Wingspan The Board Game

“Wingspan” is a fun and engaging board game that’s all about birds. Players, acting as bird enthusiasts, seek to discover and attract the best birds to their network of wildlife preserves.

Each bird you add creates a chain of powerful combinations in one of your three habitats – forest, wetland, and grassland. Your goal is to make your habitats as lively as possible to score the most points by the end of the game. “Wingspan” is loved for its beautiful design, strategic gameplay, and educational value.

You get to know interesting facts about different bird species while enjoying the game! Easy to learn yet full of strategic choices, it provides a fantastic gaming experience for both beginners and experienced players.


How To Play Wingspan

“Wingspan” is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game. It is designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and is noted for its beautiful bird illustrations and components. Players strive to attract birds to different habitats and leverage their various abilities to become the best avian preserve caretaker over four rounds.


  • Bird Cards: Featuring different bird species, each with unique powers.
  • Food Tokens: Worms, berries, fish, rodents, and wheat representing bird food.
  • Egg Tokens: Used to lay eggs on bird cards.
  • Player Mats: Representing your preserves with three habitats (Forest, Grassland, Wetland).
  • Goal Tiles & Goal Board
  • Food Dice & Birdfeeder Dice Tower
  • Action Cubes, Scorepad, First-Player Token

Game Setup:

  1. Player Setup: Each player receives a player mat, action cubes, food tokens, two random bonus cards, and five bird cards.
  2. Initial Resources: Choose one bonus card and keep, and select bird cards to keep by discarding one food token per card discarded.
  3. Setting Up Boards: Place the goal board in the center, shuffle bird cards, place face-up bird cards in the tray, place food dice in the birdfeeder, and set the round end goals.
  4. Egg Supply & Food Tokens: Place them in reach of all players.

The Gameplay:

“Wingspan” is played over four rounds, and each round consists of a number of turns (beginning with 8 and reducing by one each round). Players can perform one of four actions each turn using action cubes:

  1. Play a Bird:

    • Choose a bird card from your hand.
    • Pay its food cost.
    • Place it in the corresponding habitat.
  2. Gain Food:

    • Activate the “When Activated” powers of birds in the forest.
    • Take food from the birdfeeder (dice).
  3. Lay Eggs:

    • Activate the “When Activated” powers of birds in the grassland.
    • Lay eggs on birds (considering their egg limits).
  4. Draw Bird Cards:

    • Activate the “When Activated” powers of birds in the wetland.
    • Draw bird cards either from the deck or the visible ones.

After all turns in a round are complete, players compare their board states with the round-end goal, placing one of their action cubes on the goal board to signify their score. The next round begins by retrieving the action cubes from the player board (not the goal board).


After four rounds, scores are calculated in the following areas:

  • Points from birds
  • Bonus cards
  • End-of-round goals
  • Eggs on birds
  • Stored food on birds
  • Tucked cards behind birds

The player with the highest total score emerges victorious.

Strategic Tips:

  • Pay attention to end-of-round goals.
  • Build synergies between bird powers.
  • Balance your focus between all actions.
  • Utilize other players’ turns (when birds have “when another player” powers).

“Wingspan” intertwines strategic gameplay with a love for avian wildlife, offering a delightful and immersive gaming experience. It balances complexity and accessibility, making it a splendid choice for diverse gaming groups. It’s about carefully orchestrating your turns, planning for future rounds, and adapting to avail opportunities which can pave your path to victory!

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How To Win At Wingspan

Winning at “Wingspan” often requires a balance of strategic planning, adaptability, and a keen observation of your opponents’ strategies. Here’s a guide with some tips that might enhance your winning chances:

1. Bird Card Selection:

  • Diverse Powers: Choose birds with varied powers to give yourself flexibility.
  • Chain Reactions: Opt for birds that can create powerful combos with other birds.
  • Point Values: Don’t neglect birds with high point values, even if they have no powers.

2. Resource Management:

  • Balanced Diet: Ensure you have a variety of food types for bird card requirements.
  • Egg Economy: Maintain a steady supply of eggs to enable bird playing and satisfy some end-of-round goals.

3. Combining Bird Powers:

  • Synergy: Seek bird powers that complement each other and create potent combinations.
  • Consistency: Favor birds that provide consistent benefits over those with once-per-round or conditional powers, when possible.

4. Adapting to End-of-Round Goals:

  • Goal Alignment: Choose birds and actions that align with the round’s end goal.
  • Early Planning: Prepare for future round-end goals when possible.

5. Flexibility in Strategy:

  • Adjust: Be ready to pivot your strategy based on card availability and opponent actions.
  • Opponent Tracking: Keep an eye on opponents’ strategies and be ready to contest crucial plays, especially related to round-end goals.

6. Utilizing Bonus Cards:

  • Alignment: Choose a bonus card that aligns with your initial hand and adapt your strategy accordingly.
  • Additional Bonuses: Playing birds that grant extra bonus cards can provide additional scoring avenues.

7. Exploiting the Bird Tray:

  • Deny and Acquire: Sometimes it’s beneficial to take a bird card just to deny an opponent or to force a refresh of the bird tray.
  • Refresh: Utilize the “all birds” food cost action to refresh the bird tray if current options do not suit your strategy.

8. Judicious Action Selection:

  • Action Economy: Ensure each action taken moves you toward scoring points or building your engine.
  • Prioritize: In some rounds, it might be more beneficial to prioritize certain actions over others, based on round-end goals and available birds.

9. When to Play Birds:

  • Strategic Placement: Be mindful of which habitat you’re placing birds in, ensuring it supports your overall strategy.
  • Action Enhancement: Sometimes, playing a bird in a habitat to enhance an action (like getting more food or laying more eggs) is pivotal.

10. Remembering the Final Scoring:

  • Last Round: Ensure the last round is optimized for the final scoring categories.
  • Minimize Wasted Actions: Try to use up resources and ensure nothing is left unutilized that could have scored points.

Remember that “Wingspan” does have a luck element with the drawing of bird cards and rolling of food dice. Therefore, maintaining a flexible strategy that can pivot based on available options is key to consistent success. Practice, observation, and continuous strategic refinement will enhance your gameplay and enjoyment of this beautifully crafted board game!

Wingspan FAQ’s

How many players can play “Wingspan”?

“Wingspan” is designed for 1 to 5 players, providing a solo mode with an automa (AI) opponent and a multiplayer mode.

How long does a typical game of “Wingspan” take?

A game of “Wingspan” usually takes between 40 to 70 minutes, depending on the number of players and their familiarity with the game.

Can “Wingspan” be played with younger children?

While “Wingspan” is recommended for ages 10 and up, younger players may enjoy it with some assistance understanding card powers and developing strategy.

Are there expansions available for “Wingspan”?

Yes, there are several expansions, including the “European Expansion” and the “Oceania Expansion,” each adding new bird cards, mechanics, and components.

How does the solo mode (automa) work in “Wingspan”?

Solo mode utilizes an “automa” opponent, guided by a specific set of rules and a deck of automa cards that dictate its actions and strategies.

Can “Wingspan” be played virtually or online?

Yes, “Wingspan” is available as a digital edition on various platforms, and the physical game can be played virtually using remote gaming tools.

What is the main objective of “Wingspan”?

The primary aim is to build a powerful engine of bird cards in your wildlife preserves to score the most points by the game’s end through various means.

How are bird powers activated?

Bird powers are activated by performing the associated action (play a bird, gain food, lay eggs, or draw bird cards) and following through the habitat, activating each bird in order.

Are there ways to modify the difficulty or complexity of “Wingspan”?

You might adjust the difficulty through various means like altering starting resources or adjusting point scoring, though official variant rules are not provided in the game.

How does “Wingspan” balance luck and strategy in its design?

While bird card draws and food dice rolls introduce luck, strategic decision-making around resource management, bird selection, and goal pursuit provides ample skill expression opportunities.