Just caught up with this one, and I enjoyed it, but… no mention of Onitama? Particularly in the first half where the whole business of the 5 pieces each on a 5×5 board, when you make a move you change what your opponent can do, was screaming it at me. (I’ll admit I’m biased because Onitama is one of my favourite games.)
Many things are similar: in particular the short game length means that the time between making your fatal mistake and losing is short enough that it doesn’t wear on you. But what Onitama doesn’t do is the escalation into chain reactions (as introduced with the megaliths) – instead, it stays at the initial level of complexity (even gets easier, as your pieces are lost).
I don’t believe SU&SD have ever reviewed Onitama. (I see that Quinns mentioned it once in a games news piece, but that was more “this sounds exciting” than “I’ve played it”, and there’s a very passing mention in another games news.) I don’t blame them for that; obviously they can’t cover everything. But it does seem to me like the obvious competition to Cairn and I’d like to have seen the comparison made.