Macao Table Game

Translated from French by Steve ThorsTen (2018)

The Macao table game lets you assume the role of Portuguese explorers in the XVII century who have ventured far to the east, finally reaching one of the largest trade hubs of the age, Macao. Players start conducting lucrative trade operations with Europe while they seek to fill important office roles in the city to boost their own prestige and reputation.

The game takes 12 turns to complete, and each turn follows the same logic. Players are allowed to pick a card and two out of six colored dice, which in turn brings you action stones. The dice are not of one unique color like in casino craps games. The stones can then be used to activate a card, assume control over part of the city, position the player’s ship or dispatch goods to Europe.    

The more skillful the player, the more prestige he will obtain, which will in turn bring him closer to victory. After the 12th turn is concluded, the player with the most prestige points wins.


  • 1 game board
  • 4 individual game boards (one for each player)
  • 4 compass roses (one for each player)
  • 24 trade goods tiles (3 of each kind: lacquered wood, rice, tea, jade stone, paper, porcelain, and spices)
  • 6 joker tiles (1 of any action stone or 3 gold coins)
  • 36 gold coins
  • 48 markers (12 per player) that indicate ownership or penalty
  • 300 cube-shaped “action stones” (50 of each red, blue, green, black, grey, and violet)
  • 6 colored dice (2 for each player, depending on their color, and 2 beige ones)
  • 4 ships (1 per each player)
  • 10 wooden discs (2 for each player depending on their color, and 2 beige ones)
  • 120 cards (24 Offices, 44 Buildings, 52 Characters)

Setting Up the Board

The board represents the city of Macao, subdivided into 30 quarters and encompassed by a wall – 16 spaces in total. Beyond the wall, you have eight European ports. The tribute track is on the left side, from 0-12, and the edge of each long side is reserved for the Offices. The player prestige points are denominated in the prestige scoring track from 0-99.

Each player picks a color and takes:

  • An individual game board to store ownership/penalty markers and the cards
  • A compass rose next to his/her board with the green arrow pointing up, and place for the action stones
  • The player’s ship
  • 2 wooden discs placed on the prestige score track and the city’s wall
  • 12 ownership and penalty markers held face up, unless a player incurs -3 prestige points penalty
  • 5 gold coin visible next to the individual board

The rest of the gold and 300 action stones are placed in a common bank. The 24 trade goods tiles are placed randomly on the board. The six Joker tiles are placed on the dark spots in the different quarters without covering their identification number.

The 120 cards are split into two stacks based on their backs, and then:

  • Shuffle the 24 Offices. Place them in two separate sets based on the numbers and marks.
  • Shuffle the 96 Buildings and Characters and put them face-down next to the Offices

Preparing and Beginning

Before starting the game, players must:

  • Draw two additional cards, based on the number of players. If there are 3 players, then you should draw 5 cards, and place the cards with their faces up next to the game board. Each player chooses a card and you discard the others. The player with the disc at the bottom of the prestige score track starts first.
  • The player with their disc on top, however, picks an action stone (AS) first and places it in space “1” on his compass rose. He then chooses two more AS and places them in space “2”. All players do the same taking turns.

Playing the Game

The game begins and it’s played in different phases.

Phase One: Cards

  • Player one picks 4 Buildings/Characters and places them next to his 2 Offices
  • Players then calculate the red and yellow numbers of the six face-up cards. The yellow numbers indicate how many gold coins must be spent per how many prestige points. To figure the prestige points ratio however, players must calculate the red numbers of the cards they started with.
  • Players must remove up to 2 cards, based on the number of participants.
  • Each player selects a card and places it on his board

Phase Two: Dice

  • The first player rolls the dice and orders them from lowest to highest, with the same pip value dice stacked together, i.e. the 3’s go with the 3’s.
  • Each player picks two dice without taking them to himself. For each die, he takes a number of AS indicated by the dice. The AS are then moved next to the compass rose and placed in the sector indicating the same number as the pip value of the dice.
  • The player rotates the compass rose by one sector clockwise. This shows how much AS he may use. In the case of no AS, he incurs -3 penalty.

Phase Three: Actions

During this phase, players use the AS to carry out a number of actions.  The first player begins and carries out all the actions his AS allow him to in any order he wishes. Players are reminded to use their AS efficiently, because any unused stones at the end of each turn are returned to the reserve.

Types of Actions

  • Activating a card: Activating a card costs AS. The number is displayed on the card. Once a card is activated, the player places their card in front of the board and they can use them until the end of the game. Players can activate as many cards as they wish in a single turn as long as they have the AS to meet the cost. There’s no upkeep cost associated with the cards.
  • Taking control over a quarter: Assuming a control over a quarter costs AS. You will find the number listed in the identification number of each quarter. Obtaining a quarter comes with the trade goods tile or a Joker tile.

As soon as you pay the price, you can move the trade goods tile to your ship’s icon, displayed on the individual game board. You can move goods into your ship regardless of the ship’s current location. A Joker tile can be played at any point the player chooses to and it can be exchanged for 1 AS or 3 gold coins.

  • Advancing along the wall: Instead of purchasing quarters or activating cards, players could choose to move their discs along the city’s wall. Each turn will cost you two cubes more to accomplish. You needn’t pay in the same color AS for it.
  • Navigating the ship: Moving your ship around is done at an expense of 1 AS for each space you cover. You can move your ship as much as you want in a single turn as long as you have the cubes to pay for it.
  • Buy Prestige Points: Players can purchase prestige points at the rate determined at the beginning of the game.
  • Using cards: Cards that are already activated can be used at each turn in any order. A player can use a card, do another action(s) and then use more cards.
  • Pass: A player who doesn’t want or cannot play due to limit scarcity can simply pass his turn.

Game’s End

The game ends after the 12th turn. For each card that is still on a player’s board, they incur a -3 penalty. After that, prestige points are calculated based on the following criteria:

  • Characters and/or Buildings – Some of these cards reward prestige points if certain conditions are met.
  • Quarters – Quarters only grant 2 points each for every quarter that is connected with another of the player’s quarter.

The winner is decided based on the player who has the most points. If there is a tie, then the player who is further along the wall emerges victorious.

The Cards

Each of the 120 cards follow the same logic:

  • The top left corner displays the AS number and colours a player needs to pay to activate the card.
  • The top right corner indicates the type of card, i.e. Office, Building, Character.
  • Below these, players find the name of the card.
  • What follows is a description field explaining how the card is used.
  • At the bottom left and right corners, you will find the gold coins to prestige points exchange ratio.
  • Between them you can information about when a card can be used – usually the third phase of the game, unless something else is specified.

Each card is designed to be balanced when it comes to actually using it.

The rules for utilising any of the 120 cards in the game:

  • Players can only use their cards. A card that has not been activated, cannot be used.
  • A card can be only used once per turn unless otherwise specified.
  • Most of the cards are used in Phase 3. Specific cards can be used before that as indicated on the card.
  • Cards can be used right after they have been activated.
  • AS stands for Action Stone.
  • When a player needs AS, he takes them from the bank and when he uses them up, he drops them back in the bank.
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