I played my first rounds of Wingspans during the early months of 2020 when virtual board games with friends were the only way to play any style of board game. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the digital version of this tremendous bird-themed game, I must admit that the physical copy is FAR superior!
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The design of Wingspan may be what first catches your attention! The main box is delightfully covered in a spread-wing graphic of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. This amazing artwork continues into the box, with the game mats and bird cards showing these same styles. Bird lovers will appreciate the artwork for their favorite bird species, and those new to the diversity of birds may gain an appreciation for birds! While I am no artist, I can still appreciate the amazing work done by the three illustrators, Natalia Rojas, Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, and Beth Sobel.
Get your wings spanning!
Along with the artwork, the construction of Wingspan is top-notch. The materials used are heavy, glossy, and sturdily built. Printing is flawless on the cards, booklets, and gameboards, and the feel of every item shouts quality. When you first open your Wingspan box, popping the tokens and birdhouse out of their packaging is oddly satisfying. Even the instruction and rule booklets are made of aesthetically pleasing paper, which is very helpful when learning the rules of this bird-themed game!
While many may think Wingspan is a birding board game, they would be wrong. Wingspan is an engine-building game using birds as the base of the storyline for driving the game. What is an engine-building game? (We had to look it up too.) It means Wingspan is a strategy game where all players start with the same skills, abilities, or pieces. Over the course of the game, players build or add on to these skills, thus strengthening their engine, which produces something(s) for the players.
The gameplay for Wingspan can be tough the first few times through, as it is a complex strategy game. However, there are only four simple actions possible each turn, and each player can only perform one of those actions. When players can realize the simplicity of each turn, the game seems far less overwhelming. And while developing a winning strategy may seem daunting, no single strategy can infinitely win this game. The randomness of the cards forces players to build strategies and engines anew each game.
Get the European Expansion!
Do I need to know birds to play Wingspan?
No, bird knowledge is not required to play, enjoy, and win Wingspan. In fact, you might even gain an appreciation for some new birds, and if you already love birds, you could even learn a new fact or two!
So why birds? Stonemaier Games, the creators, created this strategy game around the idea that you are trying to create a wildlife preserve. In their own words:
"You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth:
Gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower
Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors
Draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them
The winner is the player with the most points after four rounds."
Get the Oceania Expansion!
If I were to rate this game on a bird scale, it would rank as an American Woodcock. Why? Woodcocks are A LOT of fun, and so is this game! During less busy months, I likely play either the physical or digital version at least once a week! The randomness of the game keeps it fresh, and the expansions allow for new alterations within the game.
If you enjoy games of any kind, Wingspan should be on your 'must-try' list.
How many players can play Wingspan?
One to five players can play Wingspan. Yes, ONE player can play Wingspan, as the game creators added an artificial opponent called the "Automa" for single players to play against. More than five players can play, but more pieces and resources will be needed to play. Also, it may greatly lengthen the playing time!
What is in the Wingspan box?
Nested inside this beautiful box are the following:
170 unique bird cards
26 bonus cards
16 Automa cards
103 food tokens
75 egg miniatures
5 custom wooden dice
5 player mats
1 birdfeeder dice tower
2-piece Game Trayz custom tray
1 goal mat
8 goal tiles
1 first-player token
40 action cubes (8 per player)
1 scorepad (50 sheets)
Want a birding board game? Try Bird Brains!
What are the current Wingspan expansions?
As of December 2022, Stonemaier Games has released three expansions: European, Oceania, and Asia. Additionally, to hold these valuable artworks, Stonemaier also created a safe to hold every last food token and egg. Of course, they named it the Nesting Box, which could not be more appropriate. Bravo Stonemaier, bravo. I will review all the expansions, so make sure to sign up for the flock to be notified when I do!
BEHOLD! The Wingspan Nesting Box!
Wingspan Asia is living up to the hype!
Wingspan Digital Game
If your favorite players do not live in close proximity to you, you can pick up a digital version of this game from either Tabletopia or Steam. I prefer the Steam version, as it does all the calculations, rule-keeping, and tracking for you! The Tabletopia version is literally a digital version of the physical game, where you are responsible for all parts and pieces.
Seriously, give Wingspan a go. It is worth the time, and it may become part of you, your family, and your friends' lives! Play with some good food and drinks, and make it a real social event!
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