Sheriff of Nottingham: Board Game (Review)

Overview

Sheriff of Nottingham puts you and up to four of your friends as merchants just trying to make their way in the world, however there is a twist. One of you will become the Sheriff of Nottingham each turn and will try to make the lives of your merchant friends much harder.
The idea is simple. As a merchant you’re trying to bring your goods into Nottingham, and as the sheriff your goal is to determine who might be carrying a little more than legal goods.

Playing

Sheriff of Nottingham is a surprisingly easy to learn game about bluffing and bribery. The goal of the game is to have the most money at the end of the game calculated by the amount of goods, gold, and King/Queen bonuses.
A round of play is dived up into five phases: Market, Load Merchant Bag, Declaration, Inspection, End of Round. At the beginning of each round a player will be chosen to act as the “Sheriff” and will only participate in the “Inspection” phase.

During the Market phase players may discard any unwanted cards and pick up new cards to replenish your hand back up to the six-card requirement. This usually includes legal goods, but may also include any contraband or Royal Good cards.

During the Bag phase the players will put their selected cards (up to five) into their merchant bags. The bags act as a veil of secrecy to hide their true contents from the other players and the Sheriff.

During the Declaration phase, players must announce to everyone what exactly is in their bags. This sounds simple but is actually a very important step. Players must announce only ONE good in their bag and it must be a legal one, in addition the amount that they state must also be the same amount of total cards they placed in their bag. Meaning if you placed four cards in your bag and only two of them are legal goods, you must lie and state that all four of them are the same. Even if all of your goods are legal but are of different types, you must also lie and say they are all the same.

During the Inspection phase the Sheriff is tasked with trying to determine whose bag to inspect based on the Declaration phase. All players are subject to searching if the Sheriff desires, however there is a catch. Players may offer the Sheriff a deal in order to not be searched, this could include a bribe or promise of goods in the future. If the Sheriff takes the bribe then the player is required to fulfill it and then allowed through. If the Sheriff decides to search the bag and finds out the player was lying, they must pay the indicated fine for the illegal or undeclared goods. If they Sheriff was wrong then they must pay the price to the player.

At the End of Round phase players take out their cards and reveal to the other players and Sheriff what was actually in their bags. Sometimes the Sheriff will realize that he should have searched someone he didn’t once he sees the results.

Overall Impression

Overall this game is very fun to play with a ground of friends. The mechanics are surprisingly simple to learn despite the lengthy rules that come with the game. In addition it has great replay-ability as the results can very depending on how well you bluff and bribe your way through the game. I’d definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for something fun to do at their next gathering.

If you’d like to buy the game, you can click this link here to buy on Amazon.