Games that Push Your Luck

Push your luck, sometimes called press your luck, is a gaming mechanism where players must decide whether they want to keep their current gains, or risk it all for a chance to win even better rewards.

Here are several board games that have an element of push your luck that are sure to make your gaming session more fun and exciting!

Deep Sea Adventure board game

Deep Sea Adventure

In a rented submarine, you and other explorers all have to share a single tank of air. If you don’t get back to the sub before you run out of air, you’ll drop all the treasure you’ve collected. Do you go back before the air runs out, or push your luck and go further to collect even more treasure? Who can bring back the greatest riches?

King of Tokyo board game

King of Tokyo

In King of Tokyo, you play mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and strange aliens. You roll dice up to three times, to score points, get enhanced powers, and whack each other in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo! Do you stay with your current dice roll, or push your luck and roll again?

Incan Gold board game

Incan Gold

Players explore paths in the jungle by turning up cards from a deck. You can leave the jungle now and share the riches already found, or push your luck and stay in hope of even better rewards—at the risk of encountering dangerous hazards and going home empty handed.

Port Royal board game

Port Royal

You and other players take turns revealing cards to discover ships of riches, or personnel for hire. You may stop opening cards anytime to establish the market. You and and other players can then get gold or hire people from the revealed cards. Don’t push your luck too far though–reveal two ships of the same color and you will go bust!

Quacks of Quedlinburg board game

Quacks of Quedlinburg

Players are charlatans (or quack doctors) each brewing their own secret potions by adding ingredients one at a time. You can push your luck by adding more ingredients drawn from a bag. The more you add, the more valuable your potion will be. Take care with what you add, though, for a pinch too much of this or that will spoil the whole batch!

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Board Games with Negotiation

Board Games with Negotiation

Catan

One of the many aspects that makes a modern classic like Catan fun and enjoyable is that Catan is one of many board games with negotiation as a central mechanism. For example, you can trade and barter with other players: “I can give you two wood, in exchange for a sheep and a brick”

If you enjoy other board games with negotiation, here are a few other games in our library you ought to try:

Bohnanza

This is a compact, tight little card game about bean farming (really!). You will have to barter with other players to get more cards that you need to extend your farm, and most importantly, to get rid of cards from your hand that may ruin your nicely cultivated bean farm.

Sheriff of Nottingham

In the board game Sheriff of Nottingham, players must each submit a bag of goods to the Sheriff for inspection, before they are allowed to claim those goods for victory points. An essential part of the gameplay of this bluffing game is that you are allowed to negotiate, bribe, trade, and pay off the Sheriff so that they will be more likely to pass your goods through (along with any high-value contraband goods).

Cosmic Encounter

Cosmic Encounter is another example of board games with negotiation. You and other players race to be the first to invade and colonize 5 other planets to win the game. In doing so, you may negotiate and invite other players to join your invasion fleet… or as defenders you may invite others to join your defense. There are even Negotiate cards that force combatants to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome to combat.

Chinatown

The goal of Chinatown is to build and expand shops and businesses in adjacent locations on the map. Chinatown is in my opinion the best example of board games with negotiation. You have no choice but to negotiate with other players, trading or buying favorable real estate locations, and/or shop tiles to build your business empire. Anything goes in this delightful negotiation strategy game.

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Downtime’s 5th Year! (2 of 2)

Downtime’s 5th Year! (2 of 2)

About a year after opening, we started becoming aware of some new challenges that in many ways were actually good. The small tiny kitchen was constantly running out of space to store things. Our small footprint limited the number of visitors we could have at any given time. We also didn’t particularly enjoy hanging out in the dim, windowless upstairs room, in what was once probably a storage attic.

Downtime moves to a new location

In 2019 we began to look for a larger space where we could grow into. It wasn’t long before we found a new shop just around the corner, with four times the floorspace!

Downtime 2.0

Game Night at our new place!

Keeping with tradition, we opened our doors for Wednesday Game Night at our new place on 29th of January 2020. It has a spacious floor plan for ample tables and chairs, lots of natural light, and increased capacity in the kitchen. We felt like things were about ready to take off!

If we knew then what we know now…

Well, so much for that.

As you may recall, 2020 turned out not to be the best time to open any business. Much less one that depended on intimate groups of people huddled closely around a game table.

So much for getting together for board games…

In March of that year we had to close our doors for lockdown, much like everywhere else in the world. We unfortunately had to send our staff home. But we were fortunate that we had enough savings to provide them with half-salary to weather the duration of the 5-week lockdown.

After the initial lockdown, restaurants and cafes were gradually allowed to reopen on a very limited basis. At times the local regulations were relaxed enough for us to host a few dine-in customers. Other times we had to limit our service to takeout-only.

This has to be said. We owe a deep gratitude to every single one of our customers and friends who supported us by ordering food delivery during this time.

You know who you are! We thank you very much for your continued support!

Managing to get in a game or two

The Covid-era “new normal”

Slowly we allowed guests to sit and play board games again, though we had to take out many favorite games that had a high player count or those that got people a little too excited (sorry social deduction fans).

We kept close watch on the local Bali infection rate data. If the infection count started climbing, we temporarily suspended gaming activities, and would resume them again when the numbers declined. We really love seeing people gather around and have fun over games. However we didn’t want to be responsible for anyone catching Covid at our premises–and potentially infecting their families or elders at home.

After three years, thankfully with the support of local vaccination efforts and the gradual evolving nature of the virus itself, Covid has ceased to be a life-threatening issue for the general public at least for the moment.

Going forward

Heading into our fifth year, we continue our passion for finding ideas to refresh our menu offerings. We always seek to create new exciting dishes for our customers. We will continue to draw from the wide world of culinary possibilities that Bali hasn’t experienced yet.

This year we added new dishes such as our overloaded version of the Montreal classic poutine, and our personal favorite new Spanish breakfast egg dish huevos con ajos. We also added to our homemade burger offerings including the Sunset Burger, which we’re not ashamed to admit was heavily inspired by California’s In-n-Out animal style burger.

Nice to see happy people playing board games

We also continue to be excited about the growing board gaming community here in Bali. As per tradition, at our shop we continue to introduce newcomers into the hobby every Wednesday evenings.

We’re also starting to notice people from other places like Ubud and Canggu starting to form little weekly board game groups and gatherings of their own. It’s very heartening to see more and more people discover board games. We wish them well and godspeed, as they remind us of our own humble origins, not too long ago.

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Downtime’s 5th Year! (1 of 2)

Downtime’s 5th Year! (1 of 2)

Folks have asked us why we opened a board game cafe here in Bali. May 2023 marks the fifth year of operations here at Downtime Cafe. On this occasion we thought it might be nice to take a trip back to nostalgia lane and share some moments along our journey thus far.

A gathering of board game lovers

When we first moved from Jakarta to Bali in 2016 we couldn’t find enough people to play board games with. We started inviting friends, fellow travelers, etc. via social media to join us as we hosted Game Night gatherings every Wednesday evenings. We met at various coffee shops around town, and introduced new players to simple games such Saboteur, Avalon, Bang! The Dice Game, and Port Royal. Thus the Bali Board Games group was born.

The Bali Board Games group met weekly at one of the local coffee shops.

We kept bouncing from one coffee shop to another over the next couple of years. Finding a place that had the right combination of large tables, good lighting, and decent food and drinks is surprisingly harder than you might think. On top of that, lugging heavy bags full of cardboard on scooters (sometimes in the middle of a rainstorm) was taking its toll on our backs.

Needing a place of our own

We began toying around with the idea of setting up our own gaming space. We’ve seen board game cafes work in larger cities like Jakarta and Bangkok. Would the concept work in a small island like Bali though? There was only one way for us to find out.

We found a small shop in an area of Bali called Kerobokan. This part of town may not be as well-known as Canggu, Seminyak, or Kuta. However it has the advantage of being in a central location and is easily accessible from those other areas. The shop was previously a warung or local eatery, and it already had a small kitchen, some rudimentary seating area, and a washroom. We just needed to add a splash of paint, fix a few things, get some furniture, and we were good to go!

Needs a little bit of work, but it’ll do.

The next thing we had to ponder was, we needed a name. We had brainstormed a bunch of names already, and rejected names that had “board” in the title. This was because there were already a lot of surfboard shops in Bali using those kind of names already. Names with “dice” or “game” also didn’t make the cut because we didn’t want to focus too much on board games (more on that later).

We wanted a name that conveyed the concept of chilling, taking some time out of your busy work schedule, hanging out with friends, enjoying good food, having a good time. As in, enjoying a little downtime for yourself.

The first board game cafe in Bali

Downtime is open for business!

Downtime Cafe became the first board game cafe in Bali on Wednesday, 16th of May, 2018. We launched on that day by hosting our usual Wednesday evening Game Night. At long last, Bali Board Games had a permanent home!

For the first time, Bali Wednesday Game Night had a permanent home

Questions still remained. It would be hard enough for a niche operation like a board game cafe to survive even in a large metropolis like Jakarta or Bangkok. What would our chances be in a small resort island like Bali, whose population is not even 1/10th the size?

Judging by our experience and relative difficulty of getting people to come to our game nights, there wasn’t enough of a built-in base in Bali to support a shop focused just on board games. If we were to survive, we had to focus on the food and beverage side our business. The board games aspect would have to take a back seat.

Cafe first, board games second

We chose “international comfort food” as our driving concept. We didn’t want to offer trendy food like Indomie instant noodles or ayam geprek fried chicken, which were ubiquitous and “viral” back then. Rather, we wanted to offer Bali a chance to taste unique, delicious comfort foods from around the world, using locally-sourced ingredients from the island.

Our cornerstone was our triple-cooked Belgian fries, with your choice of homemade dipping sauces. Of course we must have nasi goreng. We developed our own unique variations, such as our bacon fried rice, and our very own Balinese fried rice. Thankfully, reception to our food has been generally very positive.

Downtime Cafe was beginning to grow.

(To be Continued…)

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Games for Two Players

Games for Two Players

Hello Bali!

We often get asked to recommend suitable games for two players. Whether for a couple on a romantic date, or just a couple of friends hanging out, we’ve come up with a list of our favorite games designed just for two players.

Patchwork

Patchwork, a polyomino game for two players
Patchwork image from Big Boss Battle

Patchwork is in my opinion, designer Uwe Rosenberg’s masterpiece. In this game, players take turns buying Tetris-style polyomino pieces to place them on their own board. Players try to fill up their board as much as possible, while earning resources to enable them to buy even more pieces. While taking only a couple of minutes to teach, the gameplay is very fun and addicting.

Jaipur

Jaipur, a trading game for two players
Jaipur image from The New York Times

Jaipur is a simple game of collecting and trading goods in order to score points. On a player’s turn they are able to take or trade cards from the market, or sell the cards in their hand for points. If they are able to sell three or more at one time, they can score better bonus points. It’s simple, fast, and very fun to play.

Hanamikoji

I-cut-you-choose is the driving mechanism of Hanamikoji
Hanamikoji image from Random Nerdery

Hanamikoji is a two-player strategy card game set in Japan. The game revolves players offering cards in trying to win the favor of seven Geishas. Players offer their opponent a choice of several cards, after which the player gets whatever cards are left over. While the game is easy enough to learn, it still offers a lot of strategic depth.

Schotten Totten

Setting up winning hands in Schotten Totten
Schotten Totten image by Daily Worker Placement

This game has some similarities to Hanamikoji, but is a lot more straightforward type of tug-of-war. Each player takes turns placing a single card at one of nine boundary stones, while trying to achieve the goal of having the best three-card combo on their side of the stone. What makes this a great game is because players are constantly trying to deduce what combo their opponent is trying to achieve, and whether they’re able to counter it.

Onitama

Cards show available moves in Onitama
Onitama image by Meeple Like Us

Fans of chess may appreciate the streamlined gameplay of Onitama. In this game, players must either capture their opponent’s Master or occupy their throne. To do this, players move their pieces by selecting from a number of moves depicted on one of two cards, and then the card they used is then made available to their opponent to use in their future moves. This constant rotation of cards keeps the flow very dynamic, and as a result makes Onitama a rather thought-provoking puzzle.

Hive

Strategy game for chess lovers
Hive image by Tabletop Wanderers

Hive makes for a more direct comparison to chess in that each player piece has unique moves not unlike each chess piece. Unlike chess, Hive does not use a board. The players form the playing field by connecting and moving hexagonal insect pieces around a central cluster or hive, in order to surround their opponent’s queen bee.

Posted by Downtime
New Breakfast Dishes!

New Breakfast Dishes!

We are constantly drawing inspiration from around the world in order to continually evolve our menu. After extensive research and development, we are excited to announce some new breakfast dishes that are now available at Downtime!

The first of our new breakfast dishes is called Huevos con Ajos or “eggs with garlic” in Spanish. This delicious dish originates from the southern coast of Malaga in Spain, but has many variations as each household probably has its own way to make this homey dish. The dish is essentially eggs fried in garlic and olive oil until they develop a crispy golden crust. We serve the eggs with some slow-cooked confit potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes. The end result is truly amazing, and is vegetarian-friendly too!

“Good artists copy, great artists steal”
–Pablo Picasso

Our new Breakfast Sandwich is inspired by the Fairfax sandwich, one of my favorite bites at Eggslut, the popular breakfast stop by chef Alvin Cailan in Los Angeles. We place some soft-cooked eggs atop a slice of ham, followed by a slice of smoked cheese and caramelized onions, topped up with our homemade herb remoulade sauce.

The Breakfast Sandwich is also available on our daily Sunrise Special breakfast deals, so come early!

We hope to see you soon at Downtime!

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Sunrise Special: Our Coffee and Breakfast Deals

Sunrise Special: Our Coffee and Breakfast Deals

We’re excited to announce our newest coffee and breakfast deals! From 8am until 12 noon you can get a packaged breakfast combo deal, which includes your beverage choice of coffee, tea, or juice along with one of our delicious breakfast dishes.

Ham and Egg Croissant Breakfast Deals
Ham and Egg Croissant

Do you love soft, buttery croissants with your coffee in the morning? You may choose from our popular Ham or Mushroom and Egg Croissant breakfast deals, which includes a large butter croissant with fluffy scrambled eggs, stuffed with your choice of either ham or sauteed mushrooms.

Breakfast Sandwich Deal
Breakfast Sandwich

We are also proud to introduce our Breakfast Sandwich, which consists of ham, fluffy scrambled eggs, topped with cheese and caramelized onions, held together in a burger bun.

Downtime Fried Rice Breakfast Deals
Downtime Fried Rice

We also offer our own homemade Downtime Fried Rice or nasi goreng, made with our own in-house blend of spices and seasonings.

Breakfast Burrito
Breakfast Burrito

For something a little lighter you may opt instead for a Breakfast Burrito wrap with scrambled eggs and sausages, or a Breakfast Quesadilla with scrambled eggs, mozzarella and sauteed mushrooms.

These coffee and breakfast deals are available each and every day, so you can enjoy a delicious and affordable breakfast or brunch in the morning!

Come in and start your day with a perfect breakfast! We are centrally located in Kerobokan, and are open from 8am to 9pm seven days a week.

We hope to see you soon!

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Game Night Social

Game Night Social

We have been inviting old friends as well as new ones, to come join us for our Game Night Social every week ever since we moved to Bali in 2016. Before we founded Downtime Cafe, we would bring a backpack full of games and meet up at one of the local area coffee shops every Wednesday evening.

Game Night at coffee shop c.2017
Game Night at coffee shop c.2017

It’s a great way for you to come and get to know the phenomenon that is modern board games–because the new board games are not just about ways of bankrupting your friends over Monopoly any more.

Just like there are many books and movies to choose from, you now have a wonderful array of board game choices. For example, you can compete to build new towns and cities in Catan, or you can compete to build railroad networks and fulfill routes objectives in Ticket to Ride. Collect colorful tiles to build a beautiful pattern in Azul! Also instead of competing, you can collectively work together to save the world from a number of raging diseases in Pandemic!

Game Night @ Downtime original location c. 2018
Game Night @ Downtime original location c. 2018

The games themselves is only one part of what makes the activity so enjoyable. Playing board games is an experience that is best when shared amongst you and those you play with. It is like a conversation–it is a shared activity and pastime that connects you with your table mates, creating new bonds and friendships.

Board gaming Friends at Game Night, 2022
Board gaming Friends at Game Night, 2022

It is in the spirit of friendship that we hold these weekly events. More than merely a chance to play board games, in the end it is our way to get people to come together every week to connect and make new friends. That is ultimately what it’s all about.

We invite you to come join us!

Game Night Social is held at our location each Wednesday evening from 5pm

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Board Games for Newbies

Board Games for Newbies

We often get asked, “What are some recommended board games for newbies?”

As of this writing, our board game library has just a little over 200 titles on the shelves. While it’s still a modest collection compared to larger more established board game cafes, it’s still overwhelming to new gamers who have only ever played Monopoly and Uno.

I have compiled a small selection of popular titles that we have often used to introduce board game newbies to this wonderful world of ours, based on a few criteria.

First, the rules must be easy enough to teach. I have found that board games that take over 10 minutes to teach tend to be overly complicated for newcomers. People just want to sit down and start having fun as fast as possible.

Second, the game must be relatively short. At the end of a gaming session, I hope people will look at each other and say, “That was fun, let’s play again!” Conversely, if they end up not liking it the game should finish quick enough so that they could move on to something else.

The last criterion is language-independence, largely because English is not the primary language at our location. Therefore I often prefer board games that require little or no reading at all.

Enough of that, on to the recommendations!

Loonacy

Loonacy // Image: Parents at Play

This is a card game of fast reflexes for 2-5 players. Players start with a hand of 7 cards, each of which has two different pictures. On the table will be a number of open cards. If you see a picture on the table that matches one of yours, play your card on top of it. Do it quickly before someone else does. The first person to completely get rid of all their cards wins the game! This game is quick, fun, very easy to teach, and is suitable even for younger children.

Tsuro

Tsuro // Image: Brian Holaway

In this simple tile-laying game for 2-8 players, you are laying down tiles with squiggly tracks of various patterns in front of your marker stone. Your stone then must move through the the newly-laid tile, following its track until it reaches the end. If you go off the map, you are eliminated. The last person remaining on the map wins the game! Dead-simple, Tsuro is one of the easiest introductory board games for newbies.

Hey That’s My Fish!

Hey That’s My Fish // Image: Shut Up and Sit Down

In this game instead of adding tiles you will be removing them from the board. The board is made up of hexagonal tiles depicting one, two, or three fish each. You choose one of your four penguins to move. Pick up the tile he is standing on and move him along a straight line to a new tile. You cannot jump over any gaps in the board, so don’t get trapped in a corner. The person with the most fish is the top penguin! 

Splendor

Splendor // Image: The Board Game Family

This is one of our favorite board games for newbies. As gem merchants, you take turns acquiring gems from the supply. You will use them later to buy cards which gives you a discount on future cards as well as some prestige points. Splendor is one of our favorite games for 2-4 players to introduce to new gamers, as it only takes about 5 minutes to learn. What’s more, this game perfectly teaches the concept of engine-building and victory points.

Dixit

Dixit // Image: Boardgamegeek

If you like a board game which exercises your imagination then Dixit may be a good fit. From your hand of 6 picture cards you choose one of them to play face down. You must then give out a hint to help other players to guess your card. Other players then choose one of their cards which most matches your hint, and add it to form a pile top of your card. From those shuffled pile of cards everyone else tries to figure out which one was your original card. However: you only get points if some—but not all—other players guess your card.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride // Image: Hobby Lark

For a slightly longer game lasting about an hour, try the ever-popular Ticket to Ride. In this game for 2-5 players, you compete against other players to build train routes by paying cards matching the color of the routes on the map. In addition you also have objectives that you must fulfill by connecting various cities on the map. If you’ve got a little time to spare, Ticket to Ride is one of the best medium-length board games for newbies.

Which other titles do you think would be a good introductory board game for newbies?

Posted by Downtime in Journal
What is a Board Game Cafe?

What is a Board Game Cafe?

Welcome to Downtime Cafe, the first board game cafe in Bali.

So, what is a board game cafe? Just like any other great cafes we make great coffees, teas, juices, and other drinks for you. We also have delicious, freshly-prepared food and snacks for you like other restaurants.

However what really sets Downtime Cafe apart from everyone else is our large library of board games. We invite you to come to eat, drink, relax, and play any of our over 200 board games. That’s right, board games.

Board games like Monopoly, right? Nope, wrong! Surely just as modern blockbuster movies have evolved quite a bit since the silent black and white films of Charlie Chaplin, modern board games have come a long, long way since the simple dice-rolling days of Monopoly a hundred years ago.

Spirit Island // Image: Co-op Board Games

Our library includes some of the most popular modern board game classics like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Azul. Casual gamers like to have a laugh with board games like Dixit, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Exploding Kittens. On the other end if you like a challenge we also have thinkers’ strategy games like Great Western Trail, Spirit Island, and Root.

Whatever you’re in the mood for, we have a board game that’s right for you. We have plenty of space for you to stretch out, and lots of tasty food and drinks. So come visit us and see for yourself what a board game cafe is about!

Posted by Downtime in Journal