The pandemic really hit board game cafes in the Philippines hard. Most cafe owners had to halt operations indefinitely, only to never come back. Playing board games flourished as an activity for friends but most haunts went to close down. Today, some of the former board game cafes repurposed their stocks and decided to open up game stores instead. But there is still hope yet, especially with the emergence of newer establishments.
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Board game cafes around Metro Manila
1. Secret Base
Secret Base in Marikina City is one of the best board game cafes in the Philippines in terms of collection. Their library is relatively modest in size. From skill tests like Jenga to the immersive role plays in Betrayal at House on the Hill, there is just limitless fun in Secret Base’s game library. Enjoy these games while chowing down on their scrumptious chicken and pasta combos.
Secret Base is undeniably dedicated to hobbyists. Aside from board games, Secret Base has Playstations for some console multiplayer. There is also a variety of costumes that customers can wear for fun pictorials.
While not entirely dedicated to board games, Madcafe Congressional Avenue’s space is so extensive that it fits a restaurant, a cafe, and two play areas in their store.
Groups of friends can rent board games from Madcafe’s library. Their faux grass and hexagon cubbies in the play area are very comfortable seats. The space is perfect for timesinks while playing against friends! And of course, order some food before playing. Competing on an empty stomach is difficult!
3. 53rd Dragon
53rd Dragon in Marikina City is one of the more modest board game cafes in the Philippines. Their menu usually has monthly additions, and each new food item is consistently delicious. They have a good selection of party games, but visitors are more than welcome to bring their own games.
The most immersive board game in their selection is Zombicide and its extended campaign, Toxic City Mall. Clear a few weekends when attempting to finish this campaign with friends, because one day might not be enough. Zombie hordes can build up quickly!
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4. Whistle Toys
Miniature figures are some of the most essential components in creating engaging tabletop games. While there is always good coffee served in Whistle Toys at Estancia Mall, there is something else that draws in customers. The many detailed figures displayed inside their cases possess impeccable detail. This is why most miniature piece painters and sculptors hold their own sessions for creating work. Visit the cafe’s workshops or events to see their craftsmanship at work!
Stepping inside the panels of a comic book or graphic novel is now possible! And to live inside the inspired walls of Wacko’s means eating any of their tasty and equally colourful burgers. This board game cafe from Navotas also has a very beginner-friendly selection of games, composed of casual games like Codenames and traditional games like chess.
6. NPC Cafe
Calamba is home to the passion project that is NPC Cafe. This haven for gamers of the South is another modest space to conduct roleplay campaigns or host trading card tournaments. Expect the action to be close to the floor, however, since they use low Japanese tables. Most of their dishes draw inspiration from East Asian flavours. Order their rice bowls for an easy meal while playing games!
7. Y Cafe
While not entirely a board game cafe, Y Cafe invites players to their store. On most nights, this bar in Makati hosts music performances from indie artists. However, on nights when there are no scheduled performances, Y Cafe sometimes hosts board game night for patrons. Visitors are more than welcome to bring their own board games to the bar.
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Board game cafes in Cebu
7. Meet Chance
Friend groups will find a lot to love inside Meet Chance. The cafe has an exciting collection of games to play with, and there are also generous servings samgyeupsal and sushi. Choosing when to eat and when to play might come difficult, though!
Board game cafes in Davao
One of the newest cafes on this list, iScreamery in Davao City saw its growth coming from a passionate community of board game players. Their desire to see and cultivate a small place for them to gather birthed this froyo shop. Its patrons will also encourage interested customers to try out the games that they have in the store.
Board game spots in the Philippines
10. All aBOARD XP
All aBOARD XP ditches the food service to make the experience all about the games. Powered by the board game shop, Gaming Library, players visiting All aBOARD XP can try out every board that they have at an unlimited time for a small fee. This makes it possible for customers to play a demo of any game they’re interested in and buy it, should they like it. The shop also acquires new board games almost every month. This means anyone can call first dibs on trying out a new game!
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We’ve definitely missed bonding with our friends face-to-face during the past few years. While board game cafes had a niche audience, the experience can be unmatched. There is truly an incredible joy over slaying those imaginary dragons through clutch dice checks. Now that the pandemic’s grasp wears down, we hope that board game cafes in the Philippines catch their second wind.
Featured image credit: Madcafe PH | Official Facebook Page