21/01/2021

Macaron: An update to our first impressions [Preview]

It’s only been two weeks post-SPIEL Digital ’20, but we already had a major throwback. I blame Ta-Te Wu & co. and their latest creation, Macaron. If you missed it, we actually wrote our first impressions of Macaron after our session in Tabletopia already. We covered what’s important in our previous post.

Disclaimer: I am an avid euro gamer and a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings LCG player. I am not a fan of solo game/variant. This statement will give you an overview of what kind of bias I might have while writing.

For this Macaron’s next preview, I guess we need the same additional disclaimer. Please read it below.

Disclaimer: I tried the digitalised version of this game via Tabletopia, and I played the preview copy one for this preview. There may still be some last-minute changes both in the components and in the gameplay. However, I deemed this physical copy to be almost identical to the game’s final version.

I covered all I missed from my digital experience in this article. If you have something else you want to add, please do leave comments below.

Taking a glance into the appearance

Besides the 52 macaron cards, we have some other components for the rest of the game. The rule draft mentioned that the voting tokens’ artwork is not finalised yet. The game will contain a first player marker and the royal and allergen ones along with pieces for voting, box, and betting in the game. These components may get some changes in appearance, maybe something more flashy.

The board is double-sided, which I was not aware of particularly…

The box of Macaron does not come with the real Macaron dessert! This is just for aesthetic purpose only.

…in the course of my playtest in Tabletopia. Ta-Te provides an advanced scoring board in addition to the standard gameplay. Will they keep the artwork as is? I hope so! It looks delightful while maintaining functionality.

The rules

The voting tokens used for 4+ players. I wish they implemented it for other player counts, too.

Since Tabletopia automatically arranged the setup, I overlooked the influence of player count to the cards used in the game. The number of suits is dependent on the number of players. The round always ends when the 13th trick has been played or when a player has taken his/her 8th box.

The blind voting mechanic is annulled when playing with less than four players. This is something I deem unfortunate because I really like how well it serves the…

…whole of the game with an extra layer of deduction before the game even starts. I know it is removed in fewer player counts for the sake of streamlining the game, though.

More things to add about Macaron’s gameplay

I played Macaron with three other players throughout the Tabletopia session. With this copy, I managed to play with various player counts, and I have no doubt that playing with four or more is still the best way to play this game. For me, the voting mechanic to decide the royal (trump) and allergens flavour is an inseparable fragment and plays a big part to indulge Macaron better. The soloists will get challenged by Emma, an AI that will keep them company to enjoy this classic french dessert.

The standard game mode…
… and the more advanced one.

Getting points in Macaron really depends on how many boxes you can get via winning the tricks. These points are spread through a range of the box. For example, if you win 3-5 boxes, then you get three points. The standard and advance modes are pretty much the same in this matter, the only difference lies in the boxes ranges and how many points you get from it. I don’t really feel the difference between both of them.

The bidding mechanic, in particular, is what makes Macaron more interesting. You need to guess in which box range you will belong to during that round. If you predict correctly, you get bonus points; if you are wrong, then you get a penalty (point reduction). It forces you to win the specific amount of boxes to earn more.

The allergen and royal flavours

Of course, I need to mention a bit further about the allergen. While a concept of trump cards exists in almost every trick-taking card game, this allergen is what makes my heart beats whenever I play Macaron. When this flavour appears, you win the trick, but you get nothing. This is something else players can abuse to obstruct other players’ chance to win some points. This punitive effect can be negated by playing a 2-card, so players may still be able to counter the allergen.

On the other hand, royal flavours come from the same flavour group. Since each group consists of two different flavours, players have two sets of trumps in each round. Although it is something new I experienced from a trick-taking card game, I did not feel any significant difference in the gameplay.

The iconography and artwork

I didn’t reckon this at first during the spell in Tabletopia; I just realised that the colours for Green tea and Pistachio in this preview copy are a tad too close. The shade of green in both suits may impose only minor problems at first, but I think with the typical high-pace game in trick-taking, it can turn into a huge one. I hope it’s only because of the different printing qualities that will not happen in the final production. Other than that, I have no other complaint.

Another look at Macaron’s beauty.

Additional remark

My very first opinion from the previous article still stands: Macaron is another simple trick-taking game that comes with astounding artwork. It is easy to play, and the rule is compact. It makes Macaron a choice for more casual environments. You can always slip this game in any gaming sessions. This game will be live on November 17th.

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