Wingspan

From 1d4chan
Wingspanbox.jpeg

Wingspan is a engine-building board game designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Stonemaier Games. It debuted in 2019, which makes it just about neonatal as far as board games go. (Backgammon is pushing 5,000!)

Players collect birds and get points for it. That's it. That's the whole concept.

At first blush, it sounds like the most shoveled-out tree-murdering Ameritrash imaginable. But that isn't the case. [1] Wingspan is that rare class of board game that is not only deep, interesting, and fun, but is also all of those things to normies as well as weirdos like us.

The Game[edit]

The game's genre is "Engine-builder". This does not mean that the game is about enslaving cute little songbirds to fuel the construction of your robotic war machines, although that also sounds like an idea for a badass board game.

When you play a bird card, you play it to one of three rows. Birds have functions, and each time you activate a row each bird performs its function. You use your starting resources to play birds, and then you use those birds to get more resources, and then you use those resources to play more birds. It feels like you're building an engine. An engine made of birds.

Some birds have functions that activate when one of your opponents does something, which is about all the interaction that exists in Wingspan. Other birds have a stronger function that you can only use once, right when you play them. Some birds don't have any function at all, but make up for it in other ways (usually by being worth a ton of points).

In addition to the points your birds give directly and earn from their functions, you also get points based on how many eggs your birds have laid, how well you fulfilled your secret personal objective, and whether you were able to beat your opponents at the public objectives. The personal and public objectives are different every game, and the game comes with an absolutely massive stack of bird cards (over 170, all unique) so every game feels pretty different.

The game also has a solo play mode, perfect for the kind of person who loves to collect board games but has no one to play them with. It's a good way to learn the rules of the game if nothing else.

The Art[edit]

Wingspanowls.jpg

None of this has anything to do with the why the game is so popular. It's the art. Holy shit, look at these fucking birds. I suddenly want to throw my life away, fly to Maryland and become a falconer.

The art of the birds in Wingspan is basically dunking on every other card game just by existing. It's not stunningly gorgeous like Terese Nielson's, and it may not have big boobed anime monstergirls like really good card games do, but in terms of simply and elegantly conveying the subject of the card, nothing compares. If you have a bird-obsessed friend, the game is well worth it as a gift just for the bookmark potential alone, even outside of how fun the game is to play.

The Expansions[edit]

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The base game has cards from North America. The expansions add birds from other continents.

  • Wingspan European Expansion
  • Wingspan Oceania Expansion

On Buying the Game[edit]

If you buy a copy of the game, make sure you buy the 2nd Edition. It's exactly the same as the first edition, but it comes with ten more birds and some extra copies of the rules so you don't have to keep passing the rulebook around. You can easily tell it apart from the first edition because it will say Now includes a swift-start pack (4 guides and 10 new cards) to aid new players! on the back. If you do fuck up and buy first edition on accident you can buy the swift-start pack seperately.

If you enjoy not being able to hold your game in your hands, not being able to play it during a blackout, and don't belong on this website[2], you can purchase the game on Steam instead.

Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Mousetrap - Snakes and Ladders - Risk
Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - The Duke - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly - The Duke
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium - Wingspan

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Except for the tree murdering part. Caress a Wingspan box if you get the chance, it feels like happiness and Lorax tears.
  2. And enjoy not being able to molest the game's box.