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!
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.
Scoring and Wrap-up
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!
Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.