Food Chain Magnate: First Thoughts

Since the SU&SD review of Food Chain Magnate (FCM) back in February 2016 I’ve wanted to play it. Earlier this year there as a reprint/people found some spare stock/someone made bootleg copies of it. Jen said it was worth the price tag so I got a copy and just played it.

It took a good while to get to the table. It’s very complicated and needs a lot of space. The space issue meant that we waited until we got a bigger table. The complexity meant that Ele and I would play it first before inflicting a potential negative gameplay experience on friends. We actually got the game out a few weeks ago but ended up just reading the rules because we had to go out 2 hours later.

We just finished the introductory game which removes a couple of mechanics but we can safely say we love it! We are immediately thinking of how much “outside game” thinking we’ll do with FCM. Here are a couple of thoughts we had after the first game:

It’s big. There’s a huge tech tree of people you can employ that the game asks you to set out. Don’t bother with that. Sort them by card colour and then just refer to the tech tree printed on your player aid.

I was pretty surprised to find how quickly players start fighting for customers. I was building a nice base of customers who wanted burgers but lost them all to Ele’s well timed Burger Cook.

The tutorial game goes very fast. Just as we reached the victory condition we felt we were just hitting our strides in terms of understanding the game but being able to affect the board state.

We are itching to add the rest of the rules but are a hesitant to do it all in one go. There are 3 key mechanics we skipped:

  1. Reserve cards. The game ends when the bank runs out of cash. Reserve cards put more money into the bank after you run out the first time. This will hopefully extend the game.
  2. Salaries. Most employees want to get paid if you use them. The intro game skips that which means no money ends up going back into the pot.
  3. Bonus cards. You get achievements for doing various things first. These give you bonuses to doing things. They’re pretty powerful and are going to probably change your strategy.

If you were on the fence for getting FCM. You should get it if you’re prepared for a heavy game.