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Event cards change the board state after a players “Goes to Press”. They determine which Beats become more popular, and thus more valuable. They also determine which new stores get replaced and where advertisements go on the player’s board.

A Degenerate News Junkie Reviews “Penny Press”

I woke up around 3 in the afternoon and, thanks to the endless streaming of NPR on my laptop, was immediately greeted with more of the unending news about Trump’s latest fiasco. A fiasco that many will say will be the last straw for his supporters, but probably won’t be. Because only dirty liberals care about things like ethics, and the fact that there are so many waivers for those ethics floating around in DC these days.

When a player Goes to Press, they have to situate their stories in such a way that the most valuable story (the lead story) is touching the top of the paper. Plus, they have to work around the advertisement, which can’t be moved.

It’s mornings like this that I am faced with the grim reality of my addiction. I consume about six hours of news on a daily basis, and that’s just when I’m conscious. Between public radio, various news outlets with YouTube channels, and about a dozen papers I follow on Twitter, I soak up as much news as humanly possible. I am, without a doubt, a hopeless no-good news junkie.

And you should be too! In this day and age, current events are the only events that matter. The world is moving at an incredible pace, and every city, state, country, industry, war, famine, outbreak, parade, assassination, bombing, shooting, and cable news rant is interconnected. And everyone has their own slant on how or why anything happens. The only way to ensure that you get the truth is to consume all the news. From everywhere. Even if you hate the source. Because occasionally, the swinish bastards who want to drag this country back to the 1950’s get a few facts right.

The meat of the game is the jockeying for stories. If you at least match an opponent’s number of reporters on a story, you can take it when you Go to Print. However, if other players have reporters on that story, they pick up “Scoop points”, so losing a story isn’t a total loss.

Penny Press takes place during the “Yellow Journalism” era, when Pulitzer’s New York World did battle with Hearst’s New York Journal. There are five news beats: War, Crime and Calamity, Politics, Local News, and the Human Condition.

Political news is usually my first and last daily concern. It’s an exceptionally dirty addiction. You SHOULDN’T care about politics. You should care about government. But our politicians are forever campaigning, and governing has taken a backseat. And because everything is politicized, all decisions are based on ideology. Facts be damned.

Event cards increase the end-of-game value of certain Beats. It’s possible to be behind in points throughout the game and make up for it during the Final Edition.

Crime is the most obvious example politics trumping government. Most people either want to see the book thrown at whoever happened to piss off the cops that day, or they think the very idea of police should be scrapped in favor of some kind of law enforcement that hasn’t been invented yet. Never mind what the law says. It all depends on who did it, instead of what was done.

News about the Forever War feels strangely remote. After 16 years of non-stop fighting, it’s amazing people even react to reports from the warzone. It’s something that is happening somewhere else. And it’s being fought by someONE else. Regular folks don’t know any soldiers, and a lot of military families don’t know anyone that ISN’T in a military family. While the Forever War has been compared to Vietnam, it just doesn’t hit close to home anymore. This may be why it’s still going.

When a player Goes to Press 3 times, it triggers the Final Edition. The Beat values freeze, each other player Goes to Press one last time, then final points are tallied.

I rarely give a shit about local news. If I ever claimed to be a man of the people, I lied. The city itself is interesting, but unless a story makes the national news, the day to day goings-on bore me to death.

And finally, there’s the Human Condition. This is basically everything else. Sports, tech news, health news, human interest stories that are NOT NEWS, business and finance news, entertainment news, etc. Basically, sexy news that doesn’t matter in the long run, or unsexy news about things more likely to kill you than crime and war put together, like heart disease.

At the end of the game, the stories you published are counted up. If you have the most stars in a Beat, you get the bonus points for that Beat.

Penny Press isn’t a perfect game. The theme is interesting, and jockeying for the big story is fun, but it’s also repetitive. Once you play half a dozen times, it feels like you’re playing the same exact game over and over. And if you’re only playing with two players, is gets old even faster.

Then again, I could be playing it all wrong. The rule book is not laid out well. Rules seem to be placed where they fit best, not in the order you‘re likely to look them up. Plus, at least one rule (on empty Beats during set-up) is written terribly. After searching high and low for an FAQ, I made up my own rules for it. I don’t know if it throws off the balance and I’m not sure I care at this point. But it’s a good looking game. And if you normally play with 4 or 5 players, you may get more mileage that I did.

So why did I buy it? Because it was the only modern game about publishing the news I could find. The art design and iconography are excellent, and the mechanics match the theme perfectly. For those reasons alone, it’s going to stay in my collection. If you’re a news addict, or someone that regards the art of journalism as one of humanity’s greatest inventions, you’ll like Penny Press.

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