Theme

Have you ever wanted to experience the exhilarating career of a border patrol officer? No? Think of the power and joy you would have making others sweat in front of you as they declare their imported goods under your scrutinizing gaze! If that doesn’t sound persuasive enough, perhaps after playing Sheriff of Nottingham you’ll want to reconsider your career options.

In Sheriff of Nottingham, players are humble merchants, each trying to make an “honest” living by selling goods in the market. But in order to sell their wares, they must first make it through inspection from the Sheriff, who may just decide to take a look inside your bag o’ stuff to determine for himself whether you’re telling the truth, or if you were attempting to pocket some extra coin by smuggling contraband! Sheriff of Nottingham is all about keeping a straight face as you try to convince your fellow players that you’re a truthful law-abiding citizen. This is a great bluffing game in its finest form! 

Mechanics

Each turn, one person will be playing as the Sheriff, while everyone else assumes their regular role as merchants bringing goods into the city. In the beginning phase, the merchants can remove cards from their hand of 6 goods and replace them with new items from the market by drawing cards from one of two facedown decks or face-up discard piles.

Each of the different goods has their own value: apples are the most common type in the game and are each only worth 2 coins, while cheese and bread sit at a higher value of 3 coins while chickens are worth the highest at 4 coins each. Contraband on the other hand can fetch a far prettier penny than the legal goods, but you’ll need to be a smooth talker if you want to bring them through without arousing the suspicion of the Sheriff.

After discarding and drawing cards from the market, the merchants will then put up to 5 goods in their individual player bags, either filling it with legal goods, or mixing in some contraband to try and get them past the Sheriff without being caught. When all bags have been loaded, the real fun begins! One by one, each player announces to the Sheriff the type and number of goods they have in their bag.

The heart of this game lies in how you appeal to the Sheriff, as you look him square in the eye and announce the contents of your bag. If things start going south and you sense that the Sheriff is coming onto your wily ways, you can even try to offer a bribe and have him turn a blind eye so that you may hopefully go unpunished. But if the bribe doesn’t work, the Sheriff has the authority to check your bag whether you like it or not!

At this point, there are two outcomes: if the Sheriff discovers that you were bringing contraband and unclaimed goods into the city, you must pay the penalty cost labeled on the cards for each item that was unspoken for. However, if you were telling the truth the Sheriff has to pay YOU for wrongfully mistrusting your genuine honesty. One of my favourite strategies in this game is to fool the Sheriff into thinking that I have contraband only for them to find out after opening my bag that I was telling the truth and delivering all legal goods. This tactic also sets me up for the next turn because the Sheriff will be hesitant to check my bag again for fear of paying another penalty fee!

The game continues until each player has had a chance at being the Sheriff twice (three times if you’re playing with only 3 players). At the end of the game, players will count up the total value of goods and coins they have in their possession and whoever has the most money is the winner. One additional thing to be aware of are the bonuses awarded to the players who have collected the most of each of the legal goods, which can be all the difference in breaking ties for a clean and clear victory!

Components

Despite singing my praises for Sheriff of Nottingham’s gameplay, where the game falls short for me is in its production quality. While technically there isn’t anything wrong with the components, I find that overall the entire game looks and feels average. The paper stock for the cards is standard and has a decent weight to them; the cardboard coins are acceptable in their thickness and the felt bags to store goods are functional. Even the artwork – while straightforward – does little to spark the imagination as you’re sweet-talking the Sheriff about the goods that you want to bring into the market. To be fair, the game’s cost is on the more affordable end of the spectrum, which could justify the decisions surrounding its production. Still, I’m left wanting more from the game.

Conclusion

Sheriff of Nottingham is on the rise to becoming a modern-day classic. It’s quick to teach, simple in its mechanics and can appeal to players of all skill levels, making this an easy recommendation for a casual and enjoyable game to play. Even if you aren’t skilled at bluffing, being honest for the entire game is a viable strategy as you focus your attention on collecting the most legal goods to receive the extra cash bonus.

Sheriff of Nottingham is also guaranteed to bring tons of laughter to the table – whether it’s because you’ve gotten away with smuggling goods illegally or when it’s your turn to become a human lie detector, it’s all so much fun! At the time of this review, an expansion is expected to hit the shelves sometime this year, which will further test your bluffing prowess by providing high-reward incentives for successfully smuggling goods. I’m looking forward to trying it out, as I’m sure it’ll be especially helpful in honing my skills when I submit my application to the border control office!

Written by: Ryan Chan

My passion for board games started in 2014 when I first visited a board game cafe and walked out with Castle Panic that same day. Since then, my love for tabletop gaming hasn't stopped and my collection continues to grow. When I'm not playing board games you can find me scaling the walls of a climbing gym or walking around with my camera in hand.

60 Comments Added

Join Discussion
  1. John Arboleda July 6, 2017 | Reply

    This game is awesome! it lets you use your poker skills jejejeje

  2. Jared Heifetz July 6, 2017 | Reply

    Just got this game last week! Can’t wait to play it 🙂

    • Ryan July 7, 2017 | Reply

      Let me know how you find this game, but I’m sure you’ll have a blast with your group! 🙂

  3. Adam July 7, 2017 | Reply

    Somehow these kind of pseudo-historical themes put off of games. And yet I like history, but that’s just how it is.

    • Ryan July 10, 2017 | Reply

      Thanks very much!

    • Ryan July 7, 2017 | Reply

      Likewise! I’m excited to by how the expansions will encourage players to bluff more in order to receive bigger bonuses!

  4. Greg L July 7, 2017 | Reply

    My son recommended this for our family

    • Ryan July 10, 2017 | Reply

      Your son has good taste in games! I hope you’ll enjoy this one with the family!

  5. Hackareatech July 9, 2017 | Reply

    Fun bluffing game, not my favorite, but good noon the less.

    • Ryan July 10, 2017 | Reply

      There are definitely a lot of strong titles that fall under the bluffing category but for something light it’s still a very good game!

  6. James July 10, 2017 | Reply

    A great gateway game.

  7. Ronnay July 10, 2017 | Reply

    Nice review. However, you don’t mention it’s a 3-5 players game. And you don’t mention the average play time. That both should be in a review.

    • Ryan July 10, 2017 | Reply

      Noted. Thanks for your feedback on how I can improve on my reviews going forward 🙂

  8. Michael July 10, 2017 | Reply

    I enjoy bluffing games, but not sure my gaming group would necessarily go for it.

    • Ryan July 13, 2017 | Reply

      Try it out at a board game cafe if you have the opportunity to do so! That way you’ll be able to try before you buy! 🙂

  9. Gunder July 11, 2017 | Reply

    I was annoyed that there is no way to add more coins into the game, so i dont know why there is so many types in the game.

    • Ryan July 13, 2017 | Reply

      I use the extra coins for tallying up the final score when determining the king and queen for each set, and for the contraband smuggled. Perhaps that’s why there are so many extra cardboard coins!

  10. Steve July 12, 2017 | Reply

    Nice review – thank you!

    • Ryan July 13, 2017 | Reply

      Thank you for the kind comment! 🙂

  11. Brandon July 13, 2017 | Reply

    I really need to get a copy of this. I think it would be a hit with my usual group.

    • Ryan July 13, 2017 | Reply

      Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the expansion that should be coming out soon! I’m hoping to get my hands on that to add more depth to the base game!

  12. Amber Stewart July 13, 2017 | Reply

    I like sheriff but not always a fan of manipulation. ..

  13. Idan Primor July 14, 2017 | Reply

    It’s a fun game to play once in a while.. but i won’t play like more than once a month – maybe the expansion will change that.

  14. Sean July 15, 2017 | Reply

    Bluff to the max! It is a great light game!

  15. Michael Shea July 15, 2017 | Reply

    Thanks for the review, it looks like a fun game.

  16. Tpancoast July 16, 2017 | Reply

    I seem to be the odd man out with this game. I didn’t get it, but I’m not a big fan of social deduction games in general. I prefer to play a good game and talk to people, not play the people and talk a good game.

  17. Rammy M July 16, 2017 | Reply

    I’m too honest to play this one

  18. Jhe July 18, 2017 | Reply

    So far, this is the only game that I have played with strangers and we had a great time. A lot of it is from the interactions though but still, I have nothing but good and fun plays with this game!

  19. DJHAAK July 21, 2017 | Reply

    SO many people like this game I might have to give it a try. I’m not really very interested though. I don’t think I like that deception is the main point of it.

  20. AmberW July 22, 2017 | Reply

    My family and I still play this at least once a month. My kids especially love it 🙂

  21. brody July 25, 2017 | Reply

    fun, but sometimes kids don’t understand bluffing

  22. Duarte July 25, 2017 | Reply

    I enjoyed playing it a couple of times but unfortunately our group got tired of it quickly

  23. SpaZ_88 July 30, 2017 | Reply

    I always have Robin Hood cartoon images in my mind when I think about this game 🙂

  24. Takoyaki July 30, 2017 | Reply

    I’ve played this game and I really like it. I am usually not a fan of lying game type but this works for me.

  25. Pvt. Sugar Rush July 31, 2017 | Reply

    Nice review to read. Now to try and resist from buying it…

  26. Craig P July 31, 2017 | Reply

    Never had a bad experience with this. Made better when people roleplay their character/the Sheriff

  27. soulraise August 2, 2017 | Reply

    What would be your top 3 bluffing games?

    • Devetos August 2, 2017 | Reply

      I am not sure about Ryan, but I really enjoy (in no particular order) Avalon, Coup, Spyfall and Sheriff aha.
      How about you?

  28. Chris H August 3, 2017 | Reply

    I just couldn’t get into this game all that much. I’ve played a fair share of bluffing game but it just didn’t seem all that fun. Maybe I didn’t play with the right people… or maybe I was already burned out on all the games of Resistance earlier in the night.

  29. Rick M August 5, 2017 | Reply

    Great review! I’ve played this game a few times and enjoy it quite a bit!

  30. Mark W August 6, 2017 | Reply

    Might get this one for family gatherings.

  31. JamesL August 8, 2017 | Reply

    I tried playing this one once. I never did fall in love with it. But, I need to try it again.

  32. Greg Turner August 11, 2017 | Reply

    Love this game… Apart from the smell the little bags have.

    As for component quality, perhaps they’ll make a premium edition, but the price point is decent.

  33. maltebrigge August 16, 2017 | Reply

    I’ve heard this can be a fun game. Hafta check it out.

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