Wingspan vs Everdell | Which Board Game Is Right For You?
In this article we put Wingspan vs Everdell head to head and find out which board game is right for you. They are both highly regarded games and rank high on the BoardGameGeek charts.
Deciding which is the best game for you will come down to personal preference and what you enjoy in a game. However, I have my favorite and will share that with you at the end.
The great thing about both these games is that they can be played solo. We will have a little section later explaining how that works.
For now let’s take a look at some game details.
|Designer||Elizabeth Hargrave||James A. Wilson|
|Publisher||Stonemaier Games||Starling Games|
|Game Type||Engine Building||Tableau Building/Worker Placement|
Are you ready to find out which board game is right for you? Let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
Wingspan is ranked as number 23 on BoardGameGeek at the time of writing and is the newer release of the two. It has won multiple awards including the Spiel des Jahres in 2019 for Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur-gamer game of the year).
It is a wonderfully unique game where your objective is to attract birds to your wildlife reserve.
Birds can be attracted to your wildlife reserve by providing the right environment and food. Each bird comes beautifully drawn on a card and can be drawn from a selection of three that are replaced from a draw pile.
You have a player mat with three habitats on it where certain birds can be placed. The food comes in the form of dice. Each side of the dice has a food type like worms, wheat, and berries.
The game comes with an awesome dice tower in the shape of a bird house. Throw the 5 dice down the dice tower and there will be a random number of food available to pick.
The objective of the game is to accumulate the most points. You do this by attracting birds and gaining eggs.
The game consists of four rounds. The rounds have four steps as follows:
- Take all the action cubes from your player mat
- Score the end-of-round goal for the round you just completed
- Discard all face-up bird cards on the bird tray and restock the bird tray with cards.
- Rotate the first player token clockwise to the next player.
Each player has four possible moves:
- Play a bird from your hand
- Gain food and activate forest bird powers
- Lay eggs and activate grassland bird powers
- Draw bird cards and activate wetland bird powers
Play a Bird
To do this you first place a cube on your mat play bird spot at the top of the column where you will place the bird. Now pay the food and egg cost shown on the card and place the bird on the mats column.
If the bird card has a “When played” power this will be triggered.
Draw Bird Cards, Gain Food, or Lay Eggs
You must take three steps when taking one of the above options:
- Place a cube on the first space that doesn’t have a card on it on the row of your choice. You get the benefits of this space.
- Now move the cube all the way to the left. Every card you pass over with a “When Activated” power gets activated. You can choose not to do this for a bird if you wish.
- Your turn is over once the action cube arrives at the far left of your mat. The cube stays there.
The Automa – Solo play
The Automa is like a second player that you play against. At its core is a deck of cards and a few other components. The Automa components are made up of:
10 Automa cards
1 Automubon society card (see below)
2 action summary cards
2 end-of-round goal scoring cards
1 current round tracker card
The good news is that it is very easy to play solo as the game rules for you are exactly the same for you. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the multiplayer game first as this makes it easier to then learn the Automa. It’s not impossible, just harder.
I recommend removing the Automubon card as this increases the difficulty significantly and to be honest you will have a challenge beating the Automa without it.
Wingspan currently has two expansions:
- Wingspan European Expansion
- Wingspan Oceania Expansion
Wingspan European Expansion
This expands the bird population with 81 new unique birds from Europe. There are also some nice purple eggs to bolster the game and make sure you don’t run out. There are also bonus and Automa cards as well. Here is the complete contents:
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
This expansion adds more to the game but it also addresses some balances to the strategy of the base game. So it is an overall improvement to the base game. It also adds some end of round goals, end of round powers, and bonus cards.
The 81 European birds add flavor and are, as usual, fantastically drawn. This is a great expansion and once you have had your fill of the base game this will be an excellent and natural next expansion.
Wingspan Oceania Expansion
This expansion steps up again and adds even more to Wingspan. Along with the mandatory 95 oceania birds comes a new player mat, new nectar food tokens, and new dice. These significantly improve on the base game.
The full content of the expansion is here:
95 bird cards
15 egg miniatures (yellow)
5 bonus cards
5 player mats
5 wooden dice
69 nectar tokens
4 goal tiles
1 reference tile
1 Automa rulebook
7 Automa cards (57x87mm)
1 core rulebook with appendix
This expansion is the best so far and whilst adding a new food type with Nectar doesn’t sound much. It actually adds quite a bit to the game in that you will need to use Nectar carefully.
At the end of each round your Nectar will be returned so you must judge on how much to get and use. If you don’t use it then you lose it. Finally you can also score points using Nectar.
On the whole Oceania adds a fresh feel to Wingspan.
If you can only buy one expansion then for me it would be Oceania.
Wingspan is a very popular game and has some strategy involved. However, a good draw of a card can swing it a bit, either in your favor or your opponents. So there is an element of luck involved.
With the unique ornithology theme and fantastic art it is easy to see why it is so popular. The engine building is OK and the Automa is a great option for solo play.
Now let’s take a look at Everdell and see how it compares.
Everdell is ranked slightly lower than Wingspan and is number 29 on the BoardGameGeek rankings at the time of writing. So you can see they are both pretty close to each other.
Everdell is mainly a worker placement game.
Everdell is a lovely valley full of your usual fauna and flora. And this game is about the thriving fauna. The critters want to expand and establish new cities. Each player has the task to establish their own city. On the way they must earn the most victory points to win the game.
In Everdell each player has 6 animal pieces called workers. Each player can then place these animals to get resources and earn victory points. It also has a deck building component to the game as you build your city.
Your city can have up to 15 cards in it and each card will either be a critter or construction card that you have played. There is a board and an excellent 3D Ever tree that sits on the board representing the seasons and also has some cards that can be picked up.
The game is a little more complex than Wingspan as there is quite a bit more to the mechanics.
The components are really well made and there is even a collectors edition which has better components like metal coins and wooden occupied tokens. Plus it has more cards and other items too.
The game is played over four seasons. This makes it similar to Wingspan in that there are obviously four seasons. You start in winter and the game finishes at the end of Autumn to complete the whole year.
The Everdell Tree’s upper branches represent Spring, Summer, and Autumn. During setup you place 1 of your workers in the Spring, 1 in Summer, and 2 in Autumn.
You start with two workers in winter and as you move into spring the worker on the tree is released. This gives you an extra worker to play with. Then another in Summer and finally 2 in Autumn.
Each player does not move through the seasons together. So this is not quite like a round in the normal sense. A player can choose to prepare and move into the next season whilst the others stay in their season continuing to reach their goals.
The humblest person goes first and if you can’t decide who that is then rock, paper, scissors, lizard, spock usually works for me.
Each players can do one of three things:
Place a Worker
There are several areas that you can place a worker throughout Everdell. Depending on the worker placement you can gain resources, draw cards, host an event or embark on a journey.
Areas where you can place a worker are indicated as circles. There are two types of circles: whole circles, and broken circles. The whole circles are exclusive and can only take one worker. Whilst the broken circles can take multiple workers.
Play a Card
A player can play a card from their hand or from the meadow cards. The meadow is in the center of the Everdell board and has 8 cards drawn from the pile there at all times.
To play a card a player will place it down in front of them to indicate that it has been placed in their city. There are critter cards and construction cards. Some of these are common and so you can have multiple copies and some are unique which means you can only place one.
When you play a card there is always a cost which can be paid in two ways. A card will have a berry cost for example or if you already have a building in your city of a certain type then you can play the card for free.
When drawing cards into your hand a player can only hold 8 cards.
Prepare for a Season
A player can only prepare for a season once they have placed all their workers. To prepare they take back all their deployed workers plus the worker(s) from the Everdell Tree for the next season.
As an example, preparing for Spring a player would take back their workers from the board plus the 1 from the Spring area of the tree.
A player’s game ends when they choose to finish or they cannot take another turn. At this point the other players will continue until they have finished.
Once everyone is finished the scores are added and the highest score wins. If there is a tie then the player with the most events wins. If that doesn’t decide it then whoever has the most resources leftover steals the win.
The solo rules pit you against Rugwort. In the solo play you play across 3 years and in each year Rugwort seeks to thwart your plans. He does this by blocking placement spots with his ruffians.
In order to create a city for Rugwort you roll and 8 sided dice to decide which meadow card he picks up. As you pass through the seasons Rugwort relocates his ruffians.
If you can beat him across the whole three years then you have won.
Everdell has one more expansion than Wingspan. The expansions are:
All three expansions are superb. However, if you only want one then Spirecrest should be the one to get. As a whole all the expansions work well together and expand the world of Everdelle before you. After that then Pearlbrook and Bellfaire.
Each expansion adds a little something to the game and makes it a little more in depth and interesting. They will change how you play the base game so I would make sure you are familiar with the base game before leaping out and getting the expansions.
Pearlbrook add a sideboard to the game of Everdell. This represents the river pearlbrook with an underwater civilization. Obviously the normal Everdell land lubber critters can’t venture into the water so they need to send in the frog ambassadors.
1 River Board
2 Wonder boards
9 Frog Ambassadors
4 New Sets of Workers
4 3D Wonders
6 Event Cards
12 Adornment Cards
4 Forest Cards
24 3-Point Tokens
32 1-Point Tokens
20 Critter and Construction Cards
12 River Destination Cards
The River board goes to the left of the base board. The wonders replace the original event cards. The two wonder board overlays cover the old places on the original base board for the events.
The River board will have four river destination cards on it each with a pearl. These cards will have two Citizen cards and two Location cards. The pearls are a new resource that will lead you to more victory points.
The wonders have a high victory point count if you manage to get them ranging from 10-25 Victory points.
This expansion is a very well balanced thing. It brings the new wonder events that can bring about a large number of victory points if you manage to get them. However, this is not a replacement goal and you will find that you are still playing the normal base game.
What the wonder events actually do though is bring an aspect of long term strategy into the game. You will need to plan throughout the game towards a wonder in order to succeed.
The expansion is the usual excellent quality and as with the base game it brings about multiple different plays that you can choose to make.
The really nice thing is that you could introduce the game to someone to Everdell with this expansion. They would never know they were playing an expansion as it is so nicely integrated into the base game.
This expansion is a little interesting as it is less cohesive than the Pearlbrook expansion. It has several elements that you can use when playing. This means that you can pick and choose what you want to play with and leave the rest.
Again it has a board that actually replaces the Everdell tree and sits in that position. Let’s take a look at the contents:
1 Bellfaire Board
1 Market Board
6 Player Boards
7 Garland Award Tiles
1 Flower Festival Event Tile
9 Special Event Cards
4 Forest Cards
15 Player Power Cards
1 Rugwort Token
8 Axolotl/Any Tokens
4 Market Tokens
2 Frog Ambassadors
The theme is a festival that is going on in Everdell. This enables you to add or subtract any of the different components to Everdell. However, this is probably the least integrated expansion for Everdell. It has some really nice pieces like the Market where you can trade for resources.
That doesn’t really impact the play directly. Unlike Pearlbrook where you will need to gather your pearls and convert them into victory points, Bellfaire has less impact.
Bellfaire would be worth adding to your collection if you already have the other two expansions. However, buying Pearlbrook or Spirecrest would be my advice before Bellfaire.
The last in the series of expansion (there are more on their way) is Spirecrest. This expansion board is placed at the bottom of the base board. The theme is a traveler who is venturing out beyond Everdell valley and seeking out ruins, foreign critters or other secrets.
1 Mountain Board
33 Discovery Cards
12 Weather Cards
5 Big Critter Meeples
6 Everdell Map Tiles
24 Map Tiles
6 Fox Meeples and 1 Frog Ambassador
15 Rabbit Travelers
12 3-Point Tokens
6 Plastic Saddles
This expansion fits into the base game’s seasons and adds the Explore action to the prepare season action. As you play through the seasons on the base game then your rabbit traveler will move through the Spirecrest boards seasons too.
The Explore action consists of Chart, Discover, and travel steps. This expansion will provide more challenges and decisions for you to make and consider.
On the whole this is a great expansion and would be my first choice if I could only choose one. It is really close though as Pearlbrook is also really good.
Everdell is slightly more complex than Wingspan. However, the game turn is fairly simple once you get the hang of it and so starting to play is fairly simple. The complexity comes in with decisions on where to place your workers and all the different critters and constructions available.
It will take a few games for you to really begin to open up the strategy and work out what you need to do to develop a solid plan for victory. Those games will be fun and challenging as there is so much replayability and variety in this game.
It is a really fun game and the theme is nicely done. Again, the graphics are good and the quality is excellent.
So, now you have an overview of each game, let’s get down to the main task of this article. Wingspan vs Everdell, which board game is right for you?
Both are exceptionally good games and it would not be a surprise if you added both of them to your collection.
Tricky one as these are two very uniquely themed and excellent games. Wingspan with its wildlife reserve and beautiful drawn birds is exceptional. Whereas Everdell also has excellent artwork I think that Wingspan pips it on graphics.
Where I think Everdell really begins to take a lead in theme is the story of Everdell and building your own critter city. You’ll find yourself as interested in the cities your opponents are building as your own.
The quality of both games is exceptional and I can’t really decide which is better. They are both excellently built. Both have good sturdy boards and components.
Wingspan has the great bird shaped dice tower. Whilst Everdell has the 3D tree it is a love it or hate it component. Some feel the tree does get in the way of the rest of the board. This is not a problem in Wingspan.
Where Everdell slightly eaks out in front is with the resources of wood, resin, and berries opposed to Wingspans cardboard berries, wheat, and worms resources. The quality is just better.
Everdell has a dice system to play solo and in my opinion is slightly harder to play solo than Wingspan. Which is saying something because Wingspan is a really good challenge. Everdells solo play has some variability to it too and is fun to play.
However, the automa in Wingspan is one of the best Automa’s around and as such it challenges you to play better. So, it will in fact improve your multiplayer game too. Which is a great bonus.
With the Automa deck and really good instructions it is also easier to learn the Wingspan Automa. If you do struggle then my article How To Play Wingspan Solo will help you get stuck in.
Wingspan gets this one with its amazing Automa.
Both Wingspan and Everdell have some good expansions that will extend and change the way you play the base games. Wingspan adds cards to the deck each time which can dilute the deck. Which has the disadvantage that you may never see a new card in a game of 2-3 players.
Everdell wins this one as Spirecrest and Pearlbrook are so incredibly well integrated into the main base game. Bellfaire adds some nice touches into the game which you can pick and choose but the other two are better in my opinion.
One of the key differences between Everdell and Wingspan is that in multiplayer Everdell is much more interactive. Wingspan requires you to play competitively with your opponents but you are collecting your own birds and resources with little interaction with the other players.
Whereas in Everdell you are racing to get the events or perhaps putting one of your workers on a card in your opponent’s city. This is all incredibly well balanced too so you may be on a completely different strategy but still fighting over the same things.
Whilst both games are easy enough to learn. Wingspan is slightly quicker to get the hang of and this is mainly due to the repetitiveness of the gameplay. Yes, there will be different birds to collect but mainly you are picking up resources to collect birds to lay eggs.
It is an advantage in that you will find you will understand the finer points and be able to get into the strategy a little quicker.
Everdell is still easy to learn but to begin to really understand the strategy within the game takes a little longer. This is a strength in the long term because you will find yourself playing a different strategy every time you play. depending on the cards in the meadow, your opponent and how the game plays out this will change.
So both games are very replayable but Everdell has a slight advantage over Wingspan in that there is more variation game on game. Whereas Wingspan has the advantage that it is quicker to begin to understand the strategy.
Once you have got Wingspan down you will likely find that one strategy begins to show as the strongest. So you may find that after a while everyone will play the strongest strategy and then it increases the reliance on luck.
For me I think Everdell gets the win here as it has a little more longevity and variety to playing the game than Wingspan.
This is a real close one as these two are both exceptional games. It is probably the reason why you will see many people arguing online over which one is the best.
I know that Everdell looks like the clear winner from the above Verdict. Each one is incredibly close so it is not as black and white as it seems.
Wingspan is a little more accessible at first and the solo play with the Automa is fantastic whereas Everdell is going to just keep giving with the strategy and expansions.
Adding both of these games to your collection would be the best option as they both bring something that you will enjoy playing. However, if the choice is for only one then Everdell is the best choice for you.
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