Rescuing Robin Hood: Flipping the Script
The citizenry of Nottingham are being crushed by the onerous taxation of Prince John. Desperate for relief, the townsfolk look to their hero, Robin Hood! But an unfortunate truth has been revealed: Robin has been arrested!
Lead the Merry Men to rescue of Robin Hood from the clutches of the Sheriff of Nottingham in Rescuing Robin Hood.
Rescuing Robin Hood is a cooperative deck-building press-your-luck game from Castillo Games. 1-5 players ages 10 and above work together to save the hero of the people! Can you flip the script and rescue the rescuer?
There’s a little bit of setup to Rescuing Robin Hood, but people can work together to get ready quickly. Each player takes an Attribute Tracker, eight starting villager cards (shuffled) and a Merry Band leader.
Then, select three Scenario cards: one each for “Days 1&2”, “Days 3&4”, and “Day 5”.
Once you’ve got all the decks sorted (one for each player, two guard colors, three villager types) and the scenario cards picked, it’s time to help rescue Robin Hood!
As you’ve likely guessed from the Scenario Cards, Rescuing Robin Hood plays over five rounds, each in three stages:
1. Scenario Setup
Set up rows of guards and captured villagers according to the Scenario card. Be mindful of the instructions on using blue or red guards and what kinds of villagers to put below the stack. Overlap the cards so you can easily see the counts and the villagers you’re trying to save. This will help with strategy later.
Some Scenario Cards have additional instructions. Make sure to follow them!
2. Draw Today’s Merry Band
Draw four cards from your deck and put them face-up in front of you. Sum each attribute (Wit, Stealth, Brawn, and Jolliness) across all five cards, including your Band Leader, using the Attribute tracker.
Take any Skill tokens (Prayer, Cookery, and Scouting) your band-members give you. You can use them to assist anyone in this round.
3. Attack the Guards!
On your turn, it’s time to attack!
Spend Cookery tokens and Jolliness (a special stat) to boost your chosen attack stat. You cannot boost stats during an attack, but you can between attacks. You can attack twice in a turn, but you can only use each stat once. Any player may spend tokens during any player’s attack planning.
Select a row and start fighting through the guards. If you lose a fight, all revealed guards remain in play but face-up. Each attack works differently:
WIT – Push your luck! Flip guards face-up one-at-a-time, starting at the near end of the stack. Once flipped you MUST fight (subtract their WIT stat from your WIT). Choose when to stop and remove those guards, or keep going to free the townsfolk. If your WIT ever goes negative, all the guards return!
STEALTH – Choose any number of guards anywhere in the row. Reveal them and sum their STEALTH stat. If your STEALTH is higher, you win!
BRAWN – It’s all or nothing! Turn all guards in the row face-up. Add the BRAWN stat of all of the guards. If your BRAWN is higher, you win!
When your turn is over, discard any defeated guards and transfer any left-over Jolliness and Brawn to the next player.
End of Round Cleanup
After each player has had their time in the fight, players recruit the rescued villagers into their personal discard, one at a time, starting with the Start Player. Circle the table until players have drafted all of the villagers or passed.
Villagers who were not saved from the guards go to Nottingham Castle, boosting the Sheriff’s stats for the end of the game.
Discard your villager tableau and any leftover skill tokens. Reset the Attribute Tracker to zeroes and pass the first player token.
After day two, each player must cull their villager deck to eight cards. “Retired” villagers return to Sherwood Forest. After day four, each player must cull to four cards.
Set up for the next round, and continue your quest!
The Final Round
The fifth day requires you to defeat the guards in a specific order, using the same mechanics described above. The player that clears the first row has broken through the castle walls! That player gains extra Jolliness for villagers who have retired to Sherwood forest.
Whoever defeats the last guards in the next row has rescued Robin Hood! That player puts Robin in their band.
Then, you can also try the bonus quest of defeating the Sheriff of Nottingham himself!
I can’t recall a cooperative game that had all players talking about strategy quite the way Rescuing Robin Hood did. Part of it was knowing everyone only had one chance to save (or lose!) the villagers. The other part was knowing some stats would pass down to the next players in the round.
This really helped the perceived “fairness” of this cooperative game. On the one hand, our kids loved going first. On the other hand, they knew that going later in the round often meant they would have leftover Brawn from other players. This “hand-me-down” mechanic did a great job helping the game feel stable.
The huge variety in Scenario cards kept the game feeling fresh, and because they were different at each player count, the game never felt outsized for the number of players. Every time we went into the final round, it looked like we would never get to the Sheriff – but most times we did.
I also appreciated the various variants in the back of the instruction booklet. This offered more difficult play or faster play. There was a solo variant as well, but we’ll address that later.
Rescuing Robin Hood has a great artistic style to it and the villager names are often excellent puns that I (the dad, of course) really appreciated.
A lot of the strategic “decisions” in Rescuing Robin Hood weren’t, really. All three different attacks are different ways to press your luck. Most times it was prudent to save your Brawn to hand down to the last player for a monstrous attack.
We also found one of the easiest things to do was to “pray” and move the most difficult guards onto some poor villager we never intended to save. This made the game almost too easy in the earlier rounds. If we weren’t planning on going the extra mile to try to beat the Sheriff, it didn’t matter.
“Ugly” might feel extreme, but putting a solo mode in this game was ill-advised. There are two ways to play solo in Rescuing Robin Hood and both of them are really two-player modes. Not every game needs a solo mode, and it’s a bad fit in this one, unfortunately.
Rescuing Robin Hood is a fun, co-operative deck-building press-your-luck game. Beyond these great board game mechanics, its wonderful stylized art, and its script-flipping hero-in-distress motif, Rescuing Robin Hood is a game that got us *talking*. With every exciting attack, we were more than happy to let our children experience the glory of victory.
If you want to try your hand at saving the hero of the forest, head over to CastilloGames.com and use promo code “RELEASE10” to save 10% until the end of November 2021.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Rescuing Robin Hood from Castillo Games for this review.
Rescuing Robin Hood
Number of Players: 1-5 (We say 2-5)
Age Range: 10+ (we say 8+)
Playtime: 20 minutes per player