Surely you know the Stonemaier Games to Scythe, a board game released a few years ago that we still often see on the tables of Eurogame fans; in the last year, another title of this American house has made a lot of talk about itself, also (and above all) for the theme which, at first glance, may not arouse so much enthusiasm. It is, as anticipated in the title, of Wingspan, a bird board game for 1 to 5 players, which uses the mechanics of combo cards to give us about an hour of fun.
Distributed by Ghenos, Wingspan it was one of the most awaited news of the last one Modena Play and, for several months, many have talked about it both positively and negatively. We have had the opportunity to play for several games: here's what we think.
In Wingspan we will have to manage our aviary by attracting new species of birds and using their skills to get as many victory points as possible. To do this we will have a player board - aviary - divided into sectors corresponding to the actions that can be carried out, as well as several bird cards. The aviary board is designed to accommodate bird cards in three distinct habitats, according to their typology: forest, countryside and wetlands. Bird cards are the heart of the game: each has a victory point value, one or more types of habitat in which it can be placed, a possible skill, a type of nest, a number of eggs it can house, and a cost. in food.
The game is divided into 4 rounds during which, in turn order, each player will perform one of the four actions available by placing one of their cubes on the appropriate space of their aviary board, until they are all used up. A peculiarity is that the number of cubes available to carry out actions will not be the same for all 4 rounds: a cube is lost each round. As a result, players will start with 8 cubes - 8 available actions, but will end the game with only 5 cubes - 5 available actions. The actions are:
- play a bird card from your hand: you pay the cost of food indicated on the card (and any eggs) to place a bird on your aviary board, in the appropriate habitat. From now on, if there is a brown ability on the bird card, it will be possible to activate it every time you perform the action corresponding to the habitat in which the card was played (hence the possibility of creating very strong combos).
- acquiring food from the manger (forest habitat): you take a certain number of food dice from the dice tower - called the manger - thus obtaining the related food tokens and triggering the abilities of the birds played in the habitat.
- produce eggs (countryside habitat): eggs are spawned and placed on any bird (s) that has room to contain them and the abilities of the birds played in the habitat are triggered.
- draw bird cards (wetland habitat): bird cards are drawn from among the three face up or from the deck and the abilities of the birds played in the habitat are triggered.
It is important to note that playing bird cards in one of the three habitats will not only create combos with the brown abilities of the birds played, activating them every time you perform the corresponding action, but you can also boost up the latter, making it possible to take more food, eggs and cards. In fact, the number of cards, eggs and food acquired corresponds to the number indicated in the leftmost free space of the chosen action and these spaces can be covered by the bird cards. On the other hand, playing more birds in the same habitat will become more and more expensive as it will also require the payment of eggs.
At the end of the last round, the points are counted, determined by: value of the birds played; number of eggs or food tokens on the cards; any cards under other cards; to what extent the end-of-round goals have been met; if you have fulfilled any secret bonus cards. Whoever has the most points obviously wins.
Materials and Graphics
As always when it comes to titles Stonemaier, from the point of view of materials and graphics we are faced with a very well-finished product: the cardboard of the planks is thick, as is that of the tokens; the cards are placed in a practical plastic container; the dice tower and the dice themselves are aesthetically very beautiful and functional; the eggs make a really nice eye-catcher on the table. The graphics are also really beautiful, from the illustrations on the cards, each different from the other, to the symbology used, which is very clear. From this point of view a great job.
Wingspan is a fairly light game, good introductory ai combo cards /engine building. In 40 - 70 minutes it offers a satisfying play experience and the cards are sufficient in number to guarantee a good longevity. The risk is given only by the roll of the dice, which determine which foods will be available, and by drawing cards; in both cases, however, you can adapt and if you have a strategy in mind, it will hardly be irreparably ruined by chance. The interaction between players is almost absent, except to the extent in which they compete for the goals at the end of the round, but it is a few handfuls of points on the total; this can be a nuisance for those who love games with strong interaction. The volatile theme has been the subject of much criticism; in reality the mechanics are independent of the setting, which is certainly felt because of the very well-finished cards and the various game elements, but it will not bother even non-bird enthusiasts at all.