Sheriff of Nottingham - Board Game Box Shot

Sheriff of Nottingham

| Published: 2014

The Sheriff of Nottingham is a fun and engaging game for all where each player will have the chance to step into the shoes of the Sheriff himself! Other players, acting as Merchants will attempt to bring their goods into the city for profit. Beware though, while many may act as honest merchants, there is always the possibility of contraband being smuggled into the city!

Experience Nottingham in a whole new way! Declare your goods, deal with the Sheriff and secure victory in a fun-filled and exciting adventure!

User Reviews (14)

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7
Finland
Advanced Reviewer
Strategist
7
96 of 104 gamers found this helpful
“Papers, please”

Welcome to Arstotzka, I mean Nottingham, comr… chap/chappette! Got anything in those bags for Sheriff do you? Oh, do I hear clink of coins?
Welcome the new addition to house of bluffing games. Let’s see if this box is full gold or fluff.

See you don’t have the permit. So I’ll take all your stuff (Summary)
Game is pretty simple as it often is this way with bluffing games. Each player gets their avatar and board/summary sheet. Then one player starts as the Sheriff and others draw cards in hopes to get as many matching tradable goods or not, this is where the bluff comes in. Players hand the bags of goods to sheriff in turn and tell/lie what it contains. Everything is open for any claim, except how many goods are in the bag. You can say that you have three breads even though you have bag full of contraband.

It’s up to sheriff whether he/she believes or not. If sheriff is right he gets paid for the contraband and liar loses those goods that were not declared correctly. However if everything is at it should be sheriff has to pay to owner of the goods. Sometimes belief has nothing to do with it since owner of bag can bride the sheriff not to open the bag, but what is even better is that other players can pay to sheriff to open the bag. This brings nice twist to the game and makes it interesting.

After every bag has been cleared or checked another turn starts and next player assumes role of sheriff. This goes until all players has been sheriff twice. Then game ends and winner is declared.

Beauty of lying (Components)
Art is simply beautiful and it is plentiful. It has very interesting division on characters and goods. Goods look like their real image and are very easily distinguished from each others, apples look even edible. Then again characters look more like caricatures and the art still keeps amazing. This game has one of the best art in board games out there, well at least if you look for non-serious art style.
Cardboard used on everything is high quality and box comes with detachable box interior for easier storing during the game. It deserves it own special mentioning, thanks for those!

Remember, pack the heavy stuff to bottom of the bag (Learning curve)
This game is from the easy end of the games and it’s something for whole family, providing you play so that your kids have a chance to win too. It’s one of the games my daughter loves. Fast to teach, doesn’t take long and easy to bring to table. Game is for five players max, which I can understand since otherwise there would be too much downtime for other players for this kind of game. Especially if sheriff likes to think a lot on decisions.

Rulebook was very clear on all the rules and you really don’t need to consult it while playing. Also player aids that come with the game are good quality and remind absent minded players about the turn order. It takes 1-2 sheriff for everybody to learn this game.

Glory to Nottingham! No entry, sorry (Conclusion)
Now before I tackle on this conclusion, this is fun game no doubt. However I can’t help, but feel that it falls short on other bluffing game, such as The Resistance and Ca$h ‘n Guns. It has certain appeal on the idea and art and I love pieces it come with. It has more meat than many of the same category games and is certainly more approachable to children. In other words perfect tool to prepare your kids to young adults or even better your neighbors kids. Also perfect guide how to succeed in job interview.

As I have said before it is great entry level game, but it also acts as great filler and icebreaker. You are certain to get laughter out of this, but is it the king of the hill? No, not even near, but it ain’t fluff either.

On that note, why there isn’t similar board game about Papers, please?

 
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1
9
91 of 99 gamers found this helpful
“Excellent game of strategy and psychological warfare!”

I love games that are fresh and new, those that don’t reuse the same mechanics as a hundred other games while only changing the theme. I also love games that pit players against each other and bring in a heavy dose of psychological warfare. Sheriff of Nottingham is just that. It is a surprisingly simple yet incredibly fun game of power, maneuvering, deal-making, and strategy where a quiet introvert can beat a type-A aggressor at his own game!

Play as merchants intent on bringing as many goods into the market as possible. Legal goods like apples, cheese, bread, and chickens bring a meager income while illegal contraband like pepper, mead, silk, and the coveted crossbow will rake in the coins…but at a substantial price if you get caught by the ever-present sheriff.

Here’s my thought on the strategy: on one end of the spectrum, you have players (usually those who are more conservative and honest at heart!) who stick to almost solely importing legal goods. They bring in a smaller yet consistent income. Beware of these kinds of players, however, because they will act the sweet, innocent merchant then turn around a 5-card sack of contraband! Can you tell I’ve been burned by them before? On the other side, you have the aggressive, get-rich-quick player who most often has at least a contraband or two in their sack but is willing to pay the Sheriff a hefty price to not take a peek. Each strategy works, but I’ve found that a good, unpredictable balance works best.

The artwork is outright impressive. The colors are vibrant and fun which makes for a beautiful game with very high-quality components. For me, this adds immensely to the theme and, ultimately, to my liking or disliking of a game.

The replay value is very high. The game itself changes moderately each time, but the most fun change is playing with different people. You’ll find yourself playing an entirely different game with a completely different strategy depending on the type of people you’re playing with. I’ve played games full of conservative people where bags are checked frequently and the winning score is relatively low. I’ve also played games with plenty of high-risk, high-return types who gamble for big gains (and big losses!). Usually, you’ll have a good mix of personality types which makes for a very fun, rounded game.

Overall, I give Sheriff of Nottingham a very high 8.5. This is an excellent game for all types of gamers, experienced or not. Those of us “game nerds” who love the intensely strategic games really enjoy it, but I also played with several very moderate gamers who absolutely loved it. Very well done!

 
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4
I play red
10
90 of 98 gamers found this helpful
“Beautiful, simple bluffing game”

I saw Sheriff of Nottingham played on the latest episode of Tabletop, and my interest was immediately piqued. I’m a big fan of political/bluffing games, and my group hasn’t been into them in a while. When I learned that one of our irregulars had actually got the game for Christmas, I urged him to bring it to tonight’s game night. I was not disappointed.

Right out of the box, Sheriff of Nottingham is eye-catching. The art is cartoonish, but lush and colorful and fun to look at. The cards feel very high-quality, the bags are bright gem tones, and the big cardboard standup of the Sheriff himself positively oozes unctuous greed and corruption. The games themselves don’t last too long — 30-45 minutes, depending on how long the players want to draw out the submission and inspection phases (and I do love to ham it up a bit as the Sheriff). The central mechanic is as varied as the people you play with, all of whom I trust just a little bit less after tonight.

The game is exceptionally simple: one player plays the role of the Sheriff, and the others are merchants who must declare their goods (cards) sealed inside of bags at his checkpoint. Merchants can smuggle contraband or just fudge the numbers on their legal goods in an attempt to turn a higher profit, but if the Sheriff decides to inspect the player’s bag and finds they have lied, that player must pay a fine to the Sheriff. However, should the Sheriff inspect a bag and finds the player has told the truth, the Sheriff must pay the player for the inconvenience. Of course, the merchant can bribe the Sheriff to look the other way…if the Sheriff agrees to the deal. This creates great, fun moments of tension as the Sheriff weighs whether s/he should open the bag, or accept the “processing fee” and wave the “honest merchant” on through.

There was a lot of shouting and laughter around the table, and a great time was had by all. Sheriff of Nottingham succeeds in what it sets out to do, and it does so with an elegant central mechanic and a gorgeous setting. Strangely enough, the game somehow gets itself out of the way and turns the focus completely onto the interactions between the players. I highly recommend Sheriff of Nottingham for anyone who enjoys bluffing, political, social, or party games, and I’d go so far as to say that it will be welcome in just about any gaming group.

 
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3
Reviewed My First Game
9
90 of 98 gamers found this helpful
“This must be how Customs Officers feel everyday”

Upfront, Sheriff of Nottingham sounds like a simple and, to the critical gamer, potentially shallow bluffing game. However, after finally playing the game, I can say with certainty that there is a surprising level of depth and deduction here, and I’m very glad I bought this game.

If you’ve read any other review of this game, you’ll know the premise is simple. Draw legitimate and contraband item cards to your hand, place a number of these cards in a pouch, and then attempt to bluff your goods into your shop, trying to convince the Sheriff (a different player each round) that the goods in their pouch as exactly as you claim (you must be honest with the number of cards in your pouch, but you may only name one legitimate item type). If the Sheriff chooses to the let the pouch pass uninspected, all the items in the pouch make it past ‘customs’ and will be placed in the player’s shop, where they will be later scored at the end of the game. If the Sheriff inspects a pouch, and finds items you “failed to mention”, you must pay a fine to the Sheriff, and those items will be discarded, not making it to your shop. If the Sheriff inspects you and finds that you were telling the truth, they must pay you for your inconvenience. To make matters a little more interesting, merchant players are also able to offer bribes to the Sheriff, which can render a pouch unchecked, or further incriminate the player in question. The game dynamic revolves around being able to smuggle in the much more valuable contraband items without being caught, and being able to call the bluffs of other players when its your turn to play as the Sheriff.

As the Sheriff, the depth in this game lies in being able to read what’s currently in your opponents shops to deduce what could potentially be in their pouches. Card counting and being able to keep track of what’s been picked up and discarded will go a long way, for both merchants and the Sheriff. There’s also a phase within the round which allows players to publicly draw cards from a face-up pile, giving them the opportunity to better form their hand, or to fool the Sheriff on their next pouch.

Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t as mechanical as I’m making it sound – it’s a very loose and social game. Like most bluffing games, body language, interrogation, and surprises are common in any match, and nothing is as satisfying as knowing you’ve successfully smuggled an illegal crossbow among 4 bushels of apples.

With the right group of friends, Sheriff of Nottingham is tense, exciting, and thrilling. Calculated risks are satisfying and rewarding, and when you get caught red handed, everyone has a good laugh. I get the feeling Sheriff of Nottingham will make its way into our party game rotation. This is the best bluffing game I’ve played since Avalon.

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter
7
98 of 108 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“Sheriff of Nottingham: Delightful bluffing, confusing conclusion.”

You’ve seen the situation a countless times in movies and books. A merchant is at the entrance to medieval city with a wagon of wares. A surly bailiff stands in the way. What is it that you are bringing in? Apples you say? These don’t look like apples… Tense negotiations ensue with threats, bribes and flattery all used generously. A nervous glance to the side and the charade is up – bags are emptied and fines (or worse) apply. Sheriff of Nottingham aims to capture this scene and succeeds marvelously, only to forget to reward the players for the most adventurous and fun way to play.

How it works:
Three to five players act as merchants trying to get goods to their market stalls in a city. In their way stands the Sheriff – a role that rotates between the players. The Sheriff is in charge of examining the goods before they get to the stalls. The thing is – while bringing in chickens or cheese is a perfectly legitimate business – the crossbows or mead just cost way more. So it can be tempting to try and pad your sacks with some highly illegal goods. Only thing is that if you are caught with these – you certainly do not get these to your stall and have to pay hefty fines for even trying.

Each turn a player puts a certain number of cards from their hand into a small felt bag and declares what type of a legal good is in there. The Sheriff then has a choice – he either lets the goods through (and these are added to the merchant’s stall) or inspects the bag. There is some risk to the Sheriff – if the contents of the bag match the description exactly, the Sheriff looks foolish and has to pay up. However, if there were undeclared, or even worse – illegal goods in the bag – Sheriff gets to collect penalties and all undeclared goods are discarded.

The game encourages negotiation, including bribing the Sheriff with money, goods or future favours. Merchants can even goad the Sheriff into opening someone else’s bag if the desire. The opening of the snap-on bag has a satisfying finality to it – once it’s open, the negotiations die down immediately.

At the end of the game each player receives points for the money they have and the goods they have collected. Illegal goods are worth significantly more points. Those who collect the most (or second most) of a certain legal good are crowned as King or Queen (King of Cheese has a ring to it, don’t you think so?) and receive a hefty bonus to their score. The player who collected the most total points is the winner.

How it plays:
Fun. Oh, Sheriff of Nottingham is so much fun. The incredible art on the components helps so much in bringing the situation alive. Before you know it, the players who would not come close to roleplaying if their lives depended on it, are speaking in character, praising the fine quality of their chickens. The game is so crucially connected to the social interaction that takes place during the negotiation that it is completely impossible to not get into it.

The game is quick to learn and the turns are not bogged down by extensive analysis paralysis as there is a built-in time limit for decisions to open the bag. The game itself does last a solid hour, but it’s an hour that flies by – the realization that the last turn is approaching invariably comes as a surprise.

Newer players can jump into the game relatively easily. It is not difficult to get into but being good at it is another matter entirely. Even if you thought you were being the smartest crossbow smuggler in the land, the final scoring is likely to give you a rough awakening and all because of…

How it feels:
Oh, the scoring… For a game that revolves around a fun, breezy premise of bribing a corrupt law enforcer, Sheriff of Nottingham gets awfully bogged down in numbers once the last turn is finished. There are a lot of numbers to keep track of. Specifically, the calculation of King/Queen bonuses for most legal goods can often make the calculation of the final score harder than it needs to be. But that would not be a serious concern all in itself.

The worst part comes at a point when you realize that the person who won is not the one who was pulling out crazy deals or smuggling in awesomely illegal sexy silks. It is most often the merchant who played safest, not exposing themselves to the risks of smuggling. The game’s scoring appears to reward the safe playing style both through Sheriff penalties for opening an “honest” bag and for significant bonus points for King/Queen title at the end. There are exceptions, of course, but the predominant general experience I had is that slow and steady wins this race.

This is a shame, really. The lying and the bribery and the smuggling are all so entertaining and engaging that you want to do these a lot, but the risks you run far outweigh the potential benefits. There is a ton of very exciting stuff taking place but it is best not to do that if you want to do well. Many people are still able to have a great time with the game because the process is indeed exceedingly entertaining. But for those who want to direct their actions towards a goal – this will be a serious drawback.

The components certainly add to the enjoyment of the game, with the definitive sound of the bag being opened carrying lots of significance.
The game also manages to achieve lots of fun without the sort of anxiety you are going to experience in other bluffing games like Resistance – a healthy level of ridiculousness in art will do that.

It should also be noted that players who generally prefer planning and analysis to social aspects of gaming will likely not fall in love with Sheriff, though it’s a game with very broad appeal.

Conclusion:
Sheriff of Nottingham provides a phenomenally engaging gameplay for players who dig the social interaction. Inexplicably, its scoring mechanism aims to shoot itself in the foot (knee?) with a crossbow bolt of rewarding a very safe play style. It is recommended to players for whom fun is more important than victory. If that describes you – prepare to describe just how amazing your artisanal cheeses are!

If you enjoyed this review please consider visiting Altema Games Website for more neat board game mateirals.

 
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7
United Kingdom
I play yellow
Gamer - Level 6
10
91 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“Stop and search in the name of the sheriff!”

This has got to be my Bluffing game of 2014.

Simple to learn and play.

On each turn one player becomes the Sheriff of nottingham at the gates of the castle and decides whether to search the incoming merchants bags or not. Those merchant Players must select some goods from the cards they hold (must be of the same type, Chickens, bread, cheese or apples, each with their own values)and put them into their coloured bag and seal.
There are also contraband cards that they may decide to add to the bag before sealing. This is the crux of the game. The more contraband you get past the sheriff the higher the cash in value you get at the end of the game.

The neat part for the sheriif is does he trust you to be telling the truth? If you say you have 4 apples and the sheriff dicides to pop open your bag, then the sheriff will have to pay a price for stopping such an innocent merchant. If on the other hand he catches you with contaband. That is confiscated and the merchant pays the sheriff an amount of money shown on the card.
Each card in the game has a value and a different value if you’re caught.
At the end of the game all values are added up and the highest wins.
I have played this as a 5 player game, you each get to be the sheriff twice and it is hilarious. You are allowed to bride each other and even to get the sheriff to open someone elses bag.
The bags are an important part of the game. Each player will say what they have an the sheriff decides who passes or stops and POP goes the bag. BUSTED! or not.
This really is a great party game and I can see this getting played alot!
highly recommended!!!!

 
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4
Gamer - Level 2
7
23 of 25 gamers found this helpful
“Has some design problems”

This is a game that goes in the group of deceiving board games in which the fun comes from managing to make the rest believe your lies to then see them fail in the decisions and grab their money or goods for you.

This said, the main problem with the game is a clear mistake in its design.

If you still don’t know how the game is played then let me simplify it by saying that the game rewards you for playing “legally” and punishes you for trying to deal with illegal goods, which is the actual interesting part of the game.

If you already know what the game is about let me explain myself better.

The risk of trying to get illegal goods through the border is very high. They don’t really reward you with that much of an extra value in comparison to the legal goods, and if you were to be caught, the heavy price to be paid, that does not only make yourself poorer but you enemies richer, puts a huge distance in the scores.

In the other hand, getting a ton of legal goods is 100% safe, and even if you were to receive no extra money from a sheriff opening your legal bag because of misplaced suspicions, it still earns a lot of money because due to how the game works it is simple to pile up groups of 3 or even 4 goods of the same type per bag almost every round. Add to this that at the end of the game having most of the goods of a type gives a hefty amount of gold and the first position is ensured.

In more games than not the winner is the person whom not even once decided to try to sneak anything illegal.

Don’t misunderstand me though. I am not saying that this is a bad game because it has a flaw in the core mechanic of the game (which is certainly not good). I have had a ton of fun playing it. But this is because when I play this is the one of few games that I don’t play to win (and I hate not playing to win!!!!) to instead have extra fun by trying to sneak my pointy peppery apples or receiving heavy bags full of taxes to let the merchants pass without inspection for the sake of fast circulation in the main gate of course.

 
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7
Canada
Advanced Reviewer
Rosetta Stone
10
93 of 104 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 3
“Make Way.....A New Favourite has Arrived!”

I’m always watching, reading, or listening to new game reviews. I love this hobby, and to that end, am always seeking out games that would be ideal in a family gaming setting. After reading no shortage of exceptional reviews for Sheriff of Nottingham, and learning that Tom Vasel believed that this game should be in the home of every gamer, I decided to find out for myself.

GAMEPLAY

Sheriff has players being local serfs who are trying to get goods to market, both legal legal and contraband. That would be easy enough if there wasn’t a corrupt government official potentially examining your marketable goods and seizing some questionable product.

As serfs, you will be obtaining goods through a draw system. The legal goods are Apples, Bread, Cheese, and Chickens. These items can be displayed at your market and are worth varying points Apples (being the least) up to Chickens (being the most valuable). Contraband that is snuck into the market place is hidden until the end of the game. Through set collecting, players can collect additional points for having the most or second most in each legal commodity. Contraband is worth its face value at games end.

What makes this game unique is the process by which games are brought into the market place. The cards depicting the goods are loaded into a small snap up bag that corresponds to player colour. The min of 1 card and a max of 5 cards. The bag is then snapped up and submitted to Sheriff for possible inspection. The player then may only declare a single legal commodity that is in the bag and the number of goods being transported. It is up to the cunning Sheriff to determine if the player is being honest. If the Sheriff conducts an inspection on a bag in which the contents match the player declaration, it is incumbent on the Sheriff to pay a penalty for the embarrassment of a harassing inspection. However, if there are goods in the bag that are either contraband or simply not declared, the offending player must pay a penalty for all undeclared goods to the Sheriff and they are confiscated back to the game. The role of the Sheriff rotates each round, giving all players the power to exercise authority over each other. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the Sheriff may be influenced to commit crimes of moral turpitude. The Sheriff may be bribed by money or deed (future favour) to over look certain bags.

In a game of 4- 5 players, a game can be expected to last 40-45 min. Players are continuously engaged with each other and down time between turns is minimal.

COMPONENTS

The components amount to cards, player boards, market bags, coins, and a standee of The Sheriff. The cards are quality cardstock. They are simply but nicely illustrated, no issues here. The coins, standee, and market boards are also made of heavy quality cardstock and are nicely printed. The player boards also include a player aid that will help new players understand turn order and scoring. The bags, the main device of this game, are a quality felt bag that closes securely with an attached plastic snap. The bags are in a colour that corresponds with each of the uniquely coloured player boards, used for identifying each player. The bags are a very nice touch. Overall, the component quality is very high in this game. The instructions are easily understood and the playing pieces are clearly illustrated and marked so that no confusion will exist.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

This game is a solid winner and easily lives up to the generous hype that has been heaped upon it. Sheriff can be learned easily and very easily taught to other players including pre-teen children. The artwork/components in this game are very high quality and are marked in a manner that makes their purpose and use clearly understood. This game has become a new favourite in our household. I can see many circumstances in which this game could be enjoyed (family, party, boardgaming event) and its audience can include anyone. This is simply an outstanding game!!!!

 
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4
Canada
7
75 of 84 gamers found this helpful
“Qu'avez-vous à déclarer?”

Résumé des règles en vidéo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdK3xfMRCV0

Avis personnel en vidéo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlgQH-01uIk

Un jeu de bluff, de manipulation et de traîtrise! Mentir en plein visage de votre meilleur amis n’aura jamais été aussi satisfaisant!

Il y a quelques temps, les marchands avaient la tâche facile. Ils pouvaient vendre les marchandises de leur choix librement. Mais depuis que le Prince Jean est sur le trône, il a décidé de réserver certaines marchandises à son usage personnel seulement! C’est comme ça que des biens comme le poivre, la soie ou l’hydromel sont devenu illégal au village! La vente et la distribution de ces ressources sont hautement interdites! Pour s’assurer que les marchands se soumettent aux nouvelles réglementations, le Prince Jean a chargé le Sheriff de Nottingham de s’assurer de fouiller les caravanes de marchandises entrant dans le royaume! Sera-t-il un sheriff intègre, ou corruptible? Les marchands, quant à eux, seront-ils honnêtes, menteurs ou manipulateurs? C’est à vous de décidez puisque vous jouerez les deux rôles!

Trève de préambule! Comment joue-t-on? Je vous encourage à visionner la vidéo que j’ai publié au début de ce message pour des explications claires avec un support visuel! Sinon, grosso modo, vos options sont différentes selon le rôle que vous jouez.

Actions des marchands:
– Acquisition des marchandises (piocher et défausser des cartes)
– Choisir les marchandises que nous tenterons de faire entrer au royaume
– Déclarer au Sheriff ce que nous avons dans notre inventaire (VOUS POUVEZ MENTIR!)
– Récolter l’argent du dédommagement/Payer l’argent de l’amende
– Placer la marchandise qui n’a pas été confisqué sur son marché

Actions du Sheriff:
– Observer ce que les marchands acquièrent/défaussent comme marchandises
– Écouter les déclarations de chaque marchand
– Décider qui passera à l’inspection et qui s’en sauvera
– Récolter l’argent de l’amende/Payer un dédommagement

En gros, c’est tout! Une fois qu’un tour est terminé, c’est à un autre joueur de jouer le rôle du Sheriff et l’ancien Sheriff joue maintenant le rôle de son marchand! Le jeu se termine une fois que tous les joueurs ont mis les bottes du Sheriff 2 fois. On effectue ensuite la compilation des points selon les ressources/contrebande que nous avons à notre marché.

Il existe une application gratuite qui permet de faire la compilation des points beaucoup plus rapidement qu’avec un papier et un crayon ou avec des échanges de pièces d’argent. L’application vient aussi avec une fonction qu’on peut activer ou non afin de créer une ambiance sonore au cours de la partie! Je vous encourage à y jeter un oeil 😉

 
Player Avatar
10
United Kingdom
Professional Reviewer
Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
Book Lover
7
56 of 63 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Bluff Your Way Into the Nottingham Party Game”

The forthcoming visit of Prince John has swelled Nottingham’s market and the potential for a merchant to make a profit by shipping goods in—or a really making big profits by smuggling illegal goods in! Unfortunately, the Sheriff of Nottingham has to be seen to crack down on smuggling and so must inspect all of the goods coming into his city. If a merchant is caught smuggling, the Sheriff will fine him and confiscate the smuggled goods—unless the merchant bribes the Sheriff first!

This is the set-up for Sheriff of Nottingham, a game of bluff, deduction, and trickery in which the players take turns being the Sheriff whilst the others are merchants shipping their goods past the Sheriff. Each turn a player fills a sack with goods and then declares how many and the type of goods that he has in a sack. The Sheriff can only guess at what might be in the sack. He can inspect every sack for illegal goods and if he discovers any, the merchant is fined; if none are found, the Sheriff must compensate the merchant!

Winner of the 2015 Origins Award for Best Board Game, Sheriff of Nottingham is designed for three to five players, aged thirteen and up. It primarily consists of two-hundred-and-sixteen goods cards; most are green, representing legal goods—apples, cheese, bread, and chicken. The rest are red and represent illegal goods—pepper, mead, silk, and crossbows—or are Royal Goods, also illegal. Both are worth extra if a merchant successfully smuggles them past the Sheriff. The Royal Goods are an extra option not used in the base game. Each goods card has two numbers, one representing the reward gained at game’s end on the merchant’s Stand, the other being the fine or compensation paid if the card is confiscated or is legal and inspected by the Sheriff, respectively.

Besides the cards, there are coins in various denominations, five Merchant Stand and Merchant Bags in matching colours, the Sheriff marker, and the rulebook. Each Stand illustrates a player’s merchant, lists the game order, and provides space to store successfully shipped goods. The Sheriff marker is used to indicate which player is currently the Sheriff. These components are high quality, the cards look good and feel good in the hand; the money and Stand are of thick card; and the rule book is clearly written. The artwork is excellent, especially the illustrations of the Sheriff and the merchants. Pleasingly, the inner tray holding the game’s components can be taken out of the box for easy access during play.

At game’s start, each player receives fifty gold and six Goods cards as well as a matching Merchant Stand and Merchant Bag. The other cards need a thorough shuffle and divided in a draw pile and two discard piles of face-up Goods cards either side of the deck. One player is the starting Sheriff.

Each turn has five Phases—Market, Load Merchant Bag, Declaration, Inspection, and End of the Round. Each Phase must be completed before moving onto the next and the Sheriff is only involved the last three Phases. In the Market Phase, the players can discard up to five Goods and then draw back up to six, either from the draw pile or either discard pile. Drawing from a discard pile gives a player some idea as to what he might draw, but tells the Sheriff what a merchant has in his hand.

In the Load Merchant Bag Phase, a merchant loads his Merchant Bag with between one and five Goods and snaps it closed. The merchant is taking these Goods to market. In the Declaration Phase, each merchant states aloud the contents of his bag, but can only say the contents consist of Legal Goods, one type of Goods, and how many. For example, “My bag contains three Apples.” This could be true, but it might also be a lie. Instead the bag might contain illegal Goods or legal Goods different to those declared.

In the Inspection Phase, the Sheriff can open any or all of the merchants’ bags. Before that happens, the Sheriff is free to demur and the merchants are free to bribe the Sheriff. They can offer him money or Goods from their Stands or their Merchant’s Bag—be they legal or illegal. They can persuade him to open the bag of another Merchant. The Sheriff can accept these bribes, negotiate for more, but once he opens a bag or hands it back to its merchant, no more bribes can be made. The results are final. In the End of the Round Phase, fines are paid if illegal Goods have been found or legal Goods unnecessarily inspected.

Then the role of Sheriff passes to the next player and another turn begins. This continues until each player has been Sheriff twice—or three times in a three-player game—and everyone totals up their money and the value of the Goods successfully shipped. The two players who shipped the most of a Good are crowned the King and Queen of Cheese (or Apples or Bread or…) and score bonus Gold. The merchant with the most money is the winner.

Sheriff of Nottingham is not though, a board game. Its emphasis on social interaction—negotiation, bribery, and bluff—make it a party game. The game’s card quality and the fun of snapping open the bags give it a pleasing physicality. Its easy rules and engaging theme also make it an easy game to introduce to and play with non-gamers. This also means that its replay value is not as high and much of the game’s fun depends on who you play with and the game is not as satisfying to play with three players as it is with four or five.

If you are looking for a well-designed, fun party game, then Sheriff of Nottingham is a good choice. It is satisfyingly simple and engaging, perfectly suited to the non-gamer and the gamer looking for a lighter diversion.

 
Player Avatar
5
Canada
10
90 of 104 gamers found this helpful
“The definitive bluffing game!!! Must buy!”

I love bluffing games. It is a genre of tabletop gaming that I will never get tired of. The whole idea of things are not what they seem really creates for an unpredictable and different gameplay experience every single time.

This is what Sheriff of Nottingham is. It is a tabletop gameplay experience that will make you want to keep on going and going and going. After we finished our first round, it was already past midnight. We wanted to go again regardless of how late it was. And even on our 2nd round, we wanted to extend the standard 2 rounds of being the Sheriff to 3 rounds for an extended gameplay time.

This game is so much fun and while there are some gamers who really don’t like the whole “poker face” or “bluffing” aspect of the game, what is really great is that you can actually get away with winning without bluffing at all. You can actually win by being completely honest. And that is the beauty of the game, it is a bluffing game where bluffing can really pay off but it also pays much less if you are caught.

The replay value of this game is really high and I personally feel that the game design and mechanics are really well thought out. There was a lot of a time and thought put into the creation of this game and it shows. Some might think that it is just bluffing and whatever but there is actually quite a bit of strategy involved and your gaming group will be playing this game with lots of smiles and laughter. You will be playing this game again and again and again.

Highly recommended!!

 
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5
Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
9
93 of 110 gamers found this helpful
“Lying to Your Friends Has Never Been So Easy ”

As long as all these hidden role and bluffing games keep trying to be different from one another, I’ll happily play along. Sheriff of Nottingham is familiar and different all at once to gamers. The components are great, the rules are simple enough and once your group gets into it, it’s a whole lot of fun being a two-faced liar.

Is it Pretty?
The artwork is great. The boards are well done, the cards are easy on the eyes, you even get a sheriff piece to pass along. It all looks great, but what I think really hits the mark is the personality and tone. The look of the game sells the sense that you’re trying to get goods (and not-so-goods) through a seedy and unjust market. And those contraband cards look so tempting…

Who’s it For?
Bluffing, lying, cheating friends and family who will look you in the eye and swear up and down they only have apples in their bag. If you’ve played hidden role games like the Resistance, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, or Bang!, you’ll feel right at home. Also, most people have played BS once in their life, and as soon as they realize this game in similar, they jump right on to the wagon.

Why is it in My Collection?
Because I have found I really like bluffing games, even when I’m not very good at them. I think part of it is that they’re easy to teach and play, because it’s just relying on your friends to lie to your face. I like being able to bribe the sheriff to look in someone else’s bag and I like the power and fear that comes with opening another player’s bag and hearing that definitive ‘snap’. A great game that I’ve only had for a short time but have played plenty of already.

 
Player Avatar
3
9
76 of 129 gamers found this helpful
“Better than I expected”

I pulled out this game for a couples get-together, and was not sure whether they were going to be gamers or not. Wow! They really got into it and started roleplaying the sheriff like they were born to do it. I think this game is replayable just because it makes you ponder how other strategies may work. My wife does not care for bluffing games, but after one play she said, “I really like this game.”

 
Player Avatar
1
8
7 of 14 gamers found this helpful
“Surprisingly Fun for the whole family”

I was pleasantly surprised that this game actually became a quick favorite for my kids (9 and 6). They enjoy trying to sneak chickens with crossbows into Nottingham…

It’s easy to explain and teach, it allows for several paths of victory so there a strategic component to acquiring points which his always nice.

It’s a great bluffing game with a cool theme. We play it over and over with our family. I would highly suggest this be a game you own.

 

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