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What if the formation of Earth had gone differently? In Ecos players are forces of nature, creating the planet together but with competing visions of its grandeur. You will have the chance to mold and create a part of the world similar, but different, to the one we know. Which landscapes , habitats, and species thrive will be up to you.

There are no turns in the game of Ecos. Instead one player will be revealing elements in the form of element tokens, one at a time, from the element bag. Each element revealed can give some or all players energy, depending on what effect they are trying to activate.

When a player's card has enough energy to activate, that player gets to resolve the effect, which usually results in terrain or wildlife being added to the board. The game ends at the end of a round in which at least 1 player has 80 victory points. The player with the most points wins.


  • 6 Dial tokens
  • 75 Map Tiles
  • 15 Mountain Tokens
  • 25 Forest Tokens
  • 66 Energy Cubes and storage container
  • 6 Scoring Cubes
  • 1 Scoreboard
  • 105 Game Cards
  • 102 Animal tokens and 2 storage containers
  • 40 Element stones
  • 1 Element bag
  • Rulebook


The sections below are numbered to correspond to the number on the setup image. Setup is the same for any player count 3 to 6, and slightly different for 2 players.

1 Each player chooses a color and takes the Dial token in their color. The Dial tokens show the distribution of Element tokens in the game. Your Dial token should be oriented with the word "START" at the top. Each player also gets 7 .

2 Place the Score Board on the table. Also take the Score Markers for each player and place them on the starting space of the Score Board.

3 Create the initial landscape with 1 Desert, 1 Grassland, and 2 Water tiles as shown:

In future games you can try the alternate configurations shown below:

4 Put the rest of the Map tiles nearby, with one stack of Land tiles and one stack of Water tiles.

5 Place the token organization trays, the Mountain tokens, and Forest tokens nearby on the table.

6 Make sure all 40 Element tokens are in the Element bag. The player who went for a hike most recently is the start player and takes the Element bag.

7 Create starting hands and active cards (see below).

8 All blue and brown cards not in any players' initial 12 cards should be shuffled separately and placed into separate face down decks.

First Game

If this is your first time playing, you should use the recommended pre-set starting hands. To do so, go through all of the cards from both decks and take out those with footprint icons in the bottom left of the card.

Sort these into 6 piles based on the footprint icons. These piles should each have 12 cards . Place the piles face down. Players each randomly choose 1 pile, which becomes their starting set of cards.

3 cards in your set of 12 have the footprint icon printed darker than the rest. These 3 cards become your 3 starting "active" cards and should be placed on the table face up. The other 9 cards are your starting hand, which you can look at but should keep hidden from other players.

Starting Hand Set Icons

Subsequent Games

If players have played previously, then you can try one of 2 options for more variety.

More preset hands: On the opposite side from the footprint icons are leaf icons. These can be used to sort the cards in the same manner as the footprints for more variety of pre-set cards.

Draft: Alternatively, you may want to try drafting your starting cards. To do so follow these steps:

  1. Deal 5 blue-backed cards to each player face down. Each player looks at their 5 blue cards, chooses 1 to keep and passes the other cards face down to the player on their left. Once all players have done so, players take the cards passed to them and repeat. Continue until all players have 4 blue cards. Shuffle the remaining undrafted cards back into the deck.

  2. Next, deal 9 brown-backed cards to each player face down. Repeat the same process as above but this time passing to the right. This time players draft until they have exactly 8 brown cards. Shuffle the remaining undrafted cards back into the deck.

  3. Each player should now have 12 cards. From your hand of 12 cards choose any 3 cards to be your starting 3 active cards and place them face up in front of you, facing you (the side with the most leaves should be at the top). Keep the other 9 in your hand until they are played.

If your game includes multiple experienced players and one or more new or less-experienced players, you may want to give pre-set starting hands to the new or less-experienced players, and then have the experienced players draft their starting hands among themselves.

You are now ready to begin!

Note: The two decks of cards are slightly different. The blue cards tend to score more points than the brown cards. The brown cards are generally more concerned with setting the map up.

Game Play

The start player begins as the "Harbinger". They take the Element bag and draw out 1 random Element token, announcing what it is, and placing it on the table. The possible elements are listed below and also on each player's Dial tokens along with their commonality...

All players, including the Harbinger, may place one of their on one of their cards in play on an uncovered spot with the same element icon as the one drawn. If you have no available that are not already placed, you may first remove one from any of your cards, then place it.

You only place one for each Element token drawn.

Instead of placing a , a player may rotate their Dial token one turn clockwise (90 degrees). If you are unable to place a you must rotate your Dial token.

Any cards that have all their energy spots full must now resolve their effect ("Completing a Card" on page 6).

Once all players have either placed a or rotated their Dial token, and all card effects are resolved, the process is repeated, starting with the Harbinger drawing another Element token.

If the Harbinger draws a Wild Element token , the round and their time as the Harbinger has come to an end. The Wild Element token lets players place a on ANY type of icon and resolve card effects as normal.

Once all players have done this, check to see if the game is over (see the "Game End" section), otherwise put all Element tokens back in the Element bag and pass the bag to the player on the left; they are the new Harbinger and play continues as normal.

Card Anatomy

Card Effects

There are many different cards in Ecos and every card is unique. All card effects are resolved from top to bottom.

Read here all detailed information about cards and their effects.

Completing a Card

If you ever place a on the last spot on a card you announce "ECO!"

Then you must do the following...

  1. Remove all from the card and add them back into your supply of available .

  2. Carry out the effect on the card.

  3. If the card shows more than one leaf at the top then rotate the card 90 degrees so that the number of leaves at the top of the card is 1 less than it used to be. These leaves indicate how many more times a card may be used before it is discarded.

    If a card shows only 1 leaf at the top it is discarded instead of rotating it. Discarded cards simply accumulate in a discard pile.

If several players announce "ECO" at the same time, then they resolve their effects in clockwise turn order starting with the Harbinger. Each player resolves all of their effects (including rotating their Dial token) before the turn proceeds to the next player.

If one or more players resolve their "ECO" before you, when it is your turn to resolve yours, you may choose to instead remove the you just placed and rotate your dial one rotation instead.

You may want to do this if the resolution of other players' card abilities causes changes to the landscape making you no longer want to, or able to do the effect you were about to do.

Sometimes resolving your card will not have an effect on the landscape, nor will it affect other players. To speed up game play if desired, in these cases, you don't need to announce "ECO", and instead you can just resolve your effect right away.

Any players resolving effects that do affect or are affected by the landscape or gain cards, always need to announce "ECO" and resolve their effects in turn order.

Using Your Dial

Every time an Element token is drawn and you either can't place a or don't want to, you instead turn your Dial token 90 degrees clockwise.

Once your Dial token has made 2 rotations, you MAY immediately reset the Dial token to start (so the "Start" side is at the top) to "gain a card.

If you choose not to use the gain a card effect after 2 rotations, then after the 3rd rotation, you may either play a card from your hand or gain a new from the extra supply. This is the primary way to play cards and gain additional . Then you reset your Dial token to start.

Played cards start facing you (the side with the most leaves should be at the top). Gained are added to your personal available .

Gaining Cards

Your Dial token and some card effects will let you "Gain a card". When you gain a card you may either...

  • Look at two cards from the top of either deck or one from each deck, and add one of those cards to your hand. Then place the other card face up next to the decks. OR

  • Take any 1 face up card left there by a prior gain a card effect.

Multiple cards can accumulate face up if players more commonly choose the first option.

Gaining cards is not always essential and it is often possible to win with only your starting 12 cards if you play them right.

End of the Game

After a Wild Element has been drawn and all effects have been resolved, if at least one player has 80 or more , then the game is over and the player with the most wins.

In the case of a tie, pass the Element bag to the new Harbinger as normal and they pull out one more Element token. All players resolve this Element token as normal, after which if only one player has the lead, they win.

If there is still a tie, repeat until there is only one player in the lead. Note, in this case, it's possible for any player to win, not just the originally tied players.

For a shorter game, you can play to 60 instead of 80.

Two-player Rules

To play Ecos with two players follow all of the normal rules with the following changes:

  1. At set up, players get 12 brown- backed cards and 6 blue-backed cards instead of the regular 8 and 4

  2. Each player starts with 5 cards in play.

    If you are using the pre-set hands, the extra cards you get are randomly drawn, and the fourth and fifth cards you start with in play are your choice.

    If you are drafting, you are dealt 2 blue-backed and 4 brown-backed cards and then you draft the rest of your hand (4 more blue-backed and 8 more brown- backed cards), but drafting 2 cards at a time instead of 1.

  3. Each turn when the Harbinger would pull a token from the bag, they pull out 2 tokens instead.

    Players then use each token for either a dial rotation or a placement.

If using the preset deck we recommend the following parings for two players:

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