I figured I would post a thread on it to discuss a few minor ideas and ways to make the game a little more interesting. I partially got the idea from someone else after watching a video which later became a couple play variations we use pretty often.
The reason that we use the rules as I mentioned is to push the game towards more negotiation style game. Simply put certain periods of the game are more negotiation heavy than other parts of it. Lets say if you want to go from 1-12 in influence you will generally see most of the negotiation to play cards between about 3-6 influence and when you play over 7 influence you become more self sufficient while 1-2 combining your influence doesn't offer that many more cards and the returns are minor for what you will likely have to pay out.
So the proposed idea that we use as a variant is changing the end game influence and where we start from. As an example its pretty common for us to go from 1-8 influence if you have a little bit of time or ~4-8 if your wanting a shorter variation of it.