We humans like to feel superior to each other. We have a penchant for one-upmanship that is addictive. Board games are, of course, a chance to do this. Beating your foe on the cardboard battle ground of your choice is awesome sauce. Yes we drivel on about 'just enjoying' the experience, but we all know when annoying Derek is sat opposite us there is no way we are trading his wood for sheep.
Sheriff of Nottingham is a game that thrives on this feeling. Each player taking a turn as the titular Sheriff, wielding power like a maniac, only soon that power will be someone else's to wield. The Merry Men expansion adds five modules to the base game, do they sneak into my good books unchecked, or will this inspection find them wanting?
Two of the modules within Sheriff of Nottingham: Merry Men are broadly the same, giving you a chance to score more points for sneaking through certain sets of items. The Black Market cards task you with smuggling in a certain amount of contraband. They allow you to do this over a number of rounds and reward you with gold. The special order cards require one legal and one contraband item to be smuggled in, in the same round.
This is a straightforward but welcome addition to the game giving players some extra ways of earning and a bit more direction in their collection.
The sixth player expansion in Sheriff of Nottingham: Merry Men adds all the player pieces needed as well as two deputy standees and a bounty tile. The sheriff is removed from the game and in his place two deputies are appointed. The deputies team up on inspection and any brides they agree on are placed on the bounty tile and split equally at the turn end. They can disagree though, and you can end up bribing one deputy and not the other.
This expansion works really well as giving two players sheriff powers at once keeps the game length similar to five players. However if the deputies refuse to work together this can drag the length out even more. It works though and is nice to have the option for another player.
The laws module adds in 24 cards of... well, laws. Two will be active at a time and they will change the rules of the game. The sheriff has all the power here, deciding which laws will be added. These laws can change the legality of goods among other things, and add a good amount of variability to the base game.
Lastly we have the titular Merry Men module. The Merry Men are power cards that you must sneak into Nottingham in order to activate. Should you be caught by a sheriff or deputy you lose than card and must successfully sneak in some contraband in order to win over the Merry Men again and draw one of their number back to your hand. The powers they offer are well worth it and offer another incentive to be sneaky.
All in all I found Sheriff of Nottingham: Merry Men to be an exceptional expansion that improves on a good game. The modules have been well thought out and they give you extra incentive to be deceptive and tricksy. This is an easy recommendation for any fans of the original game. Modules are easy to add and adding a number of them at once is not an issue.