bryan yau
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FCM is one of my favourite game. I just find the early game very restrictive (options wise) Experienced player who brought with them a list of "5 turns combos" can leave new player with a lasting sour taste (This is particularly bad for a game that could last up to 4 hours). For example, the entire tech tree is closed to you in the early game if you didn't get the train first mile stone.

I have been cooking up this suggestion for a while, and I think it would improve the game significantly still.

This is how I proposed to start the game. (for 4 player):
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Set a side 4 campaign tile: radio(2), airplane(5), post(8), billboard(13)

Add an extra 25 dollar per player into the 1st bankbreak.
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Example turn order flow in descending order:

In turn order, players pick out 1 each from the set-a-sided campaign tile and place it on a legal spot on the board.

In reverse turn order, players assign a product type onto each campaign tile

In turn order, player assign a duration (1 to 2) for each campaign.

In reverse turn order, player place their restaurant

Game proceed as normal.
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PROS:

1. This makes more sense thematically, local shop start choose to start a business because they have prior knowledge of the local desire and can choose to serve food immediately. And only when they grow tired of the food does the additional marketing require. As opposed to have 4 shops in town accumulating a bunch of unpaid staff for months before they even serve their first food! It also allow players to actually use the money that they earn as capital to build their company infrastructure, similar to real capitalism; as opposed to relying solely on the magical milestone.

2. This open up the starting turn enormously! Want to do a turn 1 pricing manager and even rush to a discount manager? Genius!!! Want to rush to Zeppelin but don't have money for their wage? Sell 1 dinner and you are set!! Want to rush to a local manager to snipe out all the early demand? also make sense!!

3. This introduce to new players a lot of the subtle but important mechanics immediately into the game rather than later, such as: you have to satisfy ALL YOUR CUSTOMER DEMAND, impact of the order number on the tiles, impact of the demand limit of a house Vs house with garden, how does the various marketing work and duration, and the various subtlety of a PRICE WAR!!! In fact, I would use this variant, plus no milestone and reserve, as the standard introductory game

4. how to get a freezer becomes actually interesting. You can't choose not to satisfy your customer. Do you really want to throw away food instead of getting some early cash?

5. The first to $20 milestone become actually useful. You can actually get it early enough without paying too much opportunity cost, to still change your strategy accordingly.

6. The first shop location is a lot more interesting. Should you focus on satisfying the initial wave of demand? or long term strategic location? While it may be nice to set up next to a hungry neighbourhood, but are they TOO HUNGRY? Would it take you too long to satisfy their ENTIRE DESIRE as opposed to neighbourhood who only want a singular burger? Maybe you should rush to a chef? but how should you transition from there? This variant also encourage starting your second restaurant early.

7. Most importantly, PRICE WAR and OFFSENSIVE MARKETING gets crank to the MAX from the get go. Which to me are the 2 best parts of the game!! You might win, but did it cost too much?

8. Game is faster.
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Can my fellow boardgamegeek give me some advise on what they think of this variant?
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Andrew Plassard
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So I really like the premise of this idea. The start of FCM is very slow and can be repetitive. My only concern is if there is an asymmetric placement that could result in a runaway leader. I think something along this idea could work very well though.
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Spencer C
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This is interesting. Have you tried it?
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David Goulette
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I haven't played enough to give much input. But I see what you are trying to do and it really does make sense. I subbed because I am curious what people think of this.
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bryan yau
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Asymmetric placement occurs with or without this variant. This just makes it more noticeable from the get go. Besides, in this variant, the starting order vs placing order is reversed, so the starter advantage is mediated.
 
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Zachary Wong
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I think you should try this and see how you like it and probably refine it. I'm not against creative changes if the group enjoys it more. You will need to place restaurants before placing the marketing because of the distance rules for billboards and mailboxes.

I have some issues with it though. If this is just to be used as a starter game I would recommend the one in the rule book (no milestones, no reserve, and no salaries) instead. This ones more convoluted and doesn't help the learning experience. The issues of paying employees only gets pushed a few turns into the future but doesn't address the issues of a steady income to really support the employees.

As a non-introductory game: It doesn't open up the early game it just changes what's good to go for. I'm confident the best opening will be straight production or maybe recruiting girl. Want to do discounts first turn? There's no production to compete so you fall a turn behind. Want to do local manager? Well starting trainer was always a thing but by the time you get there the food will be gone. In an ideal world you can get the first to $20 on turn 3 but more likely on turn 4. With your variant you will do it on turn 2. Not that big of a difference.
 
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bryan yau
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Xpresso wrote:
I think you should try this and see how you like it and probably refine it. I'm not against creative changes if the group enjoys it more. You will need to place restaurants before placing the marketing because of the distance rules for billboards and mailboxes.


I have played the original rule 10+ times and this variant a few times. Each time me and my peers would evaluate the going-on of the game immediately after for up to an hour. I don't see any problem with the current billboards and mailboxes placement rules, can you elaborate?

Xpresso wrote:
This ones more convoluted and doesn't help the learning experience.


Which is the convoluted part? Forward and backward initial selections orders are present in many other games and is very intuitive. This variant simply introduce the intricacy of marketing and selling of burgers before the building of company structures; Which I think is the a much more intuitive way of teaching the game, then to start with company structuring first.

Xpresso wrote:
The issues of paying employees only gets pushed a few turns into the future but doesn't address the issues of a steady income to really support the employees.


being able to holding onto a couple of high level employee a few turn into the future at the early game is exactly why this variant open up the game. A few well managed turn with a high level employee is sufficient to setup a steady income (if not by sheer waitressing alone)

Xpresso wrote:
It doesn't open up the early game it just changes what's good to go for. I'm confident the best opening will be straight production or maybe recruiting girl.


Just because there is demand from the get go, doesn't mean who ever make those first sales win. In fact, in testing this variant, it is still a weak move for weaker players. As soon as the initial demand dry up, the early producer have to transition desperately to compete with players who spent those same turn improving their company structure. This variant simply make this route possible, but not strong. It would very much depend on the distribution of initial demands which is a lot more variational in this variant.

Xpresso wrote:
Want to do discounts first turn? There's no production to compete so you fall a turn behind. Want to do local manager?


Hiring pricing manager 1st turn is definitely viable. It would guaranteer you win all price war from turn 2 onward. In fact, in the testing of this, starting player going for pricing manager the 1st turn, is enough to push the majority of remaining players to abandon producing early. Local manager is plausible too, in situation where there are initial demands in household where nobody can reach. It is in fact very powerful and hard to stop.

Xpresso wrote:
. In an ideal world you can get the first to $20 on turn 3 but more likely on turn 4. With your variant you will do it on turn 2. Not that big of a difference.


The first to $20 milestone is still relatively weak. This variant make it stronger, but not by much.


In conclusion, after testings, me and my friends will never play the game without the variant. Especially with new players. Seeing experienced players doing an "eye closed 5 turns Guru strat", or the "eye closed 5 turns radio strat" and then have the new players watch them run away with the game is just not fun.

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Zachary Wong
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I am so sorry I completely forgot I wrote this.

yauyyb wrote:
I have played the original rule 10+ times and this variant a few times. Each time me and my peers would evaluate the going-on of the game immediately after for up to an hour. I don't see any problem with the current billboards and mailboxes placement rules, can you elaborate?


The billboards and mailboxes have to be placed a certain distance from the entrance of that player's restaurant but the variant doesn't have restaurants on the board yet. Not actually a problem you just ignore that rule for setup.

yauyyb wrote:
Which is the convoluted part? Forward and backward initial selections orders are present in many other games and is very intuitive. This variant simply introduce the intricacy of marketing and selling of burgers before the building of company structures; Which I think is the a much more intuitive way of teaching the game, then to start with company structuring first.


Players now have to select a marketing tile, a duration, a good, and a location in addition to picking a starting restaurant spot. Players might miss the distance rule on billboards and mailboxes because it was skipped at setup. It can help with "this is how the different marketing and dinnertime works" but if you play without this variant its a very different game.

yauyyb wrote:
being able to holding onto a couple of high level employee a few turn into the future at the early game is exactly why this variant open up the game. A few well managed turn with a high level employee is sufficient to setup a steady income (if not by sheer waitressing alone)


Selling two goods will save you a level 2 employee which can be used for 3 turns. A level three employee can be used for two turns and a level 3 can be used once. It's worse if you train two.

yauyyb wrote:
Just because there is demand from the get go, doesn't mean who ever make those first sales win. In fact, in testing this variant, it is still a weak move for weaker players. As soon as the initial demand dry up, the early producer have to transition desperately to compete with players who spent those same turn improving their company structure. This variant simply make this route possible, but not strong. It would very much depend on the distribution of initial demands which is a lot more variational in this variant.


There's a lot of potential variation here that requires a ton of play and exploring all the possibilities. The number of goods available could be from about 5 to about 25 on the extreme ends. With an average of 15 goods on the board it's well worth shooting for goods.

yauyyb wrote:
Hiring pricing manager 1st turn is definitely viable. It would guaranteer you win all price war from turn 2 onward. In fact, in the testing of this, starting player going for pricing manager the 1st turn, is enough to push the majority of remaining players to abandon producing early. Local manager is plausible too, in situation where there are initial demands in household where nobody can reach. It is in fact very powerful and hard to stop.


It only guarantees sales from restaurants next to you. Anything two tiles away you need tie breaker. If they took food and a waitress forget it. If the demand for the house is two or more different goods forget it. You can pick up whatever leftovers are available though.

yauyyb wrote:
The first to $20 milestone is still relatively weak. This variant make it stronger, but not by much.


It's meant for the first turn marketing trainee player to get a good idea of how long the game will be and plan accordingly. Their main goal is the first to $100 though which is incredibly strong. The turn one marketer is definitely weaker now that there is so much marketing on the board at the start.

yauyyb wrote:
In conclusion, after testings, me and my friends will never play the game without the variant. Especially with new players. Seeing experienced players doing an "eye closed 5 turns Guru strat", or the "eye closed 5 turns radio strat" and then have the new players watch them run away with the game is just not fun.


I won't speak to your personal game play. I've seen everything work and everything fail. Experienced players were always meant to beat inexperienced players. It's basically a multiplayer chess match. I did meet someone at a boardgame meetup who said guru rush was the best strategy period and he obviously lost.

I do like your variant though and I'm pretty burntout on standard FCM so I will be trying this from now on with my experienced group if they want to play FCM.
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Chris J Davis
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I like this idea very much, and will use it (or something very like it) in my games going forward. Just a small question, though: which additional campaign tile would you set aside for a 5-player game?
 
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Chris J Davis
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bleached_lizard wrote:
I like this idea very much, and will use it (or something very like it) in my games going forward. Just a small question, though: which additional campaign tile would you set aside for a 5-player game?


I've no figured it out for myself, and it would be the other middle-numbered billboard.
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