Game Buzz: King of Nottingham

This year’s GenCon was apparently chock full of great new games.  Today, I’m going to take a look at two unrelated games that both were pretty big successes at this year’s Con.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

King of New York is the sequel to the popular 2011 game, King of Tokyo.  This second offering from Richard Garfield and IELLO Games takes the system in new directions while still remaining familiar.  The game is for 2-6 players, and takes 40 minutes to play.  You are a monster menacing New York, and your goal is to either rack up the most points or be the last one standing.

The game comes with eight dice, a board, 66 cards, 46 effect tokens, 6 new monsters (with dials and stand ups), 45 building/unit tiles, and 50ish energy cubes.  In the beginning, each player takes a monster (Drakonis, Mantis, Captain Fish, Kong, Sheriff, Rob, or any monster from the base game or expansions).  Each player sets their dial board to 0 VPs and 10 health.  Each player chooses a borough of New York to place their monster – Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx.  Each borough can hold up to two monsters at a time.  Additionally, there are building/unit tiles spread around the board.

On your turn, you roll six dice.  You then keep whichever ones you want and reroll the rest.  You can do this one more time, and then you’re stuck with what you have.  You’ll then resolve the dice based on the symbols showing on each face.  There are six faces:

  • Heart: Heal one point per heart by increasing your health dial.  It can’t go over ten, unless you have a card that allows it.  If you’re in Manhattan, you can’t heal.
  • Lightning Bolt: Gain one energy cube per bolt symbol.
  • Claw: If you’re outside of Manhattan, you attack the monster(s) inside Manhattan.  If you are in Manhattan, you attack all monsters outside of Manhattan.
  • Star: Rolling three of these gains you the Superstar card, which is worth a point plus another point per star beyond three you roll.  From that point on, every time you roll a star, you get a point.  If another player rolls three stars, they take it from you.
  • Building: Destroy building tiles or unit tiles in your borough of value equal to the number of symbols you rolled.  This will gain you a reward.  Destroyed buildings are flipped and become military units.  Destroyed units are discarded.
  • Skull: If you roll one, each military unit in your region does damage to you.  If you roll two, each military unit in your borough does damage to you and another monster unfortunate enough to be there.  If you roll three, all monsters in boroughs with military units take damage, and you get the Statue of Liberty card.  This gives you three points, which you lose if someone takes it from you.

After resolving your dice, if there’s no one in Manhattan, you enter Lower Manhattan.  If there is someone in Manhattan, you can move to any other borough.  Going to Manhattan gets you a point.  If you’re still there at the beginning of your next turn, you get a point and an energy and move to Midtown.  Remaining there gets you two points and an energy, and you move to Upper Manhattan.  From there, you’ll be getting two points and two energy every time.

Also after resolving your dice, you have the opportunity to spend energy on a card.  These give you special advantages that you can use throughout the game, or possibly a one-time use.  The game ends when someone gets 20 points, or when all but one player have been eliminated.

I love King of Tokyo.  It’s a very fun game.  And I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical of KoNY at first, wondering if it was just a big reskin of Tokyo.  However, there seem to be enough interesting changes to justify its existence.  It seems to amp up the destruction level, allowing you to go after buildings as well as monsters.  I’m kind of glad they did away with the numbers, which seemed to encourage more of a points strategy – I always have someone that is just trying to roll numbers, not going after anything else at all.  This one has one chance with the star, but is also able to open up buildings and some possible extra pain.  I think this is probably a more aggressive game, but still not a directly confrontational system.  I know Richard Garfield has said King of Tokyo was designed out of a desire to have a fighting game where you couldn’t pick on anyone.  This seems to take that to a new level.  So I’m really looking forward to getting to play this, hopefully sometime in the near future.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Sheriff of Nottingham began its life in 2006 as Hart an der Grenze, published by Kosmos.  This year, a new edition is being published by Arcane Wonders as the first game in the Dice Tower Essentials Line (which basically means Tom Vasel likes it).  It was designed by Sérgio Halaban and André Katz (with Bryan Pope developing the AW edition), is for 3-5 players, and lasts about an hour.  In the game, players take turns being the Sheriff, and trying to stop people from smuggling illegal goods into Nottingham.  When you’re not the sheriff, you will be a merchant that is trying to do the smuggling.

In the box, you get 216 goods cards (legal, contraband, and royal goods); 110 gold coins; a Sheriff marker; five merchant stands; and five merchant bags.  Each player begins with a merchant stand and a bag (which is an envelope with a clasp), as well as 50 gold and six goods cards.  Two discard piles are created, and the player with the most actual money on them becomes the first Sheriff.

There are five phases per round – market, loading, declaration, inspection, and the end of the round.

MARKET: You may set aside up to five cards from your hand, then draw back up to six.  You can draw from the top of either discard pile, or you can draw from the face down draw pile.  Set aside cards go on top of one of the discard piles.  This is done in clockwise order.

LOADING: Each player selects 1-5 goods from their hand, and places them in their bag.  Once your bag is closed, you can’t change your mind.

DECLARATION: In clockwise order, each player looks the Sheriff in their eyes and tells them what is in their bag.  You can only declare legal goods, you can only declare one type of good, and you must declare the exact number of cards in your bag.  So if you have three chickens and a silk in your bag, you would say that you have four chickens.  Or four breads.  You can’t say you have three chickens, and you can’t say you have silk because that’s contraband.

INSPECTION: After everyone has declared, the Sheriff can decide to inspect any of the bags.  The Sheriff can threaten the player whose bag he is inspecting, and that player can offer a bribe to avoid inspection.  This negotiation can go back and forth, but eventually the Sheriff must either let the player pass, handing the bag back and accepting any bribes; or inspect the bag.  If you pass, you put legal goods face up on your market stand, and keep contraband face down.  If the Sheriff inspects and you were telling the truth, the Sheriff must pay you a value equal to the penalty on your legal goods.  If you were lying, all legal goods you told the truth about are allowed into market.  The other goods are confiscated (discarded), and you have to pay the penalty of the discarded cards.

END OF ROUND: Pass the Sheriff marker, and all players draw back up to six cards.  Once all players have been Sheriff twice (three times in a three-player game), it’s over.  Cards in hand are discarded.  Reveal your contraband cards, and add up the value of all goods, plus your remaining gold, plus any bonuses you may have received.  The player with the highest points wins.

This is a pure negotiation game, with lying encouraged.  In fact, you’ll probably have to lie at some point.  It’s just a question of timing.  Bribes can be used, and I can see how that can get pretty heated.  It seems like it will be a very interactive game, and probably really needs the right group to succeed.  No Robin Hood in this one (that I know of), but it’s good to have a game that examines the scurrilous nature of the Sheriff.  I’d be interested to try this one out sometime as it looks like a pretty fun game, but it remains to be seen if it would be something I really enjoyed enough to want to play over and over.  Thanks for reading!

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