Adri and I have been playing a lot of Wingspan in the past few weeks. After more than 15 games, here is my take on the game.
I should start with the obvious: the build quality. It’s a beautiful game. The graphics are great, the elements do not feel cheap. It’s an expensive game, but you get what you pay for!
The different elements were well designed, and it’s always a pleasant experience to take everything out of the box, build the bird feeder dice tower, and set up everything for a game.
The bird cards themselves are lovely:
- There are a lot of cards (150+), each with a unique bird. You won’t get bored from looking at those cards.
- Each card comes with some info about the bird and a beautiful picture.
- Get the Wingsong app on Android or iOS, and you can hear the matching sounds for each bird / card!
- The game abilities of each card are a good match with the behavior of the bird.
By default, you only get American birds. That’s a pity for everybody else, I would have expected birds from all around the world. There are expansions with more birds though!
It’s a fun game to play. It is easy to learn. It is a bit harder to master though.
There are many ways to score points in Wingspan, many things to keep an eye on as you play. In the first few games, it is hard to develop a strategy that maximizes every way you have to score points. You’ll find yourself missing out on points by focussing too much on one objective.
As I get more and more familiar with the game, I find myself taking a different approach depending on my mood:
- Sometimes I’ll focus more on the objectives and the competitive site of the game. The “birds” theme becomes less important. It doesn’t completely disappear though: I still find myself reading the birds’ cards and learning new things.
- Sometimes I’ll give up on some extra points at the end of the game, just to get the satisfaction of getting more birds on my board. It may be smarter to spend the last couple of rounds laying eggs and making the engine you’ve built work for you, but somehow that doesn’t always feel rewarding. Seeing more beautiful unique birds, however, is always nice.
This is a great game to play over and over. Every Wingspan game is different. There are so many bird cards, so many bonus cards, that you will need to develop a new strategy every time you start a new game.
This, in turn, can be a bit frustrating at times. Your game’s output can vary a lot depending on luck: your starting hand, your opponent’s starting hand, the 3 birds on deck, and the food in the feeder are all things that are entirely out of your control. You’ll have to work with what you have.
Once you understand the game mechanics, this won’t have that big of an impact on your end score; you’ll find a way to build an engine that works for you. This may, however, have an impact on how you enjoy the game. Some engines can be boring to play, especially in the end game. This is when I sometimes forget about the competitive side of things, and just enjoy the game instead.
Overall, I would really recommend this game to everyone. It’s good for couples, you can finish a game in 50 minutes or so, and it’s a positive experience.