Tabletop Tuesday — Pretty (Or, “Sorry, I was looking at the artwork, what was that?”)

The cover of Wingspan

The last time my husband and I sat down to play Wingspan—I lost, as usual, and I’m pretty sure I have zero understanding of the real strategy of winning the game, which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the round goals or hidden personal goals so much as just plonking down birds worth a lot of end-game points—I did it again.

“Honey?” husband said.

“Oh, sorry,” I said. “I was just reading about the bird. Is it my turn?”

Wingspan is a neat game, has a built-in time limit of a certain number of actions for each player (which actually speeds up as you lose an action at the end of every division of the four rounds), and there’s a mix of luck (dice-rolling and card-draws) and strategy (there are goals listed and you might want to focus on a particular nest type, or perhaps bird size, or a certain branch of the habitats). Or at least, I assume so. I’ve never actually won a game of Wingspan, and I feel like I make good choices, but when it comes time to tally the points, I’m always way, way behind.

But I keep playing.

It’s. So. Pretty.

Here’s the thing. Wingspan has gorgeous illustrations, and little factoids about the birds, and I live in a country where there’s snow on the ground and very little colour available for the human eye to look at for, like, five or six months of the damn year. These adorable birds with their often heckin’ hilarious names? They make me happy.

So, when we play, I’m just as likely to sit there staring at the cards in my hand admiring them and learning about grossbeaks as I am to actually realize it’s my turn. And while it is a competitive game, there’s very little you can do against another player, so it feels more like you’re just trying to make your own best decisions, which is the kind of game I like if we have to play competitively at all.

I do think I tend to forget it’s competitive when I play bird cards that, say, grant everyone a bonus food item or what-have-you when they activate, but it was a cute birb and how can I not?

Like I said, I always lose.


We’ve also picked up—but have yet to play—all of the expansions. There are expansions that add more birds to the piles, which we’ve done, but there are also expansions that add new food types, replacing the food dice with different dice, and although we’ve cracked that open multiple times, we’ve never got around to actually figuring it out and playing it yet. The base game continues to be enjoyable, and learning new rules or playing the game we already know is one of our Achilles’ heels in this house.

We almost need to plan to sit down and learn the new version long before we intend to play, is what I’m saying, or we’ll never get around to it.

Which is my longwinded way of saying I can’t tell you anything about the Oceania Expansion yet. Maybe next time we play.

The wilderness is pretty, too! As is… uh, 1920s Europa?

I’ve mentioned Parks here a few times as well, and I should point out that’s another beautiful game we play quite often where I get, uh, distracted looking at the cards. And come to think of it, I think that game has an expansion now, too, though I haven’t bought it. Maybe that can go under the Christmas Tree this year, to be opened, oohed at, and then… likely not played until we’ve got a dedicated effort to learn the rules and sit down and…

Yeah, maybe not.

Ditto Scythe. It’s freaking beautiful (if sometimes also a bit dark-ish), but in the case of Scythe… we barely play it. It’s one of those games that says it’s two players, but honestly is a three-player-or-more game if you want it to actually be fun.

What about you? What artwork in games do you love? (And do you remember to play them, or do you just sort of enjoy looking at them?)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s