Since its release in 2019, Wingspan has received a lot of attention. The game is gorgeous, has educational value and is an engine-builder that newer gamers can jump into. Wingspan is a game that pairs well with a cup of coffee and weekend mornings.
The Oceania expansion came at the end of 2020 and features birds from Australia and New Zealand. These birds are beautifully illustrated Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez. But this expansion is much more than a stack of bird cards that bring variety to the base game.
Note: This expansion requires the Wingspan base game to play.
A Full Game Upgrade
Inside Wingspan Oceania, players will find 5 new player boards, the new Nectar resource, a set of new dice, new end round goals and goal cards along with almost 100 new birds. Honestly it feels less like an expansion and more like Wingspan 2.0 in many ways.
First, these new player boards are darker and have a couple new items on them. Players are able to refresh the dice in the bird house and current line up of bird cards by spending resources at specific points on their board. I definitely like having access to these actions.
You’ll notice the new resource, Nectar, represented on the boards in each of the biomes. Nectar is a new “wild” resource that shows up on the new dice that come with Wingspan Oceania. When a player spends Nectar for any reason, the token is added to the pool on the left side of the player board. At the end of the game, the top 2 players who spent Nectar in those biomes score additional points.
The new Nectar resource offers flexibility that we’ve really enjoyed. In the original Wingspan, it can be tough when a specific resource doesn’t show up on the dice. Converting two resources into another resource was something that players previously had to rely on. The Nectar resource seems to shift this need of waiting on resources to show up. We found it easier to acquire birds even when the resources we needed didn’t appear on the dice.
Wingspan Oceania introduces 95 new bird cards that shake up some of the mechanics in a good way. The new yellow banners on the birds are actually end game powers that work really well. We found these to be more complicated in most cases than the bird powers found in the original game. This is a nice touch for players have played the base game dozens of times.
Some of these new birds also give other players resources when certain criteria are met. This is a nice little touch that could change what a player chooses on their turn.
A Must Own Expansion?
Wingspan Oceania is such an interesting expansion. After digging into the rulebook and watching the “How to Play” video, I realized this is more than adding some new birds to the mix. Oceania refreshes Wingspan in a really great way. It changes enough of the structure of the game that seasoned players will feel like the game has evolved.
The Nectar resource is one of the biggest additions introduced in this expansion. Since players will be awarded end game points for spending Nectar in the different biomes, players have to watch their opponents. You have to make judgment calls on whether those end game points are worth chasing. When I see Erin spending Nectar on the water biome, I’ve got to offset those points she’s earning or chase her by spending Nectar myself. All unused Nectar is discarded at the end of the round which makes this resource powerful and fleeting at the same time.
Wingspan Oceania is an expansion that immediately went into our core Wingspan box. We replaced the player boards, swapped out the dice, added the new yellow eggs and shuffled all the new cards into the game. This expansion refreshes an already excellent game and adds just enough difficulty to satisfy gamers. I would probably strip out the expansion when introducing players who are new to the hobby, solely as an introductory game. For the average game night or weekend game session, Wingspan Oceania is a must own for us and a welcome addition to our game shelf.
Beautiful new illustrations and bird powers
Nectar resources offers flexibility and new scoring opportunities
Expansion refreshes the game and add complexity
Readability on new players boards could be improved