So I’m three games in to my Board Game Club membership and I’ve had three distinctly different games so far. CodeNames was fun, a sort of Guess Who/card game hybrid and Ticket to Ride Europe, which was great fun once we worked out what was going on. The third, Colt Express, is different again. As someone who’s spent 30+ years playing Risk, Monopoly and Scrabble, I’m a bit gobsmacked by the variety on offer!
The closest analogy I can think of for Colt Express is a turn based strategy video game like the famous Civilisation- I never thought I’d come across a board game that used the same mechanism. Okay, Risk is turned based but it’s not as complicated or nuanced as Colt Express because it’s basically about moving troops and invading places, Colt Express actually has a different game mechanic thanks to the 3D board.
Although any game will only take half an hour or so, the first game will take a lot longer as you’ve got to build the 3D train. Basically all the participants get to be a train robber, who’s token starts on the end carriage of a model train you have to put together. There are various carriages, with treasure and hazards dotted around on them, and the aim is to collect as much loot as you can, in 5 turns, without getting shot. Getting shot isn’t as drastic as it sounds- but your hand will get clogged up with bullet cards, that reduce your options somewhat.
We only played Colt Express as a two player game but I can see that it would really come into it’s own as a 5 or six player game as the opportunity for chaos in terms of the laws of unexpected consequence are multiplied with every additional player. You might plan to move up or down the carriage, avoiding the marshal, or heading towards some loot, but since you have to plan in advance, your opponents moves or a tunnel might scupper your designs. As it stands, it’s a bit involved for the kids (and we did try, but after I had to rebuild the train for the second time, my daughter went off in a huff), so make sure you’ve got some grown up buddies on hand. The instruction manual is 12 pages long though, which gives a good idea of how easy it is to get to grips with.
With the Christmas break coming up and a relatively short game time, I can see Colt Express getting plenty of use over the festive break when we have friends round. You can pick up Colt Express for around £25 from retailers (it’s currently £24.99 on Amazon).