Elegant. That’s probably the perfect word to describe Onitama, a new release from Arcane Wonders. A perfect-information, abstract game played on a 5×5 board, each player is trying to either capture the opponent’s Master, or get their Master to the opponent’s shrine. Everything from the box, the components, and the gameplay are top notch.
Onitama comes with a deck of cards that illustrate how a piece can move on a turn. At the start of the game you shuffle the deck, give two cards face up to each player, and put one card face up to the side of the board. Each turn a player will use one of their cards to move a pawn, then swap it with the card on the sidelines. The entire game is played with the same 5 cards cycling between the players. It’s a simple, and beautiful mechanic as players maneuver themselves around the board waiting for an opportunity to strike.
I was able to teach the game to my 6, 9, and 10-year-old with no problem at all, and each of them had enough of a grasp on the game to make smart decisions. My 6 and 10-year-old even beat me the first time they played. All 3 have also pulled the game out to play on their own on multiple occasions now.
I don’t think I can really say much more about it, as I’m already gushing quite a bit.
Onitama is more than worth the $20 you’ll spend to add it to your collection, and you should add it to your collection. It’s a game that I believe will stand the test of time, and always have a spotlight space on my game shelf.
Onitama was provided free for review by Arcane Wonders.