WBG Score: 8.5
Player Count: 1-2 (1-7 with base game)
Published by: Stonemaier Games
Designed by: Elizabeth Hargrave
I am a huge Stonemaier fan, and this game was provided for free for purposes of review. But this has in no way affected my opinion or score, but I want to declare that here for transparency.
Wingspan first came out in 2019. You can read my review here. There have been two expansions for this hugely popular game so far. First, the European expansion which offered new cards, and then the Oceania expansion, which added yet more cards, a new player board, and a new food type. Now, we have the third expansion, Asia. It brings more cards, a 6-7 player flock expansion, and a whole new stand-alone two player duet mode. Let's get it to the table and see how it plays.
The main feature of this expansion is the two player Flock mode. This allows for two people to play a full game of Wingspan using components exclusively from this box. The main game is not required. It does not quite have all the rat-a-ma-taz of the full game. The component wow factor from the bird feeder dice tower is certainly gone. But it works incredibly well, is very simple to set-up, and will allow for quicker two players games in future.
To play in this mode, lay out the boards for the dice, flock tokens, and cards in the centre of the table, placing three cards face up on the board the cards, leaving the rest in a shuffled face down pile. Place four random goal tiles onto the duet board. Then give each player a game mat, eight cubes of their chosen colour, two bonus cards to choose one from, and the 15 duet tokens; which are placed on each bird space on their board. Then deal each player five bird cards and one each of the five food tokens. A total of ten items. Players need to decide which of these they want to keep. Just like the main gave, players can keep five of these ten items in any combination. Generally looking to keep the food needed to place their first bird card. Perhaps their second too.
Place the rest of the food tokens into a general supply, alongside the other goal cards, and randomly decide which player will go first, giving them the first player token. You are now ready to play.
How to Play
The game plays exactly like the main game so I won't go into the full rules here. The only difference is the duet board.
Each time you place a bird, you will carry out all the usual actions. The only change will be that as you place the card on your board, you will also remove the duet token that there. This will then be placed onto the duet board. At the end of the game you will score one point for your largest grouping of touching duet tokens on the duet board. There are also some spaces that give immediate bonuses such as extra food, cards, and eggs. When you place the duet token, you must place the token into the matching area that the bird was placed into on your board. Also matching either the size of the bird, type of nest, food used to place it, or the direction of its beak on the card.
The quick-start guide provided (picture below) is an excellent way to learn the game if you have not played before. Or it can act as a quick refresher if you have not played for a while. Simply give the guides out to each player, run through the set up changes, which affects the cards and food tokens you get, and then run through the steps. It is a truly fantastic way to play Wingspan Asia for the first time, and just like the quick start guide in the base game, gives you everything you need to learn the full game in under one round. Well done to all involved. All games should have this.
The other main change in the game is the Flock mode, which can be used to to turn Wingspan and Wingspan Asia into a six or seven player game.
In order to speed up the process, in this player count, you will need to have two simultaneous players at any time. This is done by setting the table up as such that you will split the players into two groups of either two threes, or one three and one four depending on player count. Using components from both games, each group will have its own dice and cards to draw from. No "pass me the dice here." Another reason this expansion comes with its own complete set of resources to play this game. Clever huh!?
The below turn dial is used. Both pieces are doubled sided to show either six or seven players. As you turn the dial, it will show which two players should be active at each time. Another nice little touch to help remind players when they are active, and speed the process along. Crucial in a six or seven player game. There are not many games of this ilk, size, complexity, and length I would contemplate playing with this many people. Not that Wingspan is that complex, it's just anything above three or four players and I generally move away from anything above light weight. It just gets too long and boring. Here, you can see how the designers have done everything they can to keep the game flowing.
It is Fun?
A lot of what makes Wingspan so popular, is the gorgeous card art. And a lot of people will want to get this expansion simply to get their hands on the Crested Lark and friends. Just look at them!
We also have round end powers now which I love, and are clearly identified by the turquoise blue colour The new powers seem well balanced with the existing cards and offer a nice variety, with lots of new ways to get more food.
I would strongly recommend this game to anyone. No matter if you have Wingspan already or not. It is a brilliant way to get this game to the table in a two-player with or without the base game. If you don't own Wingspan, now is your chance to get it for a great cost. If you do own Wingspan, it's your choice if you think you will play the game in a two or six plus. The main benefit of this expansion. If you will exclusively only ever play Wingspan in a 3-4 or solo then perhaps this is not for you. But I would say that is quite a niche audience. As such, I would rate this as by far the best expansion for Wingspan so far, and perhaps even more essential a purchase than the base game. Seeing as it's cheaper more accessible and so good in a two player. I keep saying expansion, which this is. But it also a brilliant stand alone two-player version of Wingspan it's own right.