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Wingspan is a fun and beautifully designed board game for bird enthusiasts that has taken the tabletop world by storm. With hundreds of unique bird cards and compelling game mechanics, Wingspan offers an immersive experience where players get to attract birds to their wildlife preserves and create powerful combinations. In this comprehensive Wingspan review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Wingspan to decide if it’s the right game for you.
Why Is Wingspan So Popular?
Wingspan has become one of the hottest board games in recent years for good reason. Published by Stonemaier Games and designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, Wingspan elegantly blends artwork, theme, and gameplay into an addictive experience. Some key reasons for Wingspan’s runaway popularity include:
- Gorgeous art and components that attract bird lovers and game collectors
- Engine-building game mechanics that are easy to learn but hard to master
- Strategic choices each turn to create satisfying combos and chains
- Unique bird cards with abilities that create dynamic puzzles
- Wildlife theme that’s immersive for birding enthusiasts
- Accessible gameplay and quick turns to accommodate different player counts
For these reasons and more, Wingspan soared to popularity after its 2019 release, winning many Game of the Year awards and introducing modern board gaming to new audiences. Its success has led to European, Asia and Oceania expansions as well as a digital adaptation. For both hardcore hobby gamers and casual players, Wingspan hits the perfect sweet spot of gameplay, components, and theme integration.
How Does Wingspan Play?
Wingspan is an engine-building game for 1-5 players with game boards representing wildlife habitats. The goal is to attract birds to your habitats, gather food resources, lay eggs, and earn points.
Here are the basics of Wingspan gameplay:
- Each player has an individual player board with 3 habitats: forest, grassland, wetland.
- On your turn, choose a face up bird card from your hand to play into one of your habitats.
- Birds provide food resources, allow you to play more bird cards, give you actions like card draw or food production.
- Placing birds extends a chain of powerful combinations across your habitats.
- End of round goals give points for objectives like number of birds or eggs.
- After 4 rounds, player with the most points from birds, eggs, and cards wins!
With easy to learn rules but hard to master strategy, Wingspan gameplay is accessible yet deeply satisfying. Chaining card combos creates puzzles to solve each turn. With 170 unique birds, no two games play the same! The meadowlark extends a chain in one game, while the spotted towhee powers a new combo the next. This variability and interaction of bird card powers makes Wingspan engaging after many plays.
What Makes the Bird Cards So Great?
At the heart of Wingspan’s appeal are the incredibly detailed bird cards featuring original artwork. Over 170 unique birds are represented with gorgeous illustrations and bird facts that bring them to life.
Here’s why the bird cards are so well-designed:
- Educational with real bird information that teaches as you play
- Powers that represent bird behaviors and integrate naturally into gameplay
- Artwork captures birds’ personality and form with stunning accuracy
- Species span common backyard birds to exotic like ostriches and toucans
- Unique birdhouse shaped card frame thematically matches the theme
- Tactile, poker card-like feel that enhances interactive gameplay
Flipping through the bird deck to see what feathered friend turns up next is a joy. Drawing a Pygmy Nuthatch might fill your forest, while an American Kestrel lets you swoop in for more food. The powers play off one another, creating satisfying combos. For bird lovers, getting to play as and learn about their favorite species makes Wingspan even more engaging.
What Are Some Good Wingspan Strategies?
With so many bird abilities to combo, what are some tips to build an efficient engine in Wingspan? Here are some key strategies to keep in mind:
- Diversity your habitats – Having birds in each habitat unlocks special actions on cards. Aim for diversity.
- Combo birds – Look for cards that work together like creating food then gaining food abilities.
- Maximize actions – Some birds let you reuse habitat actions, double dipping for resources.
- Fulfill round goals – Keep the current round goal in mind and focus your effort on those objectives to earn big points.
- Draw efficiently – Only draw more cards if you can actually play them. Manage hand size.
- Use powerful specialist birds – Some birds have game-breaking powers, prioritize playing them optimally.
Balancing short term tactical plays with long-term engine building is key. Having a plan but also adapting to the bird cards you draw is important over the four rounds of play. With practice, you’ll get a feel for powerful combinations to shoot for.
How Does the Solo Game Play?
A great option with Wingspan is solo play against automa bird cards. This allows you to enjoy the engine building at your own pace or even practice strategies. The solo mode automa deck provides fun optimization puzzles. You program movement to block spaces and then adapt your play. With randomized automa cards, each solo game feels fresh.
Benefits of the Wingspan solo mode:
- Learn the game before teaching others
- Refine engine-building strategies through practice
- Provides quiet, calming gameplay for bird lovers
- Card randomization keeps solo play varied
- Optimizing to block automa creates engaging puzzles
- Flexible option when lacking opponents to play
The solo mode may seem complex to learn at first. But after a game or two, you’ll find it flows smoothly. For many, it’s the top way to play Wingspan and enjoy the peaceful, relaxing gameplay immersion.
How Do the Oceania, Asia and European Expansions Mix Things Up?
The original Wingspan game features birds of North America. The European, Asia and Oceania expansions introduce new regions with their own unique bird species. These expansions integrate seamlessly with the base game.
Here’s what’s new in each:
– 81 New European bird cards with amazing artwork
– New European player boards and birdfeeder dice tower
– Added gameplay elements like new end-of-round goals
– Bird cards reward creating patterns with habitat types
– 84 New bird cards representing Australia and New Zealand
– Nectar resource and new player powers
– Cooperative elements to share food
– Ways to upgrade cards and gain ongoing abilities
– 90 New bird cards representing Asia
– Can be used as a stand alone game for up to 2 players, or as an expansion to the base game
– New “Flock” mode for up to 6-7 players
– Complete set of new resources
All of the expansions live up to the original’s quality. They provide fresh variety while keeping the magic of Wingspan intact. The European expansion in particular adds more significant new mechanics to consider with the habitat patterns and round goals.
Either expansion is a great way to add more Wingspan for existing fans. They also give new players more variety in the box in a single purchase. Building a collection of birds across regions only enhances the theme and gameplay possibilities.
Is Wingspan Good for Families and Kids?
With straightforward rules and gorgeous nature artwork, Wingspan can be a great family game. Here are some reasons it works well for parents and kids gaming together:
- Easy to teach engine-builder accessible to kids over 8.
- Eye-catching bird illustrations appeal to youth.
- Educational facts teach real world about bird species.
- Interaction from combo abilities not directly competitive.
- Can play co-op by pooling bird cards.
- No direct conflict reduces arguing about gameplay.
- Short playtime under an hour keeps kids engaged.
The key is to teach the engine concept, then learning abilities flows naturally. For younger kids, deal 3 bird cards for options each turn so they don’t have to manage hand size. Let kids just admire the birds first before focusing on strategy. The result is a peaceful family activity and a great intro to modern board games.
Common Wingspan Complaints (And Why They’re Not Dealbreakers)
Despite glowing reviews, no game pleases everyone. Wingspan does draw a few common complaints:
- Random Draw Luck: Bird card powers combo unpredictably. But adapting to randomness and managing hand size mitigates luck issues.
- Unforgiving Engine Building: One misplay can derail an engine. But recovering from setbacks is part of the challenge.
- Text-heavy Cards: Many birds have complex text rules. But abilities are intuitive after a few learning games.
- Art Style Doesn’t Fit Theme: It’s more lighthearted than scientific. But the charm attracts a broad audience.
- Overly Competitive Players: Any game has this risk. Focus on enjoying the engine yourself.
No game is perfect for every player. But understanding common complaints can help gauge if you align with Wingspan’s strengths and weaknesses. Overall, its depth overcomes these critiques for most fans.
Should You Buy Wingspan?
Yes you should! Wingspan elegantly blends science and art into one of the most engaging modern board games around. With beautiful bird cards, satisfying engine-building strategy, and quick yet mentally stimulating turns, it’s easy to see why Wingspan has skyrocketed in popularity as more discover its magic.
For those seeking an accessible game that’s easy to learn but hard to truly master, Wingspan soars over the competition. The viable solo mode provides great replay value. And the expansion packs add even more variety and depth once the base game hooks you.
While luck and learning curve deter some, Wingspan creates an experience both challenging and soothing for those drawn into the wildlife theme. Pulling a California Condor might make your next play, as you ponder how to best utilize its ability. Learning the birds and how they chain together creates a stimulating mental workout.
So if building a wildlife refuge engine by attracting birds sounds captivating, Wingspan is almost certainly a game for you. With stunning production and theming leading players to become birding enthusiasts—bird watchers and researchers alike—Wingspan offers an experience that’s hard to rival. Let your wings spread wide as you discover the most talked about bird card game in years from designer Elizabeth Hargrave and Stonemaier Games.
Key Takeaways on Wingspan
- Gorgeous engine-building board game themed around birds
- 170 unique bird cards with educational facts and abilities
- Satisfying gameplay creating combos across wetland, forest, grassland habitats
- Accessible ruleset easy to learn but challenging strategy
- Designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Stonemaier Games
- Expansions add European, Asia and Oceania birds to increase variety
- Quick turns and short playtime ideal for family game nights
- Engaging theme makes it a favorite of birding enthusiasts
For the avid board gamer or the nature lover in your life, it’s hard to go wrong gifting Wingspan. Let the unique artwork and immediately engaging engine-building gameplay take flight! With the right group, it’s a board gaming experience sure to leave you flocking back for more.
Q: What is Wingspan?
A: Wingspan is an engine-building board game designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Stonemaier Games where players attract birds to their wildlife habitats. Each unique bird has special powers that generate resources and allow you to play more bird cards, creating satisfying combinations and chains that earn points. With over 170 bird cards featuring fun facts and gorgeous artwork, Wingspan creates an immersive experience for 1-5 players.
Q: How do you play Wingspan?
A: In Wingspan, players take turns to attract the best birds to their network of wildlife preserves. Each bird has a different set of abilities and points that contribute to your overall score. The game progresses over four rounds and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Q: How many players can play Wingspan?
A: Wingspan can be played with 1 to 5 players. (6-7 with the Asia expansion)
Q: Is Wingspan a strategy game?
A: Yes, Wingspan is a strategy game that requires players to make strategic decisions to attract the best birds and create powerful combinations in order to score the most points.
Q: Who is Wingspan designed for?
A: Wingspan is designed for bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, and anyone who loves birds and board games.
Q: What is the Wingspan European Expansion?
A: The Wingspan European Expansion is an expansion for the original game that introduces new bird cards and new ways to score points.
Q: Is Wingspan a fun game?
A: Yes, Wingspan is widely regarded as a great game and many people love playing it.
Q: Can you play Wingspan online?
A: Yes, there is an online version of Wingspan available for those who prefer to play digitally.
Q: What is the Wingspan Oceania Expansion?
A: The Wingspan Oceania Expansion is another expansion for the game that adds new bird cards and introduces the Oceania region as a new habitat.
Q: Does Wingspan come with a birdhouse dice tower?
A: No, the birdhouse dice tower is not included in the base game but it can be purchased separately as an accessory.
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