Playing games on Independence Day: a ‘Puzzles’ review

Another long weekend had come and gone. Sadly, I had to spend it in the city so that I could arrange my stuffs here in my new crib. Nevertheless, I did not let the three-day break pass without a dine-out with some of my friends.

A day or two before the weekend, I was casually scrolling down through Instagram when I chanced upon a post from Puzzles, a board game lounge. The photo was advertising their Independence Day promo – customers who will wear blue, red or yellow will get to play for free as long as they purchase a meal in any branch. Yay! (It costs Php 100 per person to enjoy unlimited gaming.)

I shared a screenshot of the post to many of my friends. However, I had a very hard time inviting them. Some were busy, while others were already on their petsa de peligro. Fortunately, with my charming sales talk, I was able to convince three of my high school friends to come with me. So, we went to the restaurant’s branch at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) on 12 June 2017, Monday, Philippine Independence Day.

The Restaurant

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The BGC branch’s counter with a cafe-cliche chalkboard menu on top.

It was not my first time at Puzzles. I have been to its Alabang branch earlier this year, and I had tons of fun with my workmates during that time. I guess it was time for me to indulge myself once more into board games and food.

Since my friends were coming from the north, and I from the south, we decided to meet halfway and visit Puzzles, BGC. Although the branch is located within The Fort Strip complex, it is in an area that people would not probably see at once. Hence, we had a bit of a difficulty finding the place.

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The BGC branch is located in a somewhat ‘hidden’ area within the Fort Strip complex.

Upon stepping into Puzzles, BGC, I instantly loved the Alabang branch much better. This outlet was smaller and less colorfully decorated than the latter. The air conditioning system’s thermostat cannot be lowered as well because it was leaking, as told by a waiter. With so many people coming for the restaurant’s Independence Day promo, the place looked crowded, and the temperature felt hot. There was some sort of a loft level, but I guess it was still closed at the time of our visit. Luckily, amidst the sea of customers, there was still a table left for us. (NOTE: Reservation is possible, and it is highly advised since customers would stay and play for hours. However, due to the ongoing promo, bookings were temporarily suspended.)

After settling in our seats, we were given copies of their menu, and began to order starters and drinks.

The Food and Drinks

Parmesan Truffle Fries

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4.75/5 stars.

This was the first thing we ordered. The food was home-made, deep-fried and infused with truffle oil, sprinkled with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and served on a wooden chopping board with tomato catsup dip. The presentation looked great, and I was overwhelmed with the plentiful gratings of parmesan cheese. The flavor did not disappoint as well. Truffle oil and fries really work together. I just wished there was more catsup! Nonetheless, the fries still tasted good without a dip.

Beer-Battered Chicken Fingers

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3.5/5 stars.

After consuming all of the fries, we ordered this one next. For this snack, boneless chicken breast strips were submerged in beer batter, and were served with honey mustard dip and barbecue sauce. Well, that was what the menu said. However, we were given a garlic mayo dip instead of the menu-promised barbecue sauce. Anyway, it was not really that big of a deal. However, there was nothing really special about the food. The chicken was soft and chewy, but there was a minimal hint of bitter alcohol. The dips though were perfect for the chicken. Even my friend who was not a mustard fan loved the honey mustard dip.

Milo Godzilla

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5/5 stars.

This was the drink that I ordered for myself. I had to wait very long for this to arrive as I guess the waiter forgot about it. At least, it was worth the extensive wait. The classic every Filipino child’s favorite chocolate drink, shaken on the rocks, topped with whipped cream and extra Milo powder, was served in a tall, glass mug. It was impeccably sweet, and the serving amount is indeed huge. Truly, this beverage beats the energy gap! I loved it.

***

All items on the Puzzles menu were quite expensive, and not all of them were worth the high cost. Still, some of them were gold like the Parmesan Truffles Fries and the Milo Gozilla.

The Games

Cards Against Humanity

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4/5 stars.

We began our Puzzles experience by unleashing the horrible persons inside all of us with this game. The game begins with each player drawing ten white cards. In each turn, one would have to be the Card Czar who will play a black card containing a question or a fill-in-the-blank phrase. All of the other players would have to answer the black card with one of the white cards in their respective hands. The Card Czar picks the funniest and wittiest answer, and awards the winner with one Awesome Point.

We all had our share of dark and obscene humor in this game, but one of us was actually trying to logically answer the black card’s question. Haha! Anyway, there were many not-so-lively moments as we had no hilarious white card, or we had no idea about what was written on our white cards. I was looking for Crap About Filipinos, the Philippine alternative for the game, but I guess it was not in Puzzles, BGC’s collection. (Puzzles, Alabang had one.)

In the end, I garnered the most number of Awesome Points. So, does that mean I am the most horrible person among the four of us? Well…

Joking Hazard

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4.75/5 stars.

Our second game was an offensive card game inspired by the Cyanide & Happiness online comics. I am quite a fan of the web comics, and was a little excited to play this game. To start the play, each person would pick a hand of seven cards, each containing a comic frame. For each round, a judge will be chosen. He will flip a card from the deck, and will continue the story by adding another card from his own hand. Each of the remaining players will then end the story by picking one card from his own hand, and the judge will choose the best finisher.

We had more laughs while playing this game than Cards Against Humanity, and the winner was my good friend Ariane. Perhaps, she often offends other people. I would never know for sure.

Taboo (Philippine Edition)

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5/5 stars.

Our last game was finally a Philippine edition card game. In this game, we divided ourselves into two pairs. Each pair was composed of a Giver and a Guesser. The Giver picks a card and will try to prompt the Guesser to correctly identify the given word. However, he cannot say any of the taboo words listed on the card. The pair will try to guess as many words as they can within two minutes, and the pair with the most number of points wins.

I really think this is my kind of game, although it was really difficult to prompt one’s partner whilst trying to avoid saying any of the taboos. Yet, I and my partner, Ariane, were able to outnumber our opposing pair’s points. Take that, suckers!

***

Many of the games in the Puzzles, BGC’s collection looked overused and dilapidated (like their sets of Cards Against Humanity and Taboo [Philippine Edition]). Some were even lacking pieces, like their Game of Life which I wanted to play. Some lacked the rules sheet; hence one would have to wait for the game-master who is busy explaining a game to a different table. I just wished all customers and even the restaurant’s staff would take good care of their games, just like in the Alabang branch where I was able to play Cards Against Humanity in good condition.


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The Philippine flag hangs proudly on Puzzles, BGC’s windows for Independence Day.

Puzzles is indeed a place where friends and families may hang-out and spend the late afternoon until evening whilst amusing themselves with various card and board games. The food and drinks are quite expensive, though, and not all of them are really mouth-watering. Also, there is a Php 100 fee for every player on top of the bill. I just wish that this fee be slashed off since the food and drinks are too costly. Or perhaps, they could benchmark Ludo’s (another board game café) which lets their customers play as long as they buy a meal.

Even so, if you are looking for a good way to kill time away from your gadgets and game consoles, Puzzles is a good place to go. (I recommend the Alabang branch over the BGC one.) However, if you are only looking for price-worthy food and drinks, I suggest you try other restaurants. Or, you could opt to purchase their Parmesan Truffle Fries and Milo Godzilla which are both really sumptuous.

So yeah, gather all your friends and bring them to Puzzles. You will surely be having heaps of entertainment without minding the clock!

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I with (from left to right) Ariane, Dyan and Ken at Puzzles, BGC on Independence Day 2017. Thanks for the hours of fun!

 

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