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Food Chain Magnate, a strategy game for 2 to 5 serious gamers. That is what it says in the rule book anyway. You hire some workers and sell some food, how hard can it be?
The table is set up for a 2 player game of Food Chain Magnate.

Overview: Just Everyday Business

Up to 5 players will compete against one another to become the most successful food chain in town. Of course, they won’t be able to do this alone. Throughout the game, the players will be able to hire employees to accomplish different tasks for the company

We found these printable player mats on boardgamegeek; they are super handy to keep track of the game.

At the start of each round, players will have to decide which employees to place in their company structure. Choosing which cards to play should take careful consideration as it will determine what actions they may take during the round. Hire too many workers and you may fall behind in sales, cook too much food and they may go to waste.

Player interaction plays a big part in Food Chain. Should I undercut and leave them with nobody to sell to? On the other hand, I could raise my prices because they won’t have enough goods to satisfy the market. Perhaps I can change the game and start marketing pizza instead of burgers. With a limited market to sell to, players will struggle to shift the demand their way.

The game starts with a finite amount of money which is scaled with the number of players. Once its out, the game is over and the player with the most money wins.

Great game but not without its flaws

First of all, I hate all the cards in the game. With 32 different employee cards and 15 different milestones, there will be cards all around the table. Furthermore, players will be moving cards around as they hire/train workers and move them in and out of the corporate structure; the thought of the amount of wear and tear this game will see is a nightmare to me. With that said, this card system is part of the reason why this game is so great. The whole career path tech tree mechanic gives players countless paths to victory which adds immense replayability to the game.

The pieces of the game are a little disappointing. For a game that is over C$100, you would think there would be something a more than cardboard pieces and some monopoly money. Perhaps some plastic restaurant pieces or linen cards? Looking online, this is consistent with all of Splotter’s releases. Looking more into it, I can understand why it’s priced the way it is. However, considering this is my first encounter with them, it was a little unpleasant surprise.

Final Thoughts

So how hard can this game be? Splotters wasn’t kidding when they said this is a game for serious gamers. Food Chain may not look like much but don’t let it deceive you. Beneath its cute 50’s pop art exterior is one unforgiving beast of a board game. There will be cutthroat competition from start to finish in every game you play. Make no mistake as the other players will take everything from you given the opportunity, leaving you clawing at scraps just to remain in the game.

Unfortunately, food and chain are two words my gaming group never wants to hear in the same sentence ever again. It was just too brutal and calculating your every move is just something my group does not enjoy. I, on the other hand, would have to say Food Chain ranks as one of my favourite games. Everything is laid out in front of you from the start of the game and nothing is left to chance or luck. Whether you won or lost the game, you can usually look back and see what you did well and what you could improve on. As for the ruthlessness of the game, I think this is more of a problem for newer players. After a few playthroughs, you have a general idea how cards interact with one another. As long as you’re paying attention to your opponents, you shouldn’t be completely blindsided by what they do. I would gladly play if the group is willing to give it another chance.