Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
We enjoy playing board games and have quite a collection so we were thrilled to be chosen to review Colt Express from Esdevium Games as it is a game we have not played before.
Set in New Mexico in 1899, Colt Express is a board game without a board! Instead of the traditional board you move around a 3D model of a Wild West steam train, complete with carriages. The wooden figures represent the bandits, who travel through the train collecting as much loot as possible, whilst avoiding being shot or punched either by other players or the local Marshal! Each bandit has a special skill to help them gain more loot than the other players but their destiny is decided by the cards so it doesn’t always go to plan!
The initial setup of the game took quite a while as you had to build the train and carriages but luckily this only needs to be done once as the well-designed box is plenty big enough for all the game pieces to fit in comfortably at the end of the game. The instructions to build the train were very clear and easy to follow and the thick board pieces slotted together easily without bending. The game designers have also added a couple of 3D cacti, skulls and rocks to add to the Wild West feel and it does look quite impressive when it is all set up. I especially liked the wooden bandits; they made a nice change from the plastic counters that are in most games these days.
Whilst the instructions say that players should choose their character, we decided it is more fun to draw the character randomly as each one has their own special abilities and it saves arguments when two players both want the same bandit.
Each round of the game is played in two parts, first the Schemin’ and then the Stealin’. Players use strategy and concentration as well as luck to win the game. During the schemin’ phase players place action cards onto a central pile, with the intention of moving their bandit through the train and picking up loot on the way. The reality is not that simple, other players will use their own action cards to thwart your best laid plans! To make things even harder, some of the action cards are laid face down (when going through tunnels) so everybody is in the dark about what the other players are planning. These actions are then played through in sequence during the stealin’ phase of the game. Actions include moving through the train, climbing along the roof, stealing loot and punching or shooting the other bandits. To complicate matters the local Marshal is also on the train and is trying to stop you, guided by the other players.
The first time we played the game we did find the instructions a little tricky to understand, we didn’t think the schemin’ stage of the game was very clear and consequently played it wrong. Whilst playing we realised something wasn’t quite right and resorted to looking on the internet for help. Once we worked out where we were going wrong everything suddenly became much clearer and the game became a lot more fun.
The game can be played with 2 players but is definitely more fun with more. We played the game with our two sons who are 13 and 9 and everyone really enjoyed it. It made a nice change playing something completely different and we have played it every night since we received it. No two games have been the same and as a game only lasts about 30-40 minutes it is the perfect length for school nights.
Colt Express has just won the “Spiel des Jahres 2015” (Game of the Year) Award, read more here.
Suitable age: 10 years +
Available to buy from Amazon here.