24th January 2022
It's time for some impromptu Monday gaming in lieu of Sunday and we're logged into Board Game Arena.
Can't Stop Express is the roll & write cousin to the excellent push-your-luck dice game; Cant' Stop.
Caveat: We have only ever played this game digitally.
What's in a game?
And that's it!, Can't Stop Express is a very minimal game and that applies to all of it. I can't comment on the quality of the components, there's no art to speak of in the game and no iconography either.
How's it play?
Give each player a scorecard and you're ready to go.
Can't Stop Express has in one regard a similar mechanic to Can't Stop, which is that after every dice roll, players are putting together 2 sets of 2 dice, the 5th die has a different role (Sic). Where Can't Stop Express differs is that once the dice are rolled, the results are used by all players simultaneously.
When a player fills the 8th and final checkbox in any one of their 5th die rows, then they stop scoring and the game is over for them.
Once all players can no longer score dice, the game is over and players calculate their scores for all scoring rows, rows that have no boxes checked off score 0.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
One thing I found interesting about Can't Stop Express is how it twists the paradigm of Can't Stop.
In Can't Stop, the objective is to reach the top of any 3 tracks using the results of the dice rolls, which tracks are used is unimportant; they all score a point each. Since it's much easier to get a 7 than a 2, this is balanced out by needing to get many more 7s to reach the top than you would for 2s.
The points have equal value but getting them requires varying numbers of dice results depending on the number.
In Can't Stop Express players are also trying to move along tracks but it is changed around. To reach a scoring position for both 2 and 7 requires getting the same number of pertinent results, either six 2s or 7s, but in Can't Stop Express, they score differently.
Six 7s will score 30 but six 2s will score 100 and in fact seven 2's would more than all ten 7 results.
The dice results required for each track to score are equal but they score varying amounts depending on the number.
Anyway, talk about mechanics aside, I found Can't Stop Express to be a bit of a middling game.
I like how it shares a concept with Can't Stop of setting aside 2 sets of 2 dice and it probably plays a little quicker. There's no going bust, so no 'wasted' rolls - at least in theory. Luck can mess with players in Can't Stop Express, just in a different way!
The push-your-luck element works very differently here, there are no extra dice rolls to make here. Instead players will need to judge which rows to try and fill out and it's in the planning where players push their luck, when a player decides to start marking off the checkboxes in a specific row, they're essentially gambling on that number reappearing again and again.
The 7 row is the safest bet but is not much of a scorer. The further away from 7 you move, the greater the rewards but also riskier it is to fill out 6 or more checkboxes.
In terms of what I don't like Can't Stop Express is a game completely lacking in theme and feels a little dry (Although to be honest Can't Stop's mountain climbing theme is paper thin.).
My biggest bugbear though is the scoring; those first 4 checkboxes that penalise players 200 VPs, occasionally being forced to mark off checkboxes in rows you don't want to and watching your score drop by hundred of points can be very frustrating.
I know why it's there, it replaces drawback of going bust from Can't Stop, even so, it makes the game feel negative and I'm not fond of it.
I don't think Can't Stop Express is a bad game, mechanically speaking it's pretty solid but it lacks the extra bit of thrill that comes with deciding to re-roll the dice from Can't Stop and doesn't really bring anything new or different to the table.
I'd have no issue with playing Can't Stop Express more times but if given the choice between this and Can't Stop, I'd pick the latter every time.
I play, I paint.