Stuck in a Hotel Room? Play a Game!

Stuck in a Hotel Room? Play a Game!

Disclosure

We had always wanted to take our kids to Washington D.C. It’s such a long drive from Iowa and airfare is quite high from the Quad Cities to our nation’s capital. We had just enjoyed a fantastic 4-day stay in Columbus at Origins Game Fair and knew we were already half way to the coast. So we planned on continuing the trek east to spend an additional four nights in D.C. and taking in all the museums, landmarks and historical sites as humanly possible.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

If you’ve ever visited, you know that Washington D.C. is best experienced via foot, especially the National Mall area where you’ll see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and a plethora of Smithsonian Museums. We planned our outside walking for the mornings (and line-standing for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing) and went inside a different museum each day as the temperature rose outside. But one day Mother Nature got the best of us and provided the entire area with heavy rains and flash floods. Luckily it hit late in the afternoon, and after a wet walk from the Metro back to the hotel, we realized we would probably be in for the night.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

We didn’t come all the way to D.C. to watch television and had a number of brand new games we were carrying with us from Origins – why not break one out! We needed something that wouldn’t take up too much space inside our hotel room, and since there were only two chairs we elected to set one up that accommodated two players and would only take about 15 minutes. The brand new issue by Arcane Wonders, Onitama, fit the bill perfectly!

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

And you know we love our abstract games, so Onitama was the perfect distraction from the downpour all around us. At first glance you might think of it as a 15-minute game of chess and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. First issued in Japan two years ago, Arcane Wonders has brought it to our shores and just released it this quarter. Each person takes control of a master in his temple and four pawns attempting to either capture the other person’s master or get their own master into their opponent’s temple.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

What makes Onitama different from Chess is you don’t have to remember how the pieces move. In fact, on every turn your allowed movements change depending upon which cards you have in front of you! The black square denotes the chosen piece’s starting position and the colored squares are its relative movement options.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

Onitama includes sixteen movement cards, from which 5 are randomly selected for each game. Two cards go in front of each player, while the other is set to the right side of the board of the starting player. Conveniently, the starting player is also determined by this fifth card – it will have either a red or blue square in the bottom right corner.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

On your turn you can move any piece according to the two cards in front of you. The card on the right side of the board will be the card you receive on your next turn, and whichever movement you take on this turn will be available to your opponent on his turn-after-next. Simply move your used card to the left side of the board (your opponent’s right) and collect your new movement card. Since you can see the movement you’re gaining, along with the two movements available to your competition, you are easily able to analyze your choices and (hopefully) avoid capture.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

I also want to point out the unique nature of the packaging, one which makes Onitama a great choice for travel. First, the box lid rolls around the entire box – no lid to lose! And the game board isn’t board at all – it’s printed on fabric laminated neoprene (also known as mousepad material), so it rolls up into the box, yet lies flat on the table. Technically it is somewhat waterproof, another must-have feature of any travel game.

If you are even a little bit of a fan of abstract games, Onitama is a must-have. Not only was it a hotel room hit for us, it became an instant favorite of some of our friends at our weekly game night gathering. It can be taught in under 3 minutes, and multiple rounds can be played “best-of” style. I foresee this first printing selling out well before the holiday season, so do not hesitate if you want a copy for yourself. Arcane Wonders should have copies available at Gen Con this year, but make sure you get to their booth early as they will certainly be long gone before the end of the convention.

Find your copy on Amazon for under $30. If you’re a completest, you’ll need to track down a set of the promo tiles awarded as part of Dice Tower’s Kickstarter campaign that adds two additional cards to the mix. Sadly we missed out on them also – now we’re patiently watching eBay for a set to appear! Maybe I’ll get lucky and Arcane Wonders will give some away on their Facebook or Twitter timelines?!

What’s your current favorite abstract game?

2017 Update

It’s been just over a year since we first played Onitama on a rainy day in Washington D.C., but that certainly wasn’t the last. It is a regular staple in our game night bag and our go-to for when we need a quick 2-player game. It certainly has stood the test of time.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

This past summer Arcane Wonders issued a quick-selling expansion to the base game, titled Onitama: Sensei’s Path. Packaged in a similar-styled lidless box, Sensei’s Path includes a brand new set of sixteen tarot-sized cards to be used with the original game.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

You can use this new deck as a full replacement to the original sixteen cards in Onitama, or choose to mix them in, creating a much larger pool of cards to randomly draw your five cards from. There are no additional rule changes, just additional cards to expand upon the variability of the game.

If you’re as much of a fan of Onitama as we are, Sensei’s Path is a must-purchase. There are copies currently on Amazon, but this is a case where buying the set directly from Arcane Wonders for $12.99 will probably save you a couple dollars.

Arcane Wonders brought the popular Japanese game of Onitama to our shores for us to enjoy. Find out why it was the perfect hotel room game for us! - SahmReviews.com

Now I have to keep an eye out for the limited edition promo cards issued by Dice Tower. The first two, Phoenix and Turtle, are included in Sensei’s Path. The newest, Goat and Sheep, can currently only be obtained through their Indiegogo campaign. Maybe that means another expansion is in the works?!

Scott

About Scott

A former manufacturing executive, Scott now balances his family life with ownership and backend administration of websites such as SahmReviews.com, GiftCardCollector.com and a number of other online properties. He also is an occasional writer and full-time board game fanatic.

12 comments on «Stuck in a Hotel Room? Play a Game!»

  1. That sounds like loads of fun. I love how the box lid rolls around. That’s really neat.

  2. Audrey says:

    I love th packaging it can be hard to travel with games due to the boxes. This looks like fun, I am not sure that I have ever played an abstract game before.

  3. Alison Gibb says:

    I am glad you guys had a game to play during the rain. I went on vacation to Mexico a few years ago and it downpoured every single day! It was awful!

  4. Kristi says:

    Sounds like a great game and if it can be taught in under 3 games, it would be perfect for us. Don’t want to loose the attention span of the adults or teenagers before we even start the game!

  5. 15 minute chess game? I’m intrigued! It may very well be just the game we’ve been looking for!

  6. That looks like a perfect game for a family roadtrip. Glad to see your kids had fun playing with it while traveling as well as getting to see our Nation’s capitol.

  7. You have the most unique games on earth! Playing a game of chess is always fun especially when you are stuck inside. GLad you got to visit Washington, it’s one of my favorite states!

  8. Tim French says:

    I like to bring games all the time for this exact reason to have something for down times, but it is also fun visiting the local game store and buying one on the way

    1. Agreed! We’re guilty of searching out FLGS’s when we’re travelling. Unfortunately it’s hit and miss most of the times.

  9. Dewayne Agin says:

    Onitama is a great game, and a great game to bring on a trip.

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