A Game Built for Two and Sometimes More

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Game Mechanic: Pick-up and Deliver

Kristen McCarty
United States
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What is the allure that trains hold over so many? The billowing smoke, the chugging engines, the rumbling ground. Trains have an especially important place in my family. In fact, without trains I don't think I would exist. My grandfather meet my grandmother as a young porter on a train. She was a nursing student travelling to school from her small town. They fell in love and started a family. Years later my grandfather moved his family to work as a train dispatcher. My father was introduced to a pretty young lady whom he also fell in love with, married, and started his own family. Four children later I was born.

Pictures, magazines, books, trips on trains and trips to see trains were an ever present part of my life.I know a train, any train, can cause excitement in my father and cause him to rush towards it with his camera. So the next mechanic, the pick-up and deliver mechanic, found in many train games, bears a special place in my heart.

I know this mechanic is seen in games of many themes. Some include games about space, shipping games, and even a few pirate games. I'm most familiar with it in train games.

Hallmarks of Pick-up and Deliver Games


The basic idea of pick-up and deliver games is to take a good from one location in bring it to another. The goods can be almost anything. You may be just transporting wooden cubes or discs, or perhaps cows, cars, and cotton chips. The possibilities are endless. The goods can even be cards like in "Merchants and Marauders"

Goods Placement

Depending on the game, were the goods are placed may be random or a specific set-up may be used. In games like "Railways of the World" and "Valdora" goods are placed at the beginning of the game randomly. In "Empire Builder" cities produce certain goods. For example you will find steel in Pittsburgh and cars in Detroit.


Now that you have your goods you need to deliver them somewhere. How and where goods are delivered can vary. Players may build routes to carry goods, follow routes already on the board, or even travel through parts of the sea. The method of delivery usually corresponds to the games theme and rules.

Goods are usually being delivered to a specific area. In "Railways of the World" goods can only be delivered to cities with a matching color. In "Valdora" you deliver gems to patrons matching the gems color.

In games like "Merchants and Marauders" there may be a bonus for bringing a specific good to a location but any good may be sold at any location.


Goods are usually delivered in order to be paid. Games may award players with money or victory points. With each good that is delivered the player moves closer to victory.

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