When comparing Space Alert 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 20th while Space Alert is ranked 27th. 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 Each game is unique
The combination of several CD tracks along with variant card combos and action options ensures that no two games will be the same, making the game widely replayable. If you run out of the official CD tracks, then you can also download the Space Alert Mission Generator to get some random scenarios, or you can browse the internet for custom missions.
Space Alert is a cooperative based game, something that is not always the case for board games and can be a refreshing change.
Pro Varying difficulty
Various options can be selected to alter the difficulty level of the game, such as the power of internal and external common threats and serious threats. This makes, for example, the monsters you encounter much stronger, adding a whole new level of required teamwork.
Pro Strong theme
Space Alert has a sci-fi theme to it, and the game executes it perfectly. From the aesthetic look of the game to the actions you take, there’s plenty of science fiction – aliens, spaceships, robots, etc. The soundtrack playing in the background during the planning phase also adds a lot to the immersion. For those that are into more of a science fiction game, Space Alert could easily fit that bill.
Pro Good humor
While slightly morbid, the humor contained in the game and gameplay is quite amusing. The resolution phase is also full of humorous moments as the players watch their actions unfold or fall apart. For example, the tutorial book states that the captain must remember to do the “C” action that represents pressing the spacebar on the ship’s computer to keep the lights on.
Pro 1 - 5 players
Can be played as a single player game, or with up to 4 friends, dividing roles accordingly. If you don’t have a full group of 5 players, then the missing characters are androids, which can be controlled by any player.
Pro Simple rules
The very basics of the game are quite simple. Every player has a role assigned to them – the captain, the communications officer, and the security officer. The players take 12 turns in 10 minutes pre-planning actions while listening to a soundtrack that explains all incoming threats. The action phase is divided into three further parts, each of which has a separate deck of action cards. The soundtrack calls out the threats, the endings of phases, data transfers, and communication disruptions, and you must act accordingly.
After the 10-minute soundtrack is over, all the actions the players planned and coordinated are resolved. If the ship is still alive after that, then the game is won.
Pro Fast gameplay
The game takes around 30 minutes to play through, 10 minutes of which is the intense planning phase with the soundtrack blasting in the background.
Pro No analysis paralysis
Turn speed is dictated by the CD, avoiding some players procrastinating on their turns / keeping the gameplay flowing.
Pro Ranked highly on board game geek
With an average score of 7.5 out of 10 and a rank of 155, Space Alert is a positively reviewed board game.
Pro No alpha-gamer issue
Space Alert effectively evades the popular quarterbacking issue of cooperative board games. There’s simply no way to communicate enough useful information to other players in the 10-minute timeframe, so nobody can control absolutely everything. Everyone must efficiently work together and say what they’ll be doing to take care of the looming threats.
Pro Good components
The components of the game should hold up to multiple plays and regular wear and tear. There are a lot of good quality wooden tokens, and the cards are made of durable cardstock. The gameboard and the tracking boards are also quite thick and should endure well.
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 Steep learning curve
Space Alert is not very beginner friendly, and if you don’t properly understand how the game works when you start it up, then you’ll have visible difficulty keeping up with what’s happening in the frantic 10-minute action phase. You’ll also be dragging down the other players because there really isn’t enough time to explain rules when the game is already in progress.
It’s worth reserving an hour to play through the well-designed tutorial book that slowly introduces the complex aspects, so you’ll be ready for the real deal.
Con Requires CD player with speakers
Space Alert is only playable with the included audio CD or downloadable MP3's, without them the game is impossible to play.
Every action you take highly impacts what happens to the rest of the crew, and one tiny misstep can make the whole plan fall apart, which can be frustrating to some. Teamwork and good communication is completely necessary to win.
Con A lot of setup
Space Alert has a lot of pieces to sort through, cards and decks to shuffle and place on the gameboard. It’s not so bad if you decide to play more than one game, but the actual games are very quick in comparison to the amount of setup/takedown time.
Con Can’t be stopped once in progress
Once you press “play” on the 10-minute soundtrack, there’s no interrupting it – no pauses, no rewinds, etc. It’s important to stay focused, not engage in casual banter, and make sure there are no distractions in the background, which can be difficult to manage sometimes.
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.