Sheriff of Nottingham review

sheriff of nottingham review

Designer: Sergio Halaban and Andre Zatz
Players: 3-5
Ages:  Publisher: 14+ We think: 6-8+ 
Playtime:  Publisher: 60min We think: 30-45mins

 

I have to admit, I have a bad habit of judging games by their cover (looking at you Great Western Trail), and that also applies to Sheriff of Nottingham – a game by CMON and Arcane Wonders. There was something about the cover art and the ‘bluffing’ aspect of this game that had put me off it for a long time, but I regret that now. This has quickly become one of our family’s favourite games to play and for good reason. 

The Game

Sheriff of Nottingham asks the players to act as merchants who are trying to get their goods to market. Unfortunately, the Sheriff has decided that he needs to inspect goods to make sure that contraband is not getting through. Each player starts with a hand of 6 cards which may include legal items such as Apples, Cheese, Bread, Chicken or contraband items – Pepper, Mead, Silk or Crossbows. One player is allocated as the Sheriff for the first round, while the other plans swap their goods at market (if they wish) to complete hands of cards to send to market. 

Players then take turns in declaring their goods to the Sheriff in sealed envelopes – it is up to them whether they are honest or if they stretch the truth. The problem is, you can’t get the high paying contraband goods into the city without lying, so here is where your bluffing and bribing skills have to come to the fore. 

You may lie about the types of goods in your bag, but not about the amount of cards – so you could hand over 4 cards and say that they are all legal chickens, but in fact be sending pepper and mead. The Sheriff now has to make a decision, do they open your envelope and catch you out, or do they trust you, because being wrong is going to mean a consequence for someone!

Pros

  • Great player interaction – everyone gets several chances to be the Sheriff, which allows a variety of approaches to the role;
  • Easy rule set – playing with younger players is quite easy, players aged 6+ shouldn’t have too much of a problem with the rules; 
  • Great chance for silliness, and all round role-playing fun.

Cons

  • After only 2 games the snap buttons on the merchants bags have started to give way. The button is quite tight, so the constant pulling doesn’t do good things to the structural integrity of the bag. Unfortunately, at least one bag button has totally given way and others are on their way. 
  • On the line between simple and long – games last a bit longer than a filler game would normally last and may be some be a little simple for some people/styles of play. 

You might also like

  • Quacks of Quedlinburg – a big winner this year and a great family fun game, with similar easy to learn rules; 
  • King of Tokyo – great dice chucking, take that fun for the whole family; 

I was looking for a game that I could play with my children that would provide plenty of fun and laughs and it has definitely delivered on that. You will find yourself getting vengeful, role-playing and failing miserably at catching contraband and that is what makes this game great. Despite the 14+ on the box, I really feel that it can be played by children significantly younger (6 year olds got the core concepts with some prompting) and also be enjoyed by everyone around the table. 

 

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