Food Chain Magnate: Understanding milestones
Milestones are one of the most daunting aspects of Food Chain Magnate. Their strategic importance can be missed at first and their number is intimidating. Thankfully, they are simpler to understand than it seems. In this article I’ll explain every milestone in the game and the effect they have on it.
Recruiting Girl lets you expand fast. A single copy doubles our hiring speed, which allows us to get cooks or other valuable employees alongside our marketing workers. But we may set aside that advantage for one turn and get two free management trainees instead. This is a powerful but slightly slower strategy.
The drawback of this milestone is its opportunity cost. By pursuing it we give up other advantages, like the First Errand Boy Played milestone or a Trainer. We can’t have it all. Depending on the actions of your opponents we might follow this path or fight for other opportunities.
FIRST TO THROW AWAY DRINK/FOOD – Freezer that stores 10 items
If you are wasteful with food, the game’s satire rewards you with a freezer. Being able to keep food from turn to turn isn’t much of an advantage, but it does cushion our mistakes. Having food in storage may gain us a sale or two even if we aren’t paying attention. Once we learn to make less mistakes though, the value of refrigeration disappears.
FIRST WAITRESS PLAYED – Each waitress +$2
This milestone allows each Waitress to support a salaried employee. That seems pretty good, but it doesn’t work that well in practice. Most of the time, it’s easier to sell food or dip into training with the First to Train milestone than to rely on customer service. Most of the time, the advantage is minor and you should look elsewhere.
Remember, you won’t win just by playing Waitress. And while the additional income is nice, it’s less important than the First to Lower Prices milestone in the case of a price war. You won’t be misguided if you just see it as a nice-have.
FIRST TO HAVE $20 – May see bank reserve cards
Aggressive strategies are more fragile than those based on training. This milestone lets you check early on how much money there’s in the bank and change your company structure accordingly. If there’s a lot of cash, dip into training immediately. If not, try to extend your early game advantage by placing gardens, houses and expanding fast.
FIRST TO HAVE $100 – Your CEO counts as a CFO
The CFO Milestone is one of the most controversial aspects of Food Chain Magnate. Many regard it as overpowered, a claim not shared by the strongest players. At the end of the day, it’s not very different from the First Burger Marketed milestone, only bigger and restricted to the most aggressive player at the table.
After all, the only way to get $100 before all other players is to be quick on our feet. If the game goes long, the CFO can be obtained through normal means. The CFO milestone is a reward for aggressive play more than anything else. Slower playstyles are already favoured by the game mechanics, which is why this milestone exists.
What makes the CFO fair is that it doesn’t actually help you win. It doesn’t produce food, market it or sell it. It only increases our profit. If we don’t sell burgers, we won’t get any extra cash. An additional 50% of nothing is still nothing! The CFO only helps you score faster. It does not snowball or provide any other advantage.
Note that you can obtain similar results through other employees. A well-timed Luxury Manager or New Business Developer can provide as much money as a CFO does. Don’t let aggressive players do what they want, get in there and compete. You won’t be able to train as much, but you’ll win more often.
Price wars can be won by a single dollar. The First to Lower Prices milestone ensures victory in all situations where you would tie, which is an important advantage. It makes it possible to sneak into your opponent’s territory and it does so at very little cost. At worst, it’s the effect of two Pricing Managers in one, which is itself an important advantage.
Lowering prices has the drawback of taking up valuable company space. This milestone, however, is always active. This forces our opponents to hire several Pricing Managers or train a Discount Manager if they want to win the price war. The only issue is that there might not be one. If you are getting beat in marketing, lowering prices won’t help.
FIRST TO TRAIN – $15 Discount on salaries
First to Train is the most important milestone in the game. It allows players to pick up Trainer as their first employee, which is one of the two most common openings. Normally, we would need to market, produce and sell food in order to sustain high-level employees. First to Train lets us skip that phase and get with the training immediately.
This line of play gives us access to powerful employees. For example, we might rush towards Guru, Recruiting Manager or any of the marketers. It’s a versatile milestone that opens all sorts of possibilities. Strategically, it’s the key to play midrange or long-term. Time is on your side, as long as you have enough of it.
FIRST TO PAY $20 OR MORE IN SALARIES – Multiple trainers on the same person
If you play a midrange game, with a mixture of trained and untrained employees, this is a great target to aim for. It catapults any ragtag group of workers into a dominance. Played well, it gives you the best of both worlds: Aggression early and domination late. Note that it’s almost impossible to get this milestone if you started with Trainer.
This is one of the best milestones in the entire game. Getting two drinks with just one Errand Boy is extremely efficient. It spares aggressive players from the need to train their employees and saves valuable slots in their company structure. It’s also faster to recruit additional Errand Boys than it is to train a single Truck Driver.
These advantages make drinks the item of choice for the early game. If you want to pursue an aggressive strategy, I recommend them over burgers or pizza. You don’t even need to take the board into account, Errand Boys can get drinks even if you aren’t close to any sources. Just remember, the early game won’t last forever!
FIRST CART OPERATOR PLAYER – Buyers get range +1
Cart Operators, on the other hand, are in a fairly awkward position. They are strictly worse than a milestone-supported Errand Boy and get one less drink than a Truck Driver, making them weak. Still, you’ll find several maps in which they can replace the latter with careful restaurant placement. It’s not much, but you take any advantage you can get.
FIRST BURGER OR PIZZA PRODUCED – +1 Burger or Pizza Cook
We’ve all been there. You made a burger, got one of these two milestones and then saw your brand new Cook walk out of the door because you couldn’t pay a salary. Next time, try to have a fiver in hand. A free Cook saves us one step of training and pairs well with the Kitchen Trainee we already have.
These milestones are best in midrange strategies. A Cook and a Campaign manager are a good combination and the Kitchen Trainee can steal customers from your opponents. Keep an eye on their staff and prepare to lower prices, you might win.
These are powerful, versatile milestones useful for all strategies. We should strive to have at least one of them, as the extra income has many benefits. For starters, it’s 50% more victory points if we sell the right food. Getting the equivalent of three sales at the cost of two also represents a saving in opportunity cost.
The most aggressive player will favour drinks, as they are easier to obtain than the burgers and pizza. However, being the sole owner of any of them gives a huge edge in a price war. We may not be able to maintain a 6$ sales price but 11$ is not bad at all. I recommend beginners to get at least one.
These milestones are not necessary to do well but they are important. They lend themselves to selling food early, interacting with your opponents and competing with our opponents, which is how we win. They promote better play and make Food Chain Magnate more fun as well.
FIRST BILLBOARD PLACED – No salaries for marketers, Eternal Marketing
Not having to replace billboards saves us valuable slots in the early game and it’s nice to save on a couple salaries. It’s not a huge advantage but it’s valuable for aggressive strategies. Companies focused on development don’t gain much from it as higher level employees stay several turns on the table anyways.
Note that Eternal Marketing is a double-edged sword. While it frees space in our company, it also opens opportunities for other players to jump in and steal our customers. Always keep in mind the possibility of being kicked out of a neighbourhood by low prices or the wrong offer of products.
Choosing turn order can be a benefit, but it’s rare for it to matter by the time airplanes are available. Proper play, price wars and having the right number of Waitresses are all going to be more important than turn order. Sadly, I ‘ve never found much use for First Airplane Campaign. It’s a nice-have, not a strong advantage.
FIRST RADIO CAMPAIGN – Your radios market 2 goods per turn instead of 1
This milestone is the reason why Brand Director is one of the most powerful employees in the game. Covering the majority of the map with marketing is great, doubling its effectiveness is downright brutal. A single radio can turn the whole game on its head. It’s such a powerful effect we must plan for it from the moment we sit at the table.
Radio Campaigns are the reward for the player most focused on training. After all, not only is it necessary to train a Marketing Trainee three times, we need to capitalize on the hordes of hungry customers we bring to the table. We must bring Chefs, Truck Drivers and Discount Managers, all of which require effort to obtain.
If you are on the receiving end, try to get at least one cook. Taking away even a single house can be a strong advantage. Adding another type of food, lowering prices or placing more houses can all be ways of profiting from an opposing radio. Above all, the best way to fight against it is to prepare before the campaign goes into action.