Stuart Dunn
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Alabama
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I generally don't get to play a lot of bluffing games, and I think it's primarily because of the two gaming groups I belong too. One group is my wife and another couple, none of whom are great at bluffing, and the other group I think the bluffing would get out of hand or cause hurt feelings. However, I have found one bluffing game that works reasonably well for both groups, and that is Sheriff of Nottingham. In Sheriff of Nottingham, you are a merchant trying to bring your goods (apples, bread, cheese, and chickens) into Nottingham, and maybe smuggling in some contraband as well. It's a quick, fun, and a nice blend of playing your hand and playing your opponents. With that said, there were a couple of things I felt missing from the base game.

For starters, I sometimes wished it played more than five players. Secondly, I always wondered where Robin Hood, Little John, and the other Merry Men were. Lastly, it felt like you could make it through the game without bluffing ever (my wife) and cream your opponents, so there's no incentive to bluff. I imagine I wasn't the only one with these cons, so along came Sheriff of Nottingham: Merry Men. Sheriff of Nottingham: Merry Men is a small box expansion that provides five different modules to enhance game play. This is my favorite type of expansion, because you can pick and choose what you want to add and what you don't. Allow me to tell you what I think about each module.

1. 6th Player - A sixth player is added to the game and two deputies take the place of the sheriff. Instead of one person interrogating you, you now have two to deal with. They must agree and split any loot/bribes received. This was an easy and welcome expansion. I like that you now have two people shaking down the merchants, but I don't play it where it's randomly decided who the two are, because I played it with three couples. Instead I made each couple the deputies, so that favoritism couldn't be granted to spouses. The more the merrier with this game, so I would always play with this one if the player count justified it.

2. Black Market - Players are allowed to trade in three of a kind of a contraband card for a black market card. Example, you have three peppers (6 coin value each) that if you are the first to trade them in nets you a black market card worth 30 coins. This is a module I play with all the time as it encourages and rewards bluffing and smuggling. There are no more "cheap" honest all the way through wins. You are rewarded handsomely for lying and it makes doing so a viable strategy again, as you can turn 18 points into 30 points (example above).

3. Laws - 24 cards with special rules. The first round the sheriff draws three and puts two in play. Every round after, the new sheriff draws two and keeps one, which replaces an old law. Some of these laws make common goods (chickens for example) contraband. Other laws make the person with the most of one good (cheese for example) in their stall sell one to the bank. I only played with this module once and it was a little fiddly for me and added needless complications to the game. It also messed with opponents even more in a game that already had enough of that. I probably wouldn't use this module again.

4. Special Orders - 15 cards that display a legal and illegal good on each card. To claim the card, you must bring both into Nottingham on the same round. This is another module that encourages bluffing, but more specific bluffing. With everyone going for these cards, you assume that there will be more bribes and everyone's bag will be tainted with illegal goods. However, unlike the Black Market cards, I didn't find that the rewards on these cards justified the risk. For example, if you bring one chicken (value 4) and one pepper (value 6) into Nottingham on the same turn, you claim a special order card with a value of 5. 4 + 6 + 5 = 15 with a chance of the sheriff busting you and you only getting to bring one chicken in. Conversely, you could just bring three chickens in (value 12) for no risk at all. I'd play with this module, but I wouldn't seek it out.

5. Merry Men - 18 cards of Merry Men you are trying to smuggle into Nottingham. Each merchant gets two cards and picks one to put in their hand. If they smuggle the card in, they get the coin value and a special one time use ability. If you are caught trying to smuggle them in, you discard them and must smuggle contraband in on a future turn to have the ability to draw Merry Men again. Thematically, I like this one, because this game was sorely lacking these characters. I like that you get different amounts of coins for them and that you are only trying to smuggle them in one at a time. This means you can spend a turn or two establishing your credibility and honesty and then sneak one in undetected. I also really like the minor game-bending abilities you briefly gain to try and give you an edge. I would play with this module some of the time.

So in summation, I really liked two, sort-of liked one, and didn't care for the other two. For the price point of $25, I consider that a success and an expansion worth purchasing. If you're a fan of this game, I recommend picking it up and trying out the different modules for yourself. It definitely adds replay value and new paths to victory.

This game was provided to me for free by Arcane Wonders in exchange for an honest review.
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Jo Bartok
Germany
Zwingenberg
Hessen
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Interaction leads to Immersion.
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Thanks for making me aware of the addon.

I hope it will be available at Essen Spiel 17?! (Anyone knows?)
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Ryan Bretsch
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University City
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We played with "Laws" and "Merry Men". Can't believe you didn't like "Laws". Our entire group thought that introduced the perfect layer of chaos that made the thinking behind game much more tactical and adaptive.

Sheriff of Nottingham is soooo much better with this expansion!
 
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Alex Krasny
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Dismas wrote:

4. Special Orders - 15 cards that display a legal and illegal good on each card. To claim the card, you must bring both into Nottingham on the same round. This is another module that encourages bluffing, but more specific bluffing. With everyone going for these cards, you assume that there will be more bribes and everyone's bag will be tainted with illegal goods. However, unlike the Black Market cards, I didn't find that the rewards on these cards justified the risk. For example, if you bring one chicken (value 4) and one pepper (value 6) into Nottingham on the same turn, you claim a special order card with a value of 5. 4 + 6 + 5 = 15 with a chance of the sheriff busting you and you only getting to bring one chicken in. Conversely, you could just bring three chickens in (value 12) for no risk at all. I'd play with this module, but I wouldn't seek it out.


You can bring 4 chickens and a pepper, still complete the special order and also get 3 extra chickens in. You don't need to ONLY bring the special order in your bag.
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Murat Onart
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Very clear review, thank you. Thank you also for the disclaimer.
 
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Stuart Dunn
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Alabama
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monart wrote:
Very clear review, thank you. Thank you also for the disclaimer.


Thanks!
 
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Brett
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Dismas wrote:

They must agree and split any loot/bribes received.



This is not correct. The deputies do not have to agree.
 
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Jeff
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VirtualAlex wrote:
Dismas wrote:

4. Special Orders - 15 cards that display a legal and illegal good on each card. To claim the card, you must bring both into Nottingham on the same round. This is another module that encourages bluffing, but more specific bluffing. With everyone going for these cards, you assume that there will be more bribes and everyone's bag will be tainted with illegal goods. However, unlike the Black Market cards, I didn't find that the rewards on these cards justified the risk. For example, if you bring one chicken (value 4) and one pepper (value 6) into Nottingham on the same turn, you claim a special order card with a value of 5. 4 + 6 + 5 = 15 with a chance of the sheriff busting you and you only getting to bring one chicken in. Conversely, you could just bring three chickens in (value 12) for no risk at all. I'd play with this module, but I wouldn't seek it out.


You can bring 4 chickens and a pepper, still complete the special order and also get 3 extra chickens in. You don't need to ONLY bring the special order in your bag.


We just tried this a week ago and I noticed this thread. I disagree with the OP and Alex is correct. We were always claiming bags similar to "4 chickens" (which were 3 chickens+mead or two chickens+mead+whatever.) We weren't limiting it to the special order.
We were constantly trying to fill special orders, even the Sheriff or others knew it was happening, so there were many good negotiations trying to get obvious contraband through. It made the game more fun and interactive. Honestly, I thought Special Orders was an excellent module to include.

I just wanted to reinforce that I believe the OP's rules interpretation of Special Orders is incorrect and didn't want it to affect others' games.
 
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Mark Turner
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If this expansion offers so much incentive to cheat, why doesn’t the sherif pretty much open all the bags all the time?
 
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Jeff
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MrMT wrote:
If this expansion offers so much incentive to cheat, why doesn’t the sherif pretty much open all the bags all the time?


Bluffing is only part of the game and negotiation is the other part. With more incentive to cheat, there is more dealmaking in the game.

For example, I can bust someone smuggling in contraband for four coins. Otherwise I can get a lot more money out of them if they're also going for a special order and/or black market award. Usually people will probably pay a lot more than four coins when they have more to lose. Some payments can be other contraband or legal goods (which could help the sheriff to get an end-game bonus.)
 
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