If you have read my review of Wingspan (which you can find here), you know I'm not what you would call a huge fan of the game. However, my wife Jessica ranks it as one of her top 5 games. As a result, I have played a lot of Wingspan. I don't have a problem with that at all. I glide through the game like a Condor riding the jet stream, adjusting ever so slightly for the occasional wind gusts the game blows my way....before descending in complete un-Condor like fashion during the final rounds to lay a metric shit ton of eggs. As such, when I was offered a chance to review the Wingspan: Oceania expansion, I flew at it. I know I am going to be playing Wingspan for the foreseeable future, so why not add something to it to see if it makes it a more rewarding experience?
All new player boards are included with this expansion. Glancing at them, you will immediately think “Ah, they did this so they could include the new nectar resource.” But on closer inspection, you are going to see one of the biggest changes is in regards to securing eggs. Ah yes, getting eggs has been tweaked and they are now more difficult to secure. The other board changes, increasing the ability to get cards and food, make it easier to get an engine up and running more quickly. It also makes a nod toward getting screwed over by the food tray with the option to refresh the tray by spending one food token. There is also a new ability to “flush” the bird tray to give you three different birds to choose from once you progress on the Wetlands portion of the board.
You will also find new dice in this expansion that, like the player boards, add the newest food resource: Nectar. Nectar is wild...and by that I don't mean it is secured in the wilds of nature but it can be used for any other food resource in the game (in most instances). Nectar is also unique in that it “spoils” at the end of the round if you have it in your personal stash. I assume this is supposed to make it a little less desirable but, honestly, since you can use it for any other food, you usually just spent it first so it won't “spoil.” There are also new spaces on the board where you stack spent nectar that will give end of game bonuses for whoever spent the most nectar in each habitat.
There are 95 new bird cards to coo over from the Oceania region (Australia, New Zealand and various Pacific Islands). This includes flightless birds, which are even more fun than listening to Benedict Cumberbatch pronounce “Penguin.” The “*” on their card under nest type means they can be used to fulfill any nest requirements for both round and end game goals. Some of the new birds also have one time end-of-game bird powers to rack up points that almost act like mini-goals.
Speaking of goals, four new goal tiles that have NOTHING to do with eggs have been added and a few new bonus cards. Sure, you could dismiss them as icing on the cake but they really are a key ingredient of said cake: Yet another reason that makes amassing eggs just a little less tempting.
Wingspan used every available millimeter inside the box. So, any hopes of fitting this expansion into the base box are dashed. Hell, even getting just the yellow eggs to fit is a chore. If you are really dedicated, you can Tetris the new pieces in but you are still going to have the expansion box (Only now it will be filled with the old player boards...unless you plan on trashing them).
Is this expansion going to change your opinion of Wingspan? If you were hoping for more player interaction, I assure you no throats are being cut and no one is getting shivved in a clown car. But it does make Wingspan more palatable for the “Intermediate +” gamer who found it pleasant but nothing extraordinary. Overall, it improves and balances Wingspan in ways that players will appreciate. The egg strategy has been sufficiently nerfed and the additional changes to the game boards means your “engine” is up and running faster. This also makes it more appealing to beginner players, so go ahead and add this in your teaching games. If you are a fan of the game, like my wife, Oceania is the wind beneath your wings you were hoping for.