Wildlife is a wonderful thing. To watch and study creatures in their natural habitat should be cherished. People get hooked on watching animals and one such group is known as “Twitchers”. These bird watchers enthusiastically sit for hours spotting different species, studying their habitats, while observing their natural behaviour. Wingspan attempts to replicate this hobby by allowing players to learn about different birds while enjoying a competitive game.
Developed and published by Monster Couch, this is a deck-building tactical board game that is complex to master. Originally available as a board game, computer gamers can now enjoy the experience of local or online play from their living room. You must adhere to the same rules as the original, so if you’re a fan you’ll jump into this with no issues. New players are in for a rough ride but keep at it as there’s a lot to love about this title.
Wingspan: a challenging but calm experience.
Now, I love a difficult board game, but Wingspan is something else! With many rules to learn, powers to combine, and goals to aim for, it’s unique and pretty complex. I’ve tried it for many hours but still, the computer beats me. It’s annoying and frustrating, but it’s also addictive, wholesome, and will get under your skin.
The core concept revolves around hatching birds in their correct habitats. You’re required to select their favourite food from the feeding bowl and use collected eggs to bring them to life. Each bird has a value and special power that alters your approach. Playing them may increase your food level, automatically lay you eggs, or allow for additional actions per turn.
Each game takes place across four rounds, each with a specific goal for bonus points. The first round has eight turns which reduce by one for each subsequent round. Each turn you choose to; hatch birds, collect food, lay eggs, or draw cards. Once your turn is complete, other players can go and the scoreboard automatically shows who has won that round. Each player is then allocated their points based on their position and the game continues. Clear as mud, right? Don’t worry, it becomes clear with some practice.
It’s all about the tactics and the long game.
Though Wingspan is complicated at the start, its core concept is simple. Select the correct bird for each habitat (woodlands, grass, or water), hatch eggs, and feed your animals. To win, though, you need to study different tactics, understand the power moves, and focus on the bonus points. Using each bird’s power to your advantage is key to getting one “wing” ahead. You know that your computer opponent knows the rules perfectly, so no errors can be made.
It’s all about the long game, and players can move from last to first in the blink of an eye. Each habitat holds a maximum of five birds, these can be altered at any point from the cards you are holding. The more birds hatched, the bigger the bonus per habitat. In the woodlands you gain food, the more birds, the more food will you collect per term. The grasslands produce eggs and the more birds that live there the more they produce. Finally, the water habitat offers new bird cards to be used. You must decide which approach works for you, score the maximum points, and you will win the game. Your tactics must be fluid and playing the long game is vital. Still clear as mud? Honestly, it becomes clear while playing.
Online is great but local gaming is flawed.
Half of the fun of board games is the mystery behind your tactics. Your opponent doesn’t know what you’re doing until you play your hand. Sadly, local play removes the secretive element. Your cards are there for everyone to see and this undermines the tactical advantage. It’s still enjoyable to play against family and friends and it retains the board game charm. But it’s hollow and removes the element of surprise as you lay down a match altering hand.
The online mode, however, keeps all these elements while allowing you to find gamers who are not as well versed as the computer opponents. Where the online mode falters is its lack of personality. Sessions feel cold and isolated and the sense of friends bonding across a table is removed. It’s very clinical and devoid of emotion unless your online buddies have invested in a copy.
Wingspan has simple graphics, original artwork, and a clean UI.
If you’ve played any of the board game to computer game deck-builders, you’ll know what to expect. The graphics lack complexity and present an easy on the eye simple finish. With original artwork and nice character models, this is a wholesome title to play. The pastel tones enhance the relaxed ambience, making it a pleasant experience. With so many elements, the screen could have looked messy. A simple clean UI with removable hints reduces clutter allowing you to enjoy the slow-paced action.
The lighthearted and gentle audio supports the visual presentation. The calm tunes play in the background quietly and they are nice to listen to. Like a piano in a high-end restaurant, you soon forget about them. It’s nice to have, and it enhances the mood. However, it knows its place, and it doesn’t overpower the situation.
It’s surprising how easy it is to play.
The mechanics may be complex with all the little parts working together, but it’s surprisingly easy to play. With a limited amount of buttons required to complete each activity, you’ll know how this works long before you master the finer points. The button mapping is well thought out and clear references on the screen help to clear up confusion.
People love board games because of the competitive and addictive gameplay. Wingspan the video game captures all of this so you’ll struggle to put it down. Even when you are being beaten mercifully by your opponents, you’ll still want to keep playing. Its challenging achievement list and many birds to study will ensure you keep playing for hours.
Wingspan will make you a virtual “Twitcher”!
With plenty to learn about each species, you’ll soon become a virtual “Twitcher”. You’ll need to understand; nesting requirements, favourite foods, and their desired habitats. There is a lot to learn, but you’ll have fun mastering the different tactics. I loved it, though it bested me many times. If you enjoy board games, then I recommend that you buy it here! Study the bonus points, remain flexible, and aim for the long game victory.