The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library.
Prince John is coming to Nottingham! As a cunning merchant you want to take advantage of this opportunity and sell your goods in the city, but to do so you must pass under the watchful eye of the Sheriff!
Theme: Merchant, Smuggling
Number of Players: 3-5
Game Time: 45-60 minutes
Age Appropriateness: 10 and up
Game Type: Sheriff of Nottingham is a fast paced, bluffing and negotiation game
Game Play: Described by Arcane Wonders as “an exciting game of bluffing, bribery and smuggling”, Sheriff of Nottingham puts three to five players in the shoes of merchants attempting to deliver their goods to market in the town of Nottingham. Standing in their way is the Sheriff, who is played by each of the players in turn.
On their turn, players have an opportunity to draw a number of cards representing trade goods – some legal, some not so much. They then place a number of goods into a sealed bag, hand that bag to the player acting as Sheriff for the round, and declare what goods the bag contains.
Once all of the players’ bags have been handed to the Sheriff, the fun really begins. The Sheriff has the option of either allowing a bag to pass or inspecting the goods. While the Sheriff deliberates the merchants can offer bribes, threaten retaliation on future turns, or strike whatever other deal they can dream up.
At the end of negotiations, the Sheriff either allows the goods to pass, or inspects them. Contraband that is caught is forfeit, and the would-be smuggler pays a fine. On the other hand, a Sheriff that wrongly inspects an honest merchant pays a fine as well!
The game lasts until each player has had two turns as Sheriff. At the end, the merchant with the most wealth in gold and goods is declared the winner.
Component Quality: The primary components in Sheriff are cards, cardboard tokens for coins, and cardboard play mats representing your merchant stand. All of these are of good quality and heavy stock. The other component is a set of colored cloth bags, which players use to conceal their cards when handing goods to the Sheriff. The bags stand up nicely to a normal amount of use – the bags in my personal copy of the game, which is played regularly, are in great shape. Under heavy use though, the bags have a tendency to rip at the snap. Thankfully Arcane Wonders has been very gracious about providing replacement bags for The Malted Meeple’s copy of the game, which sees extremely heavy use.
My Take: Sheriff of Nottingham combines the best features of bluffing games and negotiation games, and wraps them all up in a great theme. It has been one of my personal favorite games ever since picking it up at GenCon 2014. It is also one of the most played games in the Malted Meeple and Ravenwood Castle libraries, so I must not be the only one that enjoys it!
Expansions and Replay-ability: There are no expansions to Sheriff of Nottingham at this point, although there are a number of promo cards available from a variety of sources. While I hope that Arcane Wonders does expand Sheriff, the lack of expansions has had very little effect on the game’s replay-ability. Since the game is the epitome of an Above the Table game and relies on social interaction, the number of play throughs is limited only by the number of new players you can find to interact with!
Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle and The Malted Meeple, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.