21st May 2019.
Tuesday has rolled around again. So it's time to go to 'The Sovereigns' in Woking for another evening of Gaming.
There's been quite a bit of buzz about Wingspan, so time to play it and see what's what.
What's in a game?
Wingspan is an 'engine-building' game about bird conservation.
One of the things that has created the buzz about the game are the components. These include:
Other components include personal boards for each player.
During set up each player receives a game board and 8 action cubes, they are dealt some 'bird cards'. Players are also dealt 2 secret objective cards (One of which they keep, the other they discard.) and bird food.
Finally random 'end of round' objectives are dealt. This is an opportunity for point scoring and changes every round, (And every game in fact!).
How's it play?
So firstly, an explanation of the game board is required. The game board has 3 rows or 'tracks'. Each track represents both a type of action the player can perform and a bird habitat. When the action associated with a particular track is chosen, then all the available actions on that track are activated. The actions that are available to a player are dependant on which bird cards have been played on that track.
Actions and building yer engine.
Wingspan has a quite unique way of engine-building. As explained above, the player has their own game board with 3 tracks. Each track has enough spaces for 5 bird cards.
When card is played onto a track, it always goes into the leftmost empty space on that track.
Thus the cards build up from left to right.
Each player is given 8 'action cubes' to use for actions. So in a turn there are 8 actions.
When a player carries out an action, a cube is placed on the relevant track on the rightmost empty space and the action on that space is triggered and completed. Spaces tend to also have bonus actions. But these generally require spending a resource to activate.
The cube is then moved left one space along the track.
Therefore if a track has no cards on it, the player will perform a single action before reaching the end of the track.
If a track has 2 bird cards on it then the cube is placed on the 3rd, rightmost space and the action that space is completed. Then the cube moves one space to the left, and the action on the bird card is performed. Then it would be moved another space to the left and the action on the last bird card would be carried out.
This is how you build your engines, with rows of cards. The longer the line of cards, the more actions can be triggered. Additionally the empty spaces further to the right have better rewards for your actions (And bonus actions.).
There are 4 types of action a player can perform:
Play continues until all action cubes have been played, this ends the turn. After this you get to score 'end of round' points.
At the game set up, 4 objectives were randomly determined. These can be something along the lines of having eggs of a certain kind, birds of a certain kind or in a certain habitat etc.
One of these is scored at the every round. The score you get for this is marked with one of each player's action cubes. Even if a player scores 0, they have to mark put their token on the 0 spot.
So, when the 2nd round begins, all the players will only have 7 action tokens. A game consists of 4 rounds and players' actions cubes will decrease each round.
When the 4th round is completed, the game ends and points are totted. Highest score wins!
There are various ways to score points. As mentioned above there are 4 opportunities to score at the end of the 4 rounds, birds score points, as do eggs. Secret objectives also score, some birds allow to hoard food and this scores points - and so on.
Wingspan is a nice engine building game with some unique rules. It's not overly complicated and you will very quickly start to see some strategies.
I like that there are 3 tracks that allow you to essentially build 3 different engines and that the 3 tracks are interrelated. Quite often the bonus actions of empty spaces must be bought with resources and will give resources useful on other tracks. Good play here can yield a lot benefits.
The curious rule that removes action cubes from play is unusual and the opposite of many games.
Finally, a mention should be made of Wingspan's outstanding game components. The eggs, the card, the dice tower, even the packaging have been carefully thought about and have been well implemented.
So overall I think Wingspan is a good game. It's made my 'to-buy' list.