TBP: Castle

Monday, 7 April 2014

Back in my university days, I discovered the novelty (what I'd like to believe anyway... I know Japan is way ahead of us, but in North America, this is still pretty new, in my opinion) of Snakes and Lattes. This was the first time I had ever heard of a place where you could spend endless hours playing board games in a cozy coffeehouse-like setting — that is, if you can get in first. The place has been so popular that sometimes, people would have to wait 2 hours just to get in. It's no surprise really. For only $5 admission and a plethora of board games in their library, who wouldn't want to hang out there?

Oh wait, we're not talking about Snakes and Lattes. We're talking about Castle. Let's just say that, last year, when I was eating Dim Sum with my university friends, I spotted a place that was also a board game café called Castle. It seemed relatively new, so I was curious. It wasn't until half a year (or so) later that I finally stepped foot into that place, with an excuse of "let's celebrate my late birthday with a small group of friends".

Off the bat difference between Castle and Snakes and Lattes is that Castle has more modern/minimalist furnishings. That is not to say that it doesn't look cozy, it's just that this café has a different kind of charm. I think it lies in the colour scheme that they used: pale turquoise and bright green to bring some energy into the room.

One thing Castle has that Snakes and Lattes doesn't have? Multiple comfy modern futons. From the recesses of my memory, I do recall S&L having around 3 - 4 armchairs and one futon near the front, but I think that's all they have.

I think it's also the juxtaposition of clean, minimal lines and handwritten lettering that add to the charm that is Castle. The handwritten lettering makes the place look fun and cute, which would appeal to younger audiences.

I'm always open to trying new board games, so after introducing my friends to Bang, I got introduced to Cosmic Encounters. This board game was about invading other alien races' territory by successfully attacking their armies. What's neat about this game is the massive list of character cards that a player could possibly choose from. I think I took a good 15 minutes just going through all the characters and studying the types of abilities they had that I thought would be beneficial to winning the game.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the lovely artwork done for this game? I almost felt like I was looking at World of Warcraft or some other well done sci-fi/fantasy game promo artwork...

Anyway, I think what makes the game most interesting is having had the choice of playing this character:

This little guy is like the number 4 card on steroids in a Crazy Eights card game. It was funny playing against one of my friends who also had the ability to switch stats and commands around, making it a mental cat and mouse chase game. Sadly I didn't have the beginner's winning fluke like I usually would; still an interesting game nonetheless.

You can't go wrong with a classic to make your afternoon worthwhile. Although I don't play Cards Against Humanity often, it amuses me every time I do because of the sheer absurdity some people come up with in their choice of cards. Anyone with a sense of humour can enjoy this game, especially those with a) a dirty mind, b) chuckle at racist jokes and c) has a good general knowledge of pop culture and politics. It isn't called "the card game for horrible people" for no reason, haha.

I didn't order this slice of cake. My friend did. It was for $5.99 and he said it was good. I guess I'll take his word for it?

I don't know if it's just my darnedest luck, but every time I order a new latte I haven't tried, it always tastes burnt (only exception to that is the Pumpkin Spice Latte I had at Starbucks, otherwise that claim is still true). First it was the Nutella Latte at Snakes and Lattes, then it was the Candy Cane Latte from Second Cup and now it's the Hazelnut Latte at Castle. There's an added sense of disappointment in that the foaming of the latte is just white and brown, nothing special. I got spoiled from Snakes and Lattes expecting to see a face or elegantly done leaves seeing as they do latte art all the time. If Castle had a skilled barista that had the capability of doing latte art, I would put them on the same level as Snakes and Lattes when it comes to their food.

Then again, who knows, maybe the next time I go to Snakes and Lattes, I won't have a burnt Nutella Latte. I'll dream of the day that happens.

One thing's for sure though — Castle is more expensive in the long run. They charge $2.50 an hour as their admission fee. It only takes you two hours of board game playing time to catch up to Snakes and Latte's fee. So if you compare the duration of stay to the differing admission fees, Castle would be more expensive if you plan on staying for longer.

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