Since there is so much time spent indoors with family during this time of crisis, my son and I have picked up our once-favorite TCG: Pokémon! Right now, we have a pretty large glut of old cards, but only a few of the newer sets (Sword & Shield). For one of my wellness wins, I decided to pick up an “Elite Trainer Box” for Sword & Shield to try and outfox my son’s impressive decks.
Right now, I’ve been looking on TCGPlayer for good cards to fit a theme. I’d like to try some control with a sleep-styled deck, but since the stadium card that forces your opponent to flip twice for wakeup checks is out of standard, I’m rethinking that. I don’t like building tourney decks, because they end up being really technical or just not fun to play against.
Often, “crunchy” games are complicated because they are sort of like D&D. Lots of rules and functions and numbers to check and compare. Sometimes there are cards that help, or illustrate; Sometimes there are miniatures and place mats to organize and strategize over.
Wingspan is “crunchy”, but much more elegant. This game is all about building machines. With birds. Um… yeah.
So, each of the gorgeously hand-illustrated cards is like a cog in a well oiled machine (or, sometimes not so well oiled). In the beginning you may not even have birds to put in each of the sanctuary types, but as the game goes on, you hit a tipping point and suddenly birds are powering this egg-laying, card drawing, food producing machine that can cause larger games to run out of resources available.
Not only is it a fun, intricate game, it’s also a beautiful and informative game. Each card has the bird’s common name, scientific name, wingspan (ha!), region that it inhabits, average number of eggs it lays, nest type, and a quick factoid. All of this is included on the card that has a hand-painted picture of the bird, region it’s allowed to be played in, food it requires to play and (as in most cases) a power that it provides. This is all in addition to the cutesy little bird feeder that doubles as a dice tower, for rolling random food dice.
The game is also sort of competitive. You’re vying for most points, so you’re looking at birds, finding good fits, and fitting this all in with end of round goals, secret bonus goals and more. While points is the main method of competition, you can also push other players out (or just hinder them, really) by consuming resources they need or picking/tucking better birds to deprive them of high-scoring options.
If that wasn’t enough, the company also provides what appears to be a more competitive option for scoring, and a solitaire mode — you know, in case you’re quarantined alone.
Everything about this game oozes quality, attention to detail and downright adorableness.
If you haven’t played a good, deep board game in a while. Pick this one up.
I love board games. Not just because they’re fun. I like the art, I like playing with people and having a good time. I really get invested in some and feel happier when done. Some, like my family’s new obsession: Skull, are simpler games where the fun is mostly in your head. Some, like Wingspan, Ticket to Ride and Gloomhaven are extremely cerebral and have lots of fiddly little tools to play with, in addition to the person-to-person game. Games make me happy.
I used to play D&D with friends back in Maine. While those times are long gone, I haven’t forgotten them and even having longstanding memories of having fun. Were it not for games, I would have had a lot less friends in that part of my life.