Wingspan – Main Title Screen

Wingspan is a computerized board game/card game based on the physical board game of the same name that runs on both Windows and macOS. It was developed by Monster Couch and published by Monster Couch, Stonemaier Games, and indienova in September 2020 as a Steam download.

In Wingspan, two to five players face off to gain the most “feather” victory points over four rounds. The first round consists of eight turns, the second round seven turns, the third round six turns, and the fourth round five turns. Once I started getting the hang of the game, it was crazy how fast the rounds seemed to end. Victory points are earned by playing birds, having those birds lay eggs, tucking cards behind the played birds, and other bonus objectives throughout a given game.

Tutorial Beginning

When first booting Wingspan, the player is greeted with an opportunity to jump right into a much welcomed tutorial. This tutorial was very helpful in teaching me how to play the game on the computer as well as serving as a primer for playing the physical board game. Two to five players face off with their own deck of birds. Similar to Magic: The Gathering, players play their birds on their own play area “habitats.” Only birds with special abilities will influence or be influenced by another player’s birds.

Each player has three habitats they can play their birds in: Forest, Grassland, and Wetland. Each bird may be played, “place its nest,” in only the habitat that is shown on their card, and only if there is enough of the particular kind of food available to them that is also shown on their card. On each turn the player may take one of four actions. The first is that they may play a bird. The other three actions correspond to the three habitats.

Wetlands Habitat

In the Forest, a player may draw or roll to get more food for her birds. In the Grassland, a player may lay eggs. Each egg is equivalent to one victory point at the end of the game, or can be used as an in-game currency to play certain actions. The number of eggs a bird can hold at one time varies from bird to bird. And finally, in the Wetland, a player may play an action to draw more bird cards into their hand. The more birds are placed within a given habitat, the cheaper it is to gain resources from that habitat.

Each round has its own specific goal that, if achieved by the round’s end, result in the player receiving victory points for their achievement. In the tutorial I played, the goal was to get the most birds played in the forest by the end of the first round. The second round’s goal was to have as many eggs as possible with birds that have a bowl-shaped nest. In the third round, the goal was to have the most eggs among birds in the Grassland habitat. And finally, the goal of the fourth round was simply to have the most birds in play.

Forrest Habitat

Even though it was rather long, the tutorial did a fantastic job teaching me how to play Wingspan. Fortunately or unfortunately, the tutorial ends right before the end of round three. I found myself scrambling to attempt to beat my tutorial opponent once all the rules had been explained. While I was able to slightly edge ahead of him at the end of round three, I had placed myself in a poor position to excel in the final round. It was there that the tutorial computer opponent bested me and I lost the game.

Losing the game doesn’t make me want to play another game of Wingspan any less. This is a game that is best played with human players, so you’ll want to invite your friends. There is a 72-hour turn mode for online play that allows you to play an asynchronous game that you can casually wait a day or two to get back to if needed. A default real-time mode is also there, of course.

Oops, I lost.

I have found Wingspan to be a remarkable game that faithfully recreates a wonderful board game / card game experience with friends on my computer. With so many goals and variables, this is a strategy game that will probably keep me occupied for a long time to come determining the various best tactics of play. I’m looking forward to many nights of playing this with my wife, son, dad, and anyone else I can talk into playing with me.

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