Ontitama: Sensei’s Path is an expansion for Onitama, a two player abstract strategy game. With a great balance of intricate play, quick set up, and easy to learn rules, Onitama bridges the gap between chess and strategy type fillers – thinky and deep but quick. If you read my review of Onitama you know I’m a big fan of abstract strategy in general and this game in particular, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on the expansion.
Onitama: Sensei’s Path comes in an adorable little mini box that mirrors the larger one of the base game. It contains 16 new movement cards that will fit into the original box. Four symmetrical (green) actions are added, and 6 each opposing asymmetrical (red and blue) movements. These are shuffled together with the original cards during set up, adding additional movement types to the game. No rules changes or additional components are added, just more movement abilities.
Most of the new movement cards add more diagonal and backwards movement capabilities. Additionally, a handful provide some really powerful multi-space moves that can be a real game changer, enhancing an aggressive strategy or providing a fast escape defensively.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
Expanding the movement card deck in Onitama is a nice addition. I’d mentioned previously that a bad draw could potentially make for a dull game – having twice as many movement cards decreases the odds of that significantly. Also, if you play this with any frequency you likely have the original cards memorized and start to build a strategy around moves that were difficult to counter.
Examples would be positioning pieces in areas that it would be uncommon to have a card that allowed you to reach them, sandbagging one of the cards with a rare ability to block your opponent from going a certain direction, or capturing your pieces, etc… While all of these are entirely legitimate ways to play, adding more movement abilities shakes up play significantly.
The addition of a few more powerful movements also improves the game. With one or two of the more powerful movements the board can change rapidly in just a few turns. This also speeds up game play while making it more exciting.
Overall adding more movement cards to Onitama is a big plus and there isn’t any need for relearning the game or a new set of rules. The new movement abilities in Sensei’s Path aren’t repetitive so these will genuinely be an interesting new addition to your game. If you like Onitama, you’ll appreciate the Sensei’s Path expansion.
• More movements increases the variability from game to game
• Powerful movements break up occasionally crawling game play
• At $1 a card ($15 MSRP), it’s a little pricey
• Cute as the box is, it bound for the recycle bin as soon as you open it.