Sheriff of Nottingham: Merry Men Review

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  • Game Type – Party Game
  • Number of Players – 3 - 6
  • Mechanics – Hand Management, Set Collection
  • Difficulty to learn – Easy
  • Release – 2017
  • MSRP - $24.99
  • Publisher – Arcane Wonders
  • Expands: Sheriff of Nottingham

Introduction/Overview

Sheriff of Nottingham is a fantastic game of bluffing and negotiation that’s been around for a while now and it’s finally gotten an expansion. However, with such a simple game you might be thinking "what more can they add?" I know I was. It turns out the answer is a lot.

What it adds?

Merry Men adds five modules to spice up the game. You can add all of them or pick and choose the ones you like, although adding them all may bog down an otherwise pretty smooth game. Let’s take a look at each individual module.

The first is the sixth player expansion. This adds an extra player board and rather than just saying there is an extra round, you replace the Sheriff with two deputies in a six-player game. This works as if there are two Sheriffs that have both decide if they want to open the merchant’s bag.

Next up is the Black Market Module. The Black Market is a set of 6 cards that correspond with various contraband. You play with three each game and they allow a player to trade 3 of the corresponding contraband that they’ve smuggled in for a big point bonus.

Third on the list are Laws. These are a deck of cards that change the game in various ways, such as making all chickens contraband or taxing all declared apples. Each round the current Sheriff draws two and picks one to be in effect that round.

Fourthly we come to Special Order cards. This module is similar to the black market in that it adds cards that give a bonus for smuggling goods. These cards all have a picture of various legal goods and the first player to smuggle the corresponding cards in get the bonus.

Last up are the titular Merry Men. When playing with these, each player starts with a card from the Merry Men deck. If you successfully smuggle them in you get gold as well as an immediate bonus effect such as stealing cards or gold. If you are caught with one, you pay a penalty and don’t get a new Merry Man till you prove yourself by successfully smuggling contraband.

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How well does it fit?

While no of these modules stick out like a sore thumb or anything, some definitely fit better than others. The sixth player is a nice twist on the old "add a player" expansion. The modified rules fit quite well. Both the Black Market and Special Orders are pretty similar and it wouldn’t be hard to incorporate both if you so choose. They spice up the game a little bit and don’t really slow it down at all. The Merry Men are interesting and add some variety, but they can slow things down and they add a “take that” element to the game that some players may not appreciate. I wasn’t a huge fan of the laws. They are fine, but they slowed things down and were a little too random for my tastes.

Rule book

Even though this is an expansion they didn’t cheap out on the rules. It’s separated by module and everything is well-written and explained with plenty of picture examples.

Components

The base game had nice solid components with great art and durable cards. Merry Men follows the same high standard. I’d say they even go above and beyond here by adding tiles to discard the Merry Men into and to store loot that the deputies gain. Neither of those needed to be included but they did anyway! Nice job Arcane Wonders!

Final Thoughts

Sheriff of Nottingham is a pretty simple game and that’s where a lot of it’s charm lies. Most of the time you can teach it and play it so quickly that people around the table almost always want to play it again right away. With this in mind, I am glad Merry Men choose to break things down into modules. I think combining more then two modules in one game bogs things down too much, but alone or in pairs they spice things up nicely.

The only issue, if you could call it that, is that none of the modules are really essential (outside of deputies if you want to play with a sixth player). If you like Sheriff and want to add some flavor you won’t go wrong picking this up, just don’t expect it to reinvent the wheel.

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