Review: Onitama

  • December 19, 2016
  • James Skemp
  • review

The following is a review of Onitama, a board game for two players, received as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Simple to learn, but very strategic and enjoyable

In Onitama each player has a master and four pupil pawns. Then five move cards are pulled out, with the rest placed back in the box. Each player receives two, while the fifth is temporarily set aside, but helps determine the first player.

The first player than selects one of their move cards, moves one of their pawns according to it, puts it aside, and takes the other set aside card.

The second player selects one of their move cards, moves their pawn accordingly, sets the card aside, and takes the card the first player set aside.

In this way each player is playing and passing cards, resulting in each player having the chance to play any of the five move cards.

The random nature of the move set gives the game a different feel each time, and with each player having access to the same moves, a deal of strategy is required to not only select the correct move, but keep in mind what your opponent has access to, and what you’re giving them the next turn.

I was never a pro at chess, so I’ve yet to feel like I truly mastered the game, but I do rather enjoy it. Your mileage my vary depending upon who you play this game against. This, plus it being only for two players, and having a variable game length, does limit who I would play this with, but I think anyone I know could learn the rules.

Finally, the components of the game are truly top notch. The board is extremely nice, and the pawns each have a good deal of detail.

I see no reason to give Onitama any less than five stars, so five stars it shall receive. Recommended if you enjoy strategic/thinking games like chess, but would like something a little more dynamic.