Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Sheriff of Nottingham

Product-Sheriff of Nottingham

Producer-Arcane Wonders

Price– $30 here

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 20 minutes (3-5 players)



TL; DR-A Good game of who is the best liar. 91%


Basics-Who’s the best liar in Nottingham?  In Sheriff of Nottingham, players take the roles of different merchants trying to smuggle goods into the Nottingham market.  Each turn starts with players discarding and drawing cards.  These cards can come from a facedown pile or from one of two face up piles where the order is publicly known.  Players set asides some cards, draw up to six, and then discard the set aside cards to either pile.  After drawing, then each player except that Sheriff for that round, chooses up to five cards, and places them in a bag with a snap.  The cards come in two general types: basic and contraband.  Basic goods are chicken, bread, cheese, and apples.  Contraband are better types of basic goods, weapons, pepper, or other random items.  After a player chooses what to put in the bag, that player must then announce to the Sheriff the number of cards in the bag as well as say one type of good (obviously you should not say contraband!).  The Sheriff has to decide if you are lying, to trust you, or to try to take a bribe.  Brides could be future favors, money, or even bribes from other players to look in the bag!  If the Sheriff let’s the player pass, then the player places goods around their play mat for the different basic goods or places contraband facedown in front of their player board.  However, if the Sheriff opens your bag, then things get interesting.  If you were completely truthful and had played no contraband, then the Sheriff pays you the penalty value of all the goods in your bag.  If you had some other basic goods, then you have to pay the Sheriff the penalty value for each good you didn’t declare before, but you still get to keep the goods as before.  And lastly, if you had contraband, you pay the Sheriff for the contraband, pay for undeclared cards as before, and then the contraband is placed in one of the discard piles.  After each player except the Sheriff player has had a chance to be inspected, then the next player becomes the Sheriff, and the game continues as above until each player is the Sheriff twice.  At the end of the game, the players with the most and second most of each basic good score extra points, and then the gold value for each item you have, basic and contraband, are added together along with any remaining currency you still have.  The player with the highest score is the winner and best merchant/smuggler in Nottingham!

IMG_20151126_175932021Mechanics-This game is as simple as they come, and that’s not a bad thing.  Sheriff of Nottingham is completely social.  You do get some cards, and to make some choices, but overall, the game’s main focus is social deduction, risk-management, and a good poker face.  It’s quick, fun, and something you don’t have to have a strong game background to play.  But, you do need a poker face and a group of people who do like these kind of games.  There is no self correction for the leader.  If you don’t work together against the leader, you will lose.  4.5/5

Theme-There is a theme here, but honestly, it’s not very strong.  You have art driving home Robin Hood, but the gameplay itself isn’t  tied to that world.  You’re just sneaking a thing into a place.  The bags are awesome, and they do drive home the theme of anxiously trying to avoid customs.  That’s fun.  Nothing beats the feel and sound of the snap on the bag to let you know the game is up.  But, don’t expect to fly deep into the game work like with Mage Wars.3.75/5

Instructions-The rulebook is well laid out, and the rules are not complicated.  As you saw above, it’s pretty simple.  You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to have fun and the rule book knows that as well.  5/5

IMG_20151126_175939405Execution– SNAP!  The game is amazing.  You get great bags, cards, art, and cardboard coins all look great.  however, the star is the snap on the bag.  It brings awesome theme and tension to the game.  I absolutely love that.  What’s more the game itself has a divider in the box that holds all the piece and comes out of the box to assist in gameplay. I’d like the dividers a bit higher to better contain the coins, overall, The signs of a great game.  To see all the parts, here is a video of me unboxing the game: https://youtu.be/NB6syVc3imE  5/5

Summary-This is another great game that a solid chunk of you won’t play.  This is a pure social game.  If you can’t read people, then you will not enjoy it. There are no Euro-elements to grab on here. However, if you’re trained to spot a liar, then you will enjoy this game as you get to flex those muscles.  The only real challenge ihen is the randomness.  You have to adjust your strategy on the fly for this one.  This is a American Style game through and through that is a great, quick social game. 91%

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