In Ludo, over 350 board games make up your fun night out
Co-owners Mark Fernandez, Jay Mata, brothers Carlo and Mario Sandico, Aaron Panco, and Chrissy Palma are at the helm of Ludo. Mata, who’s in-charge of marketing, said he met his partners through the growing board game community in the Philippines. “We saw each other so often [within this community] that it wasn’t a huge leap becoming business partners,” Mata said.
Ludo opened on Sct. Torillo Street in Tomas Morato in March 2014. Like a bar, Ludo is a place where people can gather to kick back and have a beer (either imported or locally crafted), but people can play a board game or two or three or 360 – which incidentally, is the number of board games under Ludo’s roof.
The place itself is a former garage; it is a long hall with two wide arches. The entrance is made from glass, from the doors to the windows. There are eight paintings that adorn the walls upon entering, and Mata said that the images are of a game (also offered at Ludo) named Dixit. In Dixit there are about 200 cards, each with its own unique painting. “We actually contacted and asked the publisher if we could blow [some of] the cards up into paintings for the walls,” Mata said.
The floor space is crowded with tables, most of which seat six people each. On a good night, Mata said that the tables are all occupied. People drinking, eating and shouting over one another while they get into the competitive spirit.
The middle section of Ludo has a floor-to-ceiling shelf area built into one of the walls, each shelf is lined with board games, stacked one on top of another. There are games as common as Monopoly to as rare a game as Manila, Mata said. Manila is (ironically) a German-style board game that is merely set in colonial Manila.
A typical designer board game, Mata said, can cost about P2000 on eBay. However, that’s not all games at Ludo. One game – that shall remain nameless – retails for around $500 US on eBay.
Mata’s personal favorite is Le Havre, an advanced game for seasoned players like himself. Le Havre, which is French for harbor, is an economic game that deals with resources coming in and out of the harbor that need to be processed. “It’s not something you would want to push at someone, but that’s for me. I like games that really make my brain hurt by the end,” Mata said.
On that note, Mata was quick to stress that while Ludo houses challenging games like Le Havre, there are “gateway games” or simpler games easy enough for beginners to pick up. One such game is Chicago Express, a game that looks at shares and dividends as the players build trains and develop offices across the board to reach the hexagon labeled “Chicago” first.
Then there are the foreign games, like Takenoko, wherein game players will cultivate plots of land to grow bamboo for the Japanese emperor’s sacred panda bear. The player who grows the most bamboo, while catering to the hungry panda, wins the game.
To play at Ludo, one should avail of one menu item per person. However, there is no minimum order and people can stay for as long as they want. The menu itself is four pages long, and the cheapest item (if you were curious) is bottled water for P50.
There’s the typical Chicken Yakiniku (P185) and Curry Katsu (P185) rice bowls, but there’s also Cheese Gyoza (P130) and Wasabi Gyoza (P130).
That also goes for the drinks that are offered by Ludo. There is Japanese iced tea that tastes like roasted red bean tea (P80 à la carte but P40 when ordered with a rice bowl) and themed cocktail drinks. One cocktail is called Queen’s Gambit, after the classic chess opening move, which has Crème de Café, vodka, grenadine, and milk (P180).
For the traditionalists who prefer beer at a bar-type establishment, Ludo has an extensive selection from Portugal’s Super Bock (P170-P185) to USA’s Blue Moon (P225) to Fat Pauly’s Illaya (Philippines) (P335).
Katrina Lee, 22, found out about Ludo online. She said she found the concept interesting and different from the normal places that she and her friends frequented. “We’re kind of... geeks in that way. It’s a place where we can bond,” Lee said.
Lee’s friend, 23-year-old Nikki Lu, said that to improve Ludo might want to look into getting more space. “Also, separating the kitchen,” Lu said. The kitchen is across the entryway at Ludo and is in the same space, in close proximity to where the customers sit.
Jeresse Ricafort, 22, said that she found out about Ludo because she passed by it frequently on the way to her grandmother’s house. “It’s great because you can buy something and then play the games. This is something different you can do with your friends and enjoy.” However, Ricafort also agreed that Ludo should look into getting more space. “It’s a little loud [when there are so many people].”
Mata mentioned that Ludo is one of a kind Manila – at least the only kind with 360 titles worth of games. “The dream is, key word being ‘dream,’ is that we span to another branch in the south [of Manila]. We know that there are so many gamers there and they don’t have many options for places to play.”
Ludo: Boardgame Bar & Café is located on 26 Sct. Torillo St. in Quezon City. It is open weekdays from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturdays from 12 pm to 2 am, and Sundays from 12 pm to 12 am