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Extra! Extra!» Forums » Reviews

Subject: [Review] All The News That's Print To Fit rss

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Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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OVERVIEW
Extra! Extra! is a worker placement and set collection game about putting together a newspaper page, where you send reporters to write copy and take photos, and assemble this into stories which you jigsaw onto your front page.

COMPONENTS IN BRIEF
Large central 3-part board, tiny money, many cards of various types, cardboard bonus tokens, each player also has an individual player board and 5 wooden meeples of their color.

GAMEPLAY IN BRIEF
Players start with a staff of just two reporter meeples, although more can be hired. On your turn, you place one of your meeples on an available space, or oust an opponent from an unavailable space by placing your meeple with more money than your opponent had placed there. Once all workers are thusly placed, spaces will activate in flowchart order and placed meeples may let you:

*Pick up cards at your location
*Spend appropriate cards to create a story and add it to your newspaper board
*Fiddle with the layout of your paper
*Add classifieds or advertisements to your paper
*Hire another worker
*Get more money
*Raise the value of a placed story

The game ends on the round when any player has filled every square of their paper, with VP scored based mainly on stories and story-related bonuses.



GOOD POINTS

*Good board/card design makes the game easy to learn. While the rules of the game may read a bit complex, once you start playing the game everything seems very intuitive. The iconography on the cards is very clear, and the board design makes it very easy to tell at a glance exactly what spaces do and in what order they resolve. This is very helpful for a game with many spaces and different types of cards, and Extra Extra nails it.

*A non-cliched theme well-represented. In a market crowded with Ancient Egypt, Renaissance trading, and zombies, assembling a newspaper is a fresh new theme. More importantly, the theme is well supported through the story gathering and assembling mechanics. (Even if some things are unrealistic, such as a print newspaper actually hiring more journalists.) The fact that one gets a sense of progress in laying out one's paper is nice as well.

*The twists on the standard Worker Placement mechanics spice up the game. Essentially, you are just playing on spaces to pick up cards and spend them on stories. But the fact that you can pay money to oust another player from a space is a nice touch that differentiates it from many WP games. Along with the Stringers that let you snipe a card from a city space directly into your hand before anyone plays there, the result is that getting to place first won't guarantee you all the best cards -- and that's a good thing.

*Forces interesting choices between quality and quantity. As mentioned, money is used to bump other players off of spaces. Nothing is wasted -- any bumped players get to play their pieces somewhere else, and get their money returned -- but the best spaces on the board are likely to attract competition and become expensive. Conversely, a player who jumped up to 4 reporters on the first turn won't have any income to fight for the best spaces, but will be able to play on more spaces overall. Likewise, the newswire and morgue areas have spaces for (in a 5-6p game) pick1, pick2, and pick3, but they are resolved in that order -- so a player who wants to grab 3 for the price of 1 will have to settle for whatever's leftover. This tension between quality and quantity is most keenly felt in the 5-6 player game, but still happens even in 2p.

*Easy to gather cards, but not always what you want. -- You need X cards of the same topic to play a size X story, with larger stories being worth more points. Especially with wildcard tokens from the Morgue space, it's trivial to gather a pair for a size 2 story, but getting 6 of a kind can be trickier with the 14-card hand limit -- especially as you may end up with 6 copy cards while the available 6 story requires 3 photos. Extra Extra bonus cards reward you for completing a story of a certain type, but the reward scales by size. And interview cards can double a story's value, but you'll need a number equal to the size of the story -- again, making a 6-interview-card hand a tough get with a hand cap of 14 cards. In addition to these bonus cards and the 6 topics of copy and photo cards, there are also 3 types of classifieds, headline cards, and stringers.

The hand limit forces interesting decisions, such as whether to grab a third leisure card so you can run your trio of leisure cards as a size 3 story, hold out for more to do a bigger story even if it means discarding, or simply aim for a size 2 leisure story and stock up on Sports cards to get your topic bonus (each player has a different topic for which they receive bonus points.)

*A panoply of options and scenarios In addition to playing with anywhere from 2-6 players, there are also a dozen different scenarios for what size newspaper you must fill, ranging from a simple 12-square tabloid to a massive 30-square berliner. So the game is basically as long as you would like.

BAD POINTS

*Rulebook is not the most efficiently written. As mentioned above under good points, the rulebook is a lot more complicated than the game. In spite of this, many things are not clarified as well as they could be, or indeed in some cases, clarified in what looks like flavor text rather than in the rules summary.

*I am starting to dislike tiny cardboard bills. This is admittedly more a personal thing than a universal negative, but where others always complain about paper money, I am starting to dislike tiny cardboard bills which always seem difficult to pick up and then pointy. Thick coins always seem the best for these sorts of games, and while I must admit the theme of big money suits this game much better, from a purely mechanical perspective I prefer cardboard coins.

*Despite all my rage, still just a rat in a cage. While the paid-ousting mechanic and newspaper layouts do add some interest to the game beyond the usual worker placement mechanics, one thing the game lacks is a deep infrastructure pathing that results in heavy post-game analysis and future game planning. So for people who really crave that specific thing, this game doesn't have it. It's also not a breakfast cereal. (By which I mean, it may seem churlish to criticize a medium-light worker placement game for not being a heavier game, but I wanted to put something under bad points.)



CONCLUSION

Extra! Extra! is a well put-together game. A worker placement game with various other attendant mechanics that still manages to be easy to learn. Various strategic and tactical options, a good flow of gameplay, a new theme, options for various game lengths and numbers of players (I've tested 2, 3, and 5, works great with all although naturally more contentious w/5)... over all, Extra! Extra! does a lot right, and I imagine I'd be fairly happy to play this when someone suggests it.

That being said, the lack of infrastructure pathing variation and post-game analysis and so-forth means it is unlikely to end up as a personal favorite, and so I doubt this will see 50 plays from me. But it's a solid and accessible game that should be easy to get to the table, and I certainly expect to play it some more.

IS IT FOR YOU?

I do not expect Extra! Extra! to be a polarizing game. I would describe it (as I describe Stone Age) as a WP game which most anyone will enjoy well enough, but may not be anyone's favorite. So if you have no time for anything that won't become a #1 favorite, or if more generally you're trying to avoid all things worker placement, the twists on this probably won't make up for the fact that it is still a WP game at heart.

Otherwise, it's frankly hard not to recommend this one; a lot going on, accessible with decisions, good flow, and plays with the number of players you have at the length you want.

*Review copy provided by publisher
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Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Thanks for this review, Seth.

Several people have commented on the rulebook not doing the game any favours, for which I am (of course) the main culprit. To help address this, I have started a 'How to play' geeklist, here:

How to play Extra! Extra!

Nevertheless, I think your review accurately sums up the game. Thanks for writing it!
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Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
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Hello Andrew!

Thanks for the link! Always glad to see designers on these forums, and hope you don't take any negatives too personally. Neat game!
 
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Andrew Bond
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Osirus wrote:
Hello Andrew!

Thanks for the link! Always glad to see designers on these forums, and hope you don't take any negatives too personally. Neat game!


I thought your review was pretty positive. Thanks for your comments.
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