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Board Game Review: Wingspan

game #1 of Katie's 100 board game challenge

By Katie KieslingPublished 3 months ago 4 min read

Of the 8 games my fiancé and I collectively received for Christmas this year, I think Wingspan has been our favourite by far ... well, I won't speak for him, but he and his brother and I all wanted to play it a second time! (That's how it ended up being our first game of the new year.)

Wingspan is a 1-5 player game (yes, there's a solo mode!) where all players are collecting birds in order to gain extra resources - food, eggs, and cards. While it is definitely a strategy-based game - which I'm used to, since my fiancé enjoys high-strategy games - I found Wingspan to be simple enough to catch on to quickly, and overall really enjoyable.

The Birds

Who knew it would be oddly satisfying to collect birds? Everyone at the table marvelled at the different names, and how each card came with a fun fact about the bird. The cards even show us where in the world we can find the birds; in the base game, the birds are only from the Americas (North and South), but I know other expansions are out there ... I've definitely added Europe to my wishlist!

I don't know how I feel about some of the birds' abilities though. Yesterday, I played a card that I wouldn't have played had I read it correctly (this is something I need to work on for my board game play - I tend to skim rules and cards, missing key information). It wasn't the end of the world, I just had to switch up my strategy. Essentially, this card I played meant every time I gained food, I would have to put one of the bird cards from my hand tucked underneath this one bird. Tucked birds give you points at the end ... but it seemed like every time I needed food, I would have cards in my hand that I actually wanted to play. So, before I could get food, I needed to use one of my (limited) turns just to get more cards that I could potentially be okay with tucking under the bird.

The Food

I have a love-hate relationship with the food. Thankfully, it doesn't make me enjoy the game any less ... but sometimes, five worms is just too many to have in your supply, you know?

The way to get food is actually pretty fun in itself. The game comes with a dice tower that looks like a bird house, and you roll the dice through the house. Each die is six-sided - one for each type of food, plus a dual-choice side where you choose between the worm or the wheat. (Based on two playthroughs, I believe these are the two most common food types the birds like.) Whenever you choose the "Gain Food" action, you have the chance to reroll all the dice ... IF all the dice remaining have the same food type face up! (This counts if there is only one die remaining in the tower as well.)

The rules around the food are certainly unique - like I said, it's a love-hate relationship for me. One of the things that improves the food for me is knowing there are birds which can help you gain food as well, depending on the actions you take.

A Unique Game Mechanic

In many of the games I've played, there are ways to earn extra turns in future rounds. Wingspan, however, is the first one I've encountered where you actually LOSE turns with each round. Each player starts with 8 turns in the first round. The second round we are reduced to 7 turns, then 6, and by the end of the game we only have 5 turns to accomplish everything else we want to get done before it's too late.

I don't know if this concept upsets other people, but I actually enjoy the challenge of losing turns along the way. It's not a surprise, we're all aware it's happening, as it's gradual ... in fact, when I was playing yesterday, after the third round I plotted my five moves. Having a reduced number is helpful with planning - I couldn't have done that with eight.


What I've discussed above are essentially the things that stood out for me - there's more to the game, like laying eggs and end-of-round bonuses.

Overall, this is a 10 out of 10 for me! Maybe it's the newness of it still - obviously, from what I said earlier, there are a few things I'm not 100% on board with about this game. However, I truly do think that the ease of game play and sheer enjoyability of it all makes this a 10 out of 10 worthy game - these aspects outweigh any minor "mehs" I feel.

My fiancé and I are getting married this year, and for Christmas I'd like to start a family newsletter to send with Christmas cards, with the inclusion of a Top 5 Games of the Year from each of us ... I probably shouldn't say this so early into the year, but I have this feeling that Wingspan will be in my Top 5 for 2023!

table top

About the Creator

Katie Kiesling

* 29, she/her, Canadian

* Reader, writer, lover of language

* Board game enthusiast, and wannabe board game designer

* Fiancée currently, Wife in May 2023

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  • Gina B.2 months ago

    I love this game. Thanks for sharing :)

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