When comparing Descent: Journeys in the Dark vs Sheriff of Nottingham, the Slant community recommends Sheriff of Nottingham for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Sheriff of Nottingham is ranked 19th while Descent: Journeys in the Dark is ranked 47th. The most important reason people chose Sheriff of Nottingham is:
“Sheriff of Nottingham” is a great game for providing some action and laughs at a smaller get-together, which is to be expected from an easy game that revolves around light roleplay, random banter, and lying and bribing your way to victory. While not necessarily a roleplaying game, sometimes players can’t help but change their voice when taking on the role of the sheriff and threatening the merchants. The same principle works the other way around – merchants tend to come up with witty excuses when trying to bribe the sheriff or pass their stock as legitimate. All of this can lead to some hilarious and memorable moments.
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Pro Blends competitive and co-operative game play in one game
The premise is pretty unique in that one player takes on the role of an overlord while all other players act as the heroes who attempt to clear the dungeon. The overlord and the heroes play against each other in a turn-based setup.
The overlord is the one responsible for controlling the monsters and other pitfalls that the heroes will face. The overlord also has access to many powerful spell cards which can be played during their turn. The heroes work together to clear the dungeon of monsters and work towards the victory condition for their quest.
Since the main evil force is player controlled, it creates some really interesting situations not often seen in other boardgames such as monsters being able to play strategically and dealing with spell effects that aren't random.
Pro Accessible and easy to learn game systems
While the actual rule book may not be the most organized manual in the world, the gameplay systems themselves are very simple to grasp, even for new players. Thanks to being both intuitive and easy to follow, anyone can join in on the fun.
Descent uses basic dice rolls for most actions, and how many actions you can take per turn are clearly defined based on your hero class. Movement along the board is handled in a grid like fashion with each tile denoting a certain distance. There is never any second guessing of whether or not you're in range to help a friend or attack an enemy. If you can roll dice, follow a tile based board, and understand a few simple rules, you can easily play this game.
Pro Engaging and replayable full campaign mode
Each 60 to 90 minute game consists of a single quest, however there is a campaign mode where heroes can take on a series of story quests while also learning new skills along the way. This is a great mode for that true epic adventure feeling. If you find a hero you enjoy, you can grow and develop this character over time similar to a standard RPG game. Additionally, no two campaigns will ever be the same. There are 8 different classes to select from, and you can pick and choose the quests you do, which adds a lot of replayability.
Pro Appealing, clean presentation
Everything is laid out cleanly on the board so it's easy to keep track of the action. Each player has their own cards with all usable actions and skills neatly presented. All heroes and monsters have game pieces that can be moved around the board, so it's easy to be aware of your surroundings and plan your next attack. The health system uses special token pieces that are used to keep track of your health. Being able to see your health physically raise and lower to keep track of your damage taken is a nice touch.
Pro Can play solo with the mobile app
There's a mobile app called "Road to Legend" that lets you play this game solo. The app works by taking over the overlord role. It even has multiple difficulty settings so you can get as much of a challenge as you crave. It's a great way to play when you have no friends available for a gaming session.
Pro Bitesized quests for quick fun
Each short gaming session consists of one quest with its own victory condition and two encounters. They are quick to play when you're looking for something fun to do for an hour or so.
Pro Lots of expansion packs to keep the fun going
The makers of this board game have added over ten expansion packs which feature new monsters, quests, campaigns, heroes, and re-balanced mechanics. Even after you've extensively played the vanilla game, there's plenty of ways to extend the fun and keep playing a game you enjoy.
Pro Great party game
“Sheriff of Nottingham” is a great game for providing some action and laughs at a smaller get-together, which is to be expected from an easy game that revolves around light roleplay, random banter, and lying and bribing your way to victory.
While not necessarily a roleplaying game, sometimes players can’t help but change their voice when taking on the role of the sheriff and threatening the merchants. The same principle works the other way around – merchants tend to come up with witty excuses when trying to bribe the sheriff or pass their stock as legitimate. All of this can lead to some hilarious and memorable moments.
Pro Simple to understand
"Sheriff of Nottingham" makes for a great gateway game because of how easy the rules are. Even children can understand the main gist quite easily. The game revolves around managing your hand, collecting sets, and lying straight to the sheriff's face.
Every turn the players discard and redraw cards from discard piles and the deck and maintain 6 cards in-hand. The players then choose 1-5 cards, place them in a burlap sack, and declare them to the player taking the role of the sheriff by saying how many cards of one type are in the sack, but the only thing that must be truthful is the number of goods - the actual contents can be contraband or different types of goods. For example, a player says that their sack contains 3 chickens, whereas it actually contains 2 chickens and a crossbow.
It is up to the sheriff to decide who is inspected and who is let in. If the sheriff catches a merchant trying to bring in contraband or different goods than he declared, then that merchant must pay the sheriff the penalty price written on the cards. If the sheriff inspects the bag of a truthful merchant, then the sheriff must compensate the penalty to the player and let the goods go to the merchant stand.
The game is won by the player who has accumulated the most wealth after every player has been the sheriff two times (three times if playing with three players).
Pro Quality components
The components are all well-made and should hold up to regular wear and tear and even an accidental drop now and then. The game consists of gold coins, merchant stand boards, and a Sheriff marker made from thick cardboard, cards made of durable cardstock, merchant bags made of dense fabric, and a useful foamcore card insert for holding the cards during the gameplay.
Pro Useful mobile app
Arcane Wonders have made a free mobile companion app for “Sheriff of Nottingham” that helps with keeping the time of inspections if you’re playing with a time limit, keeping score of your finances and who is in the lead, and providing an atmosphere with ambient sounds and voice-acted audio comments.
If you just want to make the game funnier, you can pay 3$ for the “Merchant Fun Pack” to get a clickable soundboard and unlock over 70 more audio comments to spam throughout the game, featuring such highlights as “COUGH Contraband COUGH COUGH” or “Crossbows are illegal, right?”.
Con Physical quality isn't the best
The game cards and board are flimsy and wear down rather easily. After only a few games, the wear and tear will be noticeable.
Con Disorganized rulebook
It's usually easier to find the information you need with an internet search since the rulebook itself is tough to navigate. It's arranged alphabetically by rule rather than organized in a manner that would align with the game flow.
Con Rules can be confusing
While the game systems themselves are rather easy to pick up and learn, some phrasing on the cards and within the rulebook is a bit cryptic, which may result in confusion when first starting out.
Con One player will always have to be the "bad guy"
Unless using the mobile app, which may very well ruin immersion for some, there is an evil overlord role that needs to be filled by a player. This is the player that makes decisions and takes actions for all the monsters. As such, this can be the source of many arguments. It can get especially bad when someone feels like they are being constantly targeted or singled out by the overlord.
Con Very group dependent
The game will not fit every group due to the social nature of it. It's a whole different game when played with children, adults, or more introverted people. The personalities of people greatly influence the banter, the roleplay, the bribery, and the negotiation parts, which are core aspects of "Sheriff of Nottingham".
Moreover, if players choose not to engage in the more cutthroat side of the gameplay (bribery, lying, etc.), the game gets boring very fast. "Sheriff of Nottingham" is all about bluffing, and if you take that part of the game out entirely then it just becomes a card game where people race for the most points.
Con Not greatly replayable
The game manages to keep the players excited for the first few plays, but it easily loses its charm after you play it more than ten times or so. It starts to feel samey even when played a few times in a row.
The variations of the game don't really impact the replayability either - they only add a little bit of difficulty, for example, you can add a time limit, make players have 7 cards in-hand, remove some cards from the deck, or play with "royal goods", which are basically cards that are counted as contraband but add to your legal good count at the end of the game.