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What is the point of placing 5 train cards face up next to the deck? I can't see any purpose for this apart from taking 5 cards out of the deck!

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    ATTN voters-to-close: the question is neither unclear nor opinion-based. It's clear what the issue is and the rules are clear on what the answer is. – L. Scott Johnson Mar 31 at 11:43
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    @andrewsavinykh One problem with that interpretation is that if you know the rule; I don’t see an even potentially reasonable argument that the cards add nothing to the game. Even the most novice beginner would immediately recognize the value in getting to choose the color of your cards instead of just taking random ones. And answers go in-accepted often; especially when asked by new users who likely aren’t familiar with the working of the site. – GendoIkari Apr 1 at 3:23
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    Rules, even in games as simple as this. I once met people at a games club who didn't realised they could not take cards AND claim routes on same turn, when this was pointed out they looked shocked. I only found out a year ago I'd been playing Snowdonia incorrectly for about 5 years. People do over look rules, no matter how seemingly obvious. Unlike some questions on here I don't feel like the asker is trying to twist rules to there favour someway and looking for back up. – StartPlayer Apr 1 at 8:51
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    @AndrewSavinykh Is it in fact clear that the author "did not accept" the answer? Given they're a new contributor, they may simply be unaware that this is an action they can and should take, nor are there any comments on it indicating that they have actively rejected it. – GalacticCowboy Apr 1 at 19:32
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    @AndrewSavinykh answers not being accepted is far from proof that the answers do not address the question. There are answers with dozens of votes that clearly answer questions, but some users never actually accept answers to their questions for whatever reason. And could be improved isn't a valid close reason for SE questions, if the question being asked is clear enough, improve it or comment on it, closing is for unclear or unsalvageable questions. – Andrew Apr 1 at 20:00
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When you are taking cards on your turn, you can choose to take any of the face-up cards rather than taking one from the deck. Taking a face-up card this way lets you choose what you are getting (as long as the color you want is available).

From the rules:

Draw Train Car Cards – The player may draw 2 Train Car cards. He may take any one of the face-up cards or he may draw the top card from the deck (this is a blind draw). If he draws a face up card, he immediately turns a replacement card face-up from the deck. He then draws his second card, either from the face up cards or from the top of the deck. (See Train Car Cards for special rules for Locomotive cards).

This is a key part of the game, so I recommend reading through the rulebook again; if you missed that you likely missed other important things.

One rule that's related (though not all versions have this, Nordic Countries doesn't):

If a Locomotive card is one of the five face-up cards, the player who draws it may only draw one card, instead of two. If, after having drawn one card the replacement card is a Locomotive, the player cannot take it. If at any time, three of the five face-up cards are Locomotives, all five cards are immediately discarded and five new ones are turned face-up to replace them.

To summarize; if you are choosing to draw 2 train cards on your turn; you choose one at a time to draw the top card of the deck, or one of the 5 face-up cards. If you chose a face-up card, you replace it with one from the top of the deck, and then you make the choice a second time. If you choose to take a locomotive card from the face-up cards, then you can only take 1 card that turn instead of 2.

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    Furthermore, it opens up strategy of tracking what colors people pick (or choosing to obfuscate your own colors by randomly drawing, even if it puts you at a disadvantage). – Azor Ahai -- he him Mar 31 at 17:31
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    In some Ticket To Ride variants (I've seen in the Nordic version) the "Only one if a locomotive" rule is not applicable. This is explicitly mentioned in the rules as being different from the original game. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 31 at 22:47
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    To make it entirely clear - when drawing one of the face up cards, you know exactly what you will get, unlike a blind draw. This avoids filling up your hand with cards you can't use. – GalacticCowboy Apr 1 at 19:34

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