That title warrants a lot of writing to back it up, and trust me on this one, Arcane Wonders Onitama does most of the work for me. The game looks gorgeous, is quick to learn, high quality pieces, simple set up, easy packaging, and quick to play. All that plus it's fun!
Guys, I'm not a quick learner of board games and even I got this one down pretty quick. The rules are so simple they can be condensed into a 2 minute video...THAT I JUST HAPPEN TO HAVE!
(UPDATE: if you're on mobile you may have trouble watching my masterfully done video...here's an alternate longer video from Dice Tower that gives you a good idea of what to expect as well.)
In case it wasn't apparent in the video the game pieces are rubber and the game board is a mousepad material which I could not be a bigger fan of. I am so ridiculously tired of paying $35-$40 for flimsy cardboard game boards. I'm also a huge fan of the game box as Arcane Wonders gives you a space for your pieces and *gasp* a ziploc bag for your cards. I know it's a small detail but in a world where I have board games that are a jumbled mess of cards and pieces inside their box I could not be happier seeing this.
Onitama is listed as a game for 14+, I would dispute the idea is simple enough for a 9-10 year old to get. Sure the nuanced strategy of seeing your opponents moves and plotting your own may be a bit over their heads, but at it's base this game would be a great learning experience for kids wanting to get into strategy games.
Going back to the planning aspect, this game really challenges you to think your and your opponents moves out! It helps that only 5 cards can be rotated a game, as it allows for a predicted move train of thought as opposed to random moving until you capture something.
Depending on who you're playing the game could end around 8-12 minutes, but if you're both experienced closer to 25-30. That's not a bad thing, as I hate when strategy games are halted by the stalling of players wishing to bide their time for another oppurtunity. Onitama pushes the pace forcing the character into moving a character if it is possible to do so.
When I guessed market price for this one, taking into consideration the board art, quality of pieces, ease of play I guessed it a decent investment at $45. Turns out I was off and $29.99 makes this one a no brainer buy for the 2 man game genre. I can see this one having some mainstream success if it gets the right attention, and here's my best effort to sell it to you. Buy this game, support Arcane Wonders, and enjoy Onitama. This game will be a gem to bring along to game nights.