Gaming On the Other Side of the World: Check out This Board Game Cafe in the Philippines

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For gamers used to spending hours indoors, the Philippines is the perfect vacation spot for enjoying healthy doses of sun and fresh air. From the famous white sand beaches of Boracay to the secluded islands that surround Palawan, there are countless places to lounge amongst the picture-perfect beachside settings.

After you’re recharged and ready to get back to the tabletop, you won’t have to look too far to find a friendly place to play your favorite games. Gaming cafes can be found throughout the Philippines and thanks to three friends in Cebu, Vault Board Game Cafe recently opened its doors to serve the gaming community.

“When people hear the word board games, they usually associate it with chess, Monopoly, and checkers,” Vault co-owner Ean Dacay said. “We want to share our library with Cebu and let everyone know that there are more board games to discover.”

While the majority of gaming cafes are located in the country’s capital, Manila, Dacay and his friends (and fellow co-owners) Robin Cañete and Marco Tan saw an opportunity in the southern city of Cebu.

“We wanted to be the first board game cafe in Cebu,” Dacay said. “We decided to bring that concept from Manila to Cebu.”

It wasn’t strictly a business decision, though. All three owners are gamers at heart, having started with gateway games like Cards Against Humanity and Catan. While Cañete was in college, he visited a nearby board game cafe, eventually discovering Shadows Over Camelot and other hobby games. It was this shared love of gaming that was the impetus behind Vault.

“Before we opened,” Dacay said, “we would invite our friends and have a weekly board game night. There were many moments where we laughed until we cried or betrayed one another for our own selfish ambitions, but at the end of the day we still remained friends and would do it again the next week.”

These were the type of moments that Dacay, Cañete, and Tan wanted to offer to the local community: the uncontrollable laughter or gut-wrenching decisions found within the hundreds of games they now lend out to customers. On any given night you’ll find one of the owners teaching games.

For customers to play games as long as they want, there’s a minimum purchase of 150 pesos (about $3). The Vault menu features American fare such as chili dogs, flavored french fries, and deep-fried Oreos as well as milkshakes and iced teas.

The owners make sure that their customers have plenty of reasons to come back, from specials on food and drink, to their current promotion: playing games for menu items.

“There are a series of challenges a customer can finish, such as solving a riddle and playing a specific board game,” Dacay said. “Certain challenges have a certain amount of points depending on the difficulty. The higher the difficulty, the bigger the points. Once they have enough points, they can cash them in for a reward such as discounts on their next purchase or free food.

“It’s this unique experience that we want to share with Cebu.”

Have you visited a board game café outside of your country? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer and educator based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, date nights with his wife, and Star Wars. He reviews games and reports news for and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter.

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