Object of the game and sequence of play
To win, you must become the richest Bandit in the Old West. To reach this goal, you will try to get more Loot than your opponents...without being hit by too many bullets! The best shooter will receive the title of Gunslinger, worth $1000.
There are five Rounds in a game. Each Round has two phases:
- Phase 1 : Schemin'! The players play their Action cards into a common deck in the center of the table.
- Phase 2 : Stealin'! The Action cards played during Phase 1 are performed.
The game ends after five Rounds. Each player then adds up the value of the Loot tokens they have stolen. The Gunslinger prize is awarded to the player(s) who shot the most bullets. It is worth $1000.
The richest player wins the game. In case of a tie, the winner is the tied player who has received the fewest Bullet cards from other players and Events during the game.
Starting a Round
At the beginning of a Round, each player shuffles their personal deck (made of the 10 Action cards of their colour) and draws six cards. These cards form that player's Hand.
The Round card shows the number of turns (the number of Card icons) there will be during this phase. It also shows how the turns will go :
- Standard turn - The Action cards must be played face-up during the current turn.
- Tunnel - The Action cards must be played face-down during the current turn.
- Speeding-Up - During the current turn, each player plays twice (playing two cards in a row, drawing 3 cards and playing a card, or drawing 6 cards).
- Switching - The current turn is played counter-clockwise, starting with the First Player.
Some Round cards make Events happen. These Events always take place at the end of the Round, after Phase 2: Stealin'! See the tooltip of the Round card for more details.
Phase 1: Schemin'!
Starting with the First Player, each player plays their turn, followed by the next player in clockwise order. On their turn, a player has to:
- either play an Action card face-up (unless otherwise specified) from their Hand to the common deck;
- or draw 3 additional cards from their deck and add them to their Hand.
The Schemin'! phase ends when the number of turns indicated on the Round card has been completed. Any unplayed cards remaining in a player's Hand are placed back on the top of their personal deck.
Phase 2: Stealin'!
The deck of Action cards that had been created during the Schemin'! phase is turned over, without changing the order of the cards. The Bandits' Actions are performed, one by one, starting with the top card (i.e., in the order they have been played). Once performed, the Action card is given back to the player to whom it belongs. That player puts it back on their personal deck. Any Action programmed during the Schemin'! phase is now obligatory. During the Stealin'! phase, each player must use their action, if it is still possible.
Ending the Round
Each player shuffles all their cards (10 Action cards and any Bullet cards they have been hit with in previous Rounds). Then they place their deck to the right of their Character card. The player on the First Player's left becomes the new First Player and a new Round now begins.
- Angry Marshal: The Marshal shoots the Bandits on the roof of their Car, then move one Car towards the Caboose.
- Braking: All Bandits on roofs move one Car forward towards the Locomotive.
- Hostage-Taking of the Conductor: Each Bandit who is either in the Locomotive or on its roof receives $250 ransom.
- Marshal's Revenge: Each Bandit on the roof loses the least valuable Purse they have.
- Passengers' Rebellion: All Bandits who are inside the Cars (and Locomotive - bug pending) get a Neutral Bullet each.
- Pickpocketing: Each alone Bandit takes a Purse from that spot.
- Swivel Arm: All the Bandits that are on roofs move to the roof of the Caboose.
- Take It All!: Place the second Strongbox inside the Marshal's car.
The Action Cards
Move your Bandit:
- from one Car to the next adjacent Car, forwards or backwards, if they are inside the Train; or
- A distance ranging from one to three Cars (your choice), forwards or backwards, if they are on the roof.
The Locomotive is considered to be a Car. You can be in it or on it. If you have plotted this Action, your Bandit cannot stay where they are: you must move them.
Switch the position of your Bandit from
- The interior to the roof of the Car on which they are standing ;
- or move theirs from the roof of the Car they're in to its interior.
Move the Marshal inside the train a distance of one Car in the direction of your choice. (See "The Marshal", to find out what happens if the Marshal meets a Bandit).
Choose one of your opponents to be your target and give them one of your Bullet cards. The targeted player places the Bullet card they have received on their deck. You cannot target a Bandit who is on the same spot as you.
- When you are inside the train, you can shoot a Bandit who is in the interior of an adjacent Car, either to the rear of your Car or ahead of it. Bandits who are more than one Car away cannot be shot.
- When you are on the roof, however, you can shoot a Bandit who is in your Line of Sight and on the roof of any Car other than your own, regardless of the distance. A Bandit is in Line of Sight if there is no other Bandit between you and them. Two Bandits on the roof of the same Car are considered as being side by side, and not located one behind the other: you choose which one gets hit.
If there is no target to be shot, keep your Bullet card: the Fire action will have no effect. If you successfully fire your 6 Bullet cards during the game, your Fire actions will have no further effect.
Take the Loot token of your choice from the Car where you are currently located and place it face-down on your Character card. If your Bandit is on the roof of a Car, they cannot rob inside it, and vice versa. If there is no Loot where your Bandit is, then the Robbery action has no effect.
Choose a target among the Bandits who are on the same Car and same floor as you are. The targeted Bandit loses a Loot token if they have one: choose a Loot token from their Character card and place it on the floor where your Bandit pawn is located. If you choose a Purse token, you are not allowed to look at its value. Then, move the targeted Bandit to the same floor of an adjacent Car (either forwards or backwards, your choice in most of the Cars; backwards if you are in the Engine and forwards if you are in the Caboose).
- Ghost: You can play the first card of each round face-down.
- Cheyenne: You can take the Purse they lost when punching a Bandit.
- Django: You can make them move one Car in the direction of fire when you shoot a Bandit.
- Belle: You cannot be the target of a Fire or Punch if there is another Bandit who can be targeted.
- Tuco: You can shoot a Bandit, either up or down, through the roof of the same Car you are in.
- Doc: At the beginning of each round, you draw seven cards instead of six.
Caution! When a Bandit enters a Car where the Marshal is, or when the Marshal enters a Car where Bandits are, they must escape up to the roof of the Car (even if they have just come down from there). A Bandit can never stay inside the Car where the Marshal is located. Additionally, each one of those Bandits immediately receives a Neutral Bullet card which must be placed on each player's personal deck.
- At the end of the Schemin'! Phase, you are allowed to keep in your Hand the cards you are interested in holding for next Round. Discard all Bullet cards. Discard all Action cards that you are not interested in.
- During the Stealin'! phase, place the performed Action cards you get back from the First Player on your discard deck. The Bullet cards you received that turn from your opponents, however, go on top of your draw deck, face-down.
- At the beginning of each Round, draw cards from your draw deck and fill your Hand up to six cards.
- Each time your draw deck is depleted and you have to draw cards, shuffle the discard deck to make a new draw deck. You can look through your discard at any time.
Set-Up for two players
There are four Cars, and each player chooses a team of two Characters. One Bandit pawn from each team is placed inside the two Cars at the rear of the train. Each Character of your team starts with a separate deck of six Bullet cards and a $250 Purse on each of them. From among the Action cards of each Character, every duplicate is discarded as well as the Marshal card from one of your Characters. You will have 11 cards remaining in your Hand: 2 Fire (1 for each Character), 2 Punch (1 for each Character), 2 Move (1 for each Character), 2 Floor Change (1 for each Character), 2 Robbery (1 for each Character) and 1 Marshal. Shuffle all of them to make your draw deck. Each player then plays with the mixed Action cards of the two Bandits.
The game with two players is played with the Expert Variant described earlier. The goal of the game is to have the richest team at the end of the game. However, no one wins the title of Gunslinger in the 2-player game. When a Bandit is shot, the Bullet card is placed on the top of the player's draw deck. It may very well happen that a Bandit will inadvertently shoot their own teammate!
(This summary is made of excerpts Ludonaute's rules for Colt Express.)