Onitama

Personal ranking: #42

Time to play (in my experience): 10-15 minutes

Age level: Probably 7 or so could play this one (if you can play Chess, you can play Onitama)

Difficulty level: 1 (less than 5 minutes to teach, less than an hour to play)

Type of Game: Abstract. An abstract game is where there is little to no theme, and is usually about moving pawns about on a board. Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, and Go, are examples of classic abstract games.

Game Setting: The Shrine of Onitama

Brief overview of how to play: Each player has 1 master pawn and 4 student pawns. The object is to either capture the other player’s master pawn or to get your own master pawn onto the opposing player’s Temple Arch space. Movement is determined by cards. At the beginning of the game 5 cards are dealt; two face up to each player with one card inbetween. The rest of the cards are not used in the game. When a player takes his/her turn he uses one of the movement cards in front of him, passes that card to the “inbetween” and takes the former inbetween card to replace it. This means that movement possibilities keep rotating between the players.

How many players does it play? 2. And only 2.

Why do I love/recommend this game?:

Quick set up/quick play. You can get this game set up in less than a minute, and unless you have really slow players, the game should take no more than 15 minutes.

“Let’s try that again”. Since it plays so quickly, and there are 16 movement cards (and you only play with 5), it’s rare that I have played this only once in an evening. Generally, someone says, “okay, one more time.”

 

Example of the movement cards. You can currently play Frog or Boar. The black box indicates your pawn (any of your pawns) the colored boxes indicate where your pawn could move. The Crab will be coming to you next.

I’d rather play this than Chess: I’m not going to say this is a better game than Chess (Chess certainly has stood the test of time, and has legions of players), but I’d rather play this than Chess. I’ve played a lot of Chess in my day, but nowadays I’d rather play a game where no one, at least to my knowledge, is a master.

Awesome production and packaging: Everything to the cylindrical box to the the “mouse pad” mat to the nice pawns, it’s an eye-catching production.

Check out those nice pawns!

Anything offensive in this game? Anything at all? Not that I can see.

Final Word: I don’t play a whole lot of head-to-head abstract games, but if I were to just pick one, Onitama would be my choice. Although #42 doesn’t seem to be very high for a personal rank, it is my highest ranking game of this type.

Amazon.com price at the time of this posting: $21.67

 

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