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Learn How to Play Colt Express Guide for those who hate rulebooks

I wrote this Learn how to play Colt Express guide for gamers like me who hate reading rulebooks and want to get started quickly.
If you are still new to Colt Express and are wondering if this game is suitable, click here for our quick overview of the gameplay, what makes it fun and videos of the game.

What is the goal?

Colt Express is a 2 – 6 player board game set in the Wild West. Players are bandits who compete to get the most loot and avoid being hit by too many bullets.

Game setup

Choose character card, place action and bullet cards:

  1. Each player chooses a character card
  2. Take 6 bullet cards matching character’s colour and place next to the character card, in the order of number of bullets
  3. Shuffle 10 action cards matching your colour, place face down to the right of your character card
  4. Each player takes a $250 purse and places face down on the Character card. Keep the value hidden.
Colt Express Rules - Character Cards
Place your bullet cards and action cards

Setup the Colt Express train

  1. Place a train and a number of train cars equal to the players in the center, in any order.
  2. Place the number and type of Loot tokens as indicated on the car floor. Randomly select purses and place them face down.
  3. Marshal pawn and Strongbox goes inside the Locomotive. Return leftover Loot tokens to the box
  4. Randomly draw and shuffle 4 round cards.. Randomly select 1 of the 3 train station cards Make face-down deck with the 5 cards , with the train station card at the bottom. Keep remaining round cards in box
  5. Place 13 neutral bullet cards next to Locomotive

First player

Randomly draw one of the Bandit pawns for the played Characters. The player corresponding to the drawn Character is the First Player for the First Round. This player takes the deck of the 5 Round cards and puts it in front of him.

Colt Express setup
Example 4 player setup

The Colt Express Bandits

Here are the different characters / bandits each player can choose


Colt Express 1

During 1st turn of each round, you can choose to play your Action card face-down. If you choose to take 3 cards, you can’t use this ability later in the round


Colt Express 2

When punching a bandit (action), take the purse he has just lost. If bandit loses Strongbox or Jewel, it falls to the floor.


Colt Express 3

When shooting a bandit, move 1 car in the direction of the fire.


Colt Express bandit - Belle

Cannot be a target of a punch or fire action, if there is another bandit who can be targeted too.


Colt Express rules - Tuco Bandit

Able to shoot a bandit on same car and who is on other level of the car (the roof).


Colt Express 4

Beginning of round, draws 7 cards instead of 6.


There are 5 rounds in a game. Each round has 2 phases:

  • Phase 1: Players play Action cards into common deck
  • Phase 2: Action cards played during Phase 1 are executed

Start of a Colt Express Round

Beginning of each round, each player shuffles their deck and draw 6 cards for their hand

  • 1st player begins the turn and draws top round card and puts it on table
  • Round card shows number of turns for the phase and how the turns will play out
Colt Express Rules - Round Cards
Round cards show number of turns

Phase 1: Scheming

1st player begins turn, followed by next player in clockwise order.

On your turn:

  • play ACTION CARD from your hand face up into common deck or
  • take 3 additional cards from your deck to your hand

Scheming phase ends when number of turns shown on Round Card has ended.

Unplayed hands are returned to top of player’s deck.

Colt Express rules - action card placement example
Placing action cards

Phase 2: Stealing

  • 1st player takes deck of cards created in Phase 1 and turns deck over without changing order of cards
  • Bandits actions are executed one by one starting with top card
  • One action is completed, card is returned to player who owned the card
  • Player returns card to his personal deck

Actions are compulsory. Each player must perform the actions set out in scheming phase whenever possible.

Ending the Round

  • Each player shuffles all his cards (10 action cards and bullet cards he has been hit with)
  • Player then places deck next to character card
  • Player on 1st player\’s left becomes new 1st player and puts remaining round cards in front of him
  • New round begins

End of Game

  • Game ends after 5 rounds
  • Players add up value of their Loot tokens
  • Gunslinger prize awarded to player who used most bullets and turns over character card to collect prize (worth $1000). If tied, each tied player gets $1000.

How do you win?

  • Richest player wins
  • If tied, player with least Bullet cards wins

How to Play Colt Express and Review Videos

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