As a retired cook and current all-time Lord of the Fries win leader at GTO I am here sharing my tips with you!
Watching the Card Counts
This is an easy but key strategy tip: watch the card counts. The primary goal of the game remains to get more points but as the game winds down, the secondary focus of your game changes from trying to gain more cards (so you can fill more orders) to avoiding getting stuck with unused cards. This is because at the end of the hand, unused cards count against you. That threshold may vary from based on scoring situation or on the players but it should always be in your mind.
This principle is the primary crux of the other tips below.
When you fill an order, you get to determine the next order. Calling an order you can choose the order and passed cards go to the left. Rolling orders randomizes the order selection and cards get passed to the roller. At the start of the hand/deal you want to roll orders because if players need to pass cards, they get passed to you. More cards mean more potential points. Yes, you have no control over the next order but when card are plentiful there is good chance that someone else will fill any order you select so why not take a chance and maybe grab a few cards. When you roll orders you want an order that is a challenge for others to fill, and ideally one you can fill. On the basic Friedey’s and Holiday Menus, rolling also gives you access to the special Zone D orders which can be big and a challenge to fill.
As hand sizes dwindle, you will want to move to calling orders so you avoid rolling an order that cannot be filled and collecting everyone’s garbage. I generally switch to calling orders when the opponent with the fewest cards has less than 6 cards. This gives a reasonable 6 rounds for someone to fill the order. Fewer than 6 cards and you run the risk of rolling a tough order that goes unfilled and getting stuck with too many cards.
When it comes time to call orders the basic idea is to call orders that you think you have the best chance to fill and maintain control. Memory of what your opponents last called will be helpful in this goal. Knowing how many cards your opponents have is also a consideration as it can guide you on what orders they are unlikely to fill. If they have fewer cards, you are more likely to fill large orders.
If there are multiple orders that you have all the ingredients for, don’t let size fool you. Sometimes an order with 2-3 meat cards can bring you more points than an order with 4 1-point Buns, the Carillion. Additionally those Buns might help you burn off cards that are worth more in combo orders.
If they have more cards than you, try to pick an order that you think you have the best chances of filling. As an alternative if you don’t think the order will make it back to you, consider calling an order that is low points to minimize the points opponents will gain.
As the hand is running down, play close attention to the number of cards the player to the left of the controlling player has. That number minus 1 is the number of orders left unless someone else takes control. If you are control that is the number of orders you can best hope for.
Most obviously avoid passing cards for the current order. You don’t want to help the opponents! Following the “watching cards count” theory, you want to try and pass low point cards at the start of the hand so you don’t give opponents more points and as the hand winds down unload the big point cards that you may not be able to use.
Beyond those general leanings, two strategies about passing can be trying to keep your hand balanced so you can fill as many different orders that come by or trying to hoard a key ingredient or ingredients to prevent others from filling orders with those ingredients. The two strategies are somewhat opposing so you have to go with the one that fits best with your hand, the menu in play, and your style of play.
Special Menu Rules and Tips
Friedey’s Restaurant: There is only 1 pie so handle it with care; if you have it in a game with a lot of players (5+) you may want to call the Patriarch as soon as you gain control of the order and have a good chance of filling it. Don’t call the Lord of the Fries (3 Fries) too early because all those Fries will help you fill bigger combos worth more points.
Holiday Menu: There is also only 1 pie in this deck. If an opponent calls the Carillon (4 Buns worth 4 points total), consider passing on it as the Buns would be better used in bigger point orders like the Loaves and Fishes (2 Buns and 2 Fishes) worth 12 points. The Fourth Day of Christmas (4 Birds) is a great order so if you have a lot of Birds, hoard them.
Ghicciaroni’s: The Special rule for this menu is that orders are always worth their starting value, even if filled with fewer ingredients. This means that it can be worthwhile to pass on an order you can fill now if you think no one can fill it at the current level as you will get the same points but save yourself one card. Watch out on this menu as many of the orders have a lot of cheap ingredients so they look impressive but don’t add much to your score.
Love’s Labours Lunch: The special rule for this menu is that each time an order passes around the table it increases by a bonus 5 points. This is huge as it can inflate runaway scores, most notably the order Madness of King George III (1 Bun, 6 Drinks). If you control most of the Drinks in the deal, you can call this order, let it dwindle down, and fill it only after it increased in value. Defensively, never give away drinks when playing this menu.