Franchise (2018) Review
Franchise is a game that attracted me by its box. The old school visuals reminiscent of the 60s was immediately fly. On top of that, I could believe that it plays a bit in the style of Food Chain Magnate naturally more light. And that's a bit of an idea.
The game puts you at the head of a franchise of (put a random product of your choice here) and you have to grow it as well as you can in this, good old 60's America. The whole caboodle is it not? Your company is represented by an individual board of your color, that has no other function than to help you play. Moreover, the board is large enough, leaving room for an illustration worthy of the box, and the game aids are ultimately pretty small. Each tray has its own illustration which is rather pleasant. The bonus chips of the players are in the same line.
The problem we encounter quickly is the opening of the box. Not only is there still no plastic bags (yes I know this remark becomes recurrent with all Queen Games games), but most of the material loses its identity. Exit the pretty 60’s illustrations of Ian O'Toole. The material is very sober, very cold, very ... eurogamous. The map of the United States, on discovery can even be a little scary, with the sight of all these lines that go in all directions from these big circles. By the way, the cities are not better, simple discs with numbers. It is clearly not the actual visual of the game that will attract you. In it's defense, I think the focus has been mainly on the accessible and clear aspect. On that, it succeeds. Once the rules are known, all the material (even the cards) is easy to read. It leaves no questions, we did not return to the rules. This side is a success. Even so, it is always more pleasant when the ease of understanding is coupled with a visual pleasure. As in the end, the illustrations participate in immersion, especially in a game of this type.
Each player starts the game with a little money, some great 60s tickets (no, I'm kidding, it's just cards that resemble tickets). You will try to expand and impose yourself on the product market (insert the name you want) across the USA. The installation of the game is fast enough, except using the proposed variant, the board always remains the same. Each player will play the five phases of a turn, then play passes to another. Being an active player is important.
In turn, you will begin to receive your income. That will depend on your location in metropolises (big disks with numbers). You add up all the visible numbers where you are installed (one franchise is enough) and then you look on your income table and the amount you will touch (with a minimum of $ 1) Simple, effective.
Your dollars in pocket, you are going to conquer America, this beautiful country. There are two possible destinations in the game: a city or metropolis.
The city is a small peaceful place but has only one space. First come, first served. It does not earn revenue, but allows you to move more easily, more efficiently and earn a victory point at the end of the game.
The metropolis is the heart of the game. To be able to settle in a city, you must have an empty space and not be there already. Development is increasing your network and not your presence.
Wherever you choose to go, you'll place your development marker (a pion straight out of old Monopoly by the way). But be careful, traveling along roads is not always free. The place where you want to grow should be connected to your network by a road or path. When you go there for the first time, you have to pay the cost of the route, which can be $0 to $8. Yes, highways are expensive. Of course, you have to go to the first city or metropolis crossed, you can not pass through them. Your customers will not forgive you.
To increase your influence, growth is not the only option. As explained before, the action to develop allows you to conquer new markets. But to strengthen those in which you already are, you can increase your market share. This only works in metropolitan areas, cities being limited to one space. To do this is a very simple thing. For each metropolis where you are already present, you can add $ 1 to add one new franchise per metropolis. This one is put, like the development marker, in the middle of the circle.
Now you can build. In a city, it's simple. You replace your pion with a franchise. For a metropolis, you remove your development marker and add a franchise in the first available box. You do the same with the franchises you added by paying $ 1. Except that in this case, logically, you simply move your house on the first available space. At the end of this phase, if you obtain the absolute majority in a metropolis (ie your presence is greater than half available), or if the metropolis is full, we pass to its evaluation. As a good boss, it's important to know how the market is going.
For this count, there are two possibilities. If you have the absolute majority of franchies, you automatically earn as many points as indicated in the center of the metropolis. If there is no absolute majority, the one with the most franchises wins half of the points. Do you see the deceitful side? If there is a tie, the player who first opened thier franchise wins. Then remove the metropolis, the one who scores the points removes all their markers and places one. The others remain in place (which gives them access for their network). If it is the first metropolis in the region to be evaluated, the active player (not necessarily the one who scored the points) places one of their buildings on the space in the region (they will receive a bonus in the count of the region in case of tie).
Finally, we move to a final check with the end of the round. Players look at whether a region needs to be evaluated or not. If all cities are franchised and all metropolises are evaluated, then the region is counted. The thing is very simple, calculate the number of franchises of each player in this region. The one with the most wins the region's highest score. The second goes to the second (except for two players). If other players are present, they all win the smallest number. Once this is done, the active player places the region tile on the "evaluated region" track and earn as many points as indicated. Another advantage to make assessments when you are the active player.
The end of the game occurs immediately when a region token covers a red box of the "evaluated region" track. You'll then proceed to the final count. Each player then earns points for their presence in the cities, for every $ 3 and unused bonus tiles.
Each player has four bonus tiles at the beginning of the game. In turn, you may choose to discard one per turn to apply an ability. Bonus tiles give you the ability to do three things in addition to your normal actions:
These bonuses are very useful during the game but not using them can earn a lot of points at the end of the game. The choice is not always obvious and you must think hard before using them.
To be honest with you, apart from the graphics, the game did not attract me more than that. I still decided to try the experience without having a specific opinion on it. Well, I took it. It is ultimately a very good surprise and at the end of the game I wanted to go back. The game is much smarter and cunning than the rules appear.
One can without context reproach this for it’s lack of theme. Finally, franchises, buildings, fast food, whatever you want could have been used as justification for the game. It's a shame, it takes a little more to allow added immersion. But no mistake, we are facing a pure Eurogame. Franchise really lacks an identity of its own.
The game works very well. Even if one quickly forgets the fact of being a boss of a franchise, one begins to think, to calculate (slightly), and to see what could bring us back while, if possible, to penalize the other players. More than penalize, I would rather downgrade the other. The game is rarely naughty. Of course, you can go straight to the strategy of other players but you can not make them lose the game. Good news for players who do not like to be directly attacked in their game.
Replayability is present even if the board is very static. The placement variant is quickly essential to really renew each game. With two or three players it is playable, but it is four or five that takes the game to its cunning and interactive dimension. Below that, the players can very well end up playing in their own corner, losing the fun that makes the game. You can also blame it for some aspects, like being monotonous and repetitive. This is often the case with this kind of game even if I find that this one is doing pretty well on this side.
Because yes, apart from its austere and calculating aspects (slightly), the game is very pleasant to play. Without being too complex, it offers interesting choices to make. The interaction is very present and it can always be tempting to sacrifice your strategy to try to block the other. The game is relatively fluid from round to round.
Franchise is not what we can call an original game. On the other hand, it manages to use mechanisms that work very well together. A mix of route building but also the majority, you have to pay attention to the choices made because a small amount of neglect can capsize the clay feet of your franchise company. It will be necessary for example, to favor a good income over the detriment of a winning points from easy victory or points of victories in the metropolis over the detriment of a majority in the region ... The choices are subtle but appear quickly and are rather well thought out.
The author of the game Christwart Conrad succeeds in creating a game, at first cold and austere by making it competitive and above all with a lot of interaction. You can not concretely play in your corner without taking care of what others do if you want to win. Franchise is therefore easy to impose while offering an interesting challenge and a well-attended interaction. I could wish for a little more personality and originality or even more variety between each game. But the game offers a good challenge, several choices and the pleasure of being a good game. This re-release / enhancement of the Medieval Merchant game works better than the original. If you have the opportunity, do not hesitate to plunge into the 60s and the fierce competition of franchises.
Technical Score 7/10
What a disappointment when opening the box. This loss of identity is a pity. Of course the choice to highlight the visibility is quite commendable, I can not blame them. As for the rule, well written, you’ll never re read during the game.
My BGG Score 7.8 / 10
(Good game. Enjoy playing and would suggest)
I was really pleasantly surprised. The game hides a deceitful and devious side rather appreciable. It is fluid, simple to explain, pleasant to play and has good interaction. All of which can be played with players without necessarily being expert players. A good pick that deserved some improvements to become unavoidable.
Combined Score 7.4 / 10
Now, it's your turn to play ...