Welcome back to the previews of games shown off at a special media event by CMON here at Gen Con. I'm rested and refreshed and ready to tell you about another new game that will soon be gracing your gaming table. And not to spoil it too soon, but I loved this one, and I think you will, too. It's a game called Ethnos.
In Ethnos, you are trying to be the player in control of various provinces on an island. You do this by placing control markers on it. To place control markers, you collect sets of cards. It's sort of poker-like where you can either collect cards of the same color, or you can collect cards of the same type. The cards represent different tribes that live on the island and in the surrounding sea. So you have things like wizards, goblins, centaurs, elves, merfolk, and the like. You collect the cards from a community marketplace in the middle of the board. On your turn, you can either pick up a card or you can play a set of cards. The trick is that when you play a set of cards, other cards from your hand go back to the community marketplace. So there's no hording "all the good cards" since they can come back into play whenever you play a different set.
As I mentioned above, you play Bands when you've collected a certain number of like-cards in your hand. Depending on how you play them, you can trigger different abilities. A Band will always have a leader card. That determines what province your control token will go in. So if you play a red Band Leader, your cards will go to the territory that's bordered in red. Each leader also has a different special ability. It might let you draw more cards, or gain influence in different regions. All sorts of different things. There's even special things like building up a horde of orcs to rampage across the land at your behest, or you can become the king of the giants, or you can control the oceans with the merfolk. There's lots of options to where you can place your influence.
The game is for 2-6 players, and the game has slightly different rules depending on if you're playing 2-3 players versus 4-6, so it scales very nicely depending on how many are sitting at the table. It will be out sometime in the next 6 months or so. They weren't really able to pin down either Q4 this year or Q1 next year.
I know I will be picking up a copy. The gameplay is very quick and clean. The rules are very simple to understand and learn. Either pick up a card or play a card. But within those simple mechanics, you can see a very deep depth of play options and potential strategies. Also, I would be remiss not to mention that the artwork is by John Howe, who did art for the Lord of the Rings. As such, the cards are beautiful. One thing the graphic designer said when making the cards is that he wanted as little text as possible on the cards so that the pictures could really be center of them and be the real focal point.
This is one to look out for.