Review – Robin Hood and the Merry Men

OVERVIEW

Robin Hood and the Merry Men is a semi-cooperative game that walks the line between a euro game and a thematic board game. At it’s heart it is a worker placement game with players taking on the roles of popular Heroes such as Robin Hood or Jane Fortune, with their own bands of Merry Men to put to work defending Nottingham.

Use your Heroes and Merry Men to collect resources, steal from the rich to give to the poor, rob carriages and even compete in archery competitions. You can lay traps to capture and ransom guards, build barricades on the roads to prevent carriages full of taxes from entering the city and even help Merry Men escape the gallows. All in the name of gaining reputation and victory points.

This is not your usual semi-coop game, such as Dead of Winter or Shadows Over Camelot, where you are all working together with a hidden traitor in your midst. Instead, you are all competing against one another but you must still work together a little to ensure you don’t all lose the game together! If you allow the guards to over run the villagers or let the money on a road be completely depleted then you all lose and any victory points gained were all for nothing!

Player Count1 – 5 players
Age13 +
Play Time60 – 90 mins
Weight3.51 / 5
PublisherFinal Frontier Games

Disclaimer: This game was provided by the publisher, but my reviews are always 100% honest and all photos and opinions are my own!

GAMEPLAY 6/10

If you were walking past a game of Robin Hood and the Merry Men you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a through and through, pure euro game. But it really is a hybrid of euro and thematic and that can make it difficult to know what you’re getting. Thematically the game play works well, after all you are playing as outlaws who, for better or worse, push their luck on a daily basis. 

But if you were expecting a straight up euro game I think you’d be somewhat disappointed by the many elements of luck in this game. The Merry Men cards play a vital role in the game but are simply drawn from a pile, the villain cards randomise events on each players turn and dictate when carriages enter the game. Then there are the dice. There is a lot of dice rolling in this game and each dice has a 50/50 chance of success. On some occasions you are able to spend resources to re-roll dice or use Merry Men powers to mitigate against bad rolls, but more often than not, if the dice are against you, you’re not going to have a very good game!

AESTHETICS & COMPONENTS 9/10

One thing you cannot deny about this game is that no expense was spared on components and art, even for the retail version, which I have. There are screen printed meeples, custom wooden markers and a beautiful metal first player coin, to name a few.

The art from Mihajlo Dimitrievski (a.k.a The Mico) is stunning as always, you may recognise the distinctive style from the Valeria Series and the North Sea Trilogy. It ties the theme together beautifully, with a diverse cast of merry men.

The only negative in terms of visual appeal is that the board is somewhat overcrowded, there is a lot going on and this can be a little confusing!

RULES & TEACHING 6/10

Robin Hood and the Merry Men is a very rules heavy game, which is often the case with euro style games. Unfortunately the rulebook just doesn’t do a great job of presenting these rules which makes it more tedious to learn than it should be. I will say that visually the rulebook is great, just like the rest of the art in the game but I spent an inordinate amount of time flipping between pages during our games trying to find the odd rule here and there. 

I love when a game includes player aids but the ones included in this game fell flat and were barely looked at. One side shows a list of how to score victory points, while the other side shows you the lists of actions you can take, however there is simply not enough details about these actions to make them useful. I ended up creating my own from one I found on BGG and edited slightly, which ended up being a double sided A4 sheet and even then I found myself flicking through the rulebook on a couple of occasions! 

REPLAYABILITY 7/10

For me, I would struggle to get this game to the table often with new players due to the learning curve of the game, but once your game group has learnt the game, it actually plays reasonably quick, especially when compared to your average euro game. And with the semi-coop nature of the game, it can also be cut short if you all lose together!

While I’ve focused only on the semi-co-op mode for this review, it’s worth noting the game also includes a fully co-op mode and a solo mode as well as multiple modules which would add more replayability depending on your preference for such things.

OVERALL SCORE 28/40 = 7

RECOMMENDED IF…

… you like your euro games to be highly thematic
… you are willing to let dice control your fate

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