My family and I have very much enjoyed playing the original Ticket to Ride, but I've noticed one issue that keeps coming up. It is very easy to be cheated out certain critical routes that could easily cost you 30+ points if they stopped you from completing a big destination card. In the American map every city has a least 3 ways out of it, but losing a critical route, even one that's only one train long in the case of Portland, can force you to use alternatives that are over 9 trains long, IF they are even available.
I understand part of the strategy of the game is making sure you get the critical routes you need, but its gotten to the point where people want to quit if someone takes the last route out of a major city they needed as they now have almost no chance of winning. A good strategist will try to avoid this at all costs, but it seems unfair that if you get a tiny turn of bad luck at a critical point you're basically doomed to compete between last or second to last place.
I've found in most other games, like Settlers, Citadels, Dominion, etc., even if you get a streak of bad luck you can usually find some path that will lead you to victory...if you can find it. This doesn't seem to be as true with TTR. When I was in this situation I started to focus on blocking everyone else and getting as many points as possible through 6 car routes, but I was only able to squeak out 100 points for 4th place, only beating the least experienced player.
Have I just not played the game enough? Is there always a path to victory in TTR that will out-weigh whatever bad luck you've been hit with, be it bad train cards, terrible destination combos, or loosing critical routes? What can I do to reduce these total screw-overs to make the game slightly less cut-throat and luck based if I'm playing with new gamers? This is currently one of the few things holding TTR back from being one of my top choices as an intro game.
Here's some of my ideas:
You can create a duplicate route between any two cities that can only be claimed with the same number of locomotives. This would help if you lost that critical one-train route, but would still make you pay for not claiming it earlier.
You can always create new routes by using twice as many cards of the required color. This still makes claiming long routes normally important, but lets you snag that other one you needed in proportion to how difficult it was to take from you.
add trading to the game. I know TTR was not designed with trading in mind and doesn't have the most conducive environment toward it, but it would make for a very different game and allow more ways to catch up. I'll probably start a different question for how specifically to add trading to the game and keep it as playable and well-balanced as possible.