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Today's News... RIGHT NOW!

Introduction: TNRN! is an improvisational party game, with inspiration from Atlas Game's Once Upon a Time, and some feedback of my other party game, "Mind You're Grammars". OUAT's story elements (Event, Place, etc.) seemed to be playable for a settion outside of OUAT's fantasy stories, and I looked for a way to use story elements that was easier than MYG.

In TNRN! players are news broadcasters for their local news team. Players will improvise news stories. Some leeway is provided for players who want to play the game, but not have the challenge of "on the fly" improvisation.

Submitting this one for the QPnP contest.

Components:
* Index cards
* Pens for each player
* One-minute timer

Setup: At the start of the game, give each player six cards. Each player then has one minute to write down an example of each of the following, one per card. Examples should be taken from actual news stories. A player may write down more examples on cards if he has time.

* Famous personality
* Group of people
* Thing or things
* Corporation name
* Action
* Quote

Play: Shuffle the cards and deals an equal number of cards to each player. Players now have one minute to review their cards, which they will use to form a one-minute news story. A player need not use all his cards. If there are only two players, they will conduct the Interview (see rest of rules).

Any player inexperienced with improvisational games may declare they will go to Commercial anytime during the game. Instead of a news story, they will improvise a commercial for under a minute using any of their cards. Anyone who goes to Commercial does not receive a News update or Headline (see rest of rules).

The moderator goes first. He first introduces his news catetgory (eg. top news story, international news, local news, sports, weather, etc.). Since he is the first player, this news story should be tonight's top news story. He has one minute to say his news story. After the moderator is finished, play passes to the left. As each card is used, it is discarded.

Headline: If the current player runs over a minute, he may use any of his remaining cards as a Headline. He makes up a news story headline using any of his cards, then passes the cards he use to make the Headline to the next player (skipping anyone who goes to Commercial). This next player's news story must involve this Headline.

News update: Otherwise, if the current player runs out of cards before the minute is up, any player may hand him one of his cards. He must now update his news broadcast with this story element.

Interview: If two players wish, they may conduct an interview. One player is the interviewer, the other the interviewee. When conducting an interview, the interviewer draws a random card from the OTHER person's hand and asks a question involving the card. The interviewee then draws a random card from the OTHER person's hand and gives an answer. The players have two minutes to conduct the interview.

Game end: The player who uses the most story element cards "wins" the game.

Next game: After the game is over, you will have a stack of cards with examples on them. Save these cards for your next game, and have each player start with a few cards from this deck. The more cards each player starts with, the easier it is to play a News update on another player!

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Sturv Tafvherd
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The concept is pretty sound. I understand why you wouldn't want to produce the cards -- the examples would need to be relevant to the player(s) for the game to work. So having the designer work out some random collection of story elements would restrict the fun. I imagine that whoever designed Apples to Apples had a similar problem.

Speaking of which, perhaps the cards from Apples to Apples can be used in the game. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a news report ... you could easily call it "Gossip Girls", and have everyone play that sterotypical teenage girl who never seems to stop to take a breath.



However, I do find one part that is potentially self-defeating:

Sam and Max wrote:

...
Setup: At the start of the game, give each player six cards
....
Play: Shuffle the cards and deals an equal number of cards to each player. Players now have one minute to review their cards, which they will use to form a one-minute news story. A player need not use all his cards.
.... As each card is used, it is discarded.

News update: If the current player runs out of cards before the minute is up, any player may hand him one of his cards. He must now update his news broadcast with this story element.

Game end: The player who uses the most story element cards "wins" the game.


So ... here's my problem. Every player starts with an equal number of cards.

In the case of a "perfect fit game", every player can conceivably use all their cards in exactly one minute. Result: tie.

In the case of "someone talking too fast", that player runs out of cards quickly. But why would anyone hand them one of their own cards? It gives the talking player a chance to score even higher ... and meanwhile, the player who gave up a card will now have definitely lower base score.



The only solution I see is that the fast-talker would be required to pick up a random card to score additional points -- and they would have to finish their story properly, otherwise the cards they picked up count as negative points instead.

The random cards should come from the combined deck -- so if everyone fills out n=6 starting cards, then everyone only receives (n-1) 5 cards at the beginning; which should leave a good number of cards remaining in the deck.

And, as each player finishes, he shuffles his cards back into the deck ... which can potentially add to the hilarity as the same news bites keep coming up!

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Hi Sturv,

Thanks for the comments. When "designing" this party game, I went for the "activity" first, and the scores last. Actually, if everyone survives the game, they really won the game, much like a real news story, perhaps.

I did notice that, when I played improv games before, some players would be *MUCH* better than others. That's where the Commercial comes in -- any players who want to try improv, but aren't that good, can use the Commercial to "shield" themselves from interruptions.

I *think* the reward of the game is not the scoring, but interrupting and throwing off players (that's certainly a reward of the "Mind Your Grammars" party game I came up with). I expect / assume some players won't care about scoring and will prefer to come up with Headlines and News updates. Unfortunately, there's not much time left for playtesting (I can't get out of the house, thanks to a recent back injury), so I don't really know. But I think the news stories people come up with should be fun and I'll try to get this to the table when I'm better.

Baron Munshausen has a good scoring system, where each person "votes" for the best story after everyone is done. Maybe there's a "performance review" phase where each person gives his cards to the player they thought gave the best news story? Dunno.

Again, thanks for the comment!
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Another idea came up, and perhaps this would be a variant; but on the other hand, maybe it would be more fun. And the idea is:

TEAMS.

TV Newscasts are not about just one anchor person, after all. (Well, maybe some of them are ...) Most of the time, what you watch on the news is a team of people.

So ... why not have a competition between two teams? You still have everyone fill out their own cards first. After the cards have been gathered up, pick the best two improv players and have each one be a team captain ... and draft their teams.

Shuffle up the cards ... let's say there are 36 of them (6 players x 6 cards).

A random selection of 24 cards are given to the first team, the remaining 12 is given to the second team. The first team looks over their 24 cards and they have 5 minutes to assign them out, and talk about themes and strategy. Then play starts as you've already outlined -- each member of the team gives their 1 minute news cast. In this case, however, the 2nd team can play news updates with their 12 cards.

After the first team is done, the cards are gathered up and reshuffled. And the first and second team switch roles -- this time, the second team gets 24 cards.

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Sturv,

That sounds like serious gaming convention coolness! You could even have member of the audience fill out the cards, and each team uses *the same cards* to come up with news stories.

I like it! laugh
 
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On TV shows, and the news, the anchors have a certain amount of content to cover in a specific amount of time.

I think it would be better to make it a goal to use your six cards in sixty seconds. Then have a dead air penalty or something for people who rip through their cards.
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Yeah -- I'd *DEFINITELY* like some sort of penalty against someone who "plows through their cards". If you're familiar with the game, Once Upon a Time, this can easily happen. To some extent, that's what the News Update is for, but I doubt it will truly fix the problem.

I just added the Interview rules, which I'm sure true munchkins would clearly avoid, but is obviously a fun challenge to people who can improv. I'm holding off scoring until I actually play a game -- I've found that reading the rules of a game, particularly party game, isn't the same actually playing it. Heck, even on BGG, before a game is released, we regularly have these threads centering around a perceived issue that turns out to be a non-issue.
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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Have you considered making it more like an evening of broadcasts? So each team starts off giving the news item during the evening news. Then in the following rounds you have to create "Special Bulletins" updating the other team's story. So over time the constraints on the stories keep getting tighter.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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jmucchiello wrote:
Have you considered making it more like an evening of broadcasts? So each team starts off giving the news item during the evening news. Then in the following rounds you have to create "Special Bulletins" updating the other team's story. So over time the constraints on the stories keep getting tighter.


In other words, the teams exchange cards, and go for additional rounds of play.
 
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Stormtower wrote:
jmucchiello wrote:
Have you considered making it more like an evening of broadcasts? So each team starts off giving the news item during the evening news. Then in the following rounds you have to create "Special Bulletins" updating the other team's story. So over time the constraints on the stories keep getting tighter.


In other words, the teams exchange cards, and go for additional rounds of play.

No, the content of the original stories are set. How the cards were used originally cannot be changed. But you draw more cards (or set aside some cards originally and use them later) and have to expand the existing story that the other team originated.
 
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Curt Woodard
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This doesn't meet the contest requirements in my opinion. No PnP cards for us to print out. Using index cards is not following the rules, let alone forcing the players to design the cards for you.
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