Play as Robin Hood and his merry men in this solo card game. As Robin Hood you’ll rob from the rich, give to the poor, battle the Sheriff of Nottingham, beat his goons and recruit your merry men. Increase your influence over the people to gain power and win the game, but be careful, the Sheriff has put a bounty on your head. If it gets too high the people will turn you in for the reward.
You begin by separating all the cards into different piles – one each for Loot, Story 1, Story 2, King Richard, Sherwood Forest, and Character cards. Set aside Robin Hood, and then shuffle the individual piles. Next, you grab the bounty card and tracker, and set out the playing field as seen in the image below. Your Story 2 cards sit underneath your Story 1 cards in the story pile so that the game ramps up in difficulty as it progresses.
Once the board is set up, you draw three cards from the Loot pile, and you’re ready to begin.
Each round is split up into three phases: Rob the Rich, Action, and Story.
Rob the Rich
Start each round by drawing three cards from the Loot pile and adding them to your hand. You may then play up to three loot cards from your hand into your inventory – these cards are the only cards that can be interacted with during the Action and Story phases. Cards that you keep in your hand are “safe.” At the end of the Rob the Rich phase, you discard cards until you have no more than five cards in hand.
During the Action phase, you can spend loot cards in your inventory to take one of multiple actions:
Recruit or Rescue Characters – To recruit a character, you spend the cost on the back of the card from your inventory. Once you’ve done this, you flip the card over and gain access to that character’s special abilities. Sometimes these characters can be jailed or captured. When this happens, you turn the card face down again. To rescue them, you must spend the cost listed under Rescue on the back of the card during an Action phase.
Acquire or Play King Richard Cards – These cards grant you a powerful ability to use during the game, and are generally considered to be game changing. Two of these cards grant one-off abilities and must be discarded once used, but the third card grants you a continuous ability which lasts for the rest of the game.
Acquire Sherwood Forest Cards – Sherwood Forest cards build up Robin Hood’s base camp as a safe haven for your characters. These cards can be unlocked for a cost, and when you unlock all six you have successfully completed building the camp – you instantly lower your bounty by 200 gold and gain the ability to have certain characters protected from capture or jail during the Story phase. Sherwood Forest can be attacked during the Story phase, and if you don’t successfully defend it, you discard the Sherwood Forest cards and lose access to the ability.
Lower the Bounty – You may spend three influence points to lower your bounty by 100 gold.
Loot cards are placed face up in a discard pile when used. You may only take one action per turn unless a character ability says otherwise.
Draw one Story card from the top of the Story pile and take the actions on the card to resolve it. Some of these cards may give you options on how to resolve the card, but others will not.
At the end of the round, you may swap your active character with another that you have already unlocked, and gain access to that character’s special ability for the next round.
Win and Loss Conditions
You win the game by successfully having all seven characters unlocked and a bounty at or under 500 gold.
If at any time your bounty reaches 1000 gold, or you draw the last Story card, you lose the game.
Like most solitare-style card games, resource management is key. There’ll be a lot of times when you’ll be suckered into thinking that some resources are worth less than the others – and some are – but when they come up they require a steep investment. However, with the fact that you can only really keep six cards at a time, you will need to judge whether you want to forgo them and just take the penalty, or try to stretch yourself thin to cover as many bases as possible.
My biggest worry with these sorts of games is replay value. Unless your memory sucks, once you’ve seen the cards you have a general idea of what’s about to happen. Sure, they come out in a different order providing you shuffle properly, but there’s also only a certain amount of them. Your usual course of action to get replay value out of these sorts of games is to find a strategy to beat the game, then look for a different one the next time around, or to add in cards with different effects. However, this is a standalone game with a set collection of cards, and the way you unlock cards in this game is kind of linear; you might get to unlock one more expensive card before the other – and that’ll be a novelty – but otherwise you’re locked into your development path.
In my first play through, I beat the game before the Story 2 cards came out, and without touching any of the King or Sherwood Forest cards. To be fair, though, that didn’t exactly have anything to do with a strategy – I just didn’t think they were worth the resource investment and straight up forgot they existed. At first, I thought that it was a little disappointing to not even see the second half of the story deck, until I realised that that’s the point – the Story 2 cards are harsh and designed purely to drag you backwards. Unless you’re literally a turn away from winning and flush with resources, you’re going to need the blessings of RNGesus to survive. I can see people who play this purely to get the W as fast as possible scooping up the cards at this point and starting again. That’s hardly fun, though.
Overall, the game is fun – and worth a couple of playthroughs. You’ll find yourself challenging yourself by necessity after you’ve beaten the game once or twice, and that’s bound to inject a bit more intrigue into the game. I sleeved up all the story cards and shuffled them together for a game, and it was purely chaotic, and I loved it. This also forced me to actually put my resources to picking up the Sherwood Forest cards as soon as possible instead of forgetting they existed.
Robin Hood: Hero of the People is due to arrive on Kickstarter later this month, meanwhile though you can check out the games Board Game Geek page right here.
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Matt has an intense love for all things gaming – from slinging spells at Magic: the Gathering tournaments; to writing, running and playing various RPGs such as D&D, Vampire the Masquerade, Cyberpunk 2020, Unknown Armies and Fiasco; to learning about and sharing new card and board games with his friends. For him, no week is complete without some kind of gaming session.