Lady Luck was not on my side this game when I was forced to sacrifice birds with valuable actions (normally my favorite) for birds with one-time actions and lower point values. Everyone thought I would be blown out of the water based on what they could see on my board, but I had managed to collect and complete four secret bonus cards for a huge amount of points. The player adding up the scores laughed several times as she calculated scores before announcing me as the winner…by one point!
Play as a bird-lover eager to add beautiful, mesmerizing, or even fierce birds to your bird preserve. Take one of four simple actions each turn to create the perfect synergy between your available birds, bird food, eggs, and birds in your preserve. Create the best, most in-sync bird habitat to claim your title as the greatest bird aficionado at the table!
There is real-world application to every aspect of this game. For the 140 unique bird cards, the type of nest is accurate, the relative number of eggs that can be stored in each nest is real, the location of the bird’s natural habitat is correct, even each bird’s action plays into the actual bird’s strengths. I cannot imagine the amount of research that went into this flawless game!
Balance in a board game is a tricky (and crucial) goal to achieve. You’ll find many games where a particular path to victory outweighs others, even if just slightly. You’ll also find particular components or mechanics that seem to be last-minute additions that don’t add much value to the game. Wingspan is as close to balance perfection as a game gets. There is not a single random or trivial feature in this tightly designed, perfectly balanced game. The interplay between the habitats, card rewards, birds, round bonuses, etc. is simply flawless.
Certain combinations of bird actions can reap powerful rewards. Capturing one synergistic combo would tip the scales in your favor. Capturing two would seal the deal. While some games just never seem to come to fruition, if you’re on the lookout, you’ll be able to craft at least one combination in your favor. One note of caution: a Jack-of-all-trades approach will not serve you well in this game!
Wingspan has an excellent game lifecycle which ebbs and flows with each round. There is no sense of, “What?! The game’s over already? I was just getting started.” You start with nothing, build up an impressive collection, and complete the final round with a sense of pride in what you’ve accomplished (any real-world comparisons there?). Players progress together which results in players rarely getting left in the dust with a very low point score.
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t overlook the several birds that can change lanes! Having one to flit about increasing your rewards can be hugely helpful. Just try not to trap the poor thing in.
- Go with the flow. The bonus and bird cards you receive at the very beginning of the game should have a big impact on your entire strategic direction. Don’t get too locked into what worked well for you last time you played.
- Reduce waste as much as possible! You’ll get what I mean when you play.
Scoring & Wrap-up
Overall, as a medium-weight strategy game, I give Wingspan my first ever 10 out of 10 because it truly captures BGG’s description of a 10: “Outstanding – will always enjoy playing and expect this will never change.” I couldn’t not give it a 10 even if I tried.
- Perfectly balanced with many ways to win
- Incredibly detailed and colorful ornithological artwork. This game has single-handedly instilled a desire to abandon my social media renunciation just to share a bunch of pictures of it. =-)
- Fast-paced with allowance for think-ahead actions
- Almost every turn provides a satisfying feeling of accomplishment
- Great end-to-end lifecycle and length of game
- Fascinating real-world components throughout the game
- The eggs! The 75 pastel-colored eggs are a delight to handle and play with
- Maybe I’ll come up with one years in the future, but I truly can’t think of a single negative aspect of this game.
If you’re on the lookout for a mid-weight strategy game that is easy to teach and learn, incredibly fun and fulfilling, and overall one of the greatest games out there, you will absolutely love Wingspan. I cannot possibly recommend it higher.
Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.