This is a fantastic little abstract strategy game.
Each player has four pawns and a Master set out on a 5×5 game.
Movement is dictated by a random draw of cards made at the beginning of the game.
Each player gets two cards and one is played in the middle. The middle card determines who goes first. The cards, named after the twelve Chinese Zodiac signs, with a few extras, give you a movement pattern which you can use to move any of your pieces.
When you have used your card, you swap it with the one in the middle.
And that’s it.
The winner is the player who either captures the opponent’s Master, or occupies their opponent’s ‘Temple Arch’ space with their Master. It’s rapid-fire, easy to grasp, and every game is different as you draw a new set of five cards to play with each time.
This is a really great little quick-fire strategy game.
It’s an abstract strategy, but, like with Chess you can easily imagine the basic story – the rule-book set’s up the atmosphere nicely.
Two masters attempt are attempting to guide their students to the Sacred Shrine of Onitama, only one will make it. The spirit animals of the shrine lend their powers to the players, and it is only by skilful use of these fighting styles will the winner prevail.
There are two ways to out-manoeuver each other and win in this a game of cat and mouse.
The game is played on a 5×5 board. Movement is dictated by five randomly-drawn cards from a set of sixteen. Each card represents a martial arts ‘style’ and these are named after the animals of the Chinese zodiac with a few others thrown in for good measure.
To win with the “Way of the Stone”, you must capture your opponent’s master. To win using the “Way of the Stream” you must move your master to occupy your opponent’s “Temple Arch” square (the middle square of the back row).
Simple to set up, and easy to grasp, this game will give you hours and hours of entertainment.
There are only five cards in play during any given game, so as you can imagine, there are a great many possible combinations of cards that are used for any given game. After you play using one of your movement cards, you swap that movement card with the fifth card which is kept in the middle by the board.
In this way you have the opportunity, after the random start, to plan your moves a little in advance, but never far in advance since you do not know which card your opponent will play.
Repeated plays open up a game of subtle and intense strategy, with just the right amount of randomness to keep you on your toes.