The description from Board Game Geek is as follows:
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.
It's a straightforward game with simple rules, a small field of play, and few pieces. It might be described as akin to chess with fewer pieces, rotating movement rules, and a slightly different endgame condition. Even with unequal opponents, this game can get right to the action but be sure players agree in advance on time constraints as this ten minute game can be tedious in the hands of a player with Analysis Paralysis. A thirty second or one minute timer might be a good idea since most games are unlikely to go beyond ten or fifteen moves unless both players are being particularly cagey, which would make that game more engaging anyway. Good stuff and one to carry along for quick setup and play just about anywhere.
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