Fast Food Franchise

Fast Food Franchise(TimJim/Prism Games) is monopoly with strategy. That's the easiest way to describe it. The board, the basic play, all of it owes Atlantic City a debt of gratitude. However, unlike monopoly, which is little more than a die rolling game; there is quite a bit of strategy.

Like Monopoly, the goal is to be the player with the most money. This time, however, players try to control chains of fast food restaurants, rather than real estate and hotels.

The board has two levels. The outer level is a monopoly board, with 10 squares to a side. However, there is also an inner square like-grid. Players don't move on this inner board, instead, their franchises that they control get placed their. Only one franchise is allowed per square.

The Play

Players take turns throwing two dice and moving around the outer board. Apart from the corners, players can land on three types of squares: Market Squares, which represents various cities in the United states and connect the outer board and the inner board, Advertisement squares, and Event squares. When a player lands on an empty market square, he can start up a new chain of a corporation he owns, or a new corporation if he doesn't own any. That square gets a marker to show which corporation owns it.

Then, the chain gets a franchise marker placed in the inner board. When someone lands on the chain, appart from generating income (which is based on the number of franchises in the chain) the chain can expand in the inner board. The play on the inner board is part of the strategy, as mountains block expansions, and chains can block each other's growth. In addition, if two chains from the same corporation connect, then each chain is considered to be the size of the total. This allows players to collect much more income any time someone lands on their market.

Advertisement squares can be bought by corporations. If you land on an advertisement square that is owned, you must move forward to a market of that corporation. Finally, event squares have players pick an event card and resolve it. Typical events are granting certain areas of the U.S. growth (chains based in those markets may expand once at half price), having teenagers enter the job market (get money based on number of franchises owned) to the dreaded "Health Food Craze".

Each corner square also has a special effect. The start corner lets you collect dividends, which are based on the number of franchises you own ($2,000 per franchise). The catch is that if a franchise is owned by more than one chain, you count it more than once! You also have to pay for advertisements when you pass start. Landing on start (instead of just passing it) also lets you advertise anywhere on the board).

The next corner is called Strategy Opportunity (shouldn't it be Strategic Opportunity?). When you pass this square, you may draw an opportunity card OR play one. Cards might let you expand chains, open new markets, enact a hostile takeover of markets (or prevent a hostile takeover), incite workers in an opposing corporation to strike, take out a loan, or some other action. If you land on Strategy Opportunity, you may draw and play a card. In any case, you can't hold more than three cards.

The next corner is the Nationwide Taste Test. Whenever anyone lands there, all corporations roll the dice, the highest wins the taste test and gets $5,000/franchise.

Finally, there is the Investment Opportunity, which allows you to build a franchise (or open a new corporation, if you are eligible) anywhere on the board when you pass it. If you land on it, you can build the franchise for half price.

An interesting part of movement is that you are allowed to pick up advertising slips or franchises during you move (getting half value from the franchises and nothing from anything else), and may play Strategy cards instantly while travelling over the Strategy square. This might allow a player who is destined to land on a competitor's advertisement to start and Ad campaign and replace the advertisement with his own (probably saving a bundle of money). Or a player could takeover the market he was about to land on in mid-move.

The Corporations

Another question the players will be faced with is which corporation to open. Each one is unique, having a different number of markets it can control, maximum number of franchises, different costs (for markets, franchises and advertisements), a different number of available ad campaigns and (finally) different income when someone lands on your market.

Some choices are Ice Cream Scream, which has a low cost ($20,000 for a market, $10 for a franchise), a very low advertising cost ($2k), but also has a low income ($4k per franchise) and only one ad campaign available. Ice Cream Scream is a good corporation to try to tie all of your chains together and make your win off of dividends.

The other end of the spectrum is Steak and Salads, which is very expensive ($70k for a market, $40k for a franchise) but has very nice income ($25k per franchise) and a fair number of advertisements. Steaks and Salads won't pay good dividends, especially in comparision to what you payed for it, but a chain can quickly start bringing you fifty thousand from any player unfortunate enough to land on it.

Other Details

The game ends when one player ends a turn with a million dollars in cash or over (subtracting loans from cash in hand), or when all players but one have gone bankrupt. Bankruptcy happens when a player (usually because of landing on someone else's chain) can't pay a debt. An interesting twist is that the Bank's lawyers are better than yours, and any debts owed to the bank get paid off first.

Another point is that players can make whatever promises they want, but aren't allowed to trade cash. Deals are usually something along the lines of promises to block a third corporations growth.

Players can start a second (or third) corporation as long as their prior corporations can't grow (either because they've run out of counters or are blocked) and noboody owns less corporations (before they buy the next one).


The big question is when and where to open a corporation. Unlike Monopoly, where the rule is "If you can afford it, but it" players might not want to leap on the first empty market they find. It can be difficult to connect some of the early markets, and if all the players buy early markets, you probably wont have anything close by you can connect with. You might even get blocked in. On the other hand, if you wait to long, you might get nothing better, and won't have collected any income.

One nice option is (if you are leading the race around the board) to wait until you pass Investment Opportunities to open a corporation and then build wherever you land. Since Investment Opportunities lets you choose where you build, you should be able to connect two chains rather quickly.

The other question is which chain to start. Ice Cream Scream grows quickly, but you probably won't get much income from other players. Steaks and Salads is slow, but if you get a few lucky die rolls (ie, people land on it) you could quickly have a huge chain, able to bankrupt anyone who lands on it. Other chains are more moderate. Burgers, Pizza and Chicken are fairly well balanced between Income and growth. D&G Chocolates is expensive, but has a wonderful franchise cost/income ratio (less than 1!).

Once you get started, then the big questions are when to advertise (and where, if you have a choice), when to expand your franchise, how to play your strategy cards and (most important) how much cash to keep on hand. If you keep too little, you'll have to disband franchises to pay your debts, which is a losing proposition. And, even if there aren't big corporations around, a chance card could hurt you to the tune of 30-50 thousand.

But if you keep too much money, you're chains won't be growing quickly enough and your income will fall with respect to the other players.


All in all, this is a fine game. Three hours should be more than enough time to play it, and 1.5 - 2 is typical. There is a lot of luck, to be sure, but enough strategy to keep it very interesting. The only real drawback is that the game is fairly expensive at $35. However, the components (except for the board, which is somewhat bent) are very nice for a US company. Each corporation mat tells you all of the numbers, have charts for doing arithmentic, and the like.


This was written by Brian Bankler.

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