Hmm. You may be right, as I don't have the chance to play 4 player often, and a 3-4 hour 4 player even less. Personally, I don't discard the benefactor cards though. I'll take the trickle. I think what would handicap them more than anything, in any game, is that their strat is much less flexible. 4 opponents may just be too many to keep resource poor, and you need them to play YOUR game with Red. You need them constantly trying to prepare for your next attack.

I think your suggestion may be valid, though, as a house rule. No problem with that. I think I'll try to play it that way. Red very badly needs the early lead however they can get it. The other players economies can snowball too quick without it I think.