Onitama is an elegant head-to-head game. published by Arcane Wonders. that you can learn in a couple of minutes. Through well-designed, abstract gameplay, players will quickly be able to start matching wits and enjoy its deep strategy. Fans of chess will undoubtedly appreciate the similarities between the two, but Onitama is a quicker, simpler game that will never end in a stalemate.
Onitama plays out in its entirety on a shared 5x5 board, with each player controlling four wooden pawns and one king. The objective of the game is to either remove your opponent’s king from the board or to move your king on to their king’s starting spot. Onitama is, therefore, not only a matter of attrition between two warring sides but also a game of clever movement and foresight.
The game’s standout feature is its card-driven movement. At the start of the game, each player will be dealt three movement cards that they leave face-up in front of them. Each turn, they choose one of these cards and carry out its movement with any one of their available pieces. The card then goes to their opponent and will remain in their possession until they use it.
In this way, there are only ever a handful of possible moves available and you can always see the options available to your opponent. This clever feature of Onitama’s design means that it never gets old. You can never ‘solve’ the game. As long as you have a human to play against who is capable of changing their behaviour, there will be life in this game for you to draw out and enjoy.
The simplicity of Onitama is such that you can teach it to anyone, including children who are old enough to grasp a set of rules. It is a very visual game with no language involved, making it tremendously accessible. There are very few abstract games out there that could give two people a more compelling head to head experience than Onitama.
Player count: 2
Time: 15-20 minutes
Age rating: 8+