Sheriff of Nottingham is a 3 to 5 player game where players take the role of merchants to sell their goods in the market Nottingham, but they must go through an inspection by the sheriff at the gates. The whole game revolves around bluffing, bribery, and smuggling goods to get the most points at the end of the game. One player becomes the Sheriff and other players become merchants, and this rotation takes place for all the players. You can tell the truth or tell a lie about the goods.
There are contrabands and legal goods, Of Course, the illegal goods will give you more points. It is up to the players to pass their goods through the inspection done by the sheriff. This game is really a fun and hilarious activity as the personalities of the people bring a unique touch to the game being played by them. It is just amazing how this game makes you doubt fellow players when you are the sheriff, and also make you a merchant who wants to fool the sheriff. It will stretch your right as well as left-brain muscles to squeeze the fun out of it.
The game is designed by Sergio Halaban and Andre Zatz. The artwork is done by John Guyton, Lorraine Schleter, and David Sladek. The medieval theme of merchants and a sheriff with cool artwork brings the goal of the game right to the table, easy to understand and to emulate the acts of every role. It is published by Arcane Wonders and many others. The game offers you a perfect blend of mechanisms such as bluffing, humor, negotiation, and bribery with a card-based game.
To start a basic game, remove the Royal cards from the deck and shuffle the rest of the cards. Deal 6 cards to each player and merchant stand with a merchant bag. Distribute 50 gold to each player. Take cards from the draw pile and form 2 discard piles of 5 cards besides the draw pile. One of the players becomes the sheriff and the other players become the merchant for this round.
All the merchants look at their hand of cards and decide to put some of them in the merchant bag. The cards can be all legal, all illegal, or a mix of both. Then turn by turn each merchant declares what goods they carry in their merchant bag. In this phase, they may tell the truth or lie about their declaration. The sheriff then decides to inspect or pass the bag. If the sheriff inspects the merchant has to pay the penalties if he was telling lies, and the sheriff has to pay the penalty if the merchant was telling the truth and let the goods pass to the market stand. Final scoring is counted by counting the cash points of goods cards on each player's merchant stand. The wealthiest amongst all players win the game.
Sheriff of Nottingham also a great party game as it has many social mechanisms with a lot of communication elements attached to it. When you know your friends in real life and in the game you can explore many aspects of your fellow players by playing this game, as it is the case in all bluffing games. Lying is good when it is done for a good reason, in this case, to have some fun for about an hour.. If you have played bluffing games earlier and want to explore some new and interesting elements like negotiation and inspection, do check this game out.