Designer: Ta-Te Wu
Artist: Holly Chiu & Rachel Kim
Publisher: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio
Year Published: 2020
No. of Players: 1-5
Playing Time: 20-30 Minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Trick-Taking / Food
Macaron offers a variety of mechanisms and modes for different player counts and game durations, providing a fair amount of strategic depth and replay value!
Macaron is a fun and thematic spin on traditional trick-takings games for 1 to 5 players in which players will compete to be the most prestigious pâtissier in France. Macaron offers a variety of mechanisms and modes for different player counts and game durations, providing a fair amount of strategic depth and replay value!
Gameplay and Mechanisms:
In Macaron, players will play cards from choose from 7 different flavors (i.e. suits) with which to play: almond, pistachio, strawberry, blueberry, green tea, earl grey, and chocolate. As part of the setup for each round, players will select a group of flavors (labeled with letters A, B, C, or D) to serve as royal or allergen. Royal flavors serve as trump suits when players attempt to beat the tricks of their opponents. Allergens contaminate the box of macarons, causing a loss of reward (i.e. boxes) for the player who won the active trick. These groups of royal flavors and allergens are selected each round so players can strategically choose suits that will benefit them the most based on their hand for the current round. Luckily, there are cards within the deck that allow players to cancel the effects of allergens!
Wagering on Productivity: Before a round begins, players will also wager on how many boxes they will prepare before the end of the round, placing their marker on the reward/penalty corresponding to a row where they believe their box marker will be positioned by the end of the round. Boxes prepared equates to tricks won where no allergen effects have spoiled the trick.
Voting on Royal Groups & Allergens: In 4 and 5 player games, voting tokens are introduced into the game with players secretly assigning voting tokens of varying numerical values to one of the flavor groups available during the game. Where these tokens are placed will dictate the positive or negative value given to that flavor group with the group earning the highest value becoming the royal group for the round and the lowest valued group becoming the allergen.
Round & Game End: Within a given round, players will continue to play until completing 13 tricks; or, until a player prepares 8+ gift boxes. At that point, new royal groups and allergens will be assigned. Rounds continue until a player has scored 10, 20, or 30 points (depending on the side of the game board being used: regular or advanced).
Playing Solo: Macaron even includes a solo mode in which you compete against Emma, the solo mode's AI. There are specific rules for which suits Emma will play and the entire rule set for solo play is fairly short and straightforward!
Theme & Illustration:
The illustrations are cute and really help to accentuate the theme which is well-integrated into the gameplay, helping to create an immersive experience.
I asked to review Macaron having never eaten a macaron and having little to no positive experiences under my belt when it came to trick-taking games. Macaron has changed my opinion on the genre and made me yearn for a box full of these little pastries. While I am aware that there have been quite a few "trick-taking games with a twist" published in the last decade or so, Macaron stands out because of theme, aesthetics, and light-hearted nature. I would recommend this game as a welcome addition to those who enjoys this familiar mechanism, baked goods, or both!