Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review - Onitama (2014) - Arcane Wonders

When I heard that Onitama was coming out, I immediately thought of one of my favorite games, The Duke. I figured that if any game was going to replace it in my collection, it would be this one. Does it measure, or even take over as my favorite abstract game?

Onitama is a two-player, perfect information abstract game with a random starting set-up. On a 5x5 board, both players start with five pawns on their side, with the main pawn in the middle.Each player has two open cards that each display a possible move for any of his pieces. There is a fifth card that cannot be used by either player. On a player's turn, he chooses one of his cards, moves one of his pieces according to the chosen card, then replaces the card he used with the fifth card. The other player then chooses one of his cards, moves accordingly, and exchanges that card with this fifth card — which is, of course, the card the first player just used.Moving onto one of the opponent's pawns removes that pawn from the game. Taking the opponent's main pawn, or moving your main pawn into your opponent's main pawn's starting space, wins you the game.

Eliminate your opponent's Master, or become the Master of their temple.

As I was setting up, Tyler commented that the Students "look like they are talking on a cell phone." Which I thought was funny.  It was at this point that he turned all of his pieces around and said, "We do not wish to do battle on this day." Eventually, he turned them back around, and play began. Each of us slowly moved our pieces into what we felt were the most strategic positions, and then we each claimed one of our opponent's Students. As the game moved on, Ty only had 2 pieces left. It was then that I made my move, and brought my Master across the board. After sacrificing a Student, I was able to claim his temple with my Master for the victory.


" I like the way the board looks, it very artistic in that Japanese watercolor style."


"My favorite bit is the frog card. I like how it can jump spaces."


"This game did not replace The Duke for me. I feel that the limitation of moves available during gameplay really limits the game. You could draw 5 cards for the game that will make both of you just move back and forth. I understand that's part of the strategy, but it's too limiting for my taste."


"I don't like that you only get 5 cards when there are many more cards available that you could use. I also did not like that the are only 5 pieces on your team."

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