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Subject: [Voice of Experience] Colt Express ~ Voice of Deranged Review. rss

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~[Voice of Experience] Deranged Review~

Hello! Can I offer you a refreshing beverage?

This review was written in response to the Voice of Experience review contest. I personally think such a contest is really cool, and would like to take this moment to remind all the judges about that wonderful time we spend in that resort a few weeks ago (#6).

For all others, you can check out the contest here. It might be too late to join in on the fun, but there's a chance next year, and you could always whip up a little something if you'd like to join (or want a bunch of experienced reviewers comment on your review).

So why Colt Express? Well, I was just hanging around BGA for a bit, when my Hanabi pall Pastic just dropped me into a game of Colt Express without knowing anything about it. And I haven't looked anything up since, so what you're getting is the Voice of Experience, pure as the driven Snow, untarnished by outside influences .

Colt Express takes all the good bits of Roborally, adds some truly wonderful components, streamlines the programming phase (#10) and plays quick enough to do multiple games in short succession.

I'll be giving grades on several aspects of the game, such as discussed here.
For ART, I look at the big picture, and how that picture looks. EASE covers ease of play and learning curve, FLEXIBILITY covers the amount of free will you have and is therefore linked to replayability. FUN might be deceptive, as it's a gut thang, but I'll try and specify in the text, and COMPONENTS should be self-explanatory. I'll not say a lot about rules and specifics - you can find those out for yourself (I did).

The Game Itself: RoboRally on a Train.
Play cards, shoot/punch opponents, grab loot, avoid marshall, repeat! Most shineys wins!

-The art is just so good, it makes me want to expand my vocabulary to sing its praises. It reminds me of Diamant, in that there's a lot of detail hidden in the component's illustrations. It's also in the same style, just a bit more cartoonish, so that helps ^^. It evokes fun! Put this on the table and watch people take notice, and you'll be having fun before the game even started.

The cards are well done; all the illustrations on'm are similar, with only the character in question changed, which is a good way to keep general grokkability high. In the same vein, the symbols used are easy to understand. General intent of the action cards can be easily divined, and the end-of-turn events are distinct enough to understand quickly.

Just top-notch work.

-The game will not play itself like things like Monopoly, but the difficulty is not in understanding the options but in how to use them. And that's the way, a-ha a-ha, I like it. A-ha, a-ha.

It was slightly disorienting to just get dropped into a game without any explanation, but as I said before the game does a pretty good job of telling you what can be done. Your character is depicted on the cards, doing the actual action the card lets you take. Before long (#1) you'll probably be able to formulate plans, regardless of if they succeed ^^. I'd advise playing with Belle or Ghost, by the way, as they're the hardest to interfere with - a valuable trait during your first game.

There's just enough of a hint of a learning curve to feel good, but you should generally be able to run around with the big boys after your second game.

-Oof, ain't she a beauty! The different characters each have a different (easily understood) ability, which slightly changes the way they play. The cards you get offer you lots of opportunities to either gain riches or prevent others from doing so - you often get the chance to pull of some really neat tricks, but you can't actually calculate the game. There's a bit of luck in which cards you get, but from there on it's all you.

The different character abilities really mix things up as well. In short, Ghost's ability lets him play his first card face-down, which makes him much harder to track. Belle's ability is to use her female charms to avoid getting hit/shot at as long as there's another available target (#8). This means she's generally safe, as whatever she picks up has a lower chance of getting lost again, but the "safety in numbers" gameplay she invokes means there's less picking up to be done. On the other hand, fewer bullets/dead cards, which is incidentally also the tiebreaker...
Cheyenne's ability to instantly pick up dropped purses saves on moves, plus it means you more or less start with $250,- extra . Tuco carries around a double barreled shotgun, allowing him to shoot through the roof, which makes it a lot easier for him to get that $1000,- gunslinger award as he'll generally have more available targets. Django's rifle packs a punch as well, allowing him to move any shot character away one space. This allows for a more crowd-controlly approach, as you have the power to move others around from a distance. Finally, Doc gets an extra card to play each round, which is deceptively handy. It means you'll have more cards to use each turn, giving you versatility and lessens the need to spend precious actions to draw 3 cards. Belle has the upper hand there though, as she'll get fewer bullets and as such will have more use of whatever hand she gets. I personally prefer Doc or Cheyenne and have little use for Tuco or Belle, but really any character is playable and fairly balanced. By lead. Added by players. Ghost seems to nearly always get picked first, though...

The different round cards mean you don't know in advance how many cards you'll even be able to play this round, as some have three slots while others have five. Some have tunnels, which cause you to play blind; others let you play twice in a row or switch turn order. Some of'm have a special event which happens just before the round ends, and you'll have to pay attention to that, too! Some of these events cause Marshall Cockburn to shoot whoever's on the roof of his car, then move toward the caboose (potentialy shooting even more of those dastardly outlaws), others cause that very same Marshall to carelessly drop another $1000,- dropbox, while the peasant passenger's revolt causes anyone not on the roof to get shot by previously helpless angry victims.

The distribution of cash and shineys seems to be random, and not necessarily geared toward the back, either! I'm not entirely certain about the setup and how it happens as BGA was kind enough to do so automatically ^^'.

Lastly, if that is even a real word, there's an expert version which messes with your cards in hand, allowing you to keep cards you'll think you'll need next round. This adds a level of planning the game does not realy need; while it does allow you to save important cards and plan ahead, you'll no longer get random cards as they need to go full cycle, and bullets are drawn instantly, making it that much harder if you've been wearing a magnetised chainmail as I seem to have for the last few games... (#9) I've tried it, but it's not for me, yet.

-Remember how I said it was like RoboRally on a train? My regular readers (#2) might know how I completely and utterly adore RR, as I'm sure I've mentioned it every now and then. I might've also mentioned in passing (or will have, once I completely overhaul this text (#7)) how it's like RoboRally, but more streamlined. So how could I not love RR's wild-wild-west younger brother?

There are two types of people in this world, my friend. People who want to shoot and punch others and take their ill-gotten gains for themselves, and those who'd like to puzzle out the best route to victory with whatever options they have. And fans of Civilisation-type games, but hey, you can't please'm all ^^. Colt Express appeals to both kinds. It has all the pew-pew-pew-player interaction of Calvinball and RoboRally, slimmed down on the more fiddly parts of programming (#5) for a more accessible game, and plays in about half an hour. It has a dash of puzzling, a bit of sneakiness, just enough opportunities for clever plays and is the best excuse to spout Western quotes since February 14th, 1912.

Gold Rush, Pard'ner. Besides:

-The components are second only to Maniki. It has an actual cardboard model of a train! Please say that with me: It has an actual cardboard model of a train!

AND cacti!

Now I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that.

Having played the game on Boardgame Arena, I can't comment on actual physical quality, but as far as I can deduce from pictures and box art the components seem comparable to Diamant, quality-wise. The money tokens seem sturdy enough, and the cards should withstand normal use.

The pixels did look fantastic, though!

EDIT: Got my hands on a real life copy today, and the components are exactly as marvellous as I'd expected.

Puzzling AND shooting!
The components look ridiculously awesome.
As flexible as a yoga instructress.
No player elimination.
One of the expansions, as shown above, is a DeLorean.

Euhm, well... You'd look a bit silly playing with the train, but that's about it.

End result:
So, what's the verdict? Well, Colt Express has quickly become one of my favourite games (#3). But I knew that already - the question is why, so that this review will have merit other than hopefully be a good read.

The game combines elements in a wonderful blend of puzzling and fun. The programming (or Schemin') phase allows for more flexibility than Roborally as you often get to see what others are up to. Keeping track of other's possible locations and gambling accordingly is much easier in CE than it ever was in RR, as you can more accurately predict which cards are in hand - it's impossible for your opponents to get only u-turns, for example. Being able to draw cards (in exchange for valuable actions) means you'll seldom have as dead a turn as is possible in RR. The two phases mean you'll be collectively weaving the strands of your fate in advance, but they aren't locked in fully until the second phase. Replayability is high, as the amount of players change the setup, and the round-cards all have influence on the game as well. All these things combined, this game is Captain Planet constantly keeping you on your toes. It's a dance between what the others are doing or might be doing, what your options are and who needs to be killed severely inconvenienced fastest.

CE plays in half an hour or so, which makes it eligible for medium-filler status. It's focus on quick thinky fun and excellent scalability means you could easily sneak in a game in between two larger games, or while waiting for the stragglers to arrive. Roborally remains King of the Hill, but Colt Express could very well come to represent local authority. A Sheriff, for example.

So, more flexibility and interaction than in Roborally, with all the fun intact? Sign me up!

I'd personally love a Lucky-Luke retheme, but it'd be hard to fit the characters... I guess, Calamity Jane as Django, Joe as Tuco, Billy the Kid as Ghost, Fingers as Cheyenne, Ma Dalton as Belle and finally Lucky as Doc (or as Marshal Luke, in which case, I guess Eliot Belt the Bountyhunter would do as Doc).

As usual, please give your opinion in the comments .

Oh, by the way, I am Deranged. I like to have fun with boardgames, and have played many of them over the years. I've been furniture in my FLGS for years ^^. I tend to like old games; well, I tend to like good games, most of which have been around for bit ^^. I've written 72 reviews as of yet, which you can access here. If you want me to write a review for you or recommend me a game, there's this neat little envelop near my avatar!


#1: Probably during your first game.
#2: Hi dad!
#3: The FLGS I help with maintaining their coffee consumption sold its only copy yesterday after I spend most of the morning getting people psyched about it.
#4: This is a footnote without an actual place in the text. Congratulations on reading it! Here's a nice song for your efforts.
#5: Mostly the damage related to drawing cards part, also a lot of shuffling was removed due to personalized decks, and finally the programming fully in advance that is now reactionary in nature.
#6: My sister won't stop talking about it.
#7: Making this a problem for !Future Deranged.
#8: Which did not stop anyone from slapping me around yesterday.
#9: Or magnetised chainmail corsets, in the case of Belle.
#10: There, I fixed it! Damn !Past Deranged leaving loose ends for me!
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