Think birdwatching is a snorefest? Think again! Wingspan is a delightful, cozy, birdwatching game that increased our limited bird knowledge tenfold.
Our kids loved the gorgeous art, the birdhouse dice roller, the adorable egg tokens, and the nearly 200 bird cards (each featuring a unique real-life bird species). It’s not an exaggeration to say that Wingspan is one of the most intentional, cleverly designed, satisfying games we’ve ever played.
11yo: “I liked that it had bird facts for every bird.”
The game box says players should be 14+, and the rules definitely seemed overwhelming at first. But don’t be discouraged! Wingspan comes with a five-turn walkthrough, where up to four players can learn as they play. It was incredibly helpful. Our eleven-year-old had the game figured out by the end of the walkthrough, though our nine-year-old took a little bit longer.
After they had the rules in hand, the next challenge was focus. They needed to focus—and we needed to support them—through each turn’s multiple actions. But, even though turns can be complicated, Wingspan has an incredibly chill vibe. Like strolling through a forest.
It’s a competitive game (only one player wins), but players are never directly targeting each other. Someone might grab the bird you wanted, and that’s a bummer, but ultimately, everyone is looking to make their best collection of birds, not trying to figure out how to make other players lose. We love that for a family game! It makes it easy to cheer for the successes of everyone playing.
And if you’re playing with teens (or adults)? This game will challenge them to make active choices, plan ahead, and anticipate game changes.
Be careful though, players planning their turns in advance may make it seem like no one is paying attention. And a table of people engrossed in their own game board isn’t exactly family game night. Our solution? We kept our table engaged by encouraging the kids to share bird facts from their cards.
Wingspan is a longer game. It’s one you settle into for an afternoon or evening. The box says 40 to 70 minutes, and our first game took 140 minutes (2 hours and 20 minutes). But! Allowing for the fact that we were playing with much younger kids than recommended, and it was our first time, that makes sense. It will definitely be faster the next time we play, and we are definitely going to play it again. We have more birds to discover.
If you enjoy an innovative, interlocking dance of actions and interactions as pretty as a flock of birds in flight, Wingspan is definitely for you. It’s a cool game, and it’s a piece of art.
- Wingspan has an official playlist on Spotify you can put on as you play. There are also apps that have the bird songs of each bird in the game to fully immerse yourself!
- Going to say this again—use the walkthrough! It’s a great way to learn, and it only takes about half of your first round (of four rounds).
- Younger kids can pick their actions easily. They just need help executing the steps of those actions in the correct order.