Ticket to Ride: Berlin Review


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12 December 2023
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Ticket to Ride: Berlin is a small box version of Ticket to Ride, joining the likes of London, San Francisco, and more. But should you be picking up this gateway game afresh for a speedier version? Our reviewer thinks so.

Ticket to Ride: Berlin Board Game

As a board game evangelist, I’ve found Ticket to Ride the most useful weapon in my arsenal. I’ve owned a copy for more than 15 years, and have bought it in charity shops for non-gamer friends whenever I’ve seen it to introduce them to the hobby.

However, I was underwhelmed by the first small box versions. Turning a popular classic into a shorter, simpler experience is tough, cutting while keeping the essence of the original. For me, Ticket to Ride: London (and New York) took too much, leaving an empty experience.

So it was with trepidation I approached Ticket to Ride: Berlin, the latest small box 15-minute Ticket title but halfway into our first play, my fears were washed away.

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How to Play Ticket to Ride: Berlin

For those new to Ticket to Ride games, each player starts with a set of plastic pieces in their colour, a few Transportation Cards, and one or more Destination Tickets. The board is made up of routes between destinations (in this case one to four spaces long). Each route either has a specific colour, or is a neutral (grey) route.

On your turn, you choose one of three actions: draw Transportation Tickets, draw Destination Tickets, or claim a route. Destination Tickets have two locations and a points value. If you can make a complete route between the two locations by the end of the game, you score the points. If you fail to, you’ll lose the same number of points. Transportation Tickets have the colour of one of the routes or are wild.

When claiming a route, you pay one transportation card per route space, placing one of your plastic pieces on each space on the board. You must complete a route (not a Destination ticket) in one go, and can only do one per turn. You’ll gain points depending on the length of the route immediately, while you’ll get any Destination Ticket points at the end of the game (they’ll stay secret until then). When one player has two or fewer pieces left to place, it triggers the final round.

What elevates Ticket to Ride: Berlin above the previous small box games is the addition of a second transport type. Each player starts with just 15 Street Cars (trams) and five Subway Cars. Routes around the edge of the map are mostly subways, with the centre of the map dominated by tram lines. Each subway line needs one to three Transportation Cards to complete it, but you only place one Subway Car on each route regardless. Street Cars work as in standard Ticket to Ride.

The tension in Ticket to Ride games tends to be created by urgency. You’ll be wrestling with taking routes and showing your hand, or waiting and collecting more tickets to open up your options and point-scoring chances. Wait too long and you can be blocked. Go too soon, before you can follow up with the rest of the routes you need for your destination tickets, and others may swoop in to stop you. The previous small box versions felt too basic, too incidental, to create this tension. Thankfully, Berlin has it in spades. 

Is Ticket to Ride: Berlin Good?

Every game of Ticket to Ride: Berlin is a tiny but devilish exercise in resource management. Every decision feels meaningful and pretty much immediately you’ll be regretting a route you’ve laid, be panicking about how to finish a Destination Ticket, or probably both. I’ve been thoroughly won over by it and the game will definitely be staying in my collection.

After playing the previous games, I could see no reason to buy them. Ticket to Ride: Asia, for example, has an excellent fast map that scratches the quick game itch. However, Berlin is satisfying enough to slot in just below it in the filler category, especially thanks to its cheap price point and small box. A real gem.  

Written by Chris Marling

 

Should you play Ticket to Ride: Berlin?

This is a Must Play

An excellent distillation of a brilliant family game into a 15-minute filler you can teach and play with pretty much anyone.

Ticket to Ride: Berlin Credits

Designer: Alan R. Moon

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Time: 15 mins

Players: 2-4

Age: 8+

Price: £22

WHAT'S IN THE BOX?

·        1 Game board

·        1 Rulebook

·        72 Plastic pieces

·        4 Wooden score markers

·        66 Cards (small)

 

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