Colt Express: Your New Old Game to Obsess Over
Do you hear that? That whistle blowing, the rattling of the rails… There’s a train incoming, and you get to rob it. You’re not alone, though. Other robbers are trying to take what you’ve rightfully stolen. They shoot at you, you shoot at them, they shoot at each other. Take what you can, but the law man is hot on your heels. Do you grab one more diamond, or do you flee for your life? The choice is yours in Colt Express.
Colt Express is a board game where you and your friends compete to see who can steal the most loot from a train. This, however, is no ordinary board game. The board itself is the train. It’s not just a flat train illustration, but a real 3D train model that you get to move your robber around. Each round of the game, all player choose which action they will perform in the turn simultaneously, but will reveal which action they chose in a designated order. This means that even if your cousin Jimmy wanted to steal your loot this turn, you may get to move away before he gets the chance, causing him to waste his turn. Sorry Jimmy. At the end of the game, the person who has collected the most money is the winner, but getting shot will take away from your money earned, so best to be careful. Colt Express is a perfect game players who love to embrace direct competition in games. There is something so satisfying about being able to actively affect your destiny as well as the destiny of others.
I absolutely love Colt Express, and I’m not alone. It won the 2015 Spiel des Jahres game of the year award. Spiel des Jahres winning games often times become best-sellers. Take, for example, the 2016 Spiel des Jahres game of the year, Codenames. Any game store would be silly to not have multiple copies of Codenames in their store at all times. Somehow, though, Colt Express did not get the same treatment. It is not the household name that many of its fellow Spiel des Jahres winners are. To me, this is due to the genuine uniqueness of the game. It is a game defined by player to player conflict and back stabbing, like Munchkin, but has more room for strategy through its intricacies. It has the spirit of a silly party game while still playing like a board game. Also, the board is a train. I know I already mentioned that, but it bears repeating, the board is actually a model 3D train. Few other games, besides those relying on dexterity mechanics, have boards that are 3D representations of their setting. Most other train theme games like Ticket to Ride and Empire Builder are all about building train routes as opposed to robbing the trains running on them. Colt Express is almost too unique and innovative for its own good.
But it is so good! I love seeing games that are unafraid to take risks in design and gameplay. I love it even more when those risks pay off and a fun, unique game comes from it. Colt Express is too good of a game to stay under the radar. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your arch train-robbing rival, Colt Express is your new old game to obsess over.