The Wingspan app published by Monster Couch Games has been a wonderful app since it came out in October 2020.
Online play oddities aside, the game has very few bugs that I’m aware of and it’s a brilliant digital adaptation of the boardgame designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Stonemaier Games.
The app even has beautiful renditions of the amazing artwork!
You can see my review of the app here, where I explain the gameplay, so I’m not going to get into that here.
Instead, I want to talk about what Monster Couch released just last Thursday, May 5.
Yes, the Wingspan: European Expansion is now out in digital, and it is just as amazing as the app itself.
What does this add to an already wonderful game?
A bunch of birds.
Yes, there are a bunch of new birds in this expansion, with brand new powers that include blue (aqua, maybe? I don’t know) “end of round” powers as well as some other interesting ones.
Let’s take a look.
(You can consider this a review of the expansion as well as the app, though here I’m not going to be talking about things like component quality of the actual boardgame expansion. The rest of it is the same no matter where you are playing it)
The Round End powers are actually some of the more interesting ones. They’re not super-powerful unless you set them up right, but they can be quite lucrative when you are able to.
Like the Black Redstart above, you can get a lot of eggs at the end of the round if you have a lot of birds and all of your eggs are concentrated on two of your habitats.
The Common Swift can get you up to 5 points per round, but that’s only if you’ve been hoarding worm food for just that reason.
Not all of the birds have Round End powers, of course. Some of the other birds also require hoarding food to make them pay off just when you activate them.
You don’t want too many of them in your habitats or they aren’t going to score much (though it helps that they are worth a few points of their own).
Some birds aren’t necessarily worth points but they will help build your engine by making the actions you take more fruitful.
Look at this bird that counts as two birds played, which will just enhance your (in this case) food-taking action. It’s worth no points by itself, but if it helps you get more birds out in the other habitats, that can only be a good thing.
Some of the new birds even have new “once between turns” powers that can help your food gaining (and maybe power up some of those “Round End” powers!).
In addition to the new birds (81 in total), there are also some new end of round goals as well as goal cards
One of the interesting round goals is “Total Food Cost of the birds in your habitat,” which encourages you to get either a lot of birds out or at least birds that require a lot of food.
Here’s a new goal card that also tries to guide you to playing high-cost/high reward birds to your habitats.
Sure, it’s just a bunch of new stuff to add to the already good stuff.
But when the game is great, sometimes that’s all you need.
Of course, I do have to mention a couple of things, one of them from my original review (which has been updated to reflect this, but I wanted to mention it here too).
Asynchronous online play in the app has greatly improved since Monster Couch added the 72 hour timer. It would still be nice if games where you invite people didn’t just disappear if you time out (like Digidiced games, where it just says “Out of Time!” but if you don’t actively kick the player, they can still participate).
Still, 3 days should be enough for most people.
Unfortunately, even with the update, playing on multiple devices is not allowed with the same username.
Sure, online play is cross-platform. I can be playing on iOS while one friend is on Android and one is on Steam.
But I can’t play a game I started on iOS on my Steam account. You can’t use the same username for both because you technically don’t have an online account. It’s just a username.
However, one cool thing I noticed (and I don’t know when they added it so it may have been there a while) is a little green checkmark when one of your predator activities works.
I don’t remember that before, but it’s a nice touch.
All of that is unique to the app, of course, and not necessarily unique to the European Expansion, so I’ll get back to that now.
There aren’t a lot of new end of round goals, but the ones they added are pretty cool.
In addition to the one mentioned above, here are two more: Cards in hand and Columns filled on your board.
I like how they just add some new strategies and tactics to the game.
I’m also a fan of how everything that comes from the expansion has that little purple “EE” in the corner.
It’s a nice touch. Not intrusive but just a little handy.
There are a few “take that” birds in the game now, though they’re not too annoying and you are never totally penalized.
Most of the time it’s something like “take a food from an opponent. They get to take one food from the birdfeeder.”
Sure, you may take the fish they wanted and there are no more fish in the birdfeeder.
But that doesn’t happen too often.
I don’t think you can take any cards out of the app, but if you’re playing on the table, you can just take those cards out if even that little bit of player interaction turns you off.
I also love the birds like the Eurasian Hobby bird above, that have interesting takes on how you play them.
This one lets you play it on top of another bird in your habitat instead of paying the cost of the bird. The bird you played it on becomes a tucked card. Make sure that you don’t do that to a bird that has cached food or eggs on it, though!
I could go on and on (ok, maybe not that long since there are only 81 new birds), but I think this is a good place to stop.
If you enjoy Wingspan as much as I do, then getting the European Expansion is a no-brainer. It gives you more of the stuff you love and even improves on some of it. Variety is the spice of life!
If you don’t like the game, this won’t change your mind.
Kudos to Elizabeth Hargrave and Stonemaier Games for this great expansion, and to Monster Couch for bringing it to digital life!
Now, Monster Couch, please just fix the one or two online gameplay issues I have and our relationship will be perfect!