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Wingspan Preview: Will Stonemaier’s new engine-building game be a hit?

Wingspan Board Game Preview

Wingspan is the latest new release announcement from Stonemaier Games, available for pre-order in January 2019. Unlike most Stonemaier titles, Wingspan’s designer is not Jamey Stegmaier. Instead, the game is the brainchild of a relative newcomer on the scene, Elizabeth Hargrave.

Stonemaier releases are always big news, so what do we know about Elizabeth Hargrave’s debut design?

Wingspan's Mechanics

We don’t know a lot about how the game actually plays, but we do have a brief description from the Stonemaier website:

“Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game.”

We also know that it accommodates one to five players, plays in 40-70 minutes and should appeal to fans of Terraforming Mars and Gizmos.

Let’s unpack all that a little further. Wingspan is a competitive game and Jamey Stegmaier has told us that the winner will be the player with the most points after four rounds. We also know that each player will have eight action cubes and that the number of actions you can take will decrease each round as your engine gets more powerful.

The core of the game appears to be building up your aviary by adding bird cards to your player board. We know that there are always three new bird cards available, giving players some choice in what they add. Presumably, the birds you have will give you different rewards and combo in interesting ways. If it works well as an engine-building game, player's turns should get more exciting and complex as the game progresses.

Rolling food dice and collecting food tokens also looks to be a big part of Wingspan, perhaps helping to attract new birds or to keep the birds you already have. A large, cardboard dice tower in the shape of a bird feeder looks like it adds a great thematic, tactile element to this mechanic.

Finally for this section, we also know that there are particular goals to aim for each round. These goals are visible throughout the game for all players and presumably have a big impact on how many points you can earn.

While it’s hard to know exactly how the game will play, the blend of mechanics that we’ve seen so far looks fun, interesting and thinky.

Art and Components

While we may not know much about the mechanics of Wingspan as yet, we can see that the art and components are nothing short of stunning. Relative newcomers to the world of board gaming art, Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, look to have contributed some gorgeous art alongside the celebrated artist of many games, Beth Sobel.

There are 170 unique bird cards, and on each is a beautifully illustrated bird. The box and player board also boast some incredible artwork, which was an instant attraction for me when looking at this game for the first time.

Alongside the artwork, we have the aforementioned cardboard dice tower shaped like a bird feeder, tying in perfectly with the theme of feeding the birds in the aviary. And let’s not forget the 75 miniature egg tokens. I doubt these will be strictly necessary for the gameplay, but I’m sure that they will add another fun, tactile element to the game to shake up the dice rolling and card playing.

Wingspan Preview - Food and Dice Tower (Credit: Stonemaier Games)

When can you hear more about Wingspan?

How exactly will the game play? How will the solo mode work? Do the mechanics match the gorgeous production? We shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out.

We already know that there’s a lot more info to come soon. Jamey Stegmaier has promised that we’ll start seeing reviews and rules run throughs once pre-orders open in early January. And you can be sure that reviews, how to plays and more will be on their way from Zatu just as soon as we can get our hands on this exciting new title.