$5.00
$20.00
$15.00
$30.00
Edit: Fixing some typos and grammar and added a little more content for the tier 1 employees.

Edit 2: Added tier 2 and 3 employees

None of the "1 of" employees are "strictly better" than the others since they all do different things and their value all depends on a lot of factors that vary from game to game.

In no particular order, here are the possible factors which affect the value of each of these employees: (please let me know if you can think of any I omitted)

1. Map layout: Houses
2. Map layout: drink routes
3. Initial Restaurant placements
4. New restaurant placements
5. Potential new restaurant placements
6. Player count
7. Current, on board demand
8. Potential new demand
9. Discount potential
10. Money distribution
11. Milestone distribution
12. Still available milestones
13. Money in the bank.
14. Food production.
15. Potential food production.
16. Food in the fridge
17. Reserve cards

That said, it is reasonable to "generally" rank them based on how often and how quickly they will be taken.

So, generally speaking there are three 1x employees that are (in my opinion) the strongest before considering any of the above factors. They will (almost) always be quickly taken so if you have your eyes on one make sure you carefully check how soon your opponents can grab it or else you may find it snatched out from under you. These are the tier 1 employees. Note that they aren't necessarily always stronger than tier 2 or 3s, but they are very powerful regardless of your strategy and so are sought after by every player (meaning they will go quickly).

Next there are five more "1 of" employees who are slightly more situational, but still can be extremely important given the right circumstances. These employees value tends to fluctuate a lot based on map layout, initial placement, discounts, milestone distribution, and demand. These are the tier 2 employees.

Finally there are the last two "1 of" employees which are rarely contested (at least early on). That doesn't mean they are "bad", but their effects are more niche or just not as important during the earlier stages of the game. These are the tier 3 employees.

Tier 1 - Highly Contested, Quickly Depleted


Tier 2 - Situational


Tier 3 - Niche


Why they were ranked as they were?

The Executive VP

My personal vote for strongest employee in the game.

In a vacuum

Regardless of your strategy, going last is usually a huge advantage. It allows you to operate with perfect information and thus you don't have to protect yourself from each potential move every player after you can make. How they can change the demand, how much they can produce, how much they can discount. This makes your turns much more efficient. However going first is sometimes preferable to grab employees who's supply will potentially exhausted before your turn.

Having so many more slots than your opponents means you can do more things. If a price war breaks out, you can still send all your employees to work and lower your prices without having to give up training or recruiting actions. If you are trying to win by asphyxiating your opponents or they are trying to do so to you, you will still have slots to send waitresses or salary reduction employees to work during the drought.

External factors that make this employee better or worse

This employee insanely important in two players, and only slightly less at 3. The potential demand is very limited because the board is so small. Since two players is a 0 sum game, unlike with 3+, denying your opponent money is just as valuable as getting money yourself (the only difference being are you trying to end the game sooner or make it go longer). Either way, since you only have one (or two) opponent(s) going last means you can always undercut them by exactly one dollar and very often still get every sale.

Winning through asphyxiation is much more viable at lower player counts (2 or 3 players) since its much more feasible for you to be able to meet all of the demand and deny your opponent(s) any income.

The same goes for trying to go over the top with the luxuries manager. More players means its more likely the demand will get filled before you get your +$10 sales, but at lower player counts going last means its much easier to find some demand that the other players can't adequately fill the following turn and abuse it. That doesn't mean the luxuries manager isn't still useful at higher player counts, just that my experience has been it less often is useful.

I actually believe at two players, assuming both are of equal skill and somewhat experienced, the one who gets the exec vp should win something like 3 our of 4 games (maybe more?). Just because if both players are playing well the game will almost always devolve into a very grindy price war and the player with more slots will have the bandwidth to make money while stalling his opponent.

At higher player counts going last loses a bit of its value because its much more difficult to undercut all of your opponents due to the higher house count and greater map size (more distance to cover). Likewise since there's more players its more likely that the production coverage is better too. For this reason the Executive VP gets weaker as the player count gets higher. That said, I still think even at 5 players its probably still the most powerful employee and every player should be angling to get one before they are all taken.

The longer the game goes the more powerful the executive VP becomes, because as everybody's corporate structures become stronger the person who comes out on top is the one who can send more of those employees to work.

The only other thing that has a very large impact on this employees value is the reserve cards. The higher $$$ ones mean a larger bank, which usually means a longer game, but my experience has been this doesn't matter as much as the change in CEO slots. The higher the number of CEO slots after breaking the bank the first time, the more the slot advantage provided by the Executive VP's is mitigated. So I'd say, the fewer CEO slots, the higher to value the Executive VP.

The Brand Director

In a vacuum

If you are the first person to get this employee, then you basically dictate demand for the rest of the game. When you send this employee to work, every player who goes before you has to respect it and prepare themselves for every possibility (placement and demand type). This means they will have to hire and train employees, knowing only some of which will actually be useful the following turn or run the risk of having all of their production made useless the following turn. This means your opponents are heavily incentivized to try to go after you any turn this employee can be sent to work and so they may leave slots open which they really wanted to fill just to try to go after you.

This employees biggest strength comes from the ability to "pulse" demand every turn by making a radio campaign for 1 turn. Even though it means you have to dedicate a slot for the brand director every turn, it means that you can essentially "yank your opponents around by their chain", forcing them to adapt to huge swings in potential demand every single turn.


External factors that make this employee better or worse

In higher player counts where there are multiple Brand Directors up for grabs, this employee's power is heavily tied to getting it before somebody else does since the difference between the Brand Director with the first radio milestone and without it is enormous. In lower player counts, since there is only one Brand Director, its extremely rare you'll find yourself with the brand director and not the milestone.

Since one of the biggest strengths of this employee is the ability to pulse it every turn, it also gets much worse if you have first billboard placed since you are forced to make your radio campaign's eternal and thus lose the ability to "pulse" it. That said, even with eternal marketing it can be a good move to grab this employee to prevent the players who don't have eternal marketing from "yanking you around by your chain".

As the game goes longer, the production coverage your opponents have gets better and better and so your demand "pulsing" has less and less of an impact. Therefore this employee, while still very powerful at all stages of the game, does fall off as the game goes longer.

Also consider that at higher player counts, even if you do get the first radio milestone, if somebody else also gets it then the player who places the #1 radio campaign has priority for setting their demand on any houses the two radio campaigns overlap on. This creates an interesting scenario where its very hard to determine if its actually better to go first (and get the #1 radio tile) or go second and have better information but less influence on what the demand will be. That said, I don't think player count has a huge impact on how powerful this employee is. It will always be very powerful.

Short story of an interesting way I've used this employee in the past:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
One thing I've manager to pull of once or twice was grabbing this employee while having the first billboard milestone, and then just using it for an airplane instead of radio (at 3 players). This was because I invested heavily in getting all (or at least 2) of the "first advertised" milestones. This meant there could be no radio campaigns that entire game and so supply was all but guaranteed to outpace demand. This drove the game towards a price war and because I was the one with the first advertised milestones, I was able to still make money on sales (although the HR director kept one of my opponents in the game much longer than the other).


Drink routes are also fairly important for this employee, although usually they factor in more at higher player counts because the map is larger and therefore the drink routes are less centralized. At two players, drink routes are often irrelevant because both players will have access to all of them (although if there isn't any good routes for a beverage type that makes the errand boy milestone + this employee a devastating combination).

The last significant factor is house density/layout. The more houses there are densely packed together, the stronger this employee is because the greater the potential demand he can created. Having to prep for a potential demand of 16 of any single food type is much much more difficult than having to prep for 10.

The Guru

In a vacuum

The guru is somewhat strange in that its basically its own archetype, the archetype being a player goes first turn trainer and then rushes the guru. But for that reason, the guru is most often the first "one of" employee that is emptied first.

No matter what the game, flexibility is what makes the guru so strong and highly sought after. Because FCM is all about being able to react quickly, and the ability to hire and then train any employee 3 times means that you can react to nearly anything immediately.

I'd say its not as "powerful" as the other employees, as the opportunity cost of going for it is quite high, but I still put it in tier 1 because my experience has been that it still tends to be one of the first employees to be depleted.


External factors that make this employee better or worse

The value of the guru doesn't really fluctuate that much. Obviously the earlier you grab him, the stronger he is since he is purely about improving your engine.


The Burger/Pizza Chef

These two are functionally the same, so I'll go over them together. The reason these employees are put into situational and not tier 1 is because unless you control demand, often times grabbing these employees will result in them simply being a 5$ drain on your income because the person who dictates demand will just instead make it something else. However, they are still quite powerful. If you didn't get the fridge these two will basically mean you can meet any demand for pizzas/burgers (or at least a lot of it) without having to dedicate many resources to it. It is important to remember that they are still useful when they aren't actually being sent to work simply because they limit the options for your opponents.

The Zeppelin Pilot

This employee is quite strange in that in some games it will actually be just worse than the truck driver, and in others it will be absurdly strong. Again, it suffers from the same issues as the pizza/burger chef in that by having it, if you aren't dictating demand you risk it just being a 5$ salary drain every turn.

External factors that make this employee better or worse

Most important is (SUPRISINGLY!) the drink routes. However, the biggest thing this employee brings to the table is that it flies and doesn't need to follow roads. This means that this employee is at its best when a drink route with multiple symbols of a single drink type can only be hit by flying, this means other players will only be able to get 3 or 4 of that drink from their truck drivers or cart operators while you might be able to score 8.

Also the fact that this employee picks up tons of different types of drinks shouldn't be overlooked, but drink demand is usually more concentrated on a single type of drink rather than varied.


The Luxuries Manager

This employee is probably one of the most interesting in the game. Its one of those employees that very often is only useful for a single turn before it obsoletes itself. Many times its picked up simply to provide the threat of going over the top or protect against it. This takes away the options for your opponents to not try to sell for a turn (in order to focus more on training/hiring) and force them to make sure you don't make an absurd amount of money.

The one time this employee outright broken is in the island strategy, and the reason why should be pretty obvious. That said, in lower player counts you usually need to pick this employee up early for the island strategy to work, otherwise you will usually be outpaced by the mainland players since they have more houses to sell. The island strategy really deserves its own post altogether, and one that I would want to play it a dozen or so more times before I would want to write one.

The Regional Manager

This employee is probably the least situational of these 5. The reason I rank it as tier 2 rather than tier 1 is because this employee's value is almost purely reactionary.

External factors that make this employee better or worse

Map size is the biggest factor. At 2 players, I'd rank this employee almost tier 3.

Drink routes also play into it, but since drinks are collected before restaurant placement this employee is (almost) functionally the same as the local manager if you are just trying to gain access to better drink routes (the lack of range limitation being the only reason its better than the local manager for getting better drink routes). Since the ability to get better drink routes takes an extra turn, it usually is not a big reason this employee is grabbed.

The two biggest reasons this employee is grabbed is:

1. Get closer to the demand to more easily compete
2. Distrupt an island that is going to run away with the game if left uncontested.

The HR Director

This employee is useful in basically just one scenario: Price wars. When nobody is making money, the one who can save the most money usually wins. After a few dozen plays you get much better at seeing if thats where the game is going and so should be looking to grab the HR director in those scenarios without giving to much up for it.

In 2 players this employee (along with the exec vp and waitress milestone) are what decide price wars. At higher player counts they are less important (although still very important) because there actually isn't enough price reduction in the game to allow every player to sell for 0$.

The other reason you might want this employee is if (as the guru player) there is no room for you to make money off the first sales with the brand director (because the other players will all undercut and meet the demand before you get a sale). The reason the HR director is good for this scenario is because it actually allows you to keep training your employees and catch up in hiring actions.

The CFO

This is probably the most often forgotten employee in the game. The CFO is important in a few situations:

1. In price wars, getting 50% more from your waitresses is pretty huge.
2. You didn't get first to 100$ and the game is looking to be a race to the finish.

This employee is rarely taken before the last few turns of the game, but you would be very surprised how many players just forget it exists because its just been worse than the alternative high level employees before that point.

One more mistake I often see is players comparing this to the HR director in terms of "possible money made". Yes the HR director is only an effective $15 a turn, but the two employees are useful in two entirely different scenarios.

---

I didn't expect this to be as long as its starting to get so I'll stop for now and continue this post later, going over the rest of the "one of" employees.

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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
Interesting.
The main issue I have with the Guru is that it is not really a 1x card. The "First to pay 20$ of salaries" milestone is more or less equivalent. Depending on the situation, it can even be much more powerful.
As such, I would de-rank the Guru to tier 2. For the exact same reason I suspect the CFO is in tier 3 (the milestone is much more interesting).

I agree that Brand Manager (+ First to Radio - First Billboard) and Exec VP are the least situational of all the 1x cards.
 
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Joshua Schutte
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
Guru can result in you getting all 3 tier 1 employees. It's very strong, unless everyone chose a 100$ reserve card, and someone started advertising-production right off the bat. That is the only time I've seen it not be worth getting.
 
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
I was on the same line, until I saw someone using the First to pay 20$ milestone properly.

Edit just to be 100% clear : I'm talking about a Trainer / Guru start.

Edit edit : Verandi, I knew that this would summon you
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Eric Glimme
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
I like your breakdown and the analysis. My two cents is that Guru gets less powerful if you opponents are more experienced. When I first learned the game I was sure Guru was obviously the dominant strategy as it provides maximum flexibility.

Unless nearly all the reserve cards are for $300 I am usually confident that 1st turn Trainer-->Guru is fully counterable by the other players grabbing up milestones and leaving the Guru player without many player powers other than the first to train. This puts them at a massive disadvantage for price wars or production potential etc.

Executive VP and Brand director are less commonly neutered by other player's actions. Thus my inclination is to put Guru around tier 1.5 or so. Unless you get it without having to sacrifice your early game.
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
Jechochamber, your tiering of the "1 of" employees is good. My only quibble would be that EVP is not (at least in my games) highly contested all the time. That is more situational. I would put the EVP into tier 2. But of course, Guru and Brand Director go lightning fast (unless, ironically, players are all playing short games), in which case the Brand Director is the one that matters more than Guru.
 
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Dave Eisen
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
grammatoncleric wrote:
Jechochamber, your tiering of the "1 of" employees is good. My only quibble would be that EVP is not (at least in my games) highly contested all the time. That is more situational. I would put the EVP into tier 2. But of course, Guru and Brand Director go lightning fast (unless, ironically, players are all playing short games), in which case the Brand Director is the one that matters more than Guru.


EVP is not highly contested because it is so much effort to get it. It's pretty excellent in games where you are reduced to only running 2 managers.

Regional Manager is generally pretty great and is scratching at the door of tier 1. It's there unless the game is going to be over before it matters.
 
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
Guru will result in you getting all of the important employees only if your opponents don't know what they're doing. First-to-pay-$20 is one of the strongest milestones.

I think Guru is generally wildly overrated, and would probably move it all the way down to rank 3 here. Coach is very frequently better when you factor in the opportunity cost, and even in the situations where it's worse it's usually not *that* much worse than guru. There are only 3 employees where being able to train 3 levels (vs 2 with the coach) in a single turn is a huge win (Brand Director, Zeppelin Pilot, Regional Manager), and generally you can work around that (training 1 step a turn in advance) if you're being careful.

In general I think that you have to consider not only the effect of the card but also what potential replacements you have. Guru is strong but there are two viable replacements (first to pay $20, coach), whereas something like Luxuries Manager is frequently useless but when you want that effect you have no other options.

Thinking about them like this is especially important in 2-3p games where there's only one each of the 1x employees, and a large part of the benefit of getting them is in denying them to your opponents.

Notes on them all, using your rating scheme:

* Executive VP: very very powerful, but I think you're overrating it a bit. The training cost is very high, and it doesn't directly get you any closer to winning the game.

* Brand Director: my vote for the most powerful employee in the game, since getting the first one lets you dictate pace so much, but still needs to be very carefully used against experienced players.

* Guru: overrated, as I argued above.

* Pizza/Burger Chef: I consider them Tier 1, they're almost always taken, and they're deceptively powerful especially early in the game when the 1-2 extra hires+slots your opponent needs to use to match their production are most precious.

* Zeppelin Pilot: I'd argue for tier 3, on some maps it's incredibly important, but usually much less so than the errand boy milestone.

* Luxuries Manager: the definition of situational, but incredibly important. (Frequently even if you don't want it yourself, to deny it to the other person.)

* Regional Manager: also very situational. Most useful in longer games especially when prices get very low (and of course on split maps).

* HR Director: tier 3 is correct, but frequently taken a couple of turns too late in long grindy games where nobody's really making any money.

* CFO: agreed on tier 3.
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
I absolutely agree that the first to pay 20$ is the most underated milestone in the game. It is better than the guru. The reason I put guru at tier 1 is because when I decided on the criteria I was going to be use for ranking the employees, he fit the "highly contested and quickly depleted" description.

I definitely agree he is overrated as he tends to dominate games with less experienced players, but I think he still belongs in tier 1 (although I could be convinced he should be tier 2).
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Re: The evaluating the "1 of" employees, both in a vacuum and based on external factors, My thoughts after ~50 plays.
grammatoncleric wrote:
Jechochamber, your tiering of the "1 of" employees is good. My only quibble would be that EVP is not (at least in my games) highly contested all the time. That is more situational. I would put the EVP into tier 2. But of course, Guru and Brand Director go lightning fast (unless, ironically, players are all playing short games), in which case the Brand Director is the one that matters more than Guru.


I'm not sure how many games you've played, but I think the more you play the more your opinion on this will change to reflect my own. The exec VP does have an opportunity cost, but it is unquestionably tier 1 and I will hold to my opinion that its strongest employee in the game. But after only ~60 plays, I would not be surprised to find that these evaluations change with more plays. The game just has so much depth!
 
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