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How To Play Wingspan (4 Minute Guide)

How To Play Wingspan (4 Minute Guide)


Wingspan is a competitive, card-based strategy game in which the players are bird-lovers building an ecological empire. Compete to collect birds to add to your wildlife preserves and elements that contribute to the well-being of your birds – such as food and egg-laying.

If you don’t own Wingspan already, check it out here on Amazon.


Throughout the game, players collect birds, bonus cards, end-of-round goals, eggs, cached food, and tucked birds, all of which are worth points. The player with the most points after 4 rounds wins the game.


Before starting gameplay, set up the game components as follows:

  • Shuffle the bird cards and place three bird cards in the bird tray, face-up.
  • Add food and egg token to the supply.
  • Run the food dice through the birdfeeder dice tower.
  • Set up the goal board with the side you want to use.
  • Set up 4 goals tiles, selected at random, on the goal board. These are the goals for each of the four rounds.
  • Shuffle the bonus cards and lay them face down.

At the beginning of the game, each player receives these elements:

  • 8 action cubes (one color)
  • 2 bonus cards
  • 5 bird cards
  • 1 food token of each type

Players can only keep a bird if they discard a food token for it. After each player chooses the birds they want to keep (and discards that number of food tokens), they discard the leftover bird cards. Also, players can keep only 1 bonus card and must discard the other.

There is no default first player – the players must come to their own method of selecting who goes first. This person receives the first-player token and play continues counterclockwise.

Players first select a habitat from their mat and add an action cube to place in the action slot. (When placing items on the board, they always go in the left-most slot.) This move allows them to perform any 1 of these 4 actions:

  • Play a bird: choose a bird to play, discard the listed egg and food cards needed to play it, then place it in its matching habitat. The food cards are indicated (or it may have a no-cost symbol), but a wildcard symbol means you can use any food type of your choice. Some birds have a power that activates when played, so don’t forget to do that, too.
  • Gain food: collect food tokens by taking the same number of dice as shown in the left-most open forest slot from the birdfeeder and obtaining the food tokens listed on those dice. The card -> dice symbol on a forest slot indicates you can discard any bird card to gain an additional die (and its food tokens) from the tower. You can also activate brown forest bird powers with this action (right to left, as many as you want.)
  • Lay eggs: Add the number of eggs shown on the leftmost exposed grass slot to your birds cards. Extra eggs that don’t fit on the cards are not gained. The wildcard -> egg symbol means the player can add another egg for the cost of a food token. Brown grassland bird powers can be activated at this time (right to left).
  • Draw cards: Collect the number of bird cards as indicated on the leftmost open wetland slot from either the cards facing up or the top of the deck. The egg -> card symbol means you can sacrifice an egg to gain another bird card. Replace the face-up cards at the end of your turn. You can activate brown wetland bird powers at this time (right to left).

Whenever the dice tower is empty, or all dice in the tray show the same value, all five dice must be run through the tower again.

At the end of the round, players remove all action cubes from their mats and place one action cube to indicate their score for the end-of-round goal. Discard and replace the face-up bird cards. The first-player token gets passed to the next player clockwise.



At the end of each round, players tally up their end-of-round goal points. These goals include:

  • Number of birds in a specific habitat
  • Number of birds with a specific nest type
  • Number of eggs your birds laid in a specific habitat
  • Number of eggs laid by birds of a specific nest type
  • Number of sets of eggs (a set equals one egg in each of wetland, grassland, and forest)
  • Total number of birds played

How to End the Game

Final scores are calculated after the end of the fourth round. Players tally up each of the following:

  • Points for each bird card
  • Points for each completed bonus card
  • Points for end-of-round goals
  • Points for eggs on bird cards, food tokens on bird cards, and cards underneath bird cards

In the case of a tie, the player with the most food token wins. If this does not settle a tie, then both tied players win.

Quick Info

Play Time: 40-70 minutes

Player age (manufacturer): 10+

Player age (community-suggested): 10+

Community rating: 8.3 (

Popularity: 249th

Difficulty: Moderate

Year published: March 8, 2019 release date (Digital version available on Tabletopia)

Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Artists: Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, Natalia Rojas, Beth Sobel

Publisher site:

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Terraforming Mars, Gizmos, Trellis

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Steampunk Rally, Splendor, Race for the Galaxy