Insert clever phrase here.
I have to be honest here – this was a “Name” game; meaning that I only bought this game because of Uwe Rosenberg’s name on the front. I love Agricola and Bohnanza, so I figured I’d pick up this little card game, knowing that I was talking a little bit of a risk, but I was not disappointed. Nottingham is a clever, fun, and quick card game of set collecting and “forced” trading between rival deputies of Nottingham.
While the thievery aspect of the Robin Hood story universe is present in the game, when someone steals from you, you always get a card in return, so the stealing is not serious. It’s almost playful. Think of backstabbing your buddy with a rubber knife. That’s the mood of Nottingham. (Or “Naughty”-ngham! Becauth thtealing ith tho naughty! [I always think of a classic SNL sketch - "Tales of Ribaldry" with Jon Lovitz as a foppish, androginous storyteller who is titilated way to easily])
Anyway, on to the review—
What you get:
1 Nottingham game board
8 wooden pawns (1 black for Sheriff, 7 different player colors)
84 Item cards (12 of 7 different types)
11 ambush cards
8 assignment cards
1 rules book
The game bits are good quality for the price. (Less then $20) The card stock is thick enough to withstand the use, but not so thick that it’s impossible to shuffle, and they feel good in your hands. The 8 wooden pawns are well done and look nice, but the 7 player pawns are completely unnecessary.
They only serve to show what color player you are, and could have easily been replaced by additional cards (which I’m assuming could have been produced for cheaper than painted wooden pieces).
The board that the Sheriff pawn travels around is small but sturdy and easy to read. The artwork is nothing spectacular, but it’s functional and adds the necessary color and feel to the theme. This game could have easily been overproduced to command a higher price tag, but Uberplay made the right decisions and did not do the same thing that I’ve seen in so many Steve Jackson Games (i.e. $25 or more for a deck of cards and rules). The rule book is well written and colorful. It's easy to read and didn't require any questions from our group before we started play.
The game board is put into the center of the table, and the black Sheriff pawn in placed on Nottingham. All other players simply hold their colored pawns in front of them for any possible Ambushes that may happen in the game (more on this later). The 8 assignment cards are laid out next to the game board so all can see, and the ambush cards are prepared as follows:
1) If there are less than 7 players, then any cards showing unused player colors are set out of the game completely,
2) Take the remaining colored ambush cards and shuffle them with the 6 item pair cards,
3) Set the shuffled ambush deck next to the game board.
After this, shuffle the main item deck and deal out 3 cards to each player as a starting hand and place the remaining cards near the game board as the draw deck for the game.
How to play
On your turn you will have some choices to make. First, you MUST draw the top card from the deck and lay it out for all to see. You can simply take the card into your hand, or you can choose to trigger the cards action (more on these in the Actions section below). Once you’ve finished the first step with the new card, you can choose to trade in cards for victory points or end your turn. If you choose to trade in, then you can score points in one of two ways:
1) The Basic Set – If you have three of more cards of the same item, then you can trade them in for points equal to the value of the item. When trading in, you keep one of the cards and turn it face down as a score pile (exactly like you do in Bohnanza). The remaining cards then go to the discard pile. (Example – You have three Copper Coin cards that are valued at 7 points. When you trade them in, you keep one of the cards and turn in face down in your score pile for 7 points, and put the other two in the discard pile.) You want to pay attention to what people are trading in because it means there is one less card of that value in the deck, and it will be that much harder to collect for the rest of the game.
2) Complete an Assignment – There are 8 assignment cards by the game board – 2 cards of 4 different types. The assignments you can complete are: 1) Three Pairs, 2) Four Pairs, 3) Five of a Kind, and 4) One of all Seven types (aka the Nottingham Straight). If you are the first (and only) person to complete an assignment, then you will score more points. The first to get Three Pairs gets 15 points, the first to get any other assignment get 30 points. However, if you are the second to complete the assignment, the BOTH completed assignment cards are worth fewer points. If two people get Three Pairs, then both assignment cards are worth 10 points, instead of one card worth 15 points. All other assignment cards are worth 25 points once a second person completes them.
If you don’t trade in any cards, then your turn is over and play moves to the left. If you DID trade in cards for points, then before your turn is over you move the Sheriff pawn forward one space and look at the number next to that space. EVERY player (not just the active player) who has that number or FEWER cards in their hand at that moment wins the Sheriff’s favor and gets to draw a card. Play then continues to the left until the Sheriff pawn makes it through Nottingham forest and back to the castle. Players add up their points from traded sets and completed assignments; highest total wins.
These actions ONLY come into play for the card that is drawn at the beginning of your turn. You cannot play a card out of your hand to use it’s action. Once it’s in your hand, you can only play it for points at the end of your turn. However, there will be plenty of times where you’ll want to trigger a card’s action instead of simply putting it in your hand. The seven cards have seven different actions to take:
1)The Copper Coin (Value 7) – Purchase Action: The active player put the Copper Coin card up for sale to the other players. Everyone else MUST offer one card for the Copper Coin, but cannot offer another Copper Coin card in return. The active player then chooses which of the three offers to take, and gives that player the Copper Coin. Also, the active player may decide to ignore the three offers and keep the Copper Coin anyway.
2)The Silver Candlestick (Value 8) – Steal Action: The active player chooses an opponent and randomly steals a card from their hand. Then they give that player the Silver Candlestick card in return.
3)Gold (Value 9) – Ambush Action: The active player may choose to set an ambush by taking the top two cards from the ambush deck, and choosing one to keep. The second card is put face down at the bottom of the ambush deck. The card kept by the player is placed face down in front of him/her, with the Gold ambush card placed underneath it.
Triggering an Ambush: When an opponent is trading in cards for points, you may choose to trigger an ambush if your card allows. (Note: you cannot use an ambush when someone is completing an assignment)
a)If a player’s color matches the colored pawn on your ambush card, then you may take one of the cards he/she was trading in, and give them the Gold (Value 9) card in return. If this leaves them with fewer then 3 cards, then they may not trade in for points this turn, and they take their cards back into their hand.
b)If the item being traded in matches one of the items on your ambush card, then you may take one of the cards he/she was trading in, and give them the Gold (Value 9) card in return. Again, if it leaves them with fewer then 3 cards, they may not trade in for points this turn, and they take their cards back.
4)Pearls (Value 10) – Rob Action: The Active player chooses an opponent, look at all the cards in that players hand, then take the card of their choosing. Then they give the Pearls card to their opponent in return.
5)Jewels (Value 11) – Hold Up Action: The Active player chooses an opponent, who then lays out all of their cards for all players to see. The Active player then chooses one card to take, and gives the opponent the Jewels Card in return.
6)Necklace (Value 12) – Defend Action: When this card is drawn it immediately goes into the active player’s hand. Later in the game if an opponent tries to use a Steal, Rob, of Hold up action against you, you can play a Defend card from your hand to stop the action. The Defend card goes to the attacking player, and the Steal, Rob, or Hold Up card goes into your hand.
7)Treasure Chest (Value 13) – Trade Action: This action works the same as the Copper Coin, but opponents may choose to offer one OR two cards in return for the Treasure Chest. Also, unlike the Copper Coin, once the active player has put this card up for trade, he/she MUST choose one of the offers on the table. The Treasure Chest card is then given to the opponent who’s offer was chosen.
Game Flow and Strategy
This is a fast paced game and the decisions are not too difficult. Every now and then you’ll need to decide which items to collect and which ones to abandon, but if you’re good at keeping track of who has collected what items, then you can use any of the actions to your advantage to get the cards you need. There are two main strategy issues to think about:
1) When to work on completing assignments (if at all), and
2) When you think you might be ambushed.
Completing assignments can bring you lots of points. If you’re the only one, then you get 30 points and that’s a huge advantage. You can complete the 5 of a kind, the Nottingham Straight, or the Four Pairs for 30 points. That’s either turning in 5 cards, 7 cards, or 8 cards for 30 points. To get the same score by just trading in cards, you’d have to trade in 3 sets of 3 cards (9 total) and use three turns to trade. However, the assignments can be more difficult to get, and you can end up wasting some extra turns if you can’t get the fourth pair, or the last item type for the straight. Another player can easily complete 2 or 3 trades in the time it takes you to complete an assignment, so weigh the pros and cons of completing assignments before going after them.
Also, completing assignments can be a type of defensive action. If someone is getting lucky and completing assignments easily, then you may need to go after an assignment or two yourself to make sure they don’t get 30 points per card. If you’re the second person to complete an assignment, then you’ll force the score of an opponent’s assignment down while boosting your own score. However, it all depends on how easily you think you’ll be able to complete one. If you’re just not getting the cards for an assignment, then you may just want to keep going after the sets.
Now to ambushes – If you think you may get ambushed by an enemy, then you may want to hold off on trading cards in until you can trade 4 or more at once so you can still lose a card and trade in for points. Now, multiple opponents can combine ambushes against you and take more than one card away from you. You may need to trade in 5 (only if the 5 of a kind assignment cards are taken) or more to make sure that multiple ambushes don’t cost you a trade opportunity. Also, trading in 4 or more may get your hand total down under the limit to gain the Sheriff’s favor and get a free card after trading. Keep a close eye on the Sheriff’s track so you can take as many advantages as possible.
The Bottom Line
For a simple card game, there are some choices to be made both on offense and defense to make sure you score more than your opponents. While the luck factor is strong because of the draw deck, it is tempered by the ability to use the card’s actions to squeeze the cards you need from your opponents, provided you remember who has what cards. The game bits are nice, but not overproduced, and you get a good, quick, and (most importantly) fun game for a low price.
Final Rating: 8/10
- Last edited Sun Nov 9, 2008 7:23 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Nov 9, 2008 6:22 pm
Nice review of a game I enjoy, I think you got one of the cards wrong however
6)Necklace (Value 12) – Defend Action: When this card is drawn it immediately goes into the active player’s hand. Later in the game if an opponent tries to use a Steal, Rob, of Hold up action against you, you can play a Defend card from your hand to stop the action. The Defend card ges into the discard pile, and the Active player takes the Steal, Rob, or Hold Up action card back into their hand.
When this card is used I was taught it goes to the attacking player rather than into the discard pile, while the defender gets the attacking card in exchange. As I don't own the game I could be wrong, but this does agree with this playaid.
Insert clever phrase here.
Thanks for the correction. We've been playing it wrong. This would make a difference as there are times when I could have used the 12 card in exchande for the 8, 10, or 11.
This link is way more fun for me...
...than the direct link to the file that you posted.
“Naughty”-ngham - heh!