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Game for a laugh and some sociable fun
By Pan Zheng

BOARD games have been a feature of life in the West for many years, a mainstay for children growing up before the arrival of games consoles, and still popular with young and old alike for some sociable fun.

But in China, the history of modern board games is rather shorter, with the first appearing in the country in the early 21st century.

The face-to-face nature of board games places a premium on communication, logical thinking, memorizing, imagination and judgment. Themes cover everything from war, history, trade and construction to culture and art.

In China, the first popular board game was "Killer of the Three Kingdoms." Taking the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280) in Chinese history as its setting, players pick their roles randomly and try to identify and kill enemies through the cards in their hand.

When there were few board game bars in the city, many local young people would buy a game and take it to coffee shops or teahouses to play with friends.

Through "Killer of the Three Kingdoms" other board games have become popular with young people, marking the first time that many realized that there are interesting games you can play without staring at the computer screen.

Board games have been praised by educational experts as being good for social abilities.

And of course, where there's demand there's a market. Nowadays, you can find board game bars at seemingly every corner of Shanghai, where you can spend an afternoon taking on your friends at your favorite game over a leisurely coffee.

Wangyuan Teahouse

This was one of the first board game bars in Shanghai and attracts customers of all ages. You can ask a "tutor" staff member for an introduction to the latest board games or play classics such as Monopoly.

There are around 150 games for guests to choose from, including popular German games.

Free WiFi and self-service drinks are available, and you can also play video games for free.

Address: 3/F, 180 Yunnan Rd S.

Opening hours: 10am-2am from Sunday to Thursday; 24 hours on Friday and Saturday

Price: 25-30 yuan/person

Tel: 6355-6028

Booty Bay Board Game Club

With the name taken from a town in popular online game "World of Warcraft," the club is well-known among local young people. It has around 10 branches in Shanghai, the most famous located near the People's Square.

There are plenty of board games to choose from and don't worry if you don't know how to play because there are tutors there to guide you.

Free self-service drinks, including hot chocolate, are provided. And you can opt for a booth for more privacy.

Address: 158 Yongshou Rd

Opening hours: 12pm-10pm from Monday to Thursday; 11am-1am from Friday to Sunday

Price: 25-35 yuan/person

Tel: 6385-0315

Witch Cafe Board Game Club

As its name would suggest, the Witch Cafe Board Game Club tries to establish a mysterious atmosphere, and its booths, some of which have private bathrooms, are decorated in different themes.

Witch Cafe is not only a board game bar. Other kinds of entertainment - including video games, dance displays and movies - are provided to guests for free. Most of the board games are suitable for fresh hands and large parties.

Self-service drinks, including tea and coffee, are available and you can also ask for snacks like popcorn and cookies.

And in keeping with the supernatural theme, the shop keeper sometimes offers customers a free tarot reading.

Address: Rm 6A, No. 57, Lane 800, Zhongshan Rd W.

Open hour: 10am-10pm on weekdays; 10am-2am on weekends

Price: 38-58 yuan/person

Tel: 5206-8277

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164