Published by Days of Wonder and designed for play by two to four players, aged eight and up, Ticket to Ride: Berlin is easy to learn, can be played out of the box in five minutes, and played through in less than twenty minutes. As with the other entries in the Ticket to Ride ‘City’ series, Ticket to Ride: Berlin sees the players race across the city attempting to connect its various tourist hotspots. All of entries in the ‘City’ series are both set in their respective and have a them representative of their city. Thus, Ticket to Ride: New York had the players racing across Manhattan in the nineteen fifties via taxis; Ticket to Ride: London had the players racing across London in the nineteen sixties aboard the classic double-decker buses; Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam took the series back to the seventeenth century and had the players fulfilling Contracts by delivering goods across the Dutch port by horse and cart and claiming Merchandise Bonus if they take the right route; and Ticket to Ride: San Francisco continued the lack of trains in the series by having the players travel around ‘The City by the Bay’ aboard its icon form of transportation—the cable car! In Ticket to Ride: Berlin, the players can travel from the Teirgarten to Check-Point Charlie, from Charlottenburger Tor to Alexander-Platzfrom, from the Reichstag to the Zoo, either by the trams that crisscross the city or the underground which encircles it—or both!
Play in Ticket to Ride: Berlin is the same as standard Ticket to Ride. Each player starts the game with some Destination Tickets and some Transportation cards. On his turn, a player can take one of three actions. Either draw two Transportation cards; draw two Destination Tickets and either keep one or two, but must keep one; or claim a route between two connected Locations. To claim a route, a player must expend a number of cards equal to its length, either matching the colour of the route or a mix of matching colour cards and the multi-coloured cards, which essentially act as wild cards. Some routes are marked in grey and so can use any set of colours or multi-coloured cards. If the route is a Streetcar route, the player places a number of Streetcar pieces on it equal to its length. If it is subway route, he places just the single Subway Car piece on it, though he still has to expend the indicated number of Transportation cards.
In fact, Ticket to Ride: Berlin feels so much like standard Ticket to Ride that it is not immediately obvious what makes it different from either standard Ticket to Ride or the other entries in the ‘City’ series, each of which has a strong theme and an extra mechanic. For example, in Ticket to Ride: San Francisco, the players also collect Tourist Tokens. In Ticket to Ride: Berlin, the difference is the subway network which rings the city. A player only has five Subway car pieces to place, so they are a limited resource, but when played, they tend to score more points and they tend to connect routes that are harder to connect via the Streetcar pieces. Most Destinations in the centre of the board lie just a single route’s length from the beginning and end of a Subway route. Thus, for the longer Destination Tickets, a player will likely be wanting to claim the Subway routes to get around the board, whilst claiming routes into the city using the Streetcar pieces. It is an underplayed difference in comparison to titles in the ‘City’ series and to Ticket to Ride in general.
What Ticket to Ride: Berlin is reminiscent of is the Ticket to Ride Map Collection Vol. 7: Japan + Italy and its Japan map. This introduced the ‘Bullet Train’ route, which when claimed using the indicated number of Transportation cards, only used a single Bullet Train piece to indicate that it had been claimed. The Subway routes in Ticket to Ride: Berlin work in a similar fashion, although unlike on the Japan map, they are not shared by all of the players and nobody is penalised for not building any Subway routes.
Physically, Ticket to Ride: Berlin is very nicely produced. Everything is produced to the high standard you would expect for a Ticket to Ride game.
Like Ticket to Ride: New York, Ticket to Ride: London, Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam, and Ticket to Ride: San Francisco, what Ticket to Ride: Berlin offers is all of the play of Ticket to Ride in a smaller, faster playing version, that is easy to learn and easy to transport. The balance in the game lies between claiming two different types of route, one that feels faster and goes further, as well as scoring more when claimed, but the player is limited to claiming five of this type in total, the other shorter, more flexible, with more pieces to put down and claim routes, but not scoring quite as much. This is more demanding than the other ‘City’ series titles and in combination with the fact that Ticket to Ride: Berlin is not as strongly thematic as the rest of the ‘City’ series, the result is that Ticket to Ride: Berlin feels austere in comparison. Of course, Ticket to Ride: Berlin still offers the same quick, competitive play of Ticket to Ride, but loses theme in favour of slightly more thoughtful play.