Gameday First Play – Sheriff of Nottingham

Posted on by Jesta

This is a brief review of Sheriff of Nottingham.

I’ll give you 2 gold not to read it.

Prince John is coming to Nottingham! Players, in the role of merchants, see this as an opportunity to make quick profits by selling goods in the bustling city during the Prince’s visit. However, players must first get their goods through the city gate, which is under the watch of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Should you play it safe with legal goods and make a profit, or risk it all by sneaking in illicit goods? Be mindful, though, as the Sheriff always has his eyes out for liars and tricksters and if he catches one, he very well may confiscate those goods for himself!

Each player takes 2 turns being the Sheriff… So over the 10 rounds we played we needed to try and collect as many legal (Chickens, Apples, Bread, Cheese) goods as possible to score bonus points while not getting caught smuggling contraband. (Crossbows, Pepper, Silk)

If you’re the Sheriff you get this big guy…

Sheriff of Nottingham Standee

Each player has 6 cards with the goods on and you get a chance to discard and draw new ones before picking your goods for that turn.

Then you put up to 5 cards in your pouch, any 5 and snap the snapper shut. (This is important :))

Then, in turn order, players look the Sheriff in the eye and declare what they have following 2 simple rules.

You can not lie about the number of cards you have.
You can only name one legal good.

So you can say “I have 3 Chickens” for example.

When everyone has done this, the fun starts.

Now, some people have complained about the game taking too long so I would suggest timing this stage. We played it at 5 minutes per round but we think 3 would be enough, even for 5 players.

I would also suggest using the free app as it has a timer built in and also helps with scoring at the end of the game too…

Sheriff of Nottingham App Screenshot

Back to the game…

Now the Sheriff has to decide who is telling the truth and who is not. He can ask questions and make threats that he’ll open the bag…

But the players can bribe the Sheriff to let them through, players can also bribe the Sheriff to open someone else’s bag.

This is the best part of the game and where you can be as in or out of character as you like. You can simply say “I only had 3 Chicken cards” or you can make up an elaborate back story about your market trader and how you came about the Chickens you have for sale.

You can also try and filibuster this timed portion and keep focus on the other player long enough that you run the clock out.

Once the Sheriff pops a snapper on a bag that’s it, no going back. This is a great part of the game as that Pop can make you sink back in your chair as you realise you didn’t get away with it.

If the Sheriff inspects a legal bag and the player was telling the truth, they pay the player for the value of those legal goods in the bag.

If the bag contained the wrong goods or contraband and was inspected, the Contraband is confiscated and the player pays the Sheriff a fine for the undeclared goods.

Honestly declared goods and unopened bags go to the player to put in their play area.

Sheriff of Nottingham Play Area


After everyone has been the Sheriff twice you score points.

You get points for your money and the value of your legal goods and contraband you got through.

Also, the players with the most and second most of each legal good get bonus points.

Most points wins.

This is a pretty fun negotiation game with lots of bribing and accusations.

It’s fun to declare 3 Apples, have the Sheriff believe you only to take the 3 cards out of your bag and add them to the Contraband pile on your player board… mwah ha ha!

Also, as the Sheriff it’s great when you get it right…

Of course, it hurts when you get it wrong! But who cares, it’s good fun 🙂

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