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Wingspan Takes Flight

The board game of the year — all about birds!
© Kim Euker View Large

The goal is to attract birds to your aviary by collecting things they like to eat. Your birds are worth points, and they score you more points when they lay eggs, gather food, or do other bird-y things. As you study your birds’ powers and strategize your next move, you’re getting a stealth ecology lesson.

Get the full version of this story on our podcast, BirdNote Presents.

For more great stories, check out the podcast Today, Explained from the Vox Media Podcast Network — a daily news show that helps you actually understand the news. Subscribe to it for free in your favorite podcast app.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Wingspan Takes Flight

Written by Mark Bramhill

MARK BRAMHILL: This is BirdNote.

If you’re not deep in the world of board games, you might be surprised to learn that there’s fierce competition for a prestigious “board game of the year” award, and this year’s winner is Wingspan, a game about birds.

Everything in Wingspan revolves around a deck of 170 beautifully illustrated bird cards. The goal is to attract birds to your aviary by collecting things they like to eat. Your birds are worth points — and they get you more points when they lay eggs, gather food, or do other bird things.

Elizabeth Hargrave, the designer of Wingspan, wanted it to be fun and scientifically accurate. Each card is packed with information about a given bird, including aspects of its behavior.

EH:  Brown-headed Cowbirds are nest parasites. They lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, and I really wanted to somehow make that come true in the game.

MB: So, if you have a Brown-headed Cowbird, whenever another player’s bird lays eggs, your Brown-headed Cowbird also gets to lay an egg. The Blue Jay gets you points by stashing away food for the winter. Endangered species, like the California Condor, let you draw special bonus cards. As you study your birds’ powers and strategize your next move, you’re getting a stealth ecology lesson.

You can hear our full story about Wingspan on our podcast BirdNote Presents or on our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Mark Bramhill.

For more great stories, check out the podcast Today, Explained from the Vox Media Podcast Network — a daily news show that helps you actually understand the news. Subscribe to it for free in your favorite podcast app.



###
Producer: John Kessler
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Mark Bramhill
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 BirdNote   December 2019         Narrator: Mark Bramhill

ID#  wingspan-01-2019-12-05       wingspan-01

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