Game Night Takes Flight
A streamlined engine builder with fantastic components and a totally unique theme... What more can you want from a game? Wingspan made waves in the gaming community when it was released last year to critical acclaim that eventually lead to it winning the coveted Kennerspiel De Jahres award (among many others). There aren't many game nights in my house where Wingspan doesn't at least come up in the discussion of what to play. It's very quickly become one of the most played games in my collection and for good reason. So, while it was hard to pick just 3, here are the things that I absolutely love about Wingspan.
1) SUPER Satisfying Engine Building
One of the most unique aspects of the engine building in Wingspan is the way that taking actions works. Every turn you can do one of 4 things: play a new bird, or take one of the 3 other actions (gain food, lay eggs, draw bird cards). At the beginning of the game, these 3 other actions are pretty basic, allowing you to gain 1 food, lay 2 eggs or draw 1 bird card.
However, as the game progresses and you play birds into the rows of these actions, the actions themselves will improve. For example, if a play a bird to the grasslands area, my "Lay Eggs" action becomes improved. From now on, anytime I take the "Lay Eggs" action, instead of laying 2 eggs, I lay 2 eggs and have the option of spending a food to lay a 3rd egg. But that's not all! Typically, bird cards doubly improve you actions. What I mean by this is that in addition to the base action itself improving, birds can also add additional actions and benefits of their own. In the images above, for example, My action improves from laying 2 eggs to laying 3 if I pay a resource and then my Northern Bobwhite lays an additional egg on itself.
This twofold action improvement system really makes the engine building of Wingspan feel super satisfying. At the end of the game, the engine you've built will not only be uniquely yours but it will also be ridiculously more powerful than what you start the game out with.
2) Gorgeous Artwork
Just take a look at those cards... Need I say more? Stonemaier Games has once again outdone themselves in terms of component quality, this time by going heavy on unique artwork from the fantastic Beth Sobel, Ana María Martínez Jaramillo and Natalia Rojas. Everything in Wingspan, from the card backs to the player board to the dice tower, is absolutely gorgeous. But the most impressive artwork is definitely that of the bird cards.
Every single one of the 170 cards is uniquely illustrated with meticulous detail and I don't even know what more to say. Even if you aren't a birder or a nature nut, it's hard not to marvel at the care and attention to detail that was put into these illustrations. From start to finish, every game looks gorgeous and eye-catching. Wingspan has got some serious table presence that makes people passing by stop and ask, "What is this?" I'm a sucker for well-done art in board games and Wingspan has some of the best art around.
3) Bonus Cards
It's the little things that often have the biggest impact on your playing experience. For me, that little thing in Wingspan has got to be the bonus cards. Even though the game itself is incredibly streamlined with rules that are fairly straightforward and easy to grasp, the start of a game can be a bit overwhelming in terms of choosing what sort of strategy you'll start with. The bonus cards of the game help solve this problem for you.
At the start of a game, every player will receive a starting hand of 5 bird cards. You will have to decide which of these birds to keep and which to discard. This can be tough to do, even as an experienced player. Thankfully, every player also receives two bonus cards to choose from that seriously help you narrow down what strategy to go for. What's extra fantastic about these cards is that the vast majority of them give you the percentage of cards in the game that can help you achieve this goal. 22% of birds eat fruit, and they're worth 3 points if I have 2-3 or 7 points if I have 4+. On the other hand, 15% of birds have flocking powers, but they're worth 2 points apiece and I have one in my hand to start the match. Which would you choose?
The bonus cards are great reference cards for players throughout the match, helping you to narrow your strategy and better play the game. I really love when there are mechanics in games that improve the experience of playing the game for both new and returning players.
So there you have it! Those are the 3 things that I love most about Wingspan.
Have you played Wingspan yet? What's your favorite part?
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