Wingspan is a game for 2-5 players (or solo if using the Automata Engine rules). In it, players take on the role of birdwatchers or habitat curators working to procure the finest collection of birds on their player boards. If the bird-watching theme doesn’t catch you, don’t worry: Wingspan is one of the finest and most elegant engine builders ever designed.
Each player has their own tableau that acts as both a holding area for birds, and an action selection tracker. The board is separated into forest, grassland, or water habitats each pertaining to the gather food, lay eggs, or draw cards actions respectively (the fourth action “Play a Bird” has no associated habitat, but does have a place for cubes at the top of the tableau). Players start with a set of eight cubes, each representing an action a player can take on their turn. In addition to the basic action taken by placing down a cube, if a bird has been placed in that action’s habitat, and has an ability, that ability triggers setting up the player’s engine. When all players have placed their cubes, a round ends.
Each round has a particular goal which will provide bonus points based on how well a player succeeds in completing them (there are a bunch of goals available though only four will be used in any given game). Points are also awarded for caching food, stashing cards, laying eggs, placing birds, and completing secret objectives. Whoever has the most points at the end of four rounds wins.
As with any Stonemeier game, Wingspan’s components leave very little to be desired. All card and player board surfaces—even the rulebooks—are coated in a luxurious linen finish. The pastel eggs have a satin-like feel, and the card-stock dice tower is sturdy where it needs to be while remaining simple enough to take apart for storage. But what really pushes Wingspan into a category all its own is just how beautiful the game’s artwork is. Wingspan comes with 170 unique bird cards, all of which have a watercolor portrait of the represented avian. Watercolors adorn every surface of the game—from box, to rulebooks, to player boards, Wingspan is full of gorgeous artwork.
Wingspan won this year’s Kennerspiel des Jahres and for good reason. Lovely artwork; consistent, clear iconography; and exceptional components make this deep engine builder a joy to learn while rewarding multiple playthroughs.
Designed by: Elizabeth Hargrave (Stonemeier Games)
Player Count 1-5
Playtime: 40-70 Minutes
Time to Learn: 15 minutes
Am I happy I bought it?: Absolutely. Wingspan will get a lot of table-time over the years, and with the European expansion coming out very soon, there’s even more reason to play.
Note: I purchased this game from Adventures Underground because they’re awesome.
Written by Brendan Quinn; President of Tri-City Area Gaming. Learn more about the 200+ annual gaming events we host by visiting http://www.tricityareagaming.com.