1-5 players, Competitive, Oceania Bird Expansion
Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Artwork: Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, Natalia Rojas, Beth Sobel
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Release Year: 2020
Purpose of Expansion
The second expansion for the board game Wingspan, this one pushes the envelope a bit further when compared to the previous expansion of the series. You will need the base game to incorporate this one into and the fundamental gameplay remains the same with an interesting new mechanism added to spice things up a bit. This expansion does add more of the same as well (additional eggs, cards, goal tiles). Read on to get the juicy details!
The Additions and Changes
First, let’s go through the additions this expansion adds to your game. In the box, there are 15 yellow egg minis, 95 all new unique bird cards that can be mixed with all the other bird cards from the base game and previous expansion, 5 new bonus cards to mix in with all the others. You have 4 new double-sided goal tiles that can be mixed in, a new score pad and a new small turn reference tile that details the new steps based on the changes that I’m going to delve into next.
As far as changes goes, there are 69 Nectar tokens which are the big change with this expansion along with 5 new replacement food dice that have the nectar icon in addition to the other food icons. Finally, there are 5 redesigned player mats that incorporate the new nectar token.
As I mentioned the general gameplay remains the same with the critical exception of the newly added Nectar. The nectar food serves as a “wild” food and can be used as any other food when playing a bird. In addition, whenever you spent a nectar to play a bird, the nectar gets stored on your player mat in the land area of where you played the bird. At the end of the game these stored nectar tokens equal extra points for the player/s who collected the most. An interesting thing about the nectar though, any unused nectar tokens you have at the end of each round will be returned to the supply! So, it behooves you to snatch up those luscious nectar dice in the bird feeder before anyone else.
That simple addition to the mechanics REALLY opens up the game as a whole. Before this expansion, usually during the final round of the game players would just spend their final turns laying eggs to get those few precious points. Now, because of the “wild” resource it might be easier to possibly bring a bird out last second. To really emphasize that, a lot of the new birds in this expansion have “Game End” scoring objectives. This seriously shakes up what players might do on that critical last round and I’ve found that during our plays, laying eggs isn’t always something that players tend to do now.
If you own the previous expansion as well then you will instantly noticed the TOWERING pile of bird cards available once these are mixed in with a massive total of 346 unique bird cards between the base game and both expansions. This creates HUGE variability depending on what bird cards will get drawn. My first game I just stacked the new Oceania bird cards on top of the tower and just barely got through all of those before the game ended. There is no worry however if you don’t own the European Expansion as this expansion can easily be added and played to the base game with no issue.
As a side note, there is a pigeon now! I remember mentioning in my original review for Wingspan the lack of a pigeon. This is probably a non-issue with, well, pretty much EVERYONE but I was craving a pigeon to swoop down and take control of this game. The pigeon is a super fancy pigeon too.
I have written a review for the previous expansion which you can find here if you want to get the full details. Just to touch on them both a bit here, I would say the European Expansion is an expansion that works to increase the amount of tokens you have to utilize. Yes, it adds new unique bird cards and there is a new end of round bird card ability but overall there wasn’t really anything game changing about it. Now, Oceania Expansion not only adds more tokens similar to the European Expansion BUT it also adds a whole new fun and interesting mechanic in the form of the Nectar. Plus, I found the “End of Game” bird card abilities much more exciting than the “end of round” bird card abilities. You just never know who could end up coming out of nowhere to win the game because of these.
The Bottom Line
Now, I’m just gonna say it flat out, I REALLY enjoy what this expansion brings to the table for Wingspan. The simple addition of the nectar VASTLY opens this game up to new strategies. Combine that with the End of Game bird abilities on the new cards and you can get a mean combo going here. The implementation of the way the nectar works is multi-layered and it all works extremely well. Not only do they act as a wild food token and you gain end game points for their use BUT can lose nectar if not used by end of round. It’s all so simple and yet, so strategic. My ONLY concern doesn’t have to do with anything about this expansion per say but with how large the bird card tower is becoming. You can mix in the new bird cards with all the others if you choose or just use the new expansion cards, the former will seriously dilute the cards however. You won’t see as many of those fun end of game bird abilities but instead get a mix of everything. That of course, boils down to player preference. In any case, I will ALWAYS play with this expansion added and would recommend this expansion as a MUST-BUY if you love Wingspan.
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