Skip Navigation

WingSpan Board Game, Gameplay and Review

WingSpan Board Game, Gameplay and Review

In 2019, Stonemaier Games released Wingspan, a board game created by Elizabeth Hargrave. In this card-driven board game with engine building, players compete to draw birds to their wildlife reserves. In the course of creating the game, Hargrave created his own charts of birds he had seen in Maryland using data from different biological databases; the birds’ specific abilities were also chosen to reflect aspects of the real world.

Wingspan’s gameplay, realistic thematic components, and artwork won it praise from critics and players alike when it was first released. Numerous honours were also bestowed upon the game, including the 2019 Kennerspiel des Jahres. Subsequently, a digital edition and other expansions were released.


In Wingspan, players add birds to their player boards’ forests, prairies, and wetlands by using food resources. Birds are represented by 170 uniquely illustrated cards. A distinct player action is linked to each habitat, such as collecting food resources to purchase birds, depositing eggs on birds, or drawing cards.

Players take turns adding additional birds or turning on the habitats on their player boards during the course of four rounds. The fundamental functions of obtaining food, producing eggs, or drawing cards related to a particular habitat are enhanced when new birds are introduced. Furthermore, several birds have unique skills that become active when a player makes use of their environment.

How to Play Wingspan?

I won’t go into the entire set of regulations here again. For that, the aforementioned video is more effective. To give you a taste, though, I will go over the essentials.

You have a choice between four actions to take throughout your turn. As you proceed, place one or more of your coloured cubes on your board to indicate how many turns you have left. Playing a bird card from your hand onto your board and paying the necessary food and egg cost indicated by the card and column it is placed in is your first option. Next, place the card on your board in the most advantageous location. You can utilize the bird right now if its effect is immediate.

The second alternative is to get food by obtaining the symbols in the upper forest section of your board that are located on the leftmost exposed slot. Usually, one of the dice will display the cuisine that you can choose from here. When you put the birds in the first choice mentioned above, the food is used to feed them. After the bird cards are placed, each row’s subsequent rounds will have greater power. It matters what sequence you do things in. This game can occasionally be as simple as chicken and egg.

Getting more eggs is the third choice. Making fresh bird cards is the fourth step. Once more, you will use a cube to take the number of cards or eggs indicated by the leftmost empty area on the player board.

Your subsequent turns get more potent the more birds you place on your board.

You can activate any birds in that row that have any applicable brown “when activated” powers when you place birds there. As a result, the arrangement of the birds matters as well.

Every round includes a unique benefit to strive for, such a particular quantity of eggs or birds in a particular area. A more cooperative method allows all participants to get the maximum bonus if they complete five of the designated tasks. Alternatively, you can score this based on who scored the highest each round. A player will use one of their action cubes to mark this.

Following this, each player will remove all of their other cubes from the board, replace all of the face-up bird cards on the screen, and begin the following round. This is how the four rounds of the game play out. As a result, you will have one fewer cube available for use as an action per round. You will therefore need to carefully examine your actions as the game progresses.

Later rounds will pass by quickly! In their early games, players will frequently demand an extra turn or two to finish specific scoring opportunities. It has that satisfying annoyance of wanting to accomplish just a little bit more.

Players will receive points for every bird card on their board following the final round. Points are awarded to each player based on the bonus score card they were given at the beginning of the game and any additional bonus cards they may have acquired afterward. Next, on their player board, each player will add the points earned from the mid-round goals, plus an additional point for each egg, food token cached, and tucked card. The winner is the one with the highest score!

Is it enjoyable?

Wingspan has a sizable following. Three key factors, in my opinion, account for this:

Wingspan is a very beautiful game, to start. The cards have beautiful artwork on them. Every one of the 170 cards is different and features a stunning, realistic image of an actual bird. People are fond of this. It feels informative without being dry. It is aesthetically beautiful, realistic, and fascinating. And the box art is amazing tidy and attacking right away. People would be curious to learn more about anything on a shelf.

Secondly, Wingspan performs admirably, blending some strong mechanics in a very user-friendly manner. If you combine an eye-catching design with strong gameplay, you have a chance to win awards chosen by the fans. Awards increase sales, which starts a positive feedback loop where new fans discover the game and more titles are sold.

Ultimately, I believe Wingspan’s popularity has grown mostly due to its quality. However, there are many people who genuinely enjoy it and others who don’t. Anything this significant will unavoidably divide views. Since the extremes are frequently more emotionally driven, I believe a mean average can be helpful. However, those extremes do generate a lot of buzz. Additionally, that increases sales. Thus, the artwork attracts attention. Fans are drawn in by the spotlight. Awards are chosen by the fans. More people attended the awards. It turns out that the game is also good throughout.

16 Automa cards (57x87mm); 26 bonus cards (57x87mm); 170 unique bird cards (57x87mm); plus 10 unique bird cards in the quick-start teaching guide

• 103 tokens for meal

Contents Five personalised wooden dice; 75 egg miniatures

• One birdfeeder dice tower; five 400 x 280 mm player mats; one 2-piece custom tray (now made of eco-friendly sugarcane; it’s white instead of purple as shown in previous photographs and movies)

• One first-player token; eight goal tiles; one goal mat; forty action cubes (eight each player)

• Three rulebooks; one scorepad with fifty sheets, one sheet for each participant during a game

The following are some of the standout add-ons and expansions: jigsaw puzzles; neoprene playmats; additional scorepads; nesting boxes; speckled eggs; and wingspan Asia, among others.

The Wingspan (SKU: STM910) was made available to shops globally on March 8, 2019.

• Electronic copies

• The goal board made by Meerplesource; • The Tower Rex wooden dice tower

• Barnes & Noble

You can view Natalia’s and Ana’s websites here and here, respectively; they have illustrated every bird in Wingspan. Additionally, Beth Sobel provided artwork for the dice tower birdfeeder and the player mats.