Euros are better with dice!
Starting out on my first ever 2 player session of RRT I began by placing way too many resource cubes – in a two player game each city receives 1 less cube than normal. A quick rehash and the bidding for first move was on.
The game begins
Martin, the in my opinion soon to be crushed, gaming partner began with a 2k bid, while I grabbed the initiative by spending 3k and an easy link between Pittsburgh and Wheeling for two 1-link deliveries on the first turn.
Martin, meanwhile, did a horribly (to me) stupid thing of collecting two shares to link New York to Baltimore bypassing Philadelphia. Seeing this stupidity I let him deploy in the North East all by himself. Only in the following turns did I realize my mistake as Martin shifted the four yellow cubes in New York and the red cube in Philly for easy points, all the while expanding north.
On the second turn I grabbed an easy service bounty to Toronto, committing myself fully to the North, while Martin kept utilizing his aforementioned New York / Philly connection.
Ahead on points and shares (1 share to Martin's 3) I decided to go full out with long deliveries of scattered red cubes to Chicago, while letting Martin shift his short freight in the North East. Big mistake.
By turn 5 Martin had built up enough of a point lead to outweigh his shares (5 against my 1 at this point) and a level 4 engine (grabbing both the 3 link delivery and level 4 engine bonuses) while I still struggled. Then the 20 point major link bonus for New York to Kansas City with a western link came up.
I laughed it off. Whoever in their right mind would go for that? Apparently Martin wasn't in his right mind because he dumped 20 000 dollars on linking Baltimore to Wheeling right across the inhospitable Appalachian mountains.
At this point I'm getting worried. Not only were he ahead by some ten points but he was rapidly building into my own home turf. I decided to end the game as fast as I could.
Unfortunately there were too many cities left to empty and I realized that I would not be able to get them all before he could build his damned Western link I quickly linked Cincinnati to Lexington and on to Nashville to provide my new level 7 engine with a total of 3 black cubes to transport to Detroit by way of Toronto. For I while I caught up to Martin and even outpaced him. Then his 20 point western link came into being, not to mention the final turn Washington to Boston major link card, resulting in a crushing defeat for me – 88 points to 59.
The lessons learned from this game are that in a two player game there are no other players to stop your opponent. Had I tried to compete with him in the North East instead of going for easy cubes for myself I would have stood a chance. Instead I let him deploy and by the time I realized my mistake there was no way I could hinder him without crippling myself economically.
Also, a two player game does not leave enough time to fully exploit long links. Martin won having only a level 4 engine and most of his deliveries were 2- and 3 links long.
The next time I'll play a two player game I'll go for the quicker routes and make sure to stay in competition with my opponent, hindering him as much as I can – better to limit one's own advances than to let an opponent go free.
I agree with you on your points about two player games. These points are also true with three players to a slightly lesser extent. The reduction in goods cubes makes things a race to the finish. Our games rarely have anyone going over a Four Engine and that usually happens later in the game to collect odd cubes from that might be spread around. With so many 1 cube cities in the two/three player setting, the game goes by extremely fast.
That said, its a wonder that your opponent could finish the Western Link - New York connection. That's a long stretch in such a short game. Kudos to him!