Wyrmspan Box (Courtesy of
Stonemaier Games)

Wingspan released in 2019 to immediate acclaim, regarded as an instant classic, one of the greatest games of all time and something simple enough that you could play it with anyone, but deep in strategy enough that it stays interesting. Fast forward to the beginning of this year, Stonemaier Games drops a surprise announcement revealing a Wingspan spinoff titled Wyrmspan will be releasing soon, shifting the focus from birds you would find in your backyard to mystical dragons. Now that it has been out for a bit,  I’m gonna tell you how it differs from Wingspan, and if it is worth picking up.

In Wyrmspan, you and up to four other players assume the role of amateur dracologists, excavating and exploring caves in the hopes of enticing those rare dragons you need. If you’ve played Wingspan, a lot of the DNA is the same, with a few very important changes that drastically shake up the strategy and flow of the game.

Action Selection

In base Wingspan, you select one of three rows to take the corresponding action, getting the resources shown on the left-most open space, moving your cube backwards and activating any birds that are along your path back to the beginning. Wyrmspan completely changes this by opting to streamline the action selection process. Instead, you simply pay a coin (another new aspect to the game) and activate whichever action you want, while some actions (exploration) get more expensive as you repeat it over a round. “So then how do you activate the dragons?” you may ask, and that is what the new aforementioned action is for.

Exploration

Explorer and Exploration Bonuses (Courtesy of @jameystegmaier on BGG)

When you explore, you take your new little explorer and move them through the caves, activating any space you walk on to, be it a dragon, or a space in between dragons, stopping when you reach the space before an empty cave, be it excavated or not. This is how you activate your dragons, and a really useful way to gain the resources you will need to entice more dragons into your caves.

Caves

Before you can place a dragon in a cave, the cave needs to be excavated, which uses the other major addition to the game, these small cave cards you put on your board. When placing them, you get the bonus associated, which can be incredibly powerful, a la getting another coin, effectively giving you one extra turn this round.

Dragon Guild

The Dragon Guild is a track that everyone will move along, gaining bonuses by landing on certain spaces and potentially getting to place some cubes out onto the guild card itself, which could result in big points or rewards for the first player to do so.

No More Bird Feeder

Wingspan Bird Feeder (Courtesy of @jameystegmaier on BGG)

Possibly the most controversial thing they removed from Wingspan is the Bird Feeder, an incredibly charming cardboard construction that served as a dice tower for the food dice. There is no version of the Bird Feeder in Wyrmspan though, as there are no dice anymore. You no longer gain food from taking dice, instead you gain food by exploring, moving along on the Dragon Guild or playing caves out.


End Game Player Board State (Courtesy of @jameystegmaier on BGG)

These changes all work together fantastically to create a very engaging, thinky game that takes its previous version and tweaks it just enough to raise it to a new level, while still being similar enough to the original that it won’t be overwhelming to anyone who has played Wingspan. Now, if these changes seem like they will fix some problems you have with Wingspan, I highly suggest picking up a copy. If you have Wingspan and all of the expansions, do you need it? I’d say yes, purely because if you are that invested in Wingspan this will be a fantastic addition, one that I’d wager will end up getting played more than Wingspan in the long run. If you don’t like the new fantasy theme and art, this isn’t for you. Really, I think everyone should try it at least once, as it fixes a lot of very common problems with Wingspan. Why not stop in and think about picking up a copy? 

March 19, 2024