Batwings and Broomtails
The scene? The Union Pacific Railroad, deep in the dusty heart of the Wild West. The cast? Seven of the meanest, slipperiest bandits that North America has ever flinched at from a Wanted poster. The goal? Rob the living daylights out of the terrified passengers of a steam train and - through scheming, shooting and subterfuge - be the last outlaw standing on the speeding locomotive as it roars away into the sunset. Brigands and brig-ettes, fill up your shootin' irons and prepare to jump aboard the Colt Super Express!
If you've already had the pleasure of playing 2014's unique hand management/action programmer Colt Express, you'll instantly be at home with both the thrilling high-speed heist scenario and the rogue gallery of characters playing it out. Tuco, Django, Ghost, Belle, Doc and Cheyenne all make their return here in Colt Super Express (along with new addition Mei) but don't be fooled by over-familiarity. This compact resizing of the original game plays as a faster, more chaotic affair, owing to a new feature whereby the train driver ejects entire carriages at the end of every round in an attempt to get rid of you and your adversaries!
Clipped Horns and Curly Wolves
For those unfamiliar with its predecessor, Colt Super Express will quickly have you feeling like you've been playing with it your whole life. The combination of a simplified ruleset and zero required reading makes this game remarkably easy to pick up even for young children.
You'll start by placing the train cards upon which Colt Super Express is played. That's the front steam locomotive card followed by the carriage cards, the amount of which is the number of players plus one. Once your robbers are placed, the bandit bedlam can begin! Each player has four action cards which allow you to navigate your way around the hurtling train, three of which you'll choose for the current round. You can:
- Flip: changing the direction that your bandit is facing
- Change Floor: allowing you to either ascend to the carriage roof or clamber back down inside
- Move: jumping you one train car forwards in whichever direction you're currently facing
- Shoot: blasting one of your opponents backwards across the train and putting them flat on their backside, meaning that they'll have to waste their next action standing up and recovering!
The tricky part comes in deciding which order to perform your actions in. You'll take your three cards and arrange them in a stack before each of the players reveals one at a time in turn order, in a similar method to other fun predictive action programmers like River Dragons and Walk the Plank. Successfully predicting what your fellow bandits will do is key to victory in Colt Super Express.
Your carefully laid schemes can easily be disrupted by a stray bullet from the front carriage knocking you sideways, eliminating your following planned Flip and leaving you only a poorly judged Move action to send your meeple charging out of the rear train car to their doom! In this way, Colt Super Express is supremely satisfying when everything is going your way but hilarious enough when you completely misread the situation that you'll be having too much fun to be too sore about it.
A Few Dollars More
As easy as the basic experience is to grasp, Colt Super Express bundles in two optional add-ons to gently increase the pandemonium and expand the game in a simple, accessible manner. The Reflex cards give you the chance to recover from a gunshot knockdown by instantly springing to your feet and returning fire in one swift action, while the Horse cards can rescue you from the jaws of defeat by having a galloping four-legged friend catch you as you fall from the train, returning you to the action in a flash.
Paint Your Wagon
Colt Super Express has unsurprisingly had to scale its contents down from its progenitor. The original Colt Express featured a fairly spectacular multi-carriage 3D train to play with, whereas this speedier incarnation settles for a series of scenic cards. However, this works well in practice; rounds in Colt Super Express are lightning fast and a quick push of your playing piece over a few centimeters to an adjacent card helps keep the action moving. The vibrant character-coloured meeples are still present but have been resculpted to aim on a 2D plane to suit the new Flip mechanic.
Although a great deal of the card artwork is recycled from Colt Express, the components in Colt Super Express are no disappointment. After all, this isn't really a true sequel but a quality re-imagining to open an already excellent game up to a younger, lighter weight and travelling audience, the latter of which being especially true. The small size of the box and compact playing pieces makes this an ideal companion for a coach or plane trip. Maybe even a train journey, providing you don't start shouting too loudly about the rear carriages detaching.