Spiel 2014 Preview: Colt Express

Posted by James (admin) on August 29th, 2014

Colt Express boxColt Express is a visually impressive looking game but the gameplay also sounds like a lot of fun.  The players are all outlaws looting a train and the player with the most loot at the end of 5 rounds wins.

Players use cards in their hand to pre-program their outlaw’s actions.  Each round a tile is drawn which states how many actions players will program and which of these will be declared face-up (so opponents know what you have planned that action) and which face-down.  To make matters harder, players only have a sub-set of their cards to use each round, so they may not have access to every type of action, plus they have a limited number of each type of action too.  As a result, you will need to work out how to achieve what you want with the cards you have and to factor in what other players may do too.

An outlaw can be located in a carriage or on the roof.  Actions do things like: Move your outlaw (into a neighbouring carriage, or up to 3 along the roof), Move your outlaw from the carriage to the roof (or vice versa), Rob a passenger (take one of the loot tokens in your current carriage), Move the marshall figure (and Johnny Law shoots outlaws and makes them move to the roof), Punch and Shoot.  If you punch an opponent, they drop one of their loot tokens and are moved to a neighbouring carriage/roof.  If you shoot, you can only shoot into the next carriage if inside, or you can shoot to wherever the next outlaw is if you’re on the roof.

If you get shot, you add a bullet card to your deck from the player who shot you.  This card is useless so being wounded can reduce the number of useful cards you have to use for actions (if it’s one of the ones you draw).  Players have limited bullet cards and there’s a bonus for the player who shoots the most.

From the description and press info, Colt Express sounds like a lot of fun with an action-programming mechanic and this always requires trying to out-think and second-guess your opponents too.  Finding a good combination of your actions should be a good challenge, and the face-up cards should help give clues as to what other players are doing too (rather than being completely in the dark).

I read somewhere that the game is the most basic version of the game they designed and there are plans for expansions which I can imagine could be varied and a lot of fun with characters on the train, special items to steal, player abilities, etc.  I was thinking they could even create co-op missions just with a few cards and rules. (The excellent co-op mission on the train in PC game Unreal Tournament 2003 comes to mind – anyone remember that?)

I like the idea of programming your actions in a game so long as you don’t program too far ahead because then mistakes aren’t fatal.  I always found RoboRally (one of the classic programmed-action games) a great concept but didn’t quite deliver the experience I wanted because the manual process was too fiddly and long – plus a single error (or unforseen collision) could ruin your entire race.  Colt Express looks to be an elegant/clean design which might deliver the programming game mechanic in a fast, fun game.

More info will be released soon on the Ludonaute web site.

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.


Colt Express - Train

This is the prototype model of the game’s train

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