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Tim Koppang
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Originally posted to my blog here on BGG:


Food Chain Magnate

Wonderful. I don't want to overstate my opinion, but the joy this game brings me is embarrassing. It can be painfully unforgiving and require a bind-bending amount of forethought to play well, but the delight I get out of both the theme and mechanics overcome what otherwise may be a daunting task. Most of all, it's the type of game that invites me to play it again and again: I want to unravel its mysteries and explore its depths. If that sounds overly poetic, I have no defense.

The game's strength is twofold. First, you have to plan your corporate structure out ahead of time. In this way, the game feels very much like a modern Euro. Hiring employees and building up your company feels vaguely like deck-building. While you never have to shuffle your deck, looking for synergistic combinations is a must. That said, comparisons with deck-building games are overstated. When to hire an employee is just as important as choosing which one to hire -- and that is very much dependent on not only your own strategy, but those of the other players as well.

For the second, and true strength of FCM is in the player interaction. Having a strategy of your own is important. Left unchecked, a player with a successful strategy can run away with the game, and quickly. But that's the key: you can't let anyone out of your sights. The game demands interaction. Otherwise, the whole thing can snowball out of control. If you don't believe me, try a two-player game against an experienced player. You won't know what you're doing, or how to stop the other person. You'll come away feeling like the game is yet another exercise in discovering and executing the perfect set-piece. But it's just not so! You have to play the second half of the game just as well as the first, and that means learning how to run interference with a vengeance. Plan, and then adapt. It's a tall order, but possible.

However, the game isn't perfect. Despite a bevy of options, there are only one or two opening moves that make sense long-term. Sometimes the random board is a bit lopsided. And of course you can find yourself in a situation where you've made enough mistakes that you're likely out of the running fairly early on. None of these flaws are enough to keep me away from the game. I suppose if you're the type of gamer who demands that all players have a chance of winning from beginning to end, you'll want to avoid FCM (for sure!), but that's not generally something I look for in my game selection.

Finally, what this game needs is a way to manage the ridiculously large footprint it requires in table space. Fans are already coming to the rescue with dry-erase boards and card holders, which I highly recommend. If all else fails, there is a very good online implementation.

If you are a fan of business games with high levels of interaction and room for multiple strategies (none of which can be be easily encapsulated because they are all dependent on the particulars of the board and actions of other players), then FCM is worth the entrance fee.

Rating: (10)
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mawa
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well said
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Christian K
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I think there are more than two opening moves that make sense, is there not? There is cerainly more than one
 
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Tim Koppang
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Muemmelmann wrote:
I think there are more than two opening moves that make sense, is there not? There is cerainly more than one

I was talking specifically about your first hire, which generally goes Recruiting Girl or Trainer. The rest of the first turn is much more wide open.
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Richard Dewsbery
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In a two- or three-player game, you're right. With four, it's more nuanced, and different openings can work. With five, a different opening can definitely work quite a lot of the time. The thing is, if everyone goes RG or T, it becomes more important to go RG or T yourself. The more players who don't, the more viable other starts become.
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Phil DeKoning
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tckoppang wrote:
I was talking specifically about your first hire, which generally goes Recruiting Girl or Trainer. The rest of the first turn is much more wide open.
For my group, it's usually either a Kitchen Trainee or a Waitress. Next turn, play the card and lock up the freezer or bonus cash, as appropriate.
 
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Grant
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BozemanPhil wrote:
tckoppang wrote:
I was talking specifically about your first hire, which generally goes Recruiting Girl or Trainer. The rest of the first turn is much more wide open.
For my group, it's usually either a Kitchen Trainee or a Waitress. Next turn, play the card and lock up the freezer or bonus cash, as appropriate.

Your group tends to think a kitchen trainee is the best way to get a freezer, eh? I wonder how common that is. I think errand boy is the generally preferred method, is it not?
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Jeremy Wilhm
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grant5 wrote:
BozemanPhil wrote:
tckoppang wrote:
I was talking specifically about your first hire, which generally goes Recruiting Girl or Trainer. The rest of the first turn is much more wide open.
For my group, it's usually either a Kitchen Trainee or a Waitress. Next turn, play the card and lock up the freezer or bonus cash, as appropriate.

Your group tends to think a kitchen trainee is the best way to get a freezer, eh? I wonder how common that is. I think errand boy is the generally preferred method, is it not?


Errand boy is preferred because it doesn't waste the free burger/pizza cook milestone by producing a burger/pizza and not selling it so you'll have the money to keep the newly acquired cook.
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Errand Boy is a great situational opening move on a map which is missing at least one drink type. It sees some play as an opener in my two-player games.

Trainer-to-Coach tends to be a good second/third move if the one or two instances of a drink is isolated from another player or from you---that way you can rush the Zeppelin Pilot and the Radio Dude. Or, if your opponent went Trainer when you went Errand Boy, go Recruiting Girl as a follow-up.

Don't be afraid to drop the Errand Boy on the second play so that you can choose to go last and better respond to your opponent!
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Tim Moth
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tckoppang wrote:
Originally posted to [url=https://boardgamegeek.com
Finally, what this game needs is a way to manage the ridiculously large footprint it requires in table space. Fans are already coming to the rescue with dry-erase boards and card holders, which I highly recommend.

This plus the PNP level of production quality make this a 40€ game. I like the game but, gee, paying 80€ for something that looks like a playtest copy and suffers from issues like milestones as cards is cwazy.
 
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Alex P
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dende wrote:

This plus the PNP level of production quality make this a 40€ game. I like the game but, gee, paying 80€ for something that looks like a playtest copy and suffers from issues like milestones as cards is cwazy.


You're like a one-note song but half as interesting.

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24113679#24113679
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23384175#23384175
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074489#23074489
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074515#23074515
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Tim Koppang
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Tim, I hear you. While price is absolutely a concern, my review doesn't address that concern. I figure any potential customer can make that decision for him or herself.
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Tim Moth
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Jesse Custer wrote:
dende wrote:

This plus the PNP level of production quality make this a 40€ game. I like the game but, gee, paying 80€ for something that looks like a playtest copy and suffers from issues like milestones as cards is cwazy.


You're like a one-note song but half as interesting.

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24113679#24113679
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23384175#23384175
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074489#23074489
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074515#23074515

When they go ad hominem you know that they are out of arguments.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Or we could just say "you're wrong. This is a great game with good production qualities. YOU might not like the artwork, but some if us love it."

Only that approach has already been tried, and clearly isn't working.
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Tim Koppang
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In my book, production values (which I actually find quite high for FCM) are not the sole determiner of price. The value of the design counts too. YMMV.
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Grant
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dende wrote:
Jesse Custer wrote:
dende wrote:

This plus the PNP level of production quality make this a 40€ game. I like the game but, gee, paying 80€ for something that looks like a playtest copy and suffers from issues like milestones as cards is cwazy.


You're like a one-note song but half as interesting.

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24113679#24113679
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23384175#23384175
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074489#23074489
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074515#23074515

When they go ad hominem you know that they are out of arguments.

When they've beaten the dead horse to a bloody pulp, then ground their axe just to slice the pulp up further, you know they don't have anything interesting or insightful left to say.
 
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Zachary Homrighaus
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grant5 wrote:
dende wrote:
Jesse Custer wrote:
dende wrote:

This plus the PNP level of production quality make this a 40€ game. I like the game but, gee, paying 80€ for something that looks like a playtest copy and suffers from issues like milestones as cards is cwazy.


You're like a one-note song but half as interesting.

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24113679#24113679
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23384175#23384175
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074489#23074489
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23074515#23074515

When they go ad hominem you know that they are out of arguments.

When they've beaten the dead horse to a bloody pulp, then ground their axe just to slice the pulp up further, you know they don't have anything interesting or insightful left to say.


To be fair - both sides of this argument have beaten the horse bloody. I'm not saying I agree with @dende (though I lean in that direction), but trotting out the same couple arguments for why the production value is good or why production value doesn't matter or how minimalistic art is better than Baroque art or how the designers tried other things and arrived at the current design on purpose, etc. is no better... you're making the same counter arguments over and over.

You guys just violently disagree... no one's arguments are better or worse... you're talking about opinions here.
 
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Tim Moth
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RDewsbery wrote:
Or we could just say "you're wrong. This is a great game with good production qualities. YOU might not like the artwork, but some if us love it."

Only that approach has already been tried, and clearly isn't working.

Bland artwork that looks like a PnP or playtest copy is not "good production quality" on any planet where insanity does not reign supreme yet.
 
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Little Green, something that you have apparently forgotten about production quality is that a major part of it is the quality of the materials used to make the game. Food Chain Magnate uses especially high-quality materials in its production, higher than some favorite games of mine I could care to mention. (Terraforming Mars, for one, and Machi Koro, but even Lords of Waterdeep and its cardboard money doesn't hold a match to the cardboard bits of Food Chain Magnate.)

Every piece of cardboard in the actual production of the game is about at the level of linen cardstock, satisfying and solid to the touch. The box, the cardboard bits, the cards, everything.

It ain't all about the art, and insofar as the art is tacky that applies only to the board and the pieces that go directly on it. The cards themselves are quite nice. There is a bit of a problem with the scaling up used on the box art, as the waitress is a bit pixelated, but I don't think this is what you're referring to.

And then there's the fact that after playing the game itself I've gotten used to the art, and you see it doesn't matter as much. To complain about the art in this is like complaining about the graphics in one of the ugly pixel-art platformers that's come out in the last few years. The gameplay so far eclipses any issue I have with the art direction that to hear people complain about it after 59 logged plays seems like a dream.
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Danny Perello
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TheUbiquitous wrote:
It ain't all about the art, and insofar as the art is tacky that applies only to the board and the pieces that go directly on it.

Excellent points throughout. The bit I quoted above is the thing I find the most interesting about all these discussions about the quality of this game.

I genuinely like all the art of this game. To my eye, the boards, house, garden and advertising tiles all remind me of games that I played as a child. Look at a Monopoly board from the 50's. There was a different aesthetic back then, and it wasn't necessarily bad, just different from today's standards. Simple doesn't equal bad. Plain doesn't equal bad. But even if it did, the point of FCM's art direction was to emulate those older games in look and style, so while it may not be to someone's particular tastes, it is very successful in capturing the look and feel it is copying.

Anyway...
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Tim Koppang
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Relax wrote:
I genuinely like all the art of this game.

As do I. And I find it amusing that it can be difficult for others to accept this.
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Tim Moth
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TheUbiquitous wrote:
Little Green

Stopped reading right after your condescending label.

By the way, I like the game, it is a great economics game. But liking a game does not make me put my tainted glasses on: it looks like crap and definitely isn't worth more than 40€ production-wise.
 
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'Twas playful. No insult intended---just thought you might have been a DBZA fan.
 
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Andi Hub
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TheUbiquitous wrote:
Little Green, something that you have apparently forgotten about production quality is that a major part of it is the quality of the materials used to make the game. Food Chain Magnate uses especially high-quality materials in its production, higher than some favorite games of mine I could care to mention. (Terraforming Mars, for one, and Machi Koro, but even Lords of Waterdeep and its cardboard money doesn't hold a match to the cardboard bits of Food Chain Magnate.)

Every piece of cardboard in the actual production of the game is about at the level of linen cardstock, satisfying and solid to the touch. The box, the cardboard bits, the cards, everything.

It ain't all about the art, and insofar as the art is tacky that applies only to the board and the pieces that go directly on it. The cards themselves are quite nice. There is a bit of a problem with the scaling up used on the box art, as the waitress is a bit pixelated, but I don't think this is what you're referring to.

And then there's the fact that after playing the game itself I've gotten used to the art, and you see it doesn't matter as much. To complain about the art in this is like complaining about the graphics in one of the ugly pixel-art platformers that's come out in the last few years. The gameplay so far eclipses any issue I have with the art direction that to hear people complain about it after 59 logged plays seems like a dream.

I am a fan of the game, but I do not think that the component quality is that high. Granted, the wooden food tokens are nice, but the card board is nothing special. Money is printed only on one side. The cards are definitely not linen finish and my subjective feeling is that they are average quality (which is totally sufficient).
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I didn't say the cards were linen finish. I said the cardboard was as high quality as linen finish is for cards.
 
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