There’s a point in every barkada’s meetup when the activities begin to feel like reading through the dog-eared pages of “Barkada Activities 101.” It’s that point when the regular hangouts have everyone melting into their seats instead of perking up with expectations of excitement and adventure. Well, that’s what I got from this experience I had over the weekend. My objective was to beat boredom for the glory of the barkada, of course; and I beat it hard with a gameboard, some dice, cards, some fancy food, and lots of inside jokes.
Puzzles is the realization for board game enthusiasts Anton Valencia, Roby Camagong, Steph and Sam Bengzon, whose goal is to spread happiness and promote social interaction by reintroducing good old-fashioned tabletop games. It’s a counter to a familiar world where millennials are consumed by gadgets that bridge distances, yet build walls. Here, friends and family actually get to socialize outside of social media, and everything – the emotions, the bonding – becomes more real.
My family and I played at Puzzles for the first time and here’s our game day recap:
House Rules at Puzzles:
- You’re allowed up to 2 games at a time
- You can ask help from the approachable board game coaches to teach you how to play a game
- The ‘Stay & Play fee’ of P100/player is added to your bill upon checkout.
- Stay as long as you want. More time, more games!
- Loved a game so much? You can buy it.
Level 1: The Gameboard
It’s basically a play space for board games. Being what it is, it’s bright, with artificial and natural illumination flooding the place and setting the mood. There are several spacious gaming tables with lots of seats. To further maximize the space there’s a mezzanine with more of the same amenities.
For more intimate gaming, there’s a lounge area with beanbags and tables with lower ground clearance. Finally, and it’s the purpose why you’ll find yourself visiting, there’s the gaming shelf that houses around 350 classic and modern board games to choose from.
During our visit one holiday, there was a healthy number of customers; and as the day progressed, cheerful noises and the playful banter of barkadas and families filled the high-ceilinged arena.
Level 2: Gameplay
As I said earlier, the game choices there are overwhelming. There are card games that you can finish in 5 minutes; historical/fantasy/sci-fi strategic board games, the gameplay of which can span days; RPG supplements and campaigns for the more hardcore gamers; and the more casual family-oriented games like “Cards Against Humanity” (NOTE: this depends on how open-minded your family is).
Coach Mika giving instructions for Cards Against Humanity. If you don’t particularly imagine giving birth to the Antichrist, boogers, or what grandma is thinking of, this game will change that.
Anton recommended Catan, Ticket To Ride and Tsuro for groups; while Jaipur, Pandemic and Patchwork are great picks for couples. We picked out 3 games: A) CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY – because being exposed to the best, and the best of the worst, that humanity can offer is an experience that this game offers. B) TABOO – the game of fast, fun and forbidden words; and C) WITS & WAGERS – as recommended by Steph, as an excuse to make fun of our ineptness at dates, figures and to cultivate a cavalier attitude at making bank breaking wagers. The wit part was mostly supplied by everyone to varying degrees of success (ie. based on how hard we laughed).
Coach Jerome teaching us how to play the odds in this trivia game
Level 3: The Power Ups
After some major game strategizing, we decided that the next move was to power up via their intriguing comfort food-inspired dishes. We were very fortunate to have tried some of their bestsellers and upcoming items. Our early impressions? The portions are perfect as multiplayer meals and ordering different starters is the best tactic before diving into the mains.
As a heads-up, Puzzles will launch a new menu and turn into a full-blown restaurant this month. Monitor their Facebook Page for new prices.
(Clockwise) Mushroom Rice, Bacon & Egg | BBQ Flat Bread | Mac & Cheese | Parmesan Truffle Fries | Buffalo Chicken Tenders | Beer-Battered Chicken Fingers | Mozzarella Bites
The ultimate winner was the Mac & Cheese (P240), which has melted cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and more cheese sauce. Nostalgia in a bowl! We also loved:
It’s hard to find an adult who doesn’t love chicken tenders as much as kids do.
Mozzarella Bites’ Cheesiness level: 999
After all that cheese, we cheated more. Not at card games, but on our diet. Puzzles’ cool and drinks and desserts are perfect for a sugary summer!
The Puzzles Milkshake in Vanilla, Oreo, and Chocolate (P210)
Milo Godzilla (P180) – This giant monster of a drink came in a huge mug almost double the size of the milkshakes. Topped with whipped cream and more Milo powder, consider your diet destroyed.
Chewy Dates – A sticky pudding made even moister by the mountain of vanilla ice cream.
Oreo Afraid of the Dark? (P150) – Albeit looks like for kids, there’s some sophisticated flavors mixing around this dish coming from the velvety vanilla ice cream and slight bitterness of the cookies.
I’m not bluffing when I say we loved everything! The combo of milkshakes, Milo, and Mac & Cheese took us back further to when we were much younger – somewhere warmer, brighter and less fattening . It was good food, good portions and well worth the price.
The Next Level
This 2017, Puzzles continues to spread its philosophy of bonding and fun for family and friends as they line up several exciting events. They’ll be launching the “Puzzles Kids Club”, for example, where moms can leave their kids there every Sunday for a program filled with fun activities right in time for summer. Quiz Nights and Spelling Bee contests will also continue throughout the year.
It was a “tempus fugit” moment! Our 5-hour stay at Puzzles was a much-needed sanity break from our busy schedules. My final thoughts? The games will make you want to come back and the great company will make you stay. I say this as I noticed that there weren’t any empty hours while we were there.
Another analogy is that it reminded me of a large living room and I’m stressing the word “living” here. The service was fantastic and we love their concept of old-fashioned bonding. So, after adding up the scores from each level, I declare Puzzles BGC a champ.
Puzzles Board Game Lounge
Sun-Thurs (12NN – 12MN) Fri-Sat (12NN-2AM)
Instagram and Twitter: @PuzzlesBGL
Check out their branches at:
The Fort Strip, BGC, Taguig
Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque City
Molito, Alabang, Muntinlupa City