Yesterday i tried the Age of Steam 2 player variant for the first time: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/49942/age-of-steam-2-p...
We actually stopped playing after about 4-5 rounds because we were always low on cash and actually could not bid on actions or build anything because otherwise we couldn't pay the expenses.
I believe we are missing some basics which ruins the game for us. Could some of you give some pointers on how to generate cash? How many shares do you issue in total and per round? How can we optimize the transportation of goods? Now it generates low cash. Of course we could have invested heavily in locomotives but we didn't have the cash for this.
Any tips are highly appreciated because it looks like a fun game, if we only had some money during the game ;-)
Age of Steam is tough game to play, no matter how many you are.
And it is certainly not a game for beginners.
You ask how many shares you should issue? As few as possible!
You need to analyse the distribution of cubes carefully.
Check to see where it is most efficient to build, and never spend a single coin more than you have to.
Johannes cum Grano Salis
"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
I can't speak to that variant because I've never played 2p on the Rust Belt map, but without knowing very much about your game (how much were you bidding on the auction? how many shares did you issue? how many links were you making?), it's possible that you didn't do anything wrong. Money in AoS is extremely tight for a good portion of the game, so it's pretty common to be operating at a loss for a few turns. I liken the game to trying to use a playground slide while having an anvil chained to your foot: sure, the climb up the ladder is difficult and takes a lot of time and energy, but once you get to the top (i.e., your track is laid and you start to net positive income), the actual slide part is quick and intense.
Also, as the previous poster mentioned, one skill that takes a while to develop is spotting most efficient board placement based on cube distribution. It's not always the place where you can net the most one-link cubes for short-term income.
I'm tempted to recommend that, if you're only able to play AoS 2p at the moment and still want to learn it, play a two-handed Rust Belt game so that each of you is controlling 2 colors. That way you'll get a better sense of how companies can help each other (accidentally or otherwise) and you can play each company differently and start to see how or why taking a certain number of shares might be a good idea, or how you can mess with the turn order auction to one's advantage. It won't be the same thing, but AoS really does not work as a 2p game without making concessions to the system.
It's a very, very challenging game system, and something I doubt I ever tire of. It's worth it though. Good luck.
No matter the board or the variant, AoS is unlike most games in that it does not play itself. You cannot merely stumble along and continuously do poor decisions and poor play and still "advance" in the game system. In this it is exceptionally diferent than most euro-type games.
You have learned the most important thing from your first game; you were doing something poor. my best guess is that you fell prey to one of the following three beginner errors ... yes, errors; not "less-than-best-but-still-advancing-moves", but "full-fledged-big-mistakes-will-kill-me-painfulnesses":
1. You were bidding to much. The winner of each bid should be bidding about a max of 2-4 $ per winning bid on the standard AoS rust belt map with the normal player count ruleset.
2. You were shipping too often. Players need to advance their locomotives as early as possible, and that means giving up one of your two shipments or winning locomotive in the base ruleset.
3. You were building disparate track segments. Although most rulesets do not insist on track contiguity, it is a practical necessity for making enough money to survive.
ONe of the joys of AoS is figuring out the painful economics, as ironic as that sounds. If you want more guidance, try