Best Wingspan Expansion – Read Before you Choose
Wingspan is the superb engine building board game from Stonemaier Games. If you have been playing it for a while and are looking at the expansions then this article will be perfect.
We will discuss the best Wingspan expansions and which one is best for you. The good news is that each expansion adds a little something to the base game and seeks to improve some of the downsides too.
There are currently two expansions released for Wingspan and the table below explains some of the differences at a glance.Table could not be displayed.
Table of Contents
- Wingspan European Expansion
- Wingspan Oceania Expansion
Wingspan European Expansion
The first expansion to be released was based on 81 new European birds to add to the deck. This expansion was released in 2019, the same year as the base game.
As the name suggests, it covers European birds and they bring about a few nice variations for you to play with. First let’s take a look at what you get in the box.
81 bird cards (all unique, all new)
15 egg miniatures (purple)
5 bonus cards
4 Automa cards (2 of which are bonus cards)
1 custom tray with lid
1 scorepad (multi-player on one side, solo on the other)
5 goal tiles
38 food tokens
1 reference tile
The 15 purple eggs and 38 food tokens are purely to bolster the base game’s eggs and food and can be mixed straight in. This ensures you don’t run out of any resources.
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There is a new custom tray with lid, rulebook, scorecard, and reference tile. The main items are really the bird cards, goal tiles, bonus cards, and automa cards. Let’s look at each of these items and what they bring.
The new birds bring about variations to the base game such as choices on how you pay the cost for them, end of round actions, new ways of placing your birds in habitat.
Choice of Cost
With these types of cards you have a choice of how you pay. You can either pay the usual food as with the base game. The alternative is to follow the instructions on the card.
This may have you cover a bird already on your mat or use a card in your hand. These give you more options and work well. Here are a couple of examples of the options.
When Played: For each mouse in this bird’s cost, you may pay 1 card from your hand instead. If you do, tuck the paid card behind this card.
When Played: Instead of paying any costs, you may play this bird on top of another bird on your player mat. Discard any eggs and food from that bird. It becomes tucked.
Round End Cards
Some of the birds activate at the end of the round. Examples of these end of round cards are:
Round End: Discard up to 5 worms from your supply. For each, tuck 1 card from the deck behind this bird.
Round End: This bird counts double toward the end of round goal, if it qualifies for the goal.
Round End: If you used all 4 types of actions this round, play another bird. Pay its normal food and egg cost.
So this adds a little extra scoring opportunity to the end of each round.
Two space birds
Some birds can be placed across two spaces in your habitat.
When Played: Place the bird sideways, so that it covers 2 habitat spaces. Pay the lower egg cost.
Other birds may introduce an action where you get to copy another player. So if they tuck a card you tuck a card. If they gain food you gain food. You get the idea. Here is an example of a card where you can cover two spaces in your habitat.
Once Between Turns: When another player tucks a card for any reason, tuck 1 card from your hand behind this bird, then draw 1 card at the end of their turn.
This is just a sample of the different kinds of birds you will get in the Wingspan European Expansion. You can see that there is plenty of variety as far as the birds are concerned. Which will bring some new interest to your base game.
There are 5 new bonus cards in the expansion that provide some variety to the base game but don’t really change the game up much. These are:Ethologist – In any one habitat you get 2 points per power color.
Diet Specialist – Birds with a food cost of 3 food: 2 to 3 birds will give 3 points and 4+ birds 6 points.
Behaviorist – For each column that contains birds with 3 different power colors you get 3 points per column.
Citizen Scientist – Birds with tucked cards: 4 to 6 birds give additional 3 points, 7+ gives 6.
It is recommended that you play the new bonus tiles with the green side of the goal board. They again add more variety to the base game.
In the European Expansion you get 4 new Automa cards to add to the Automa. This will add a bit of variety to your solo play which is great. If you don’t know how to play Wingspan solo then check out How To Play Wingspan Solo which explains everything.
This expansion does not make any game changing additions to the base game. However, it does freshen up the gameplay if you have been playing Wingspan for a while. The new birds, Bonus Cards, and Bonus Tiles really bring some new interest to the game.
The expansion does suffer from the fact that you shuffle in the birds and bonus cards into the already large decks. When playing with just two or three then you could play a whole game and rarely see an expansion card. This is unfortunate and if you find this then removing some of the base game cards and playing with a smaller deck will resolve this.
Whilst this expansion is not earth shattering it will still make your Wingspan games more fun.Table could not be displayed.
Wingspan Oceania Expansion
Released in 2020 the Wingspan Oceania Expansion is the second expansion to be released. It goes 14 better with a total of 95 new bird cards.
In this expansion you get some interesting birds like the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, Emu, and Australasian Shoveler.
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95 Bird Cards
15 Egg Miniatures
5 Bonus Cards
5 Food Dice
69 Nectar Tokens
5 Player Mats
4 Goal Tiles
1 Reference Tile
The 15 miniature eggs are yellow and as in the previous expansion just add to the base game’s quantity to ensure you don’t run out. Probably the biggest addition to this expansion is some new player mats.
The player mats incorporate new choices when placing a bird. Instead of just getting an egg you can pay a card or any food to gain an additional egg. Each habitat has additional choices in this way. There are also some end of game scoring in the left most column.
There are also spaces on the mat. These allow you to discard a food and reset the birdfeeder or the bird tray.
There is a new food source called Nectar. The idea being that Australia’s trees grow in poor soil and so cannot convert their sugars into new tissue. So they give it away to pollinators instead.
The Nectar food type is a wildcard food type. This means that it can be used as a substitute for any of the other food types. The exception is when a bird power refers to a food type, you cannot use Nectar here.
Spent Nectar is placed in the first column of your player mat. At the end of the game the person with the most Nectar will gain 5 points. The next highest gets 2 points. All other players will get none.
Unused Nectar is discarded at the end of the round and is returned to the supply. So it is important to manage your Nectar well and use it before you lose it.
Game End Powers
The European expansion added birds with end of round powers. Similarly in the Wingspan Oceania Expansion some birds introduce the end of game powers. These are activated at the end of the game and activate after the last end of round actions are completed.
Birds with pink powers cannot be activated during this phase of actions.
Wingspan Oceania Expansion comes with 5 more bonus cards to add to that deck.
Mechanical Engineer – Gaining a set of all 4 nest types gains 3 points. Two sets gains 8 points.
Site Selection – Columns with a matching pair or trio of nests will get 1 point for two of the same nest in a column. 3 points will be awarded for three nests of the same type.
Forest Data Analyst, Grassland Data Analyst, Wetland Data Analyst – If you get three consecutive birds with ascending or descending wingspans for that habitat row then you get: 3 points for 3 consecutive birds, 5 points for 4, and 8 points for 5.
Oceania was long awaited with keen interest and in most areas it doesn’t disappoint. There are some fantastic birds, new end of game points. It has various things to freshen up the game and make it more interesting to play.
This is a strong expansion that will add to your game. Although this will be at the cost of being slightly more complex.
Both these expansions are additive and neither are amazing game changers. Oceania is definitely the bigger, more rounded expansion.
With the Wingspan Oceania Expansion you get more but at the price of more complexity. The you can add the European Expansion into to the base game and get variety with some small variations. You could easily keep it there and get more birds and a little more variety in the goal tiles, bonus cards etc.
Oceania on the other hand requires a bit more of a learning curve to get to grips with the new Player Mats, Nectar and end of game powers. It will take a few games to understand the significance.
There may be times when you want to take out Oceania. A good example of this would be introducing new players.
The other thing to mention is that the Nectar being a wildcard does make playing birds a little easier. Whilst you lose the Nectar at the end of each round I am not sure that balances the Nectar enough to temper players’ use of it.
When all is said and done though, Oceania is the more interesting and refined expansion and is why I am recommending that you buy the Wingspan Oceania Expansion.
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