One man’s trash is another one’s treasure!”

The various race powers are super fun. When you play a band, the top card of the band is the “leader of the band.” When you play that band, you also get the special power of the leader. All of the powers are pretty simple and they add great variety to the game.  They also make pretty good thematic sense. 

An example of a band. They are all purple cards with a centaur on top.

You don’t ever play with everything in the box. Twelve races come in the box, but you only ever play with six of them. Usually this is done randomly. This means that every game plays quite differently. 

It’s an easy game to play twice. Usually my favorite games are those that can be played more than once in a session. Because there are 12 races in the box, and you only play with 6, it is very easy to say “well, let’s play again with the other 6!”

Great game for a larger group. Too many games are for 2-4 players. I really like that this plays just as well (perhaps even better) as a 5 or 6 player game.

Super quick turns. Even with 6 players, your turn often comes by quicker than you expect. Sometimes all you do on your turn is draw a card off the top of the deck. Lightning fast. 

Is there anything offensive in this game? Anything at all?: Not that I can tell.

The board in play. The size of the stack determines who is winning each particular area.

Final word: “Area majority” games are not generally my “cup of tea”, but this one, with it’s quick play time and variable set up make it a huge winner for me. That, and the fact that it is a game with good strategic depth that also plays larger groups of people well, means that it will be in my collection for a long time. price at the time of this posting: $30.90

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