There are those of us who simply cannot tolerate the idea of sitting down to a game of chess. I am not necessarily one of these people and I enjoy the deep strategy of this game but I’m not very good at it and it often leads to a frustrating end. Chess along with Go are wonderful and very deep games but they’re not always the sort of games people want to sit down to particularily if you have time constraints or you prefer shorter lighter games. In this respect, Onitama certainly delivers!
Onitama is a light to medium strategy game for two players playing in around 10 minutes. Each player has 5 pieces on their board (which is a nice durable neoprene material). One of the pieces is a master pawn and is an important piece in either of two modes you can play. You can either play the Way of the Stone or the Way of the Stream. In the former you must catch your opponents master pawn in the latter you must occupy your opponents master pawn’s Temple arch space.
Moves are card-based and as you can see in the picture below, cards show a black starting point for wherever your pawn is and coloured squares represent legal moves.
The game is incredibly simple to learn taking under 5 minutes to digest the rules. This is the sort of game you will want to play several times in a row.
Often with games like this I am left questioning whether I will return to it, whether it is just a fad and whether it has real substance. At this point in time after several plays I can quite happily say that Onitama does presente a deep enough strategic challenge for it to demand repeat plays over the long term.
The presentation is very good and the components are of quite a high quality. I wasn’t terribly impressed by the moulds for the pawn pieces but that is neither here nor there unless presentation is the absolute priority in your gaming life.
We at Bunyip Kingdom thoroughly recommend Onitama!