Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — In the past two decades of media-consuming, screen-facing, and content-creating commotion, there’s nothing quite like a good board game session to get you to unplug and interact face to face with other humans.
It’s no wonder why dozens of board game cafés have sprouted around Metro Manila. Manileños everywhere have played round after round of favorites such as Pandemic, Settlers of Catan, Werewolf, or even more casual ones like Exploding Kittens or Cards Against Humanity.
But did you know that Filipinos have started to carve a space for themselves in the world of board game design? Not only are these titles made by Filipinos, they also boast of Pinoy themes and visuals.
Check out these eight Pinoy-made board games that you can purchase or find on a shelf soon.
In the world of board games, themes and stories in the fantasy genre are anything but scarce. Witches, orcs, elves, and even krakens are very much well-represented.
This is where developer John Nathaniel Briones saw an opportunity to turn Pinoy mythology, something so ingrained in our culture, into a tabletop RPG game called Tadhana. Set place in prehistoric Philippines, Tadhana allows players to roleplay as different races such as Aswang, Diwata, Engkanto, Tikbalang, Garuda, or Tao. Beyond this, they can then choose character classes which include Albularyo, Mandirigma, Pana, Sarong, or Salamankero.
From the get go, Tadhana truly shines a spotlight onto Philippine lore. It doesn’t shy away from exploring characters and creatures that we’ve all heard about as young children and turning it into something fun, interactive, and even educational.
Begin your adventures with the Tadhana Adventurers Kit, available in Abubot for only ₱1,100.
Game of the Generals
Arguably one of the most popular and beloved Filipino board games, Game of the Generals has won the hearts and nights of many Filipino players. Created in 1970, the educational war game pits two players against each other as they control armies who try to outwit, outflank, and ultimately destroy the opponent.
Players use deduction, strategy, and spatial skills in Game of the Generals, or The Generals as it’s popularly called. The overall design of the game mirrors the Philippine army including ranks, titles, and even the use of the Philippine flag.
The original Game of the Generals is available in National Bookstore, Hobbes, Toy Town, Toy Kingdom, Landmark Department Store, Build City and Lazada.
When RB Ting tried to explain how Filipino politics worked to his Singaporean friend PJ Lim, the two birthed the concept of Politricks. The satirical card game takes a look into the dirty on-goings of Filipino elections where players assume the position of candidates. The objective? Win the election by any means necessary — even if that means crossing some lines or breaking a few laws.
Politricks features cards that gives players options such as “Ghost Voter,” “Pork Barrel Scam,” or even “Free Funerals,” which allows them to advance in the game by stealing votes, faking votes, or campaigning through unsavory means. While the game offers fun and entertainment for hours, it also holds up a mirror to our mangled electoral system and points out just how dirty things truly have become.
Politricks is available at board game cafes like Ludo, OnBoard, Puzzles or online game shops like Abubot for ₱600.
If one word can encapsulate what Pinoy pop culture was like in the 2010s, “Hugot” will most likely be at the front of the running. So it comes as no surprise that this is the title for another popular Filipino-made card game.
Created by Thomas Regala, the game is played by two to ten players who try to make the most hugot phrases possible by the cards they have in their hand. Think Cards Against Humanity, but with a lot more bitterness, sadness, and the Filipino flair for drama. While non-Filipinos may find the game to be a bit of a downer, the game caters to something very unique in Pinoy culture and behavior.
You can get your own Hugot card set at Ludo Boardgame Cafe for ₱550.
Darna at Ang Nawawalang Bato Card Game
Players can now live their Darna fantasy with this easy yet charming card game. The objective is simple enough: Darna lost her Puting Bato, so players have to use their moves to find it and be the first to yell “Darna!”
Darna at Ang Nawawalang Bato can be played by two to four players. In the deck, there are five bato cards — any of which can be the true Puting Bato. This raises the stakes as players race to be the first to find the correct card or hide it from their opponents.
Simple, quick, and friendly for casual or first-time boardgame players, Darna at Ang Nawawalang Bato offers rounds of playful competition while celebrating one of the Philippines’ most popular heroes.
Darna at Ang Nawawalang Bato can be purchased for ₱150 at gaming shops like Neutral Grounds, Gaming Library, and Ludo.
From Thomas Regala, the creator of Hugot, comes Refrigeraiders — a fast-paced, 16-card game that can be played by up to four players.
Perhaps one of the quickest and simplest games on this list, players play as mice who raid the fridge and are trying not to get caught. Because of its easy-to-understand rules and charming visuals, Refrigeraiders especially appeals to children.
Pre-order Refrigeraiders here.
Alcaldia: The Way Forward
Set against the backdrop of pre-colonial Philippines, Alcaldia: The Way Forward is a deck-building game that sets players up as leaders of an Alcaldia, or what we now know as barangays.
As the game unfolds, players are faced with the decision to either advance the Philippines and build a Filipino community or to cooperate with the Spanish. Perhaps one of the more complex Filipino-made games, Alcaldia uses mechanics such as freedom points, resources, and money which are needed for tools, allies, or locations.
Co-creators Marek and Ruiz Sison designed Alcaldia not just to simulate the complexities of creating and building a community, but also with the goal of teaching children the history of the Philippines in a more engaging way.
Alcaldia: The Way Forward is currently in development but will be available for purchase online and in retail stores. For more details, visit their official Facebook page.
Created by husband-and-wife tandem Sheila Marie and Alexis Dela Cuesta, Sting-A-Win is “a board game about the fascinating world of bees and honey.”
To win, players must either be the first to reach the hive or create the most nectar. To advance, players draw cards in lieu of rolling a die. As they move forward, they have the chance to gain nectar by answering trivia questions about bees and honey. On top of all this however, are also other game elements including predators and “Pollination Areas” that can either help or hinder players from winning.
The Dela Cuestas designed the game with their daughter in mind — hoping that Sting-A-Win is not only fun, but also allows families to learn and play together.
To know more about Sting-A-Win, visit their Facebook page. The game is also available in all branches of Neutral Grounds and Gaming Library for ₱500.