Nottingham is a card game loosely designed around the Sheriff of Nottingham and his deputies. You play as a deputy, and your goal is to collect the most victory points through trading in cards for victory points. When the Sheriff makes his way through the forest, or all of the assignments have been completed, the game is over – whoever has the most victory points is declared the winner!
The game is played by players taking turns drawing a card, turning it face up, and choosing whether or not to keep the card or carry the action on the card. The player either carries out the action on the card, or takes it into their hand to keep towards trading. Players keep their hands "somewhat" hidden from the opposing players in the hopes of obtaining the most points by trading three or more in for victory points (fairly easy) or by completing an assignment (somewhat more difficult). The actions on the cards always involve at least one other player which is a great way to keep all players involved in the game at every turn. There is a slight strategy involved when deciding how to trade cards in for victory points, but it is light enough and random enough (luck of the draw) to not scare away the casual player.
The first play through of the game is a little longer than subsequent sessions around 45 minutes to an hour. The rules are simple enough that the second time through everyone should understand that game, and each session should take no more than about thirty minutes – less if there are more than four people. This is a great game to play to warm up to a heavier and lengthier game!
The theme is very light – perhaps just the name can be seen throughout the play sessions. Once you play the game a second time, it is more about the player interaction, and less about the theme. However, I think that a little bit stronger showing of theme, any theme, would increase the interest and perhaps marketability of the game.
On each turn, players must turn over the top card of the draw pile. They can then elect to carry out the action on the card, or take it into their hand to collect towards trading in towards victory points. Whatever the choice, the randomness of drawing one of seven different types of cards fits perfectly into a short, light game like Nottingham.
Each card turned over has specific action assigned to it. There are seven different types of cards, which means seven different actions can be carried out. Some actions involve all the players, and some actions only involve one other player. Three of the actions involve taking cards from another player, which builds up the tension during the game. No matter how many people are involved, every player is eager to see what card is turned over in case it might be one that they wish to collect. I am a big fan of involving more than one player per turn, as it keeps the interest level in the game high.
There are seven different types of items available in the game. You must collect either three of a kind for a small victory point reward, or work towards more difficult assignments such as "five of a kind," or "one of each type." Whatever your choice, each time you score victory points, the game moves one step closer to completion. The faster players are at trading in cards, the faster the game becomes.
The cards and the small board are very well illustrated, with a relatively high production value. The cards are slightly textured and have nice weight to them. The presentation of this game should be enough to provide more than a passing interest in the game.
The mechanics in the game are light and easy to understand. For this reason, this is great game to play as a warm up to heavier games. It also stands pretty well on its own during multiple play-throughs. Any heavier or more complex mechanics would break light-hearted fun offered by the game.
The first attempt at playing the game goes a tad slow, but picks up towards the end. After "breaking the ice" the first time, subsequent plays are incredibly fast and fun. Watch out though, warming up with this game may lead to just playing this game multiple times!
I enjoy playing any game that keeps everyone involved at every turn (at least to some extent). I find this is a great game to play with people not interested is overly complex mechanics or strategy.
The game is a lot of fun as an entry game, or for people looking for a session of light gaming. The interaction with other players makes for an interesting and hilarious time. I fully recommend this game to players of all styles.