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Subject: Ways to play FCL less interactively? rss

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Daniel Lowe
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I know its a weird question, but are there ways to play FCM less interactively? Are there ways to play FCM more in the multi-player solitaire way? Certain cards that should be off limits?

The backstory is that I bought FCM not intending to play it with my wife. She doesn't generally like super heavy games. She likes flavor/theme games. She likes games like Zombicide, Arkham Horror LCG, Patchwork, or even Scythe. Aesthetics are one of the most important aspects of a game for her. FCM isn't really known for its aesthetics.

But I opened up FCM and she saw the art, bits, and even the board and loved all of it and asked to play. She loves 50s style art and theme and she thought this was a super cool theme. So I thought, maybe I can play with the intention of not attacking her.

We played 2 games that went fairly well. I won one she won one. There were some minor advertising wars. I don't know that much about the game so we were on fairly even footing. She kept asking for this game. She even said during the day that she keeps imagining herself owning a fast food chain. She is never really that into ANY board game.

But last night, I decided to play a radio tower, not knowing what it would do. Because of the milestone, every house became filled with beer and it was obvious I had won at that point. I offered to end the game at that point, but she wanted to play on just for the fun of it and see how much she could develop her business even though she knew she had lost.

Well it turns out she couldn't sell anything. She tried to make a beer with an errand boy, but every house had 3 beers on it. She started tearing up because she realized she couldn't even play out the game, make any money or anything. If she played the game she'd have to fire most of her wage earning staff and basically she was completely wrecked. She was invested into the business she had built, but it couldn't do anything and was earning negative cash flow. It was so demoralizing for her.

I didn't know radio would have that effect... obviously I don't know the game that well. Well she basically went to bed that night really sad. This was not my intention! I was thinking, "Man I should NEVER have played this game with her!!" But the next morning she says she wants to play again, but with no radio allowed.

She still wants to play?!!?

I offered to find another game with a fast food theme or something, but she says she doesn't want to learn another game. Plus I'm not sure there are other games that do the theming and art as well as FCM.

So now I'm just asking, are there any ways to play the game where we can still have fun in building up our fast food chain without really attacking each other or at least not attacking each other in a way that would completely dismantle what the other person is doing? Are there cards we should avoid? Are there milestones we should take out? I know this kinda neuters all the best parts of the game... so I apologize, I never really intended to play this game with her... but yeah...
 
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Murr Rockstroh
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My first response to this is to say, no, and now that she knows what can happen, she'll learn from it and plan better next time. Based solely on what you said, I think she intends to crush you next time, so be you better be ready Play the game, don't intentionally be mean, and I think you'll be fine.

That's my short and sweet answer to this.
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John Burt
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Yep, Splotter games have a deserved reputation for 1) heavy screwage interaction potential, and 2) are not "safe", that is bad play can be disastrous, with little or no catch up mechanism.

I've never played FCM, and don't ever plan to, because my wife and I are more MPS types, but Roads & Boats is my favorite game, so you might check that out. Also, I've pre-ordered the latest Antiquity printing. That game is reputed to be very unforgiving, but players can play it with low interaction if they choose.
 
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Gregory Auld
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Not really. It's just not that type game. There is a very nuanced system of counter-play built directly into the center of the game. It's too baked into the game for it to simply be "turned off". Ideally you see your opponent moving towards something like the Brand Director (i.e. radio tower) and start adjusting your strategy before they even get the card let alone play it.

HOWEVER, you could theoretically slow down the built-up of the player interaction by making the board bigger. Play with the 3/4 player setup. That will give 2 more room to play around in initially without stepping on each other's toes quite as much. That said you'll still be fighting over milestones and will eventually begin butting horns.There's no real way around that. Also this could significantly reinforce any kind any advantage that one player due to a better restaurant placement.

FYI this game is pretty viscous normally, but it is especially cutthroat at 2 players. It's not uncommon for a clear winner to quickly emerge following an early blunder by the other player.
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Guðmundur Skallagrímson
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The quick answer to the question is if you are playing 2 player, just increase the map size... by a lot. Use all the tiles, and make it oddly shaped, creating less of an opportunity to cover everything with 1 advertising campaign, and harder to compete by lowering price, except by a lot. This does make the regional manager very powerful, but you could nerf that with a new range limit on the card I guess. Good luck, and I hope everybody has fun.
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Brian McCarty
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No cart operators (or other drink getters) available / no beer in range?

Could she place a lower # advertising campaign so as soon as you provide the beer demand the goods houses demand will change?

Brian
 
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T K
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Maybe you each have your own suburb, 9 tiles each? Then you both need to react to the impacts of more/less houses, different layouts, different drinks (or missing drinks), etc. Maybe you could even pick the layout of your 9 random tiles to keep it somewhat even.

It's a battle of who can be the most efficient. Seems like it should work.
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Wilbert Kiemeneij
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Maybe... As others have said: the screwage is built into the core of this game, but you can always try...

Play the game on a 4x5 board and change the formula for deciding where customers go to price plus 3*range.
That way the board is more than twice as big, and customers will not travel very far for their meals.

Another way you could try is to just play on 2 separate 3*3 cities. There would still be some interaction because of the milestones and bank size.

In both cases I would leave the radio campaigns in. Well, maybe try it without them if your wife hates them, but ask to put them back in for the next game.
 
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Adam P
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Yeah, FCM isn't for everyone. I'd love to see another heavy-weight food chain game that isn't this one.
 
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Ulrich Schwarz
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I've probably not thought this all the way through, but the higher-level ad campaigns have both better range and smaller numbers, so they take effect first. If you reverse the order, a radio campaign will still potentially put out a lot of demand, but leaflets and billboards will get in first, which should make it a bit easier for the other player to stop you from filling them with products that you have a stranglehold on?
And/or, maybe new demand will always kick out old demand, so when you advertise soda to a house with four beer already on it, you push out a beer and push in a soda?
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Rebecca Carpenter
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This is an oppurtunity for her to explore a new side of gaming. Instead of nerfing FCM, show her where to find strategy articles. Allow for rolling back turns so that she can test her ideas without pressure. Say, no we will not remove radio tower, because we're going to work together to discover how to beat it.

(My husband is close to hating board games now, so it's possible that my advice is terrible)
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Daniel Lowe
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

So we played again tonight... ended up going with a 4x4 board, but she still wanted to ban radio.

She started off the game showing me the picture of the diner on the front of the box and saying, "I just want to build a nice little diner like this one."

It went pretty well. We placed our restaurants far from each other. I didn't attack her and just tried to build an efficient engine. Unfortunately for me, I did the opposite. I ended up losing... not on purpose! So she won $230 to $130 or something like that. It was pretty fun and we did interact a few times. We still competed for the milestones.

Thanks again everyone... maybe as she gets more used to the game we can shift it back to the regular rules :p... but it'll be up to her.

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Andi Hub
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FCM is really a very interactive and potentially very mean game.

If you still want to have a good time playing with your wife and everybody wants to do their small little fast food business, I would try the following:

1. No milestones and no salaries (takes a bit longer unless you restrict the bank; no salaries -> no layoffs). Alternatively (if you do not want to have longer games), at least ignore Errand Boy and Radio milestones (or one of both), as these can turn into a mean combo on 2 player map.
2. Do not allow price reductions. Price wars are the other nasty side of FCM. If there is little demand and your opponent still undercuts your price, you will not be able to sell anything. With this modification customers just go to the nearest place (and waitresses decide ties). No price reductions will also counter the longer game time of suggestion 1.
3. Using the 3 or 4 player map setup is another good suggestion by WilbertK.
 
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Spencer C
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randplaty wrote:
She started off the game showing me the picture of the diner on the front of the box and saying, "I just want to build a nice little diner like this one."


Sure there are ways to neuter the game to play it less interactively. And if that satisfies you, great. But it's not really what the game is about and seems a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
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Matt Stokes
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Try out some of the recommendations. Everyone has different reasons to game. Most people play splotter games because they want some ruthless competition. You bought the game, play it how it makes you happiest.

It sounds like you want to go all out, but want to keep the wife happy. Play with her how she wants to play and you can enjoy her company. When you need more, invite some friends over and go full tilt. Just don't destroy them too bad
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Brian
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One other thought:

If you're playing this with two players, go into it with the agreement that there is an expectation that either player will end the game once their position is irretrievably lost.

That'll help make more of the time you spend playing productive, in terms of learning & improvement, and get you to a place sooner where you're both competitive. If that's something you both value.
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Jon Bowker
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Is it unreasonable to explain to her that if she thinks the radio tower is so powerful that she should instead plan to beat you to it instead of getting rid of it? However, I have thought up 2 ideas (brainstorming only, not tested) to modify the radio campaigns to possibly lessen their strength:
1. Force a low duration (ignoring the eternal marketing milestone) on the campaign. That might give time to adjust a strategy to prepare for the new campaign.
2. Towers have to be erected in reverse numerical order, allowing someone to drop their own and undercut the previous one. Would be a bit of a game of chicken. The first campaign might get countered quickly or both will fill the homes so quickly that nobody has enough goods to deliver without adjusting their production actions.
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John Anderson
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Something else I haven't seen mentioned as much is to build new houses (possibly out of radio range) or gardens so each house will have more demand. If you radio for beer with the milestone, she'll still need a way of getting beer, but at least her ads shouldn't get completely drowned out.
 
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Eric Brosius
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It sounds like you're the more gaming-obsessed spouse and she is the less gaming-obsessed spouse, though she's still interested in gaming. I'd continue the way you are going. If she wants to ban radio, then play games where radio is not in the game.

Is that broken? I suppose it could be, but even if it is, you probably won't discover how it's broken until you play a few times, and if it is, you'll both say "oh, now we see why radio needs to be in the game!" Will it change the optimal strategies? Probably, but that's okay.

If she really wants to play this game and has enjoyed many aspects of it, then playing it in a way she feels comfortable with may very well lead, eventually, to her saying "I'd like to try using radio in the game now that I'm more comfortable with it." And if that doesn't happen, you still get to enjoy playing together.
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Daniel Lowe
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mls5stokes wrote:
Try out some of the recommendations. Everyone has different reasons to game. Most people play splotter games because they want some ruthless competition. You bought the game, play it how it makes you happiest.

It sounds like you want to go all out, but want to keep the wife happy. Play with her how she wants to play and you can enjoy her company. When you need more, invite some friends over and go full tilt. Just don't destroy them too bad :p


Haha yes. I will invite other friends over who are more okay with it being a ruthless game. That was my intention in the first place! But apparently she really likes this game, which surprises me because she generally just plays games to make me happy. Sure she likes them, but she'd rather watch TV :p. But this game she actually suggests. So if we play it in a neutered way, but it makes her happy. I'm fine with that.
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Daniel Lowe
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Eric Brosius wrote:
It sounds like you're the more gaming-obsessed spouse and she is the less gaming-obsessed spouse, though she's still interested in gaming. I'd continue the way you are going. If she wants to ban radio, then play games where radio is not in the game.

Is that broken? I suppose it could be, but even if it is, you probably won't discover how it's broken until you play a few times, and if it is, you'll both say "oh, now we see why radio needs to be in the game!" Will it change the optimal strategies? Probably, but that's okay.

If she really wants to play this game and has enjoyed many aspects of it, then playing it in a way she feels comfortable with may very well lead, eventually, to her saying "I'd like to try using radio in the game now that I'm more comfortable with it." And if that doesn't happen, you still get to enjoy playing together.


Yes I am definitely the more gaming obsessed spouse :p.

But yeah last night she was pretty happy because she got to build some houses and she got a guru and make a pretty big org. She likes planning out what she's going to do and then making it happen. Lighthearted fun. :p (Sounds so opposite of what FCM is supposed to be) So she seems to think FCM is a great game for her... which is surprising to me. We have other games that are kinda like this in terms of engine building and are more multiplayer solitaire... but they don't have themes that appeal to her :p
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Eric Brosius
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We make a lot of games into light-hearted fun in our group.

Like 1846: The Race for the Midwest and Outpost, for example.
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Daniel Lowe
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proclaimed wrote:
Is it unreasonable to explain to her that if she thinks the radio tower is so powerful that she should instead plan to beat you to it instead of getting rid of it? However, I have thought up 2 ideas (brainstorming only, not tested) to modify the radio campaigns to possibly lessen their strength:
1. Force a low duration (ignoring the eternal marketing milestone) on the campaign. That might give time to adjust a strategy to prepare for the new campaign.
2. Towers have to be erected in reverse numerical order, allowing someone to drop their own and undercut the previous one. Would be a bit of a game of chicken. The first campaign might get countered quickly or both will fill the homes so quickly that nobody has enough goods to deliver without adjusting their production actions.


Hahah I did tell her to use the radio against me and she said "That's not fun. That's just copying you."

I think she likes the sandboxy feel of FCM where you can do whatever you want and there are a lot of options. She doesn't really care who wins. Yeah I know... FCM is totally opposite of this... but she likes the theme/art... a LOT. She takes pictures of the game and puts it on facebook to share with her friends.
 
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Eric Brosius
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randplaty wrote:
Yes I am definitely the more gaming obsessed spouse .

That's how it used to be between my wife and me. But then she started GMing one of the largest tournaments at WBC(*), and when she flew to a gaming convention without me because I couldn't go, I realized that she's just obsessed in different ways!

(*)Claire used to be my wife in gaming circles, but often I'm now Claire's husband! Which is fine with me.
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Matthias Mahr
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randplaty wrote:
I think she likes the sandboxy feel of FCM where you can do whatever you want and there are a lot of options. She doesn't really care who wins. Yeah I know... FCM is totally opposite of this... but she likes the theme/art... a LOT. She takes pictures of the game and puts it on facebook to share with her friends.
Have you ever considered trying The Great Zimbabwe with her? Not sure, if the theme of pre-colonial times tribes in Africa and the (very nice) artwork, derivated from actual African art, would please her just the same, but the different gods powers and specialists, options to play your game either with your own technologies, or trying to leach off the opponent, makes this game quite sandboxy and each play really different. (Apart from the FCM-like modular board, which adds variety, too, in particular because of the different connections of water spaces.) Eventually, one player will get in a position unstoppable for the other, but this gets really obvious only a couple of rounds before the end of the game at the earliest, and feels less "mean spirit" and "crushing", then in some games of FCM, like the one you described with your radio campaign.

I very much like Eric Brosius' answer of proceeding playing FCM the way it pleases you, but you could show your wife some pictures and/or videos of TGZ, and if it peeks her interest, chances are imho good, that you would enjoy this game a lot.
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