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Board GameOnitama Review
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Posted: 9 weeks ago, last updated 8 weeks ago.

Author: Rob Prior, @GeekDadGamer and Jo Robertson.


Onitama is a Chess-like traversal game where moves aren't locked to pieces but to the cards you trade. You play by moving Pawns around a small 5-by-5 grid, tactically choosing a move from your current pair Spirit cards. The double strategy of Pawn position and Spirit card offensive moves, creates ever changing opportunities for attack but also makes it harder to finally pin the opponent's King.

Like Chess, this is a game of capturing space and pieces, but unlike chess, your pieces' moves are not fixed. Each go, you choose from two Spirit cards, to decide which specific pattern of moves are possible for your Pawn. In a further twist, once you've used a Spirit card, you pass it to your opponent so must keep in mind how they could use it.

As you progress, you and your opponent remove pieces from play by landing on their space and capturing them. This means that your movement choices become more limited and piece selection needs even more care. You win by either capturing your opponent's Onmyo king-like pawn or by moving on to the space where this piece began the game.

It's a highly strategic game, where your choice of move not only affects your pieces and position on the board, but also the moves available to your opponent in future turns. You can use this to your advantage and control their options as well as you own. Like Chess, the web of dependencies becomes complex so that sudden victory or defeat is never far away.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 01/01/2014

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Players: 2

Genres: Strategy and Traversal

Pieces: Board, Cards and Figures

Developer: Arcane Wonders (@ArcaneWonders)



View our choice of games like Onitama. This game is good if you want to:


Learn to Play: This takes half an hour to learn. The first time you play it's worth knowing the following:
  • It is easier to win by advancing your Onmyo pawn, so focus on this type of movement first.
  • The centre squares are key to victory, so try to retain pieces in this part of the board.
  • Remember that the Spirit cards come back around, so try to bear this in mind as you play.

Play Time: This game will take between 15 minutes and 20 minutes to complete.

Play StylePlay Style

You can play with 2 players in the same room.

You can play this game in the following styles:

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Skill Rating

8+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Younger players need to be able to make strategic decisions and to understand the choice of moves that is available to them on each turn. In some ways it's better for very young players than Chess as you don't have the pain of losing a Queen or crucial Knight, because moves are about the cards rather than the pieces.

Content Rating

We rate this suitable for 3+ years-olds.


There are no additional in-game purchases, loot boxes, adverts or subscription costs.
There are a number of expansions, which include:
  • Onitama: Light and Shadow (2022) adds a new Ninja pawn.
  • Onitama: Way of the Wind (2018) adds a Wind Spirit pawn and cards.
  • Onitama: Sensei's Path (2017) adds 16 new Movement cards.


We haven't documented accessibility features for this game yet. Our Onitama Accessibility Report details system-wide settings that may help, and suggests similar games with accessibility features. Tweet the developer (@ArcaneWonders) to let them know about our Accessibility Questionnaire.

Diversity and InclusionDiversity and Inclusion

We haven't documented diversity and inclusion information for this game yet.

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