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Food Chain Magnate» Forums » General

Subject: FCM Quick Start - Set Pieces? rss

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Zachary Homrighaus
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Clarendon Hills
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First off, I really like FCM and want to play it more... so this is not a complaint thread.

Background: One of the things that makes FCM hard to get to the table for me is that you can be essentially out of the game with an early mistake. Sometimes that mistake is the initial placement of your restaurant. Sometimes it's your first hire or your 3rd hire. If you are new to the game, you may not realize your mistake for many turns, but the mistake was made and you are now several turns behind your opponents and if they are competent, you are out of the game. Sitting around playing out the string for 90-120 minutes is not a lot of fun regardless of how much you like the mechanics.

The Suggestion: What if we could establish a few set pieces with the game components to give players more or less equal footing from which to start their game? Maybe we could establish 2-3 starting board layouts that present more or less equivalent opportunities for each player. Further, we could fast forward 4-6 turns and give each player a set of starting employees that represent a possible set of starting turns. This way, each player arrives in the game at a point after the major mistake opportunities have passed. Sure, they can squander their position and mess up down the road, but I think everyone will be on relatively equal footing.

If this sort of idea works, it could be extended to create asymmetric beginnings where one player went heavy into training actions and another went for early marketing. These could end up being like the scenarios / puzzles in Roads & Boats.

I don't have nearly enough experience with the game to suggest any of these scenarios or starter set ups (I've got 2 games under my belt with full groups), but I think it would help address both of the concerns I raised in the background section. It would cut down playtime a fair bit since you get past the first 5-6 turns and don't have people agonizing over their restaurant placement. It would also make the game more approachable for new players. They wouldn't need to understand the ins/outs of the game as much up front and couldn't make a bad choice in their first few turns to ruin their chances.

Thoughts?
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Glenn Martin
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Likewise beginning milestones for everyone. $15 off salaries would go a long way to compensate for novice errors.

I wonder if a set of milestones alone could be used as a handicap system for inexperience.
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Zachary Homrighaus
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fluffyevil wrote:
Likewise beginning milestones for everyone. $15 off salaries would go a long way to compensate for novice errors.

I wonder if a set of milestones alone could be used as a handicap system for inexperience.


Yes! Forgot to mention this in my post. In a symmetrical set up, giving each player a few milestones would be very helpful. Maybe the $15 off salaries and refrigerator would make for a very easy onramp.

Better yet, I think in an asymmetrical scenario, you could divvy up the milestones in line with the different starting organizations... essentially the starting point is say 5 turns into a game with 5 equally experienced players. A few will have tied going for training, a few maybe went after Recruiting Girl. Maybe one went for Errand Boy.

Regardless, just reduce the importance of those first few turns and give everyone a fighting chance to experience the mechanics without being crushed by a naive play early on.
 
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Jeff Lyons
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Perhaps a few helpful alternatives for games with new/inexperienced players...

An idea that someone else had that I thought would work well for beginners: Don't limit the milestones to just one unique milestone per player; every milestone is eligible to every player. So you still have to actually put in the effort to achieve the milestone but you can't be locked out from any of them due to a sub-optimal play.

I would also recommend the advanced beginner's setup as described in the rulebook where salaries are the only thing taken away from the gameplay.

I personally think what you are going for is possible but would not give the full satisfaction that I personally get from customizing my staff from the get go.
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Jean-Michel Petit
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One way to alleviate the "newbie" syndrome is to play the game for 4 turns and after those turns, the newbie get to play your engine while you get to play theirs...That way, you HAVE to tell them their suboptimal moves or you'll be stuck with them for the rest of the game.

Another starting option for "partly newbie" is : one player place all the restaurants but has to pick last, newbie picking first.

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Grayson
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Micquebec wrote:

Another starting option for "partly newbie" is : one player place all the restaurants but has to pick last, newbie picking first.


When we teach, we explain some of the factors in restaurant selection (one of the few areas I talk about ramifications in the game) and then let people plunk theirs down based on experience from least to most so that those who have experience have to be a little more crafty (or cheap) to make cash as an early handicap. If folks are paying attention, they get the basic premise of "be close to lots of stuff" including bridge exits, lots of houses, rare drink options, central road pathways, etc. They are going to want to start where the action is likely to be at least to get a handle on what they are looking at.
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Zachary Homrighaus
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These are all fine suggestions... but I guess I'm looking more for feedback on the 'Set Pieces' concept and whether it could work for FCM. I have used several of these suggestions when teaching this game, but it doesn't stop one or more players from making an early misplay resulting in them having to play out the string for 2 more hours knowing they are essentially out of the running. That sucks and means those players don't want to play again.

I'm hoping that something like what I described would be a nice intermediate step between the starter game suggested in the rules (play til the bank breaks, no milestones, no salaries) and a full blown game... also, it should shave about 30 minutes off those early games which would help. I know the game can move pretty quickly once everyone knows what they're doing, I'm just trying to increase the likelihood of getting to a place where you have 3-5 players who know what they're doing and want to keep playing.

At a minimum, I think the sandbox nature of the components could lend itself to some 2p duels where each player has a very different starting set up (restaurant placement, houses / roads / drinks nearby, milestones, employees, etc. Lots of 2p wargames have these sort of scenarios where you set them up and then play them out and see if you can change how a battle went down historically.
 
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