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Filipino Tabletop Games You Should Play Right Now

Filipino tabletop games are one of the few fun things you can do offline.
IMAGE Project Tadhana/ abubot.ph
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Tabletop games can start or end friendships. Join strangers in a round of Jenga and friendships can be made. Start one with close friends and that 30-minute gameplay can also turn awry, as trash talking can lead to insults that can never be taken back. Either way, it’s a fun way to spend quality time with family or friends, and one of the few things you can enjoy offline. 

Filipino Tabletop Games

Unknown to most Filipinos though, there are locally developed tabletop games in the market. Below, we round up some of the most notable Filipino tabletop games you should try in your next round of drinks with friends and family.

1| Game of the Generals

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Unknown to most, the board game originated in the Philippines and was created by a Filipino named Sofronio H. Pasola Jr. in the 1970s. Also known as Salpakan, the game requires two players, who represent two armies, and an arbiter, who serves as the referee or the person that verifies each player’s move.

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As its name suggests, Game of the Generals takes inspiration from the tactics and strategies used by military men. Each player has access to 21 soldiers or set pieces, each of which has special skills and powers that can be deployed to capture the flag or the main base of the opponent. 

The catch is that the soldiers’ identities are hidden from the other player. Like any card game, players can only guess the pieces of his or her opponent based on the results of each challenge. With such mechanics, some have likened Game of the Generals to chess, but the board game has garnered its own following, especially in schools.

2| Politricks

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Highly relevant to the election season, Politricks is a spin on the classic Monopoly game, only this time the players are trapos or corrupt politicians whose end goal is to earn the most votes at whatever cost.

The card game requires two to five players, with each session lasting from as short as 15 minutes to as long as an hour or more, depending on how each participant will play their cards.

Politricks has 104 cards that can be categorized into five groups: action cards, vote cards, player cards, money cards, and bribe cards.

The action cards show the scandals and strategies that plague the country’s political scene, and yet (sadly) helps politicians win government seats. There’s a balimbing card, which can be used by a player who wants to switch parties, a snap election card that can be deployed if one wants to have a quick election, and even a road repair card.

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Play the action cards right and vote cards can be easily earned. The latter represents the voting public, ranging from OFWs to the regional voters in Cebu or Ilocos.

Still, a player can just cheat his or her way to the top by using the bribe card and paying other players with money cards. With this tactic, a player can easily gain votes and win the game. It’s a highly cynical take on the country’s political climate, but made fun for an afternoon of leisure.

3| Hugot the Card Game

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A card game made especially for the highly sentimental Filipino, Hugot the Card Game takes advantage of the Filipinos’ love for romance and puns. Similar to the highly popular Cards Against Humanity, the game has 100 cards, showing scenarios and lines that can be fitting answers to the 30 question cards.

Each question card is a set up for a hugot, a line or statement rooted in heartbreak. The player who has the best answer to every hugot earns the question card, and the player with the most question cards wins the entire game.

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This is best played by those who fully understand Filipino humor and preferably those who can now laugh at their breakups and exes.

4| Darna at ang Nawawalang Bato

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Darna’s superpower relies on one mundane item: a white stone. The character swallows it, shouts “Darna,” and voila, she’s a superhero who can take on bad guys and save the world.

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Darna at ang Nawawalang Bato follows a simple instruction: The first player who finds the white stone from the deck wins. The card game requires four players who will be subject to action cards or challenges that will help each player find the white stone. These cards feature the different characters that have played major roles in the comics like Darna’s brother, Ding, and her main nemesis, Valentina.

Still, a player can also just randomly shout “Darna” before taking an action card from the deck, and if he or she chances upon the white stone, the player wins. It's fast-paced and simple enough to keep players engaged even for just a few minutes of play. This card game is a fun celebration of one of the country’s most popular comic characters. 

5| Tadhana

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Filipino folklore’s mysterious mythological creatures are finally gaining their rightful place in local pop culture.

First came the best-selling graphic novels featuring these enchanting characters. Then came the Netflix-produced anime paying tribute to these very icons. This time, the country’s manananggal and diwatas are featured in a tabletop role-playing game (RPG) called Tadhana.

Unlike most RPGs that use dice to settle the fate of each character, Tadhana employs a deck of cards that feature challenges and scenarios that will set the course of each gameplay. Each player can choose a profession and identity, ranging from Mandirigma to Aswang, and have the chance to either play the good cop or the villain.

Tadhana’s flexible narrative is an immersive dive into the narratives of local folklore. One session can take hours to finish.

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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