I’ve loved boardgames from the year I was introduced to Cranium. Maybe it’s not THE boardgame for hardcore gamers, but it is a fun game for everyone! From then on, I would constantly look at new boardgames, and unfortunately, they are not as popular here in the Philippines as they are in the US or other countries.
It’s like a chicken and egg thing- we don’t get enough exposure here to really grow an interest, but there are also not enough buyers to make the boardgame business here successful – successful enough to cover rent, overhead, or even simply offering a very wide variety — even boardgame stores here have limited variety of games.
When I was younger, my idea of where to go for boardgames was National Bookstore, and while you might find some good enough classic games there (rarely but possible), it usually sells the cheap version that are really not worth keeping in the long run.
You see, even for games, I realized that quality matters.
I bought this FOUR IN A ROW game from Target, and it’s wooden and big – and my husband and I can play it FOR HOURS. And so, I bought a pocket version here from one of our toystores, only it’s plastic and comes in ugly neon colors (won’t even try to hide the fact that it looks ugly anymore), and while it has the same rules and the same goal since it’s the same game, honestly, we couldn’t even last for more than 2 games. This made me realize how much quality matters – it’s not just about whether it’s wooden or not (there are wooden materials I cannot stand), but everything, too – including the way it looks, the colors of the materials, the graphics, etc.
Anyway, these are probably the best stores for you to find beautiful and decent boardgames in the Metro!
FOR OLDER CHILDREN AND ADULTS:
You can shop online with both, so you can browse what they currently have, research the game on Youtube to see if it’s something you’d like, and I think both offer free shipping.
In their physical stores, for Gaming Library, I’ve only been to their shop AlterEgo in Shangri-la Mall and have been to Hobbes and Landes (all branches) many times, and from experience, what I liked about Gaming Library is that they have a boardgame specialist (not sure if it’s like that everyday, but he mentioned he was there almost everyday), so he can really explain how the game works. You can even go to their store, bring a boardgame, and play on their table with others who’d like to play!
They do carry games for young children, too, but only very few because that’s not the focus of their stores.
My favorite games as of the moment: Katamino and Codenames Philippine Version
FOR YOUNG CHILDREN:
I’m glad there are more stores now that sell boardgames for younger children. My toddler is not ready to really play by the rules yet, but he sure loves exploring our Haba: My Very First Games.
The store where I used to see a lot of Haba games was OGALALA WORLD. Sadly though, I think they are just trying to finish their stocks and will no longer replenish. The good thing, though, is that their HABA games are super duper cheap. While Animal Upon Animal, for example, is PHP 2,700 in other stores, they’ve reduced the price to PHP 1,200. Such a steal but very limited pieces left. Another find I like from this store (which I think they still have a lot of) is The Garden Patch by The Learning Journey. Basically, it’s for children who are in a sensitive period for numbers (counting). The goal of the game is simple: You get a garden. Each garden has 5 slots. 1 slot for 1 plant, 1 slot for 2 plants, 1 slot for 3 plants — up to 5 plants. Then you pick a card and match it on the slot depending on how many flowers that plant has (put it in slot for 2 plants if it has 2 flowers). Then it has an extra challenge — if you pick a weed, you can put it in any slot, but you cannot take it out until you get a rake. The first one to complete the garden wins the game, but really, it’s just fun to do the counting and create your garden. They also have a Picture Word Bingo (uses real photos) by The Learning Journey, too.
MARSHMALLOW TOYS – Marshmallow Toys is a distributor of several (good) brands of boardgames for younger children like ThinkFun, Smart Games, HABA, Blue Orange Games, and Gamewright. You can find them at The Parenting Emporium, Rustan’s Department Stores, Fully Booked, Gaming Library, and Toy Kingdom. Their products are more expensive than Amazon prices, but many of them are not far from the Amazon price, so if that’s the case, I wouldn’t mind buying and supporting them, but if the price is already double or more, I’d only buy if I really need it already. Otherwise, I’d still go for Amazon and wait a little longer for shipping. The same principle goes for Gaming Library and Hobbes and Landes.
PS: For basic and/or classic games like Boggle, Chess, Snakes and Ladders, Pictionary, Mastermind, Scrabble, Jenga, Blokus, Guess Who, Uno, Connect 4, etc – your best bet would be in Toys R Us (I like their Robinsons Galleria branch), or Toy Kingdom (Try their Mall of Asia or Megamall branch). Just a note for what to expect for many of the games: cheap quality for the classics (like printed versus wooden chess or connect 4 sets) but also cheap prices. It’s also worth checking out the Power Books branch in Podium – I see some interesting boardgames there every now and then.
PPS: For very young children, you can also check out the memory games of Joytoy. I like their Bahay Kubo memory game (they also have fruits). You can usually find Joytoy from Toys R Us and National Bookstore.
Hope this was helpful! If you want to have a good time with friends and you don’t have boardgames, you can also consider eating at one of our many boardgame cafes. Just search BOARDGAME CAFE + MANILA on google and find the one nearest you or interests you the most! 🙂