Let The Games Begin!
For years, Play Nation has been a stage for battlegrounds, business tycoons vying control over real estate or just plain silly fun. It’s a place where friendships are forged and broken in the spirit of board games and video games. Here, I’ve betrayed my friends to win, made strong alliances to take down evil bad guys, and rocked my heart out over the clash of plastic drums.
I’ve always liked how they’ve refined the art of balance - differentiating themselves from the many surrounding LAN shops while ensuring they don’t alienate the students and office workers with overpriced games and food.
For 7 years Play Nation has delivered these moments and memories, and they aim to do much more with their brand new outlet. It’s larger, boasts an overhauled menu, and more importantly, just right behind their old outlet at Prinsep! We headed down for a time of good old fun and to check out their new digs.
- Board Games -
Play Nation has an impressive collection of games. From classics like Risk or Monopoly to lesser known games like Pandemic and Quoridor, you’ll find what you want here. Veterans of board games won’t find epic games like Descent or Dungeons and Dragons here though - the games here cater to a more casual crowd.
There are also special limited edition games here, such as this Game Of Thrones Monopoly with special board pieces. Wonderfully intricate and a joy to handle.
The first thing that I noticed were the size of the tables. They fit most board games but that’s it. You probably won’t have space for food and drinks or even games with larger boards. There are a few larger tables, but most tables leave little space for much else.
The staff were extremely helpful and did a fantastic job of giving us crash courses in how to play the games so we would be up and running as quickly as possible. Their instructions were really clear and they were also possessed the patience of a preschool teacher when it came to explaining the games to us in a professional and effective manner.
We asked the helpful staff to give us suggestions on what to play and here’s what we ended up with:
1. Ticket To Ride
Ticket To Ride is a strategic game about building railway tracks. Sounds boring I know, but that was my initial reaction too until I gave it a chance.
Players try to build railway tracks from one city to another while trying to foil each other’s plans. Build your train in their path! Steal the train cards they need! It’s great fun, and even when it isn’t your turn, your eyes are constantly darting around the board while you plot and scheme the downfall of your former “friends”.
Recommended for: 2-5 players
2. Small World
Small World is like Risk set in a fantasy world but a lot more fun. You select one race from a variety of standard fantasy tropes like dwarves, elves and trolls and proceed to conquer the world, one tile at a time. Conquering tiles nets you points, and once you’ve decided your race has outlived its usefulness, go into descent and pick a new race with brand new abilities to unleash another tide of war!
It’s a strategic game, and you’re constantly weighing your options, so you’re never really waiting around. It’s engaging, and the boards and pieces look really beautiful too. The only drawback is that the rules can be a little complicated to learn. Once you get used to it though, you’re in for a great time.
Recommended for: 2-5 players
3. King of Tokyo
This is a pretty easy game to pick up and play. The rules are straightforward, and the player tokens are sure to get players riled up and ready to go. Your objective is to be the last man standing or to gain enough victory points to end the game. The points are awarded by dice rolls or by entering the city, which leaves you vulnerable to attack from other players.
While it’s simple to pick up to play, there isn’t much to it, and it’s heavily dependent on luck. There are upgrade cards that you can buy to boost your monsters, but you won’t be able to afford them unless you roll the points to buy them. Still, if players are familiar with the rules and can play fast, it will still serve as an action packed game.
Recommended for: 2-6 players
4. Scotland Yard (Tokyo Edition)
The game objective in Scotland Yard is simple: One player gets to be Mr X, and the other players are detectives trying to catch him. There are a lot of mind games going on as the detectives try to figure out Mr X’s next move. The action starts slow, but after a game, everyone wants to be Mr X, and that really adds to the replay value.
The version we got to play with was the Tokyo Edition, which changes the game map from London to Tokyo. I haven’t played the original before, but having been to Tokyo, it was great fun recognising landmarks I've been to, such as the Imperial Palace and the Tokyo Skytree.
Mr X also gets to wear this "special cap" to hide his eyes so the detectives can’t tell where he’s looking on the board.
Overall, it was great fun working together and trying to catch Mr X. We’d have loved to play it more if we had the time.
Recommended for: 2-6 players
- Console Games -
The new store comprises of two floors, and while the ground floor services mainly board games, the second floor is lined with couches and TVs for all your console gaming needs. The couches are comfy and the second floor oozes a fun atmosphere especially with the Play Nation Monkey casting an eye on everyone.
Gan cheong customers will be happy to know that there’s a self service counter where you can get free flow drinks so you can get right back into the action without waiting for the staff.
5. Mario Party 10
As the name suggests, this is a party game, capable of entertaining up to 5 players. Players race around the board in an attempt to cross the finish line by completing minigames and challenges as well as fighting a few bosses along the way. The game works on dice rolls, so the top player might just lose her spot with an unlucky roll.
The mini games are really fun and entertaining. They go by quickly and can ignite intense rivalries between players, in fact our team was pretty much shouting at each other throughout our session. The mini-games can range from free-for-all events to team based ones, pitting former friends and allies against each other. It’s an insidiously good time.
Recommended for: 2-5 players
6. Guitar Hero
There was a point in time where having the full band kit warranted inviting all your friends to come over to your place to rock out, even if you lived in the *gulp* West. I like playing Guitar Hero because it’s a more involved experience than going for karaoke. Even if you don’t know the songs or if you’re shy, you still have a guitar to strum or drum to smash. Just be sure to bring earplugs if your friends are horrible singers.
Recommended for: 2-4 players
7. Gears Of War co-op (M18)
Alright, if music isn’t your thing and Mario is too kiddy for you, perhaps this might quench your thirst for murder. Skip the campaign and jump straight into co-op where you and your friends will face wave after wave of enemies that get harder and harder to hold back. It will test your skills, teamwork and endurance, and have you screaming for help from your teammates. That’s how a real brotherhood is born!
Recommended for: 1-2 players, or 1-5 via Xbox Live
- Gamer Grub -
In addition to moving to a new crib, Play Nation have also overhauled their menu and focused more on improving the gastronomic experience. To accomplish this, they’ve brought in new culinary staff and trimmed the fat from their previous offerings. The menu now features popular all-day breakfast items like Pancakes and Eggs Benedict, while retaining crowd favourites like the the Chicken Cutlet and Truffled Shepard.
The TSL team got to try their new menu additions as well as their all-time classics on our visit there. Here’s what we thought.
Tea ($4.90 per pot)
We tried their Cherry Marzipan, African Solstice, Ginger Pear and Orchid Vanilla teas. They came in delightfully cute Instagram-worthy teapots and were a pleasure to behold. The tea was decently aromatic and flavourful, and is best served hot and slowly sipped as you wait for your friend’s next move. Alternatively, it tasted great when served with ice as well. We particularly enjoyed the African Solstice, which had a decently robust tea flavour.
Pancakes with Scrambled Eggs and Chicken ham ($14.90)
I love eggs, so I had high expectations of the scrambled eggs. This dish did not disappoint - the pancakes were simple; soft and fluffy, while the scrambled eggs were smooth, velvety and simply delicious. The serving was just right for one person and left me satisfied.
Crabmeat Mentaiko Pasta ($14.90)
The crabmeat mentaiko pasta seemed like a complex dish to pull off. We agreed that the mentaiko flavour didn’t come out sufficiently, with the crab meat overpowering the pasta a little. In the end, it came off feeling flat and simply crab-flavoured.
Truffled Shepard ($14.90)
This shepherd’s pie-like dish is one of the most popular new dishes. We loved the unique mix of mushrooms, potatoes and truffles which was really pulled together with the mozzarella cheese. Great for sharing and highly recommended.
Truffle Fries ($8.90)
These are the latest thing, aren’t they? I’ve seen them in cafes all over the island. We felt that there wasn’t enough truffle flavour, although the fries were just the right amount of softness and not overly salty.
Finger Food Platter ($7.90)
You can pick which finger food you’d like in your platter. There’s quite a wide variety, including potato wedges, bomber wings and sotong balls. We chose the mozzarella cheese sticks, chicken nuggets, and samosa. Of these, we felt that the chicken nuggets and samosa were standard cafe finger food, although the mozzarella cheese sticks were deliciously crispy and saved the dish from being bland. We’d buy a standalone dish of mozzarella cheese sticks, if it came out in the near future.
Eggs Benedict with Brioche Toast ($12.90)
My colleague pronounced that this amazing dish had a lot of everything - poached egg, ham, and brioche toast. The eggs were perfectly poached, and the brioche finely toasted with a slight aftertaste of garlic that we enjoyed. The serving is more than ample, so saving it for brunch is a good idea. Overall, the dish feels like one of the most complete meals on the menu.
It’s all fun and games
The new Play Nation was an enjoyable experience for the team, while the new amenities and more spacious environment lightened the experience. Their food menu has also been overhauled and tidied up - look out for the pancakes and eggs benedict in particular. I felt that what really made our day were the helpful staff who were able to help us start any game hassle-free.
If you have any interest in board games or video games as a form of entertainment, Play Nation would be a great place to spend your weekends at.
Address: 58 Prinsep St, Singapore 188686 (Dhoby Ghaut), 2 Orchard Link #03-02, Singapore 237978 (SCAPE)
Opening Hours: Mon - Thu: 2:00 pm - 11:00 pm, Fri - Sat: 2:00 pm - 3:00 am, Sun: 2:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Getting there: Play Nation’s new outlet is behind their old one on Prinsep. For the uninitiated, the closest MRT station is Dhoby Ghaut. Take the MRT exit closest to The Cathay building, cross over to The Cathay Building and continue down past SOTA cross the road to the Rendezvous Hotel and make a left. Continue down the path till you hit the Prinsep shophouses, and Play Nation is right through the alleyway!
This post was brought to you by Play Nation and was co-written with Darren Wee.