Wingspan Review - Box Feature

Wingspan Review & Strategy Tips

Play Time: 40-70 Min / Players: 1-5 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 14+ / Publisher: Stonemaier Games / Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave

Wingspan Ratings and Summary

Kids Rating
Teen Rating
Parent Rating


Kids rating from our daughter (9)
Teen rating from our son (16).

Wingspan has proved incredibly popular since its release and for good reason. The unique theme, stellar components and engaging gameplay make it a solid engine building game. However, it’s a little too complex to be considered a good starting point for people new to modern board games.



  • Components look so good
  • Great theme that’s unique and well implemented
  • Lots of replay value and variation from game to game
  • Love the educational bird facts included in the cards
  • Great mix of strategic and short term scoring opportunities.


  • A little too complex to be considered a good option for people new to modern board games
  • Games can last a little over an hour depending on player count and this might be a bit long for younger players to hold their attention.

What You Will Find in Our Wingspan Review

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I tried Wingspan last year for the first time and it quickly became one of my favourite engine building games. While I have played a lot of Wingspan since then, I hadn’t had the chance to introduce it to the family until I borrowed a copy recently from our local library. When I saw it, I was eager to see what they thought of it. Wingspan was released in 2019 and subsequently won a heap of awards including the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres award in it’s year of release. As a result, this is a well known and highly regarded game in the hobby. There have also been plenty of reviews written about it, so what on earth am I going to add? Well, if you haven’t tried this game yet and want a family perspective on what it’s like, you have come to the right place. While overall it was well received in our house it wasn’t a clean sweep, I’ll explain why below.

In Wingspan, your goal is to attract a diverse and impressive collection of birds to your wildlife preserve. You’ll do this by carefully selecting and playing bird cards, which represent different species of birds, and using their unique abilities to score points. Wingspan is played over four rounds and the player with the most points by the end of the game wins.

To get started, each player chooses a player mat and places it in front of them. This mat represents your personal wildlife preserve, where you’ll be building your bird collection and accumulating eggs. You’ll also need to set up the various resources, such as food tokens and egg tokens, within easy reach of all players.

Next, shuffle the deck of bird cards and place them face down on the designated tray. Each player will start the game with 5 bird cards and one of each type of food token, players will pay one food token for each bird card they choose to keep.

You will get two bonus scoring cards which will provide some strategic scoring goals to shoot for. You will have to choose one to keep and discard the other. There are also communal scoring goals which are different each round which have you competing against your opponents. The player who manages to get the most of that scoring goal each round will get the most bonus points. So, there is a real balance here between long term strategic scoring opportunities, round based scoring objectives and immediate point scoring opportunities through settling birds in your preserve.

On your turn, you’ll have the opportunity to take one of four actions:

  • Play a bird card: You can play a bird card from your hand onto one of the three habitats on your player mat, paying the required food cost.
  • Lay eggs: You can place eggs on the bird cards in your wildlife preserve, following the egg limits on the cards.
  • Gain food: You can take food tokens from the bird feeder, which you’ll need to play new bird cards.
  • Draw cards: You can draw new bird cards from the ones laid face up on the card tray or from the draw pile.

The actions all link nicely. You need bird cards and food to settle birds, you need birds to lay eggs, you need eggs to expand your bird numbers beyond the first column. It all just seems to fit and make sense.

As you play bird cards, the actions on that row become more powerful and you’ll be able to trigger the unique abilities of those birds when you next use the action in their row. Which can help you score points or gain additional resources. This is where the engine building comes in, the more birds you have on a row the more powerful that action becomes.

After four rounds the game ends and players will score points based on the birds in their wildlife preserve, the eggs they’ve laid, tucked cards, cached food, and any bonus objectives they’ve achieved. The player with the most points at the end wins.

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It won’t be a surprise that I am a big fan of Wingspan, especially since it made it to my best engine building games list. There is plenty to like about this game but like all board games this doesn’t mean everyone will enjoy it. Here’s what I think about the gameplay.

The first thing I want to talk about is the variety in that large deck of bird cards and scoring objectives. There are 170 unique bird cards and 26 bonus cards. This adds plenty of variation from game to game providing a lot of replay value.

There’s also a nice mix of more strategic scoring goals, more tactical ones and immediate points boosts. The bonus cards allow you to strive towards your own unique goals over the course of the game, while round objectives provide shorter term goals you can compete for with your opponents. Finally, there are plenty of immediate points gains to be made through settling birds, gaining eggs, tucking cards and hoarding food on birds. It’s just such a clever mix of scoring options and adds some layers to your decision making having to balance immediate opportunities with other longer term scoring goals.

I also like the level of interaction here, there is competition over scoring goals and opportunities to settle birds that will trigger abilities based on your opponent’s actions. If you want a game which is a little less competitive you can always use the side of the round objective board which rewards players for each item they get towards a scoring goal as opposed to competing for top spot.

So those are the reasons why I love Wingspan. But what might you not like about this game? Well, it may be a bit long for younger players. Depending on player count and how quickly you get through turns a game can last over an hour. For younger players this might be a bit long to hold their attention. My daughter lost interest for example after the first couple of rounds it just didn’t grab her.

The other thing to watch out for is that while Wingspan isn’t a complex game, I wouldn’t call it simple either so not sure it’s a good choice for newbies to modern board games. There are other simpler engine building games that I think are better picks for non-gamers or younger players. Splendor, Machi Koro 2 and Century Spice Road all spring to mind. This is a perfect next step for someone who has had a bit of exposure to modern board games and is keen for a small step up in complexity.

The Wingspan Solo experience has you competing against an automa that can pretty much do everything you would expect from a real opponent. It has a bonus objective to strive for, competes for round objectives, gathers points from bird cards and eggs. It is largely driven off a deck of cards that determines its actions each turn and gradually ramps up each actions effectiveness as the rounds progress much like a human opponent’s actions would.

I found the solo experience for Wingspan really enjoyable it’s a great option for when you really have a craving to play but there aren’t any other willing participants. It’s also a great way to practice and learn to improve your strategies. I think the automa is nice and simple to use and doesn’t distract too much from your own actions. It also plays in under 40 minutes which for me is perfect. I found the difficulty levels pitched well with easy mode very achievable and the challenge ramping up nicely in subsequent difficulty levels. All in all I would say the solo mode for Wingspan is very solid.

In short, the components for Wingspan are beautiful and really bring out the theme so well. I love the coloured eggs, the bird feeder, the artwork on the cards and player boards. It’s just all so well presented. There are also some nice trays that come with the cards and tokens to make it easier to store.

The other stand out here is the text on the cards and iconography provide great rule prompts. It makes it a lot easier to remember key things as you are learning how to play.

I don’t think I have played many games solely about birds, the only other one that springs to mind is the card game Cubirds. I love how unique the theme is in Wingspan and more importantly how well it works. The theme is weaved so well into the game play and components it all just makes a lot of sense. But above all it’s just such a solid game.

The other nice little touch I want to mention is that each bird card has a little fun fact about that bird on it. Anything that incorporates learning opportunities into a board game is always going to be well received by my wife and I.  

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So, what do we all think about Wingspan? Well, as I mentioned I love Wingspan, it’s has a great unique theme that is implemented so well into solid gameplay. My wife also really enjoys Wingspan, and she took to it like a duck to water winning her first game by a big margin. She found the gameplay really satisfying and enjoyable.

My son (16) enjoyed Wingspan too but didn’t love it. He has played a lot of heavy games in his time and while he likes this, it’s not his favourite engine builder.

My youngest daughter (9) surprisingly for me anyway found it easy enough to pick up the rules but didn’t really enjoy it. She can’t quote put her finger on it, but she didn’t find the gameplay that engaging for her.

So, who else might like this game. I think if you have dipped your toes in to the world of modern board games, with some simpler titles and want a small step-up Wingspan is a great option. Especially if you enjoy engine builders or nature/animal themed games. I think there are simpler engine building options that are likely to work better for people new to modern board games.

Is Wingspan easy to learn?   I think Wingspan is a step up from other simpler gateway games so not a great start to modern board games. While most of the rules are simple there is a fair bit to get your head around.  

What will Wingspan teach my kids? Some great opportunities for kids to learn facts about birds that are printed on the bird cards.

What age is appropriate for Wingspan?   The box says 14+ and I think you can go a few years younger than that if your kids have experience with modern board games. My 9-year-old picked up the rules but she plays a lot of board games.

Does Wingspan have good replay value?  Great replay value, the variety of cards and scoring objectives provide plenty of variation from game to game.

We hope you enjoyed our Wingspan review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.

  • Focus on Efficiency – Efficiency is paramount in Wingspan. Make the most of your 26 actions by playing birds that align with your bonus cards and end-of-round goals. This will maximize the points you score from each food and egg spent.
  • Build Your Engine Early – Get your engine going early by playing cheap birds that provide minor benefits, like laying eggs or gaining food. These early birds upgrade your actions, allowing you to snowball your engine later in the game.
  • Manage Food Carefully – Don’t end the game with leftover food. Food is not worth points at the end of the game so only try to gather what you need.
  • Leverage Bonus Cards – Aligning your play to maximise your bonus card potential is key, especially when you can play cards that meet that objective and other round scoring bonuses.
  • Make the most of tucking and caching opportunities – Birds that allow you to tuck cards or cache food can provide a great points boost. Wherever possible make the most of these abilities. The only exception to this is if the food can be put to better use playing a higher scoring bird card in your hand.


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