We played the 5-player version of my newspaper game Extra! Extra! last Thursday at Epsom Games Club. I have been contemplating several new ideas for improvement based on the suggestions that arose from that game. See Games played at Epsom Games Club 27.09.12 for details.
Thanks to Farro, Phil, Paul, and James for sparking this off with their comments.
James has suggested simplifying the card draw mechanism. The current method has evolved from that used in PAX:
draw three cards (one at a time), keep one, discard one, and place one into the market
To the following...
draw all three cards at one, place two into the market (i.e. the news desk) and the other into the news wire (syndication row)
The problem with this is the time it takes for players to decide where to put their three cards. In a five player game, it takes a lot of time to go through all 162 cards.
So my solution to this is to pre-designate where the cards have to go, so there is no player choice. For the next playtest, all three cards will go into the news desk, which will have space for six stacks of cards (up from one stack per player). Cards will only be moved into the news wire at the end of turn, if any are left not taken. They will remain there for subsequent turns until displaced by later cards discarded from the news desk. The number of stacks available here will be one less than the number of players.
This new mechanism will mean some cards will hang around longer in the news wire, which will also be empty at the start of the game (when it currently goes unused anyway). Win-win!
Another idea is to assign each card to one of six continents (Europe, North America, Asia, South America, Australasia, and Africa). On each 'suit', there are 6 copy cards and 6 photo cards, so it is easy to balance out where these go. I will add a symbol to each card to indicate this.
Then each of the six slots in the news desk is assigned to one continent. When a player draws a card, he just puts it in the appropriate slot. Easy-peasey.
Final idea: allow players to claim stories with cards from different suits, provided they all are marked with the same continent symbol. This will be easier to do than to claim stories with cards from the same suit, but you won't be able to score single-suit bonuses and you will score fewer VPs accordingly.
I will probably make this an 'advanced' rule to keep the core game simple.
If any past players of Extra! Extra! care to comment here, I'd be very pleased to hear your thoughts on these new ideas.