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WATCH: How to Play – Sheriff of Nottingham

Join host Becca Scott as she breaks out some of the best boardgames the industry has to offer, with new guests each week! 

This week, Becca’s digging into Prince John’s coffers with Sheriff of Nottingham by Arcane Wonders and CMON Games. In this bluffing game, you are a merchant trying to bring mostly legal goods into Nottingham. Mostly. Sometimes you’ll try to bring some contraband through. The Sheriff might turn a blind eye to skirting the taxes, if you line his pockets with some gold.

Each player takes a turn at being the Sheriff, starting with the person who has the most money on their person at the time. They sit out of the first couple of phases of each turn while the merchants go to the market and fill their carts with goods. This is where the bluffing part of the game comes in.

Each merchant can pick up to five of their cards to discard and replenish from the discard piles or the draw deck. If they pick from the discard, the Sheriff knows if they have contraband in their hand because you have to pick up the cards off of discard in the order they are there. When you lay your discarded cards, you pick which of the two piles they go into and in what order, making blocking your opponents part of your strategy. After the market, you pick one to five of your goods to place in your bag. Are they contraband or legal? Only you know.

You hand your bag to the Sheriff and declare what’s in there. You don’t have to tell the truth with the exception of the number of goods you are bringing in. All you have to say they are all one legal type of good like cheese, even if you have a chicken in with your two wheels of cheese.

It’s now the Sheriff’s turn to bluff. He can choose how many of the bags he wants to open. He may even threaten it to inspire you to bribe him to let you pass without inspecting your bag. Bribes aren’t always money or goods, they can be future favors for when you are Sheriff. Other merchants can pipe up with counter offers to get him to open your bag.

If he opens your bag and you were telling the truth, the Sheriff has to pay you gold equal to the penalty value of the cards. If you lied, any legal goods you did declare are allowed in and you have to pay the penalty for the rest, legal or not. If your bag was unchecked, you place your goods around your merchant stall. Contraband gets placed facedown, and now your opponents know you slipped something through.

After everyone has been Sheriff at least twice (three times in smaller games), it’s time to add up your goods and coins. If you have the most or second most of a good, you get extra gold. The merchant with the most gold wins.

Are you ready to bluff your way to being the wealthiest merchant? Will the Sheriff tax you into poverty? Check out Becca’s How to Play video above and tune in to Game the Game on Thursday to watch the playthrough!

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