07 September 2018
Good news: two-player abstract strategy gem Onitama is now on mobile. Even better news: it’s completely free to play.
Well, almost completely free to play – you can cough up a couple of quid for the game’s Sensei’s Path expansion, which adds 16 extra cards into the slick card-driven battle to capture your rival’s elder pawn on a chess-like grid.
But even without paying a penny, you’ll be able to play standard Onitama on iOS and Android phones and tablets against AI opponents of varying difficulties, or actual humans through pass-and-play (which, strangely, does require signing up for an Asmodee Digital account to unlock) or online.
If you’re unfamiliar with the 2014 game, it’s a simple but intense game about playing the right card at the right time to try and land on your opponent’s elder pawn or get your own elder to the opposite side of the board by manipulating your elder pawn and the four smaller warrior pawns at your disposal.
The hook is the way that cards are passed back and forth between the players. There are only five cards in the game, each granting the ability to perform a specific action inspired by martial arts – each player holds two, and a fifth starts in the middle of the table.
Each turn as a card is played, it’s exchanged with the central card, meaning that your action can be matched by your rival once they collect your used card – so thinking ahead to avoid handing opportunities to your rival is crucial.
The app also includes other digital benefits, such as the ability to customise your playing field with different boards and music – including a sci-fi theme, if you really want to change up the traditional feel of the original.