Board Games Wiki

Onitama is a strategic board game designed for two players, first created in 2014 by Japanese game designer Shimpei Sato and introduced by Arcane Wonders. In 2017, it was also made available in Germany through Pegasus Games. The game draws its thematic inspiration from the diverse martial arts fighting styles found in Japan. Additionally, Onitama saw a digital release in 2018.

Game Setup[]

Place the playmat on the table, following the diagram. Each player selects 5 pawns of one color (1 master + 4 students) and places their Master pawn on the nearest temple arch and their Student pawns on the two squares on either side of the master, as shown in the diagram.


2 Master Pawns 8 Student Pawns 16 Move Cards Game Objective

The goal of Onitama is to demonstrate mastery of martial arts through one of two paths to victory: the Way of the Stone or the Way of the Stream.

Way of the Stone: Capture your opponent's Master pawn. Way of the Stream: Move your own Master pawn into your opponent's Temple Arch space.

How to Play[]

On each turn, players follow two steps in order:

Step 1: Move & Attack[]

  • Select one of the two Move cards in front of you.
  • Move one of your pawns (master or student) as shown on the chosen card.
  • The grid on the card indicates the pawn's current position (black square) and the available moves (colored spaces).
  • Capturing an opponent's pawn involves moving to the occupied square, removing the opponent's pawn from the game.

Step 2: Exchange Cards[]

  • After your move, rotate the card you used 180 degrees and place it on the left side of the playmat.
  • Take the card on the right side of your playmat and add it to your hand for use on your next turn.
  • Players continue taking turns until one of them achieves victory through either the Way of the Stone or the Way of the Stream.

Note: If you cannot make a legal move, you must pass your turn and rotate a card as described.


A player wins by successfully completing one of the two paths to victory: capturing the opponent's Master pawn (Way of the Stone) or moving their Master pawn into the opponent's Temple Arch space (Way of the Stream). Mastery of strategy and skill is key to triumph in Onitama.

Useful pages[]