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10 Most Powerful Cards In Wingspan

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Wingspan from Stonemaier Games, designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, is one of the last five years’ most popular tabletop and board games. Its ability to immediately endear fans and its complex yet relaxing gameplay have made it a powerhouse in the gaming industry, spawning multiple expansion packs and a digital version for virtual play.


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As a result of Wingspan‘s widespread success, competitive players have tested and developed the best strategies for using the game’s iconic bird cards. Each card has a unique ability that the player can combine with other birds to create a game-winning system to allocate resources and accrue points.

10/10 The Mute Swan Helps Tuck More Cards

The Mute Swan card from Wingspan

When activated, the Mute Swan allows the player to tuck a card behind one to three birds in their wetland spaces. One of the best qualities of this power is that it enables the player to tuck cards behind birds that don’t typically allow for that action.

One of the Mute Swan’s food indicators is a Wild symbol, meaning that the requirement can be filled by any of the five types of food tokens. This flexibility assists with resource management, which is an integral element of Wingspan‘s engine-building mechanics.

9/10 The Atlantic Puffin Gives More Bonus Cards

The Atlantic Puffin card from Wingspan

While the Atlantic Puffin does come at the cost of three fish tokens, its ability can significantly increase a player’s score if employed correctly. The Atlantic Puffin allows players to draw two new bonus cards and select which one to keep.

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Since bonus card goals grant players more points based on which birds they have, the Atlantic Puffin can help them choose bonus cards that suit their existing birds, including bonus cards that pair with the Puffin itself. The Atlantic Puffin is compatible with nine different bonus cards.

8/10 The Northern Mockingbird Helps Access Other Birds’ Abilities

The Northern Mockingbird card from Wingspan

One of the most frustrating moments in any board game is when the player has access to the exact action that would help them but can’t take it. The Northern Mockingbird can help prevent this exact scenario, as its power is to repeat the brown power of any bird in the same habitat as them.

This ability is also enhanced by the Northern Mockingbird’s flexibility, as it can reside in the wetland, grassland, or forest sections. The Northern Mockingbird’s ability can activate a bird’s power regardless of whether that bird is to its left or its right.

7/10 The Ruff Is Low-Cost, High Reward

The Ruff card from Wingspan

Though other cards can accomplish the same task as the Ruff, many Wingspan players favor the poofy avian for its flexibility and low cost. The Ruff’s ability allows the player to tuck up to three cards behind it and counts towards the Bird Counter bonus card despite its written requirements.

The Ruff can make its habitat in either the wetland or grassland regions. Additionally, it has an extremely adaptable food token requirement, making its strategy accessible to players struggling to build up enough resources to invoke more expensive cards.

6/10 The Eastern Imperial Eagle Facilitates Resource Exchange

The Eastern Imperial Eagle card from Wingspan

Feeding the birds they wish to use is one of the complications that Wingspan players face. The Eastern Imperial Eagle card allows for a compromise in its resource requirements. The player can substitute a facedown bird card tucked behind the Eagle for any or all of the rodent food tokens it requires.

This action counts as tucking a card and a predator’s success, which can trigger some birds’ pink powers if applicable. The other benefit to the Eastern Imperial Eagle is its impressive seven-point value, which could make a significant impact on the player’s score.

5/10 Bonelli’s Eagle Builds On Other Eagle Abilities

The Bonelli's Eagle card from Wingspan

Though Bonelli’s Eagle shares the same basic ability as the Eastern Imperial Eagle, it has other features that set it apart. Bonelli’s Eagle can reside in any habitat on the mat, whereas the Eastern Imperial Eagle can only occupy the grasslands.

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Bonelli’s Eagle also has a higher point value than the Eastern Imperial Eagle, at eight points rather than seven. However, Bonelli’s Eagle can only hold one egg, while the Eastern Imperial Eagle can hold two, somewhat evening out the differences in their power and value.

4/10 The Killdeer Sets Up An Excellent Strategy

The Killdeer card from Wingspan

While the Killdeer doesn’t have a high point value, its ability is perfectly useful in setting up a popular engine-building strategy. The Killdeer has a brown power that lets the player discard one egg to draw two bird cards.

While this does limit the player in that they cannot use its ability unless they have the requisite egg to spend, the Killdeer greatly enhances the wetland’s card-drawing action. The Killdeer also has a low food cost, requiring either one invertebrate or one seed, and it can live in either the grassland or the wetland section.

The Franklin's Gull card from Wingspan

Franklin’s Gull has the same brown ability as the Killdeer, making it equally useful in setting up a strategy to gain more and more birds. However, Franklin’s Gull is worth three points compared to the Killdeer’s one and has a wild icon for its nest requirement, meaning it can occupy any of the four types of nests.

Franklin’s Gull can only hold two eggs, though, while the Killdeer allows for three. Between these differences, the two cards work out to serve roughly the same purpose, making them equally popular among competitive Wingspan players.

2/10 The Chihuahuan Raven Is One Of The Most Powerful Cards

The Chihuahuan Raven card from Wingspan

Seasoned Wingspan fans often refer to the Raven cards as the most powerful cards in the game, to the point that some players believe they cause an imbalance in the game and remove them from the deck. Both Ravens enable players to discard one egg for two wild food tokens, which can be used to represent any food type.

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The Chihuahuan Raven is limited in some ways when compared to its colleague, the Common Raven. The Chihuahuan Raven only has the grassland marked as its habitat and is only worth four points. However, the Chihuahuan Raven is more useful to players seeking to lay eggs, as it has a higher egg limit.

1/10 The Common Raven Has A Reputation

The Common Raven card from Wingspan

The most hotly debated card among frequent and competitive Wingspan players is the Common Raven. Some gamers believe the Common Raven is too overpowered compared to other birds in the deck and argue that it should be removed.

Others consider the Common Raven among the best cards in the game and have developed detailed strategies based on its ability and possible synergies with other cards. The Common Raven’s fairly high point value, at five points, and habitat flexibility make it an ideal choice to set up a winning approach.

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