Sherwood Forest Reviewed

This game is over 12 months old, why a review? Because BoardGameGeek scores this very modestly and I honestly think the balance needs to be redressed.

The gameplay is extremely simple; each player has a number of merry men with which to perform actions each turn. You can either perform reconnaissance, recruit or purchase weapons and any remaining men are placed in strategic positions within Sherwood Forest to ambush travelling noblemen.

Each turn 6 cards are turned over to reveal the route and strength of the travellers and players can choose whether to ambush or wait for richer pickings to arrive.

The beauty lies within the negotiations that take place in forming alliances to overcome the more powerful travellers. Reconnaissance allows a player to examine one of the 6 traveller cards, making them privy to the strength, route and affluence of each traveller. This information doesn’t have to be revealed but is the catalyst for some fantastic negotiations, especially amongst my cut-throat group:

Player 1: “Do you want to ally with me? I can guarantee you two bags of gold if you supply three men to my raiding party”

Player 2: “Three men for two bags? You can shove that hard into a painful place, I want at least three bags”

Player 3: “I can supply one man for one bag”

Player 4: “And I’ll supply the other two for the remaining bag you promise”

Player 2: “Hang on, hang on, if I supply the three men will you provide a weapon for my other raiding party?”

Player 1: “It’s too late now, I’ve joined forces with the others”

Player 2: “You fucking cunts, I’m going to make you all suffer”.

And so on.

After being declined alliances in a previous turn, players will cut their own throats to avoid ever having dealings with the player that caused such an affront. Once this happens, the other players can play them against each other, gaining allies for a smaller cost as the two arguing players’ options for negotiations become more limited. I have seen grown men in massive sulks whilst playing this game. It’s brilliant.

Sherwood Forest is one of those games that needs the right players to play. The main mechanics are negotiation and persuasion, which replace any traditional gaming strategy. If you have an argumentative bunch of players, this is an absolute gem that deserves your love and respect.

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