I truly love TI3, and would be happy to play The Long War each and every time I play. But reality says otherwise, and it becomes increasingly difficult for my fledgling TI3 group to be able to finish a game within a reasonable amount of time. There are four of us, and we played our second game together last Saturday, which took about eight hours, box open to box closed. Yes, that's a long time, but we're relatively inexperienced (it was their second game, my sixth) and we had some child-related distractions. While we finished the game, we were disappointed that it lasted as long as it did (because it took away time from playing more games afterward). Note that while we do play a number of optional rules, none of them are major contributors to our game length (no Mercenaries, no Distant Suns, no Political Intrigue).
So I had an idea, predicated on playing the SE Strategy Cards (which we played for our two games): remove one Stage I public objective card and one Stage II public objective card from the Objective Deck. Then, instead of playing to 9 points, we play to 7.
Basically, it shortens the game by about two turns. Does this seem reasonable? The only problem that I can think of is that it may limit the amount of tech we can accumulate over the course of the game, but I really don't see that as being a big deal. To the more experienced players out there in the community: any comments, criticisms, or alternative ideas would be greatly appreciated.