The path of the strategist

We thought we knew everything about chess, then Onitama arrived.

Although it takes again the good old principle of the plate with box with pawns moving above, the game innovates by proposing a displacement of the pawns which is not attributed to their characteristics as it is the case in a game of chess classic, but based on movement cards dealt at the start of the game.

We can speak of a revisited chess game, easy to understand, but much more complex to master.

It’s all the talent of the developers, taking a game as old as the world and renewing its interest by slightly changing the game mechanics.

Inside the Dojo

In an atmosphere inspired by China and medieval Japan, Onitama presents itself as “a simple and elegant game that captures the essence of martial arts.”

There are two options available to you to win over your opponent.

You must either capture the master of your opponent (method called the “way of the Stone”), or move the board to your master to reach the space “Arch of the temple” of your opponent (method called the “way of the stream” ).

At the start of each game, players receive two movement cards to form a hand. These cards are completely random.

The additional movement card is also distributed to each player.


Become a fine strategist

Each turn, you must select one of the two cards representing a type of movement. Then select the pawn you want to move. The boxes on which you can go are then indicated according to the diagram.

The subtlety is that once your turn is over, the card you just used goes to your opponent!

You must therefore anticipate the opponent’s movements based on their cards, but also on your movement card that the opponent can use during the next round.

This card rotation is done until an opponent wins the game.

Japanese or bad graphic style

Onitama is rather pleasant to look at. If one cannot really qualify its interface as “minimalist”, it has the merit of proposing parts free of all visual distractions.

We appreciate the Zen atmosphere that emerges from a game, which is particularly conducive to reflection. Music also provides real concentration assistance.

The design of the different pawns is pretty well worked and their shadows give relief to the whole.

It is among others on the graphic part that the site is monetized.

The game is perfectly playable for free, but you can buy new pawn skins and displacement cards from the online store for prices ranging from two to three euros.

Reasonable prices that serve only to renew the interest of the game. Indeed, a certain weariness could settle after several hours playing with the same cards and the same pawns.

The developers therefore rely on the most loyal players to monetize their game, without displaying invasive advertising to those who wish to play without paying. A healthy economic model from which certain games should be inspired.


The more crazy we are, the more we laugh

After completing your warm-up against AI, you can go online to play against real opponents. The scoring system obviously pushes you to surpass yourself.

We particularly appreciate the possibility of playing two locally on the same screen. It is quite rare to be noted, the tendency being to play online together, even if you are in the same room … A good point for Onitama.