Review: Wingspan

wingspan

Title: Wingspan
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Artists: Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, Natalia Rojas, Beth Sobel
Player Count: 1-5
Playtime: 40-90 minutes
Ages: +10
View on Amazon.com

 

Green Eggs and Wingspan

An instant classic for all ages

– a review by Brian LaFountain

Overview

I want to be careful to give an overview of this game separate to the theme. Most of the reviews have made the theming of the birds the focus of the review, but the depth of this game is so much more than the theme. The theme is ingenious because hopefully it will open up the gates for new tropes to the board gaming industry outside of zombies, trains, sci-fi or medieval fantasy.

Wingspan is an engine building game in which players will balance 3 possible resources (cards, eggs, foods) to be able play the cards that will give your tableau the highest producing score at the end of the game based on the value of played cards and leftover resources. Players also compete to score points on a secret objective and common objectives that vary each round. Furthermore, cards laid in the same row(habitat) can include chained events triggered by the action taken.

Rulebook

This was the first rule book I’ve ever got my hands and thought, “can I sleeve this?” Rule book in the singular is not fair as the guides have been appropriately split between general rules, Automa (solo) rules, and the vast appendix of cards available in the game. All three are printed in high quality paper and written in very approachable ruleset for those unfamiliar with diving into the rule book of medium complexity and above games. Again, this is one of the unnoticed gems to a game that is destined to hit it big; the rule book has been written with the average consumer in mind, not the average BGG user as the primary focus.

Components

This seems like the primary area focused on when anyone discusses a Stonemaier game. Therefore, I think it’s fair to say that once again they have outdone themselves.

The components are top notch from the quality used in the cards, dice, rulebooks, etc. This includes the addition of a dice tower, 2 snap trays from Stonemaier Games, and an insert by Game Trayz to hold all of the cards in the game and display the available cards while acting as a draw pile during game play. Not to mention, Beth Sobel has outdone herself with the art on the cards and I really appreciate the typography as well.

My favorite thing about the components didn’t come to me until later, but there is so much room for expansion in this game. I’m certain that Jamey has an idea down the line for the different color eggs having different meanings/values. Plus, it’s easy to add or switch out specific components like cards, resources and/or dice to change the feel of the game. I feel like we may only be at the cusp of Wingspan’s potential.

Gameplay

Gameplay is swift with a few choices of actions, yet providing a plethora of decisions to make each turn. You will have 8, 7, 6 or 5 turns in rounds 1, 2, 3 or 4 respectively, at all player counts. Your choice of actions are fourfold; to play a card, take resources based on the dice pool, place eggs on the board, or draw more cards from the draw pile. Some of these actions may have placement requirements such as paying eggs or resources. The key element to the gameplay is that the last of the three actions can create a chain reaction with the other cards in that row.

Pros:

  • Low entry point with lots of depth and replayability
  • Visual presentation is through the roof
  • Can be cognitively demanding when playing competitively
  • Game Trayz insert for the cards
  • The organization diagram on the side of the box

Cons:

  • Very little player interaction other than the goal boards and rare “take that” moments
  • Can feel like multiplayer solitaire
  • For what it’s worth, I miss when tokens fall on the floor and roll away and you get to chuckle under your breath at the person who fumbled it, but the eggs just roll back in a circle on hard floors…

Playtime/Downtime

Since this is my first review on this medium, I should state that I wrestle with two facets in my gaming lifestyle. The first facet is the belief that I don’t care how long the game takes as long as it is fun to play (Here’s to you Food Chain Magnate). The second facet is that most of my games are played with family who don’t necessarily share the endurance or passion that I do.

This is why Wingspan is a perfect game at all player counts including 1 or 5. Gameplay and decisions are made so fast and succinct that at times the play can seem almost too rapid. This makes it great for the young players who have trouble holding their focus in between turns. Decisions are deep and vast, but the scarcity of resources usually limits the opportunity for analysis paralysis.

Additionally, I’ve yet to see a player get buried in the final score which only adds to the average player wanting another go at the game.

Final Thoughts

Purchase Wingspan if you enjoy playing games in any of the following situations:

  • Playing with family
  • Playing solo
  • Playing with hard core gamers
  • Playing with players who struggle with downtime
  • Playing with bird enthusiasts
  • Playing with non bird enthusiasts
  • Playing with a partner
  • Playing with component snobs
  • Playing with Game Trayz snobs
  • Introducing non-board gamers to the hobby

Check Availability on Amazon.com

Author: Brian LaFountain

Brian-LaFountain

Brian is an admirer of many things, but what most inspires him in life is spending time with his wife, 2 children, and parents. His secondary passions in life are his board game acquisition disorder (BGAD), watching baseball and football, teaching math to those who struggle with it, the loyalty of a dog and traveling to anywhere and nowhere.

1 Comment
  1. Great write-up Brian! I’ve gotten a few plays in at all player counts (1-5) and love it so far. 5p was a little long between turns though. I will say that the solo mode is probably one of the best I’ve played. It’s incredibly smooth. The game’s not too difficult to teach either. Just my 2 cents.

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