Legends of Robin Hood

Board game designed by Courtney Allen; published by Avalon Hill
These remarks copyright 1993, 1996 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This file last updated April 14, 1996.

Legends of Robin Hood is a very light, fun game of friendly competition. Each player takes the role of someone in Robin Hood's band, and they have a friendly wager: who can raise the most money for the poor in a given time frame. If band members should tie for the amount of money, then the one who raised the most followers to join Robin wins.

The game is suitable for play with children, but is still fun for adults. The board is an attractive layout of the area around Sherwood forest, including the towns of Nottingham, Arlingford, Wakefield, and Kingslea, as well as Nottingham Castle, Gisbourne Castle and Arlingford Castle. The players can choose to be Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John, Alan a Dale or Will Scarlet. (Not being able to play Maid Marion is a serious omission, alas, which will limit the game's appeal to women and girls.)

Card play drives the game. There are four different "suits:" blue circles (movement cards), black triangles (fortune cards), red hexagons (ambush cards), and green squares (special cards). Each turn, you are allowed to play one of each suit, at most. You may play the cards in any order - thus, you could start your turn on a Forest Road space, play a black card that says: "Rob tax collector on any Forest Road," then play a blue card to move to Nottingham, where you play a green card that says: "Nottingham Fair - recruit one Merry Man automatically." Finally you could play a red card on another player reading: "Sherrif ambush in Forest." At this point, your turn would be over, and you'd draw enough cards to fill up your hand again.

It's important to realize that when you play an ambush card on an opponent in the game, your character isn't squealing to the authorities on them - no member of Robin's gang would do that. Red cards represent forces beyond individual characters, and the player, not the character, is sicking the Sherrif onto another character.

The game uses cards in the draw pile to resolve chance occurances, such as ambush, recruitment, robbery, etc. Certain cards have bows or swords at the top (and some are blank at the top), and drawing a sword while robbing a tax collector means you get one gold. You draw a number of cards equal to your band of Merry Men, so it's good to build up a large band. Ambushes reduce your band size, though.

The time limit is twice through the deck for each player in the game. That is, if there are four people playing, you go through the deck eight times. (I have two decks, mixed together, and just go through four times, though - makes for a better game.)

The green cards are a miscellany of good cards to have - Maid Marion gets you out of a castle if you've been arrested, a horse doubles your movement, a disguise allows you to evade an ambush, a Fair gives free recruits, a Message Arrow allows you to draw cards from another player, a Secret Passage allows an extra move, and so on. There is enough variety to make the game enjoyable, interesting, and have a high replay value.

The only real fault, aside from not including Maid Marion as a character to play, is that you can sometimes get a run of bad luck that stalls your quest. Having no movement cards is the worst: you're stuck in place while watching others dash about the board. This can be frustrating, and I recommend the following fix:

  • Your Movement rate is 1 plus any movement card played.
  • You may move 1 space without playing a movement card.
  • If you move one space without playing a card, you may not play a blue movement card later that same turn - your move without a card counts as having played a blue card in that case.
Still, the faults are minor - the game is enjoyable, and ranks high in the class of games that adults can play with children and both thoroughly enjoy.

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