Food Chain: A Quick Primer

(This is backdated to prevent people from having to read it while browsing my design blog. Check out my post about scaling Food Chain for more information!)

Food Chain is a social deduction game featured on Korean reality television show The Genius. On the episode it appeared, all 13 contestants were available to play it, so 13 roles are available.


Food Chain is played with five rooms: One central room for assorted administrative tasks and for dead players to hang out in, and four habitats (Field, Forest, River, Sky). 

Each player randomly draws an animal (role) card. This card determines their home habitat, win condition, special powers, and status on the food chain. Then, each player has the opportunity to peek at one of the other players’ roles. After this, four rounds are played.

Each round, players secretly choose which habitat they’d like to go to. The two restrictions are:

  • Only birds can go to the Sky habitat.
  • If you go to a habitat that isn’t your home, you have to go to your home habitat the next round.

Once everyone has gone to their chosen habitat, players have the opportunity to attack each other by placing stickers on their target. If an animal attacks another animal on a lower stage of the food chain, the target is eaten. Otherwise, nothing happens. Although predator animals only have to eat 1 animal each round, players can attack as many times as they’d like.

At the end of 4 rounds, everyone who met their win conditions wins!

The Roles

The roles are organized by their status on the food chain (an animal can successfully attack anything on a lower tier). I’ve also added some basic notes on the strategy for each role. Unless otherwise noted, each animal’s win condition is to survive until the end.

Tier 1

Lion: Home territory is Field. It has to eat every round or it dies.

Basic strategy: Try to figure out who the other predators are and eat them as fast as possible.

Tier 2

Crocodile: Home territory is River. It has to eat 3 out of 4 rounds.

Basic strategy: Similar to Lion; you don’t have to play a perfect guessing game but you now have to worry about the Lion eating you.

Tier 3

Eagle: Home territory is Sky. It has to eat 3 out of 4 rounds.

Basic strategy: Try to stay in the sky as much as you can, as you have no predators and no risk of accidentally attacking the Snake. Probably the most reliant on guessing where people are going to be each round.

Tier 4

Hyena: Home territory is Field. It can starve for 2 rounds before it dies. The Hyena wins if the Lion dies, whether or not the Hyena is alive at the end.

Basic strategy: Wildly attack as many animals as possible in the hopes of depriving the Lion of prey in future rounds.

Prey tier (cannot successfully attack any animal)

Otter, Deer, Rabbit, and Mallard (The Four Stooges): Home territories are River, Field, Forest, and Sky respectively. If all of the surviving Stooges are in the same habitat, none of them can be killed. This means that if there’s one survivor, they’re indestructible.

Basic strategy: If 2 Stooges are left, they can get a sure victory by shuttling between each others’ home habitats. This means that the other 2 have to die, especially the Mallard, whose home territory is inaccessible by the other three. 

Snake: Home territory is Forest. Cannot be killed; instead any animal that attacks it dies. Wins if at least 9 animals are dead at the end of the game.

Basic strategy: The snake is probably the best role in the game and you have a good chance of winning even if you just chill out in the Forest for the whole game. To increase your chances, goad people into attacking you and give advice as you see appropriate.

Mouse and Egyptian Plover: Home territories are Field and River respectively. Wins if the Lion or Crocodile wins, respectively. Can also peek at 2 players at the start of the game instead of 1.

Basic strategy: Serves as a combination of “advisor” and “emergency lunchbox” to their boss animal. Figuring out who that is exactly is critical.

Crow: Home territory is Sky. At the beginning of the game, chooses another animal (the role, not the player) that they think will win, and wins if that animal wins. Can also peek at 2 players at the start of the game instead of 1.

Basic strategy: Largely depends on which animal the player chooses to win; good options are the Eagle, which the Crow can help out in a similar way as the mouse and plover, and the Snake, which has the highest chance of winning in a vacuum.

Chameleon: Home territory is Forest. At the beginning of the game, chooses another animal and “disguises” as that role. Anyone who peeks at the Chameleon is shown the false role instead.

Basic strategy: Pick the Snake and pray.