Designed By: Ta-Te Wu
Art By: Holly Chiu and Rachel Kim
Published By: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio
Released: On Kickstarter November 2020
Player Count: 1-5
Time to Play: 20-30 Minutes
You are a pâtissier and King Louis' birthday is coming up. You have ambitious dreams of being the best pâtissier in France and hope to use the celebration as a way to take the cake! Your goal is to make the most boxes of delicious macarons for the party but beware there are enemy pâtissier's around every corner looking to sabotage your work with allergens. Kind of hard to be the best pâtissier if your macaron's kill the royal family! Can you out-trick the competition and show the world what a master pâtissier you are?
Macaron is a 1-5 player trick-taking game that is designed by Ta-Te Wu, which launched this week on Kickstarter. We have had the pleasure of checking out a physical copy of Macaron along with getting to play the Tabletopia version with Ta-Te Wu, Chris from The Charity Boardgamer, Justin Bird, and Alison and Daniel from Kidsplaining.
The goal of Macaron is to be the first person to hit the designated amount of victory points needed to win the game. One of the first things we enjoyed about Macaron is that you can adjust the end game condition for the length of time you have to play. It is suggested to play to 10, 20, or 30 points depending on how long of a game you are looking for. Longer games give players a chance to have more of a comeback, but shorter games can be great with larger player counts where players are typically earning fewer points per round.
Macaron was the first trick-taking game we have played so it was super refreshing to try a new game mechanic. For those of you like us that are new to trick-taking games, let us briefly explain what it means. A "trick" is a round, and in each "trick" players are selecting a card from their hand to put into play. The goal is typically to have the highest card in play (usually of a specific suit) at the end of the trick. However many trick-taking games have what is known as a trump system where a special card may be played during the round in order to take a surprise victory.
To get started lay out the scoreboard and the group board. In Macaron players choose a meeple color and pace one meeple on both 0's on the scoreboard (the victory point tracker, and the boxes tracker). Players also start with 13 cards in their hand and three voting tokens (worth different amounts). The macaron cards in play will vary depending on the number of people playing, as the game scales up or down accordingly. For this review, we are going to talk about what a four-player game looked like. Players assess their hands and then choose two of their cards to pass to the player on their left.
Once players have 13 cards again, it's time to vote. Starting with the person who most recently ate a macaron, players will lay down voting tokens on the different group boards. Tokens laid on the top add a positive value to the total, tokens laid on the bottom add a negative value. Each individual macaron can only have 3 tokens on it (so 6 per card max) whether they are on the top or the bottom. Players take turns placing tokens until they are all on the boards. They are then flipped over and the card with the highest total are the royal macarons (these will be the trump cards). The individual macaron with the lowest total will be the allergen for the round.
Players then bet on how many boxes they think they will complete in the following round. If they guess the correct row of boxes, they will win 2 bonus points, if they guess wrong they will lose one point. It is worth noting betting is optional!
The starting player then begins the trick. They play one card from their hand face-up so all players can see it. Each other player, in turn order, must play a macaron of the same flavor if they are able to. If they are not able to, they may play any macaron of their choice. After all players have played one card, whichever card was highest of the starting macaron set earns a box and will begin the next trick. UNLESS, one of two things occur. If an allergen card is played then the player with the highest card wins the trick and gets to start the next round, but does not get a box. However, if anyone played a "2" then the allergen is not counted that round. The other way someone may not win a round when they have the highest scoring macaron of the starting flavor is if a royal macaron is played. When a player is unable to play the macaron the starting player used, they may choose to play any macaron from their hand. If they play one of the royal macaron flavors they win the round. If multiple players play a royal macaron that round, the one who played the highest numbered royal macaron wins.
Players go through tricks for all 13 of their cards and then score points depending on what box they are on. Each row of boxes scores different points. If they meet/ didn't meet their bet, those points are also factored in and everyone moves their meeple around the scoreboard. Cards and voting tokens are then reshuffled, meeples on boxes move back to zero, the allergen and royal flavors are reset and a new round begins.
Rounds continue until a player reaches the victory point threshold. If multiple players reach the threshold on the same round, the player with the highest point total is the winner!
For those that are new to trick-taking games, this may seem complicated, but we promise it is really simple to catch onto. Play a practice round to get a feel for how trick-taking works and you will be good to go! You can also hold off betting for a round or two while you learn the mechanics and then add it in.
Macaron is truly a delight to play. The art for the game is beautifully done, the macarons look so delicious playing Macaron made us crave cookies! Even the backs of the cards are gorgeous! The see-through meeples are also adorable. We think this might be the first time we have ever seen meeples like that and we love them! Just look how cute they are to photograph!
The gameplay is also highly enjoyable. There is something awesome about being able to try to outwit your opponents without knowing what is in their hands. It is also cool to try out different trick-taking strategies. We scored 4 points one round for betting we would not win a single trick. Macaron has a good amount of different strategy options depending on your preferred gaming style. We are still working on trying to figure out if holding onto allergen cards is a good idea or if we should try to play them early on.
Speaking of allergens, we also love how the theme is really immersive. Each part of the game integrates into the theme. Voting for allergens is a cool concept for a game about cookies. It brings real-world challenges into the game which help to immerse the players in the game.
Lastly, we want to note that while Macaron is super colorful, for those that are color-blind it is still playable! Each color has a symbol associated with its flavor as well!
We had a blast playing with our testers in person and playing with everyone during the Charity Board Gamer's stream on Tabletopia. We shared so many laughs, teaming up to try to make sure the cookie you wanted got the royal treatment. If you are interested in trying out Macaron, you can play it for free on Tabletopia right now! You can also learn more on Macaron's Kickstarter page. Go check Macaron out, we are sure you will love it too!