I have to confess this is a strange one to write. Perhaps because over the last year I have come to know the co-designer of this game. Maybe because Martyn, said co-designer, writes for Zatu too, or maybe I'm just overthinking it.
Anyway, subjectivity aside, I'm certain that had things been different and I didn't know Martyn I'd still be pretty pumped for this game. Robin Hood and the Merry Men combines elements of my favourite genres with the stunning artwork of The Mico (Rise to Nobility, Valeria: Card Kingdoms, Quests of Valeria and more!) What's not to love?
Robin Hood and the Merry Men
In it's first eight hours, Robin Hood and the Merry Men has already hit the $100,000 mark. A quick look at the Kickstarter page and it's not hard to see why. Final Frontier Games run great campaigns that reward the backers. The theme of Robin Hood is surprisingly neglected in board games, and from early previews this is one of the most appreciated elements of the game.
Robin Hood is also semi co-operative, a genre that is hard to get right, and viewed with some suspicion. Here though it makes perfect sense - the merry men are trying to help Robin save Maid Marion while also engaged in a friendly competition to impress Robin and move up the ranks of the group. In practice this means that while you must concentrate on earning points for yourself, you must not neglect to protect Nottingham and stop the Sheriff.
To do this you will gather resources from camps to build traps and barricades, rob from the rich, partake in archery contests, complete tasks for King Richard and more. This is done primarily through worker placement. The little twist here is that you use cards for active or passive effects, passive cards being stored for set collection or to use later. This offers some good choices and flexibility.
After this phase, called 'The Merry Men Phase' you have 'The Hero Phase'. In the Hero Phase, your large meeple can take two actions, but first the Sheriff acts.
Men in Tights
The Sheriff will advance all the ways you can lose the game - guards, carriages and the Sheriff himself. Then each player take their actions to attempt to hold off the Sheriff while also scoring points for themselves. This is all managed through the brilliantly illustrated player and main boards. Similar to Scythe, when players take certain resources off their player boards they get bonuses. Also any trap or barricade that activates during the game scores you points.
Points, points and more points. There is lots of ways to score points in Robin Hood. Perhaps not on a Feld level but there is a lot going on. I haven't even mentioned the push your luck elements with dice rolls for various activities and tasks. Early reports indicate approximately 25 mins per player, but when you think that most of this time is going to be engaged with the other players that doesn't sound that long at all.
Yes I'm looking forward to it, yes I'm probably a little biased but so far over 1500 backers agree with me. Soon I will have a chance to play the prototype of Robin Hood and the Merry Men and I'll be back to let you know if my gut feeling was right!