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Subject: Oshi - beautiful, zen-like and fun rss

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David Seddon
United Kingdom
Congleton
Cheshire
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Designer: Tyler Bielman
Publisher: Wizkids
No. of players: 2
Time – 15mins+ (can go on to 30 mins)
Age range – 8+ on the box, but my 7 year old loves it and plays well

Overview

Oshi is the latest game from Wizkids. They don’t do many games and when they do, they seem to go OOP quickly, so if you read this and like the sound of it, you’d best be advised to pick it up asap.

Oshi means “push” in Japanese, and that’s exactly what this game is about. Each player has 8 pieces worth from 1 to 3 points and tries to push 7 points worth of their opponent’s pieces off the board to win the game.


The Bits and Box

The pieces to this game are extremely attractive. One player has Red (Ox-blood) pieces and the other has White (Ivory). All the pieces are in the style of Japanese pagodas and are made of good quality plastic. Each player has two 3 storey pieces, two 2 storey pieces and four 1 storey pieces. These start in set, minimally marked out, positions on the wooden board. This board has a very solid feel and is made of hardwood and looks rather like a small Go board. It is 9 squares by 9 squares in size.

The box is strong, has a well-designed cardboard compartment in the middle and has a glossy, slightly waxy feel. The artwork on the front is attractive and subtly done.

The rules are very short and come in a fold out glossy pamphlet that is rather like a miniature Japanese room divider. They sit elegantly inside the box and the design on the front echoes one of the flying figures on the front of the box.


The Play

The play has a rather stripped down-Chess-like feel. You have to think carefully about all bar the first few moves. I am sure that it won’t be long before we find folks writing about what the optimal first moves are!

The number of storeys a piece has equals the number of spaces it can move, the maximum number of other pieces it can push and the number of points it is worth if pushed off the board. Pieces move orthogonally - side to side and forward and backward. Pushing a piece does not count against your limit for movement, so you with a 3 storey piece, you can move 3 spaces whilst pushing 3 pieces (whether they’re yours or your opponent’s).

You attempt to manoeuvre your pieces around the board so that your opponent will find it hard to push yours off, whilst threatening to push his off. This is not always easy, but the board is constantly changing thanks to the rule that says you can’t push pieces back to the place they were in at the start of the previous move.

Complexity Level

The rules are as well written, short and very easy to follow. You could explain the game to someone very quickly. The depth of play, however, is quite high. It’s easy to play the game, but to play it well is not easy at all. I therefore rated it high-medium for complexity. Having said that, as I have proved, you can easily and happily play this with children aged 7 and above.


Fun Factor

Well, this is certainly not a game for belly-laughs. Nor is it intended to be. It is a quick playing, abstract and as that type of thing goes, I think it’s a lot of fun. I found myself absorbed in it, as did my wife and eldest son. Both have requested it again, so that’s a very good sign.

I think the game will appeal to those who like Chess and Go but maybe want something a mite quicker. I also think it will appeal to couples who like to play some of the slightly deeper, more cerebral 2-player games like Battle Line, Babel or Phoenix.

The fact that it looks so attractive, means that you can leave it set up on your coffee table. I’d be very surprised if visitors didn’t want to learn how to play it – and the good news is, it would take you only 2 minutes to explain how to play! I can alternate leaving this out with Aztec or Cathedral. Whilst no less attractive, this is certainly a deeper game.


My Overall View

There’s certainly a zen-like feel to this, not unlike that I felt playing that other Japanese-themed Wizkids game, Tsuro. However, Oshi is a much deeper game and, unlike Tsuro, isn’t designed as a light-brain-burning filler.

I think this game fills a very nice hole in my gaming collection and I heartily recommend it.
It’s one of those games that I will want to get better at and, in-between sessions, I think I’ll find myself thinking about how to improve my play.
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mrbass
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Sweet going on my next order. Thanks for the review. I was very iffy about this until I read this review.
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Tony Chen
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Sounds like an orthogonal version of abalone? Abalone is a bit broken, in that defensive play rules the day. Is that problem pertinent to oshi as well?

What I wrote in another thread:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1169820#1169820

Quote:
[Abalone] seems to favor defensive play and the hogging of the middle. Any attempt to initiate an attack and break the stalemate appears to put the player in a disadvantage. If that is the case, the game will lead to nowhere as both players will be making repetitive moves to preserve their defensive formations.

I've read online several ways to fix, or at least alleviate, this problem. One of them is to use a different starting position. The other is to place a neutral and (I think) immobile red marble in the middle space of the board. I have yet to try either of these methods.
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David Seddon
United Kingdom
Congleton
Cheshire
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It doesn't seem to, no.

I think the way the pieces have different strengths and the smallness of the board, make it difficult to be too defensive.
 
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Jason Quintal
United States
Burlington
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This game is elegantly simple in design, but complex in depth. Certainly A+ for strategy enthusiasts as well as for parents wishing to enhance young children's thinking processes / logic skills.
 
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Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
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It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
Sounds like an orthogonal version of abalone?


Thats even my comment on my Oshi rating.
 
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Christine Flippo
United States
North Carolina
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I love this game i started playing tonight and it's so intresting because if you don't keep track of the points then you can trap them with that and if you do keep track then just give them the run arround till they try and restrategize it's so much fun.... i'm trying to make it a huge thing in my town ninja
 
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Jeffrey Nolin
Japan
Nakamachi, Hiroshima
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A nice review and thanks for explaining the rules. However, it actually looks exactly like a Shogi board, which is 9x9 squares, while the smallest Go board is 9x9 lines, which means 8x8 squares. Anyway, using some poker chips for pieces I can dust off my shogi board and give Oshi a try.
 
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