Macroscope

The Macroscope is a wonderous device that’s used to investigate things up close… provided you can figure out what it is you’re looking at. Roll the dice to determine which windows of the Macroscope you can open, revealing more of the picture inside. The fewer windows you open before guessing, the greater the reward if you’re right, or penalty if you’re wrong.

The Good

Assembly Process (+4)

Making the actual scope in this game was so much fun! They even made sure to make some of the fastening pieces look like screws for the art. The rulebook is nice and clear about what pieces and what side to flip those pieces to in order to set the scope correctly, though if you’ve assembled enough things in the lifetime of your game days it should be relatively easy to infer where things go and how. The scope coverups — which I’ll get into in a bit — have some stickering to get the tiny pieces to stick together. If, like me, you have major issues with stickering game components perfectly, don’t fret; you won’t need to interact with your imperfections for too long in this game to notice. Even more impressive is the box can allow for putting in your own images when you’ve finished the 400 it comes with.

Push Your Luck (+6)

The game is set up in a way that provides public information, and consequently becomes a bit of a race to be the first to guess correctly what image you are looking at. The push-your-luck aspect here is not necessarily due to the game itself but rather how confident you can be about your mind’s eye. If you guess incorrectly, there is a point penalty but if you guess correctly then there is a point gain. It’s especially disappointing if you doubted the inkling of what the image was, didn’t push your luck and handed off the points to someone else. However, this shouldn’t happen too often since the game gives you the opportunity to guess right after you reveal what you can.

Good Randomness (+5)

At the beginning of someone’s turn after they roll the dice there is an element of randomness to what segments of an image are revealed. This element of randomness also shines through the default ordering of images because it forces you to rid yourself of any patterns or associations. Since your ability to reveal more information to you and your opponents is dependent upon the dice, what I’ve found is that the number combinations and how frequently they come up do not have a significant impact when rolled. Coverup spots at the beginning of a new round are placed as randomly as possible which allows for a very balanced public information loop.

Art and Imagination Meet (+6)

Others will tell you otherwise but I personally don’t think my mind’s eye is very good. So my imaginative processing very much appreciates the simple line art because of its uncommon style. You do not have any specific frameworks you can go off of to guide you on your path to victory. The art is in fact true to the nature of the object it is representing but does not necessarily adhere to expected rules for how those objects are presented. When you finally do reveal the object, those who couldn’t figure it out share in the excitement of the new way of seeing the object. Those who did figure it out become impressed with… well, themselves!

The Bad

Several Empty Spots (-6)

As much as I did praise the game on its balanced randomness, what the game did not take into account is the scaling of these objects. There were several plays of this game where I revealed some spots that were just blank spaces and ended up wasting a turn. While the game does not necessarily always draw things to scale, you can use blanks as more information than you had before on what the object could be. To be fair I don’t think they did this on purpose but I still find it disappointing and jarring. I expect consistency in the games that I play and this did not have that.

Accidental Reveals (-2)

When a round is over, a variable number of spots will already be revealed. If you cannot remember to set them back before moving on to the next image, it ruins it for everyone because you all saw part of the next card. On top of this, it takes an unnecessary amount of effort to separate the cards from each other to ensure that you don’t miss one. So, this level of surgical care adds just a little bit more time to the gameplay.

Freebie Points (-3)

I really dislike that you seem to get points no matter what you do in this game. Granted, if you spend the whole time in this game just revealing information to other players — which does earn you a point or two — then you’re likely not going to win anyway. But, I don’t believe that you should get points just for rolling the die. Perhaps that’s just the eurogamer in me and I need to ease up on the game a little more, especially considering the targeted age group. Certainly the compromise here is I could house rule this in the future when playing with adults, but I felt it necessarily to call out.

The Ugly

Thin Paper (-1)

This happens when moving into the next image quite often, which is the fact that the paper is not only glossy and sticks to each other but it is thin. The material will bend slightly or you’ll sometimes skip an entire image when preparing for the next round. I can understand that this is one of the better ways to include 200 pages in the small box but they could have had their manufacturer add a linen finish. At least, in my experience, cards with linen finish tend to not have this issue.

Difficulty: 1/5 for Novice
Satisfaction Grade: C+ (78.7%) for Good
Worth Your Money? Yes.