- Designer: Andrew Bond
- Publisher: Mayfair Games
- Players: 2-6
- Time: 1-4 hours
- Ages: 14+
- Times played: 2 with review copy provided by Mayfair Games
Extra! Extra! puts players in the role of newspaper editors – each striving to make their newspaper better than the competition.The is a worker placement game where your workers are the reporters that you have sent out to collect the news. The game has a number of different scenarios that can be played, though the main difference between them is the size of your newspaper that you need to complete to finish. Game length is directly related to the size of your newspaper.
The gameboard is a three-part affair, each of which shows a different portion of a newspaper office – the Editor’s Desk, The Operations Center, and Sources. There are a bunch of tiles which represent the stories, headlines, columns, classifieds, etc of your paper. The spaces on the Editor’s Desk board are filled in with tiles drawn from the supply. Each player gets his own player board – which represents his newspaper, and the scenario card is laid out so that all players know what the target size for this game is. There are 3 different decks of cards in the game: Copy, Photo and Features. These are shuffled, and players are dealt two cards from each deck. Finally, players take 2 of their 5 workers and place them on their boards on the money spaces.
In the intro game, each round has 6 phases:
1 – Refresh the Newsdesk and Morgue
Draw one card per player from each of the decks and place them under the matching city area at the edge of the board. There are 6 different cities where your news comes from, and this info is located at the bottom of each card. Also, add Cuttings to the spaces in the Morgue for them – there will be 3 copy cuttings and 3 photo cuttings.
2 – Sell News Cards
This occurs only in the first round. If you want, you may sell back any of the cards that you were dealt to start the game for $100 each.
3 – Collect Income and pay Salaries
Each round, you get $400 as income. Then you pay $100 for each active reporter in your color. If you cannot pay them, you must return them to your supply.
4 – Place Reporters
In clockwise order, players either place a reporter onto an available space (which may include a fee) OR they pass. Players may only pass if they have no available reporters. There are a few spaces on the board which are instant – these white bordered spaces activate as soon as a worker meeple is placed on it. There are a few black bordered spaces which have no limit to the number of workers on them – every meeple on these will get the same benefit. The majority of the spaces are grey contested spaces. When you place a meeple here, you also place a fee (or bid) with the meeple. Your meeple can be displaced later in the round if another player places his meeple here with a higher bid than the one that you placed – you will get both your meeple and your fee back when they are displaced. In this way, it might be possible that you can place a meeple later in the round after passing for a few turns. The round only ends when all players pass consecutively.
5 – Activate Reporters
Now, the reporters are activated in an order which is shown by arrows on the board. It starts at the newsdesk and winds its way through the office. At the Newsdesk, your reporter picks up all the cards in the city where he was investigating. You add these cards to your hand. Then in the morgue, you can pick up cuttings which are half-stories or half-photos – these can be used later in pairs to replace a copy card or a photo card.
Then you move to the Editor’s Desk where you work on the paper itself. The first space is Typesetting – this allows you to re-orient or move stores on your paper or copy desk. Next you can pick up Headlines and Columns. Each of these objects goes on specific spaces on your paper – Headlines on the top and columns on the gray column on the right. Newspapers must have a headline in order to be complete. They do not need to have a Column though – those spaces could be filled with Stories, Ads, Classifieds, etc.
Then, you get the chance to pick up stories for your paper – there are 4 different sizes of stories. You will need to spend cards (or cuttings) with icons that match those on the story that you claim. The number of cards spent must also match the space your reporter is on as well as the size of the story. If you claim a story that matches your paper’s specialty (i.e. same color as yours), you can collect a 3VP token as well. When you collect a Story, you must either immediately place it in your newspaper or place it on your Copy Desk (the area on the table next to your board). Stories can generally only move with the Typesetting action.
The chance to make an Interview is next – you can spend Interview cards here to pick up a Interview token. This is placed on a story and will double its score at the end of the game. The last thing you can do here is collect Classified tiles if your worker is on that space.
Finally, you move to the Operations Center. First up is Advertising. If you accept an ad, you must place the matching Ad tile immediately onto your newspaper and then you immediately collect money from the bank. The downside is that these Ads do not score any VPs at the end of the game. Next up is Sales – here you can sell up to 3 cards from your hand for $100 each. Next, you could recruit a new worker – this adds a meeple from your supply to your active area; you can start to place it in the next round. You could also choose to Offhire or loan out your reporter for $100 from the bank.
6 – End of Round
First, check to see if the game is over. In the intro game, this is when at least one player has filled then entire space of their paper – in the intro scenario, this is 12 squares. If so, you move onto scoring. If the game is not over, then you rotate the Start Player card, you pick up your worker meeples, discard down to no more than 14 cards in your hand, and replenish all the empty spaces on the Editor’s Desk board.
End of Game Scoring
If the end of the game has been triggered, then you score your paper. Each Newspaper story and Classified Ad has a VP value printed on the tile. Total up your points to see who wins. You only score points for story tiles placed in your paper. Tiles on your Copy Desk are not worth anything. You also score 3VP for each tile you collected during the game for collecting stories that matched your color. In the full version of the games, there are also points for Headlines and Columns. Furthermore, there are modifiers that can increase the points for a Story tile (for Interviews or the Extra! Extra! designation). The player with the most points wins. Ties go to the player with most money left.
My thoughts on the game
Though the board looks quite busy with many different spaces, tiles and cards – this is a fairly straightforward worker placement game. The twist here is the “auction” of sorts for most of the action squares. Having to possibly spend money to take the actions that you want adds a nice management twist to the game. Money is fairly tight in the game, so you want to spend it wisely.
Like most worker placement games, there is some race element to picking the best spots. Due to the bidding though, you do not get absolute advantage by placing first – you merely get the advantage of setting the starting price of the space. One thing to be wary of is not to over-bid. You could place your worker down without a bid, and if nobody outbids you, you could take that space for free! However, if you underbid for a spot, get kicked out and then return in a later turn, you’ve now had to bid at least $200 more than your original bid – so trying to get the bid right the first time could end up saving you some money.
As I mentioned earlier, money is tight, and you’ll constantly be trying to balance out the needs of your workers fees and salaries with your bankroll. Taking ads is a good way to get a quick income infusion, but each time you do this, you gobble up spaces in your paper that could be used for point scoring stories, columns, and classifieds – so you don’t want to be too active in selling ads! You will also have to figure out what the sweet spot is in terms of the number of reporters you have active. You will obviously be able to take more actions if you have more workers out, but you have to pay them a salary each round as well as being able to pay for their possible fees each turn.
When choosing your stories, you’ll also have to balance out the expediency of choosing the stories that happen to match the cards that you have versus the higher payout of focusing on story tiles that match your speciality. Of course, if you take too long to get the right cards for that bonus tile, someone else might have just chosen the tile you want in the interim!
Thus far, we’ve limited ourselves to the Introductory scenarios mostly for time reasons. Even the smallest papers (12 and 15 spaces) have taken us 80-100 minutes to play. We’ve added in the full complement of rules, but to be honest, we’ve been quite happy with the complexity of play in that shorter time frame. I’m not sure that my group would be looking for a 3 to 4 hour, Berliner Cover Pages game where each player is trying to complete two 15 square pages for the game. But, I do know plenty of groups who love long games, and this game is set up well to scale for that if desired.
The components for the game are well done. The cards are of a sturdy stock with a nice linen finish. The punchboards are thick and well-cut, which is something that is not true of all Mayfair releases of the past few years. The artwork on the boards and cards is a bit old-timey, but given that we’re dealing with a theme of “antiquated” newspapers, it’s quite fitting. My only complaint is that i wish that the money was a bit bigger and perhaps a little more distinct. Though we didn’t often have a 500 dollar bill, it was a bit of work trying to make sure we didn’t confuse it with the 100 dollar bill!
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor
Thanks for the excellent review, Dale. You are the first reviewer who has picked up on the fact that this is not so much a worker placement game, but more a multiple auction game. As you rightly point out, the key to winning the game is to know how big to make your bids, especially your first. Players who have a lot of money on their game board are not playing efficiently.
My basic measure of value is to try not to pay more than $100 per card I pick up from the six main cities. So, if there are three cards on offer, I might pay up to $300 for them if they are ones I want. I will also try not to let another player get those three cards for less than $200.
(The game’s designer)
Andrew – thanks for reading our blog! Thanks for the tip – that’s a nice rule of thumb I might be able to throw out there with newer players to the game…
Good luck at Essen with this one!