What are the best cards in Wingspan?
Chihuahuan Raven, Common Raven, Franklin’s Gull, and Killdeer are a collection of cards that I have often referred to as “The Power 4,” considered to be among the best cards, if not the best cards in Wingspan.
This article is going to be shorter than the previous two. We’ve already covered the nuts and bolts of how these cards work and impact the game. Now I am going to showcase what happens when these Brown Powers are combined; less explanation will be needed since we covered each power on its own.
Birds of a Feather #1 – Chihuahuan Raven and Common Raven
Birds of a Feather #2 – Franklin’s Gull and Killdeer
The Raven-Franklin’s Gull/Killdeer Grasslands Engine
How would things play out if you were lucky enough to get Killdeer and Common Raven in your opening hand?
- Keep Killdeer, Common Raven, 1 Rat, 1 Worm, and 1 Cherry from your opening hand.
- Activation #1: Play Birds Action: Play Killdeer into the Grasslands, spending 1 Worm.
- Activation #2: Lay Eggs Action: Lay 2 eggs on Killdeer.
- Activate Killdeer: Discard 1 egg and draw two cards.
- Activation #3: Gain Food Action: Gain 1 Food of your choice from the Birdfeeder. We intend to drop the Raven next activation.
- Activation #4: Play the Common Raven into the second slot of your Grassland. Spending 1 Rat, 1 Cherry, and 1 (any). Discard your last egg from the Killdeer.
- Activation #5: Lay Eggs Action: Lay 3 eggs on the Killdeer.
- Activate the Raven: Discard 1 egg from the Killdeer and gain -2 of any Food-
- Activate the Killdeer: Discard 1 egg from the Killdeer and draw 2 cards.
You are now gaining food, eggs, and cards all from your grassland. At this point, you can pretty much ignore both the Gain Food and Draw Cards actions. You are netting 1 egg, 2 wild food, and 2 cards per activation. This engine greatly distorts the action economy of the game and it puts you in a very strong position to win through extreme action efficiency.
Unless they have started an engine of a similar caliber, your opponents are going to have to start considering a change to their plans and diversify their acquisition of resources amongst multiple habitats in an attempt to close the gap between their engine and yours. It may already be too late for them because they have probably made some early game decisions that will shape the trajectory of the rest of the game.
The Power 4 has been the topic of many discussions and many have suggested that it is an auto-win for anyone lucky enough to get the combination of these two Brown Powers. Debates are still being had about changing or removing these cards from the game.
Ravens and Wingspan Expansions
With the addition of the European and Oceania expansions, auto winning for this combo is probably less true than it was in just the core metagame. Although it should be noted that with Oceania’s addition of a new wild food source, Nectar, a whole new wave of debates began concerning the power of Ravens.
We can objectively say that Ravens are the strongest that they have ever been, but we can also objectively say that there are more ways to counteract them than there has ever been before (Check out How to Beat The Power 4 to understand how to clip the wings of the Raven-Gull/Deer engine).
Never-the-less, Stonemaier Games included a statement in the Oceania rule book suggesting that if you think Ravens are too powerful with Nectar in the mix, feel free to remove them from the deck. The fact that they included this statement in the rulebook is telling. They acknowledge the impact that Ravens have on the game but at the same time, they imply that they don’t think it actually destroys the game. Furthermore, they encourage you to play how you want. I agree with this outlook.
Wingspan is just a game. It’s a game that finishes relatively quickly. If one game happens to result in a blowout, just play another and things will be different. You may wind up with Raven-Gull/Deer next time! There are a lot of cards in Wingspan and we don’t get to choose what we start with.
The card pool is only going to increase as more expansions are added to the game and this will reduce the likelihood that any one particular card will be drawn. It also creates an opportunity for more counter-strategies to become possible. Competitive card games with big sponsored tournaments played with decks that players meticulously craft with a pool of cards other players may or may not have access to probably require a banned/restricted list (I’m looking at you, Magic: The Gathering). Wingspan isn’t that type of game. We all have access to the exact same game experience, playthrough after playthrough.
In the next installment of “Birds of a Feather,” we are going to move on from The Power 4 and take a look at some Birds with the most radical tucking powers in the game.
We play all the expansions and we’ve nerfed the ravens to make them on par with that other corvids i.e 1 egg for 1 food. The 1 egg for 2 nectar in Oceania was insane and the the person who played this nearly always won.
Wouldn’t it be better to play the Common Raven before the Killdeer so that you are drawing cards before deciding which food to keep?
That’s definitely an option.
Man just got kill dear/ common raven combo and had 118 point game, it was awesome. Common raven is such an overpowered card. I don’t mind it it but I wish there were more cards that could make powerful combos like this and other options then the egg row, makes the game a little less interesting when you funnel down to a single best strategy that depends on a single card.
I thought you were not allowed to gain nectar using brown powers
There’s nothing in the rules that states that nectar cannot be gained through brown powers.