Recently I reviewed one of my favorite action programming games, Colt Express. Set in the Old West, Colt Express pits players against each other as they try and rob a passenger train. As with any action programming game, Colt Express is filled with a good amount of excitement and plenty of chaos.
Recently, the designer of Colt Express decided to head back to the locomotive and bring us an expansion. Enter Colt Express: Horses and Stagecoach. As you might have guessed, this expansion brings horses and a stagecoach to your Colt Express game. How does it work well with the base game? Time to find out!
The Colt Express: Horses and Stagecoach Expansion adds a few new pieces to your gameplay and we’ll take a look at each of them in turn.
The horses add two main parts to the game play. The first is the horse attack. Instead of being assigned a train car to start the game, each player gets to choose which car they begin the game in. This is decided, one at a time, from the caboose on forward. Whichever car a player decides to start in, his horse will be left adjacent to that car.
During the game, a player can jump on a horse (using the new “ride” action card) that’s adjacent to their car (whether it was theirs or not) and use the horse to move 0, 1, 2, or 3 train cards towards the front or back of the train. They then move into that car (or stagecoach). Players cannot stay on a horse between actions.
The other new component is the Stagecoach. Much like the train, the stagecoach is a fully 3D assembled game piece. The game starts with a number of hostages inside the coach, and a shotgunner on the roof, protecting a strongbox.
The only way to get into the stagecoach is via the new ride action or entering through the roof. Once inside the stagecoach, a player MUST take a Hostage Card (if any remain). A Hostage will give you money at the end of the game, but you also have to drag them with you for the duration of the game, causing you some kind of inconvenience. These range from damaging you each round, to slowing your movement, to canceling your special ability. There are 8 different hostages in all.
The Shotgunner will simply hangout on the roof to protect his strongbox, and ignore the players. That is until someone tries to steal his loot. This can only be accomplished by punching him. Once that happens, he flies over to the roof of the adjacent train car, where he will act similar to the marshal for the rest of the game.
At the end of the round, the stagecoach and the shotgunner will move once car towards the caboose.
In addition to the normal loot, players can now collect Whiskey Flasks. Each Whisky Flask can be used twice and will provide one of two different effects. During the “Schemin’ Phase”, the normal Whisky Flask can be used to immediately draw 3 cards without spending an action to do so. The Old Whisky Flask can be used to play 2 action cards in a row. The second time a flask is used, it is then discarded.
The expansion also comes with a few new round cards and final round cards.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
I really enjoyed Colt Express so when I found out that it had an expansion coming out; I jumped at the chance to play it. And overall, I feel like designer Christophe Raimbault succeeded in adding some nice variety to the gameplay of Colt Express without overwhelming us with new rules. And that’s pretty much what I want from an expansion. Give me variety without forcing me to learn a whole new game.
I like how the horses are mainly used to quickly jump between cars. In the past, if you wanted to get from the back of the train to the front, the only real option was to go to the roof. Moving one car at a time would have taken way to long, especially in games near the top end of the player spectrum. With the horses, players have a world of options opened up to them. It also has the added benefit of making it a bit more difficult to predict other player’s actions.
With just the base game, when a player is in a car without loot, it’s pretty obvious they will be moving either one car over or to the roof. With the horses, it adds a nice bit of unpredictability to a game that’s at its best when the chaos is flying.
While the horses were a great addition, the stagecoach is probably my favorite part of the expansion. The hostages give players another way to earn money, while their negatives can have a real effect on game play. It adds a bit of risk vs reward that can definitely make a difference in a tight game. I like how thematically they give you money at the end of the game (a ransom), yet their presence has a way to hinder you. Hey, it’s not easy to drag that old lady around the train.
The Shotgunner, once activated, makes roof combat a lot more interesting. He blocks line of sight, cannot be shot, and will shoot anyone who enters his roof, forcing them back. This means that there are no safe areas on the train anymore. I’ve seen players shot and forced to the roof by the Marshall, only to be shot and forced over a car by the Shotgunner. It’s highly entertaining; unless it’s happening to you of course.
Finally, the Whiskey Flasks were a nice touch. Players will always gravitate towards collecting the loot first, which makes sense. But the Whiskey Flasks definitely will give players a few more strategic options. These basically can set you up for a super turn in a later round. Being able to draw extra cards (especially once the bullets have been flying) or play two in a row can definitely advance your position in the game.
Colt Express: Horses and Stagecoach is a small expansion, but the game play that it adds is defiantly worth the cost and then some. It adds a great amount of variety to the game, yet the additional rules do not take very long to explain. I’ve added the expansion in with new players and had no issues getting them into the game.
The nice thing about the Colt Express: Horses and Stagecoach expansion is its effect on the game overall. With just the base game, most early games have players grabbing the diamonds and purses, before spending the rest of the game simply shooting each other or fighting over the strongbox.
With the addition of the Hostages, Whisky Flasks, and even the random start positions, the game no longer plays so similarly each time. While players will still be jumping on those diamonds first, you will definitely see different strategies take place as players move to secure the richest hostage or start hoarding the Whisky Flasks.
If you are a fan of Colt Express, then picking up the Horses and Stagecoach expansion should be an obvious move. It adds some nice variety and gameplay, all of which seamlessly integrates into the base game. With its low price point, this one is a must own for fans of the game.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of the Colt Express Horses and Stagecoach Expansion, you can get it for about $20.
• Doesn’t add anything to make the game better at the lower player counts.