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Food Chain Magnate» Forums » General

Subject: First game played in New Zealand? rss

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Welshy welshy
New Zealand
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A mini review or our first game with gushing and spite from little old Aotearoa

First, a bit about my background. I came to (or maybe back to) board gaming via tabletop war games. A smidge or 40k here, a dose of Flames of War there and most recently a huge love for ‘Saga’ from Gripping Beast. Having played through all these I would have to still say after 20+ years, ‘my game’ is still Blood Bowl. Is it a wargame? Is it a board game? Who cares… its fun and with so many different teams, team development and an awesome player community across the world (on and offline) the replay-ability is off the hook. In short: I don’t mind confrontation, I like tight rules and I am very glad of a dose of the silly (Goblins, Dwarves and Elves playing Rugby/Gridiron for goodness sake!?!).

I have a reasonable collection of “euro games” too, ‘Ticket to Ride’, ‘Carcassonne’, ‘Five Tribes’ to name but a few. All good fun, but mainly played with my wife and non-gamer buddies. It wasn’t until recently that both worlds started to come together for me. It was about this time last year ‘Eclipse’ arrived on my doorstep and my gaming group have barely put it down all year. Finally a decent weight game that can be played in an evening! Could there be another!?

All this brings me to last week. Finally, my long awaited copy of FCM arrived. Next time I hear/read a spotty American teen complaining about waiting a day, or even a week, for the next X-wing wave I may lose my sh*t. I’ve been waiting nine months for FCM to arrive! So tricky is it to find a copy, it had to be purchased by my Canadian friend while he visited his folks back in Montreal (Thanks boardgamebliss, Toronto) as no one who does have the few copies in stock seems to ship to New Zealand. Even on the flight back they had a medical emergency over the pacific and were forced to land in Hawaii! Cursed? Maybe!

So, after setting the scene I trust you can understand my, and my buddy’s anticipation. I pre-made a card accordion as it seems that the table hogging card layout is the main gripe for those in the know on BGG. All in all my 1400mmx900mm (5x3feet) dining table seems big enough, if a smidge crowded for 3 to 4 players.

Another gripe seems to be the boards’ Spartan art-work. I can’t say I have any worries. I have a few GMT titles who also tend toward the minimalistic side for their art and feel that this level of art is perfectly acceptable. Is ‘Five Tribes’ or the 10th anniversary edition of ‘Ticket to Ride’ prettier? Yes, but not only are these the very top end of game graphics, but I suggest a more simplistic art style is not only appropriate for the FCM theme but a plus given how busy your brain is about to get! The remaining component’s quality are top-notch and I really don’t see any issues at all. Wooden food and drink tokens, good quality cards with fun 1950’s style staff pictures on it – nice!

The rule book is succinct and clear and the rules themselves fairly straight forward. The main mechanic is the card drafting staff structure and programming the population of a town through marketing and price control in order to extract the maximum cash from their pockets. I’ve come to describe this as a ‘Dominion’ style card collecting overlay to a pre-programmed ‘Robo-Rally’ or ‘Colt Express’ world. The big bonus here is that unlike those games, the cards in your hand aren’t random, they’re all *your* choice from the pool *you* make that *you* select from each turn, i.e. it’s all *your* fault! Then, it’s dinner time and the population come out for food following a straight forward logic that you’re all trying to exploit - Easy peasy!

The real brain burning comes from the player interaction, unlike more typical euros, ‘FCM’ is all about directly scr*wing your buddies. While it’s entirely possible to spend the entire game in your own corner and building your own engine, there will almost always be a spite fuelled marketing campaign or price war when one or more of you realise some-one is pulling ahead. This isn’t even the Carcassone-esqe ‘tall poppy syndrone’ where the offending poppy gets picked on by their buddies and squeezed… it’s more likely that the tall poppy is attacked viciously with a chain-saw, the whole field is then napalmed and sown with salt for good measure.

For example: Our first game saw me comfortably sitting on the ‘freezer’, ‘first drink’ and ‘first billboard’ (aka eternal marketing) milestones early in the game. At this point I was feeling rather smug about the beer crazy residents I was creating ad-infinatum. Add a luxuries manager and business developer and I’m selling some pretty Gucci craft beer… delivered by Zeppelin (…and for some reason doing their gardening).

However… my good buddy across the table sees this and thinks he wants a piece too. No longer content employing only waitresses. That’s right *only* waitresses… yet somehow generating money. In hind sight I’m not so sure they were waitresses and can only suggest this is a result of his very low moral fibre.
No worries, I’ll add another marketing campaign using my crack, dive-bomber air campaign and now they’ll want lemonade to – this must be some pretty top-notch shandy they’re craving... HA, TAKE THAT Mr rival food chain!.. OH CR*P. Now he’s selling them… with pizza!

It then dawns on me. I’ve put all that effort into creating this uber air delivered luxury shandy market and I can no longer compete! I’ve been squeezed out of the sweet deal I made! I now have staff that need paying… and no one to sell to… A few more panic filled turns later, trying and failing to hire and train new staff to give me other options, and I’ve got no market, no money and I’m having to let my good staff go. My buddy in the meantime is selling heaps to those posh gits in their flash new garden whilst being waited on by his Waitresses in (I can only assume) french maid outfits! …I can only assume this is how Hooters started.

A turn or two later and he’s got the ‘first to have $100’ (ie CEO = CFO) milestone, adding 50% to his earnings every turn… It’s now clear he’s the one waiving at the rest of us in the dirt from the jacuzzi in his private jet.

Even now, a few days after this first experience (a first for me and what I believe to be the first game of FCM played in New Zealand …by the world’s best travelled box) and I’m still in awe. It’s so wonderfully cut-throat. It an economics game but at the very sharp-end. It scratches an itch for me like wargames tend to, yes, it’s that brutal. The development and staffing options seem to tick similar boxes to a 4x game. Except in FCM, bullets or lasers aren’t fired when war is declared but marketing campaigns and price wars… and, for some reason, zeppelins.

My point is, that this is not a eurogame as I would ordinarily see it, it’s too deliciously spiteful and interactive. My background above is there to help you understand this and perhaps why I’ve enjoyed it so much. Is it a game for everyone? Not if you’re adverse to this level of confrontation. However, if you like to building an engine/empire, nurture it and then use all resources at your disposal to bludgeon your buddies to stop some punk squeezing in on your turf, then boy is this the game for you!

As a comparison, I personally rate this up there with ‘Eclipse’ as a fantastic 4x game. A game that makes you laugh for all the bizarre things that happen but for some reason fit. The ‘waitresses’ who generate money food served or not, the gardens that double the value of the goods you sell… because money really does grow on trees!? The drinks delivered by zeppelin and the marketing campaigns that seems to resemble some sort of airborne blitzkrieg. It all seems silly, but somehow it works and makes you laugh in spite of the brutal back-stabbing that the core marketing/economics engine brings.

After this first experience of the game and notwithstanding the epic saga that getting hold of a copy entailed, I can only say thank you to all those involved. Thanks to Splotter, my Canadian ‘mule’ who transported this across the globe, my gaming group and you guys for reading this all the way to the end. This is up there with the very best of the best for me - My rating: Double plus good. Well worth the beer bribes to Canadians and an emergency stop-over in Hawaii.

If you can find it: get it.
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Fraser
Australia
Melbourne
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
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d10-1 Surely that's not lemonade they want, but L&P whistle
d10-2 Check out the BGG Store for the FCM Accordion device. All the staff cards will fit in the box lid! And the milestone cards display and personal holding are replaced by a small player board. A must have.
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"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
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Splendid! I am glad you enjoyed the game. It's a lovely cutthroat affair.
 
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Michael Drog
United States
Ponte Vedra Beach
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Forget the accordion. I picked up 4 acoustic tiles from amazon that I can use to hold cards for this game and multiple other games for $8. Best non related to gaming gaming purchase ever.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AB8JIA8/ref=oh_aui_deta...
 
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Ulrich Schwarz
Germany
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welshy wrote:

The ‘waitresses’ who generate money food served or not, the gardens that double the value of the goods you sell… because money really does grow on trees!?


I will now look very very closely at the garden tile imagery.

I wouldn't be surprised, since a close look at the money
Spoiler (click to reveal)
shows microprint reading "you call this a salary?" on the $5, "so much for a pizza?" and the $10, and "am I winning this game?" on the $50
.
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Sonny Blount
New Zealand
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You need to preorder directly from Splotter.

I've had the game about a year now. Dozens of games have been had in Wellington since then.
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Welshy welshy
New Zealand
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Well played Sonny, well played.

I'm in chch, so, south island's first game(s) then? Lol

I hope you Welly gamers enjoy it as much as we do. Perhaps an inter island rivalry in the offing?
 
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Stephen Michael Hickey
New Zealand
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welshy wrote:
Well played Sonny, well played.

I'm in chch, so, south island's first game(s) then? Lol

I hope you Welly gamers enjoy it as much as we do. Perhaps an inter island rivalry in the offing?


I'll represent Auckland then.

This is an awesome game once you've played it once, probably got smashed and then readied yourself with a shed load of strategies for your next game.
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Garrick Wynne
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another Aucklander here (Grey Lynn) with a copy - keen to play with others ??
 
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