How To Play Wingspan Grassland Engines
The Core Function of The Grassland Habitat
Grassland engines behave differently than Forest and Wetland engines. They are at their best as late-game point-scoring engines.
In the beginning phases of the game, you want as much food and cards as possible to quickly establish your path to victory, so focusing on building out your Forest and Wetlands can be very beneficial. You don’t have any limit to the amount of food or cards you can have, but the opposite is true for eggs produced by your Grasslands engines. Your eggs are directly limited by the amount of nest space across your birds.
The Core Set generally focuses on end-game egg generation as the best way to score points in the closing turns of the game. Many egg-based round goals help reinforce this strategy. Once you reach a certain point in the game, it is often less efficient to draw cards, gain food, and then play birds for points. Most of the time, you will score more points by just laying eggs and activating your point-scoring brown powers over your last several turns.
Expansions have tried to curb “Egg Spam,” as it is often referred to. Their round goals tend to be far less focused on counting eggs, and the powers introduced tend to shore up weaker aspects of Forest and Wetlands production and point-scoring capability.
The Oceania Expansion, in particular, overhauled the habitats entirely, revising the Grasslands to produce fewer eggs, the Forest to produce more food, and the Wetlands to produce more cards on average. Since eggs are worth points on their own, it’s no wonder that Grassland engines have historically been the best way to win games consistently.
Generating Food With A Grassland Engine
Playing food-producing birds into your Grasslands is a tried and true method of putting yourself on the fast track to a great Grassland engine. Producing eggs and food simultaneously has a powerful net effect. We need to look no further than the often-discussed Ravens to see the benefits of this type of production. Other great food-producing Grassland birds include Spotted Towhee, Hummingbirds, and European Bee Eater.
Drawing Cards With A Grassland Engine
There are very few options to draw cards in the Grasslands, and this is where Killdeer, Franklin’s Gull, and White Stork shine the brightest. Killdeer and Franklin’s Gull, like Ravens, are among the most powerful cards in the game. Their ability to ignore Wetland activations and simultaneously produce cards and eggs has proven incredibly powerful.
White Stork is mighty in its own right, but it has some hurdles to overcome: its food cost and available nest space. When adequately supported by a food-gaining Forest bird, White Stork becomes one prong in a potent two-pronged approach to the early game. The Forest bird not only helps produce extra food, but ideally, it will also have a decent-sized nest to hold the eggs generated while drawing more cards from the Stork.
Tuck/draw birds, such as Barn Swallow, are incredibly potent in the Grasslands as well. They let you cycle bad cards into better cards, score points off tucking, and score points off eggs! Stacking a couple of these birds in your Grasslands are elements of the most potent engine you can build in Wingspan, especially when backed up by one of the previously mentioned card drawing birds and some food producing bird.
If you wind up with excessive amounts of eggs, a great way to offload that supply, reduce pressure on your nest capacity, and generate extra cards on top of it is to utilize the bonus conversion in the Wetlands if available to you. If you’re full up on eggs, you might as well spend some for some extra cards, right?
Laying Eggs With A Grassland Engine
It’s not too often that you want to employ an egg-laying bird in your Grasslands. Your available nest space will fill up far too quickly in the early to mid-game. Egg-laying birds in the Grasslands work best when you spend eggs reasonably often, such as when using Ravens or Crows to discard eggs for food.
Egg-laying Grassland birds can also be a great way to play “catch up” in the late game. After you’ve spent a lot of turns drawing cards or playing birds, you might not have the turns needed to fill them up with eggs effectively. Birds like Lazuli Bunting, Western Meadowlark, Bobolink, and Baird’s Sparrow are examples of egg-laying birds that can help you cover a lot of ground very quickly for mass-producing the maximum amount of eggs in the closing turns of the game.
Scoring Points With A Grassland Engine
The tried and true point-scoring method of Wingspan. Stacking point-scoring brown powers in a habitat that already scores points on its own puts you on the fast track to victory often. A Grassland that doesn’t have any brown power birds will still produce points through eggs, a quality the other habitats don’t possess.
This doesn’t need much explanation, does it? More birds mean more nest space, and this is a critical concern for all Grassland engines. Sometimes you will need to make those mid to late-game plays where you play a low-point value bird for its very large nest to keep the door open for your point-scoring egg production.
This is where birds like Goldcrest can come in handy. This bird has a niche power that doesn’t have anything to do with the Grasslands, but it has a massive six-egg nest and only costs a single worm.
As previously mentioned, birds that tuck are a great way not only to stack extra points in your Grasslands, but some also let you see more cards while doing it. Additionally, cards like Common Grackle allow you to tuck a card and then lay an egg on it. These powers are a great way to convert excess cards into greater egg production and can be your saving grace after many turns of drawing duds.
As always, your total nest capacity is an ever-present concern, so these birds are generally at their best in round four when trying to convert all of your excess cards into points and rapidly fill up large volumes of empty nest space.
Common Chaffinch, Cedar Waxing, and Dark Eyed Junco are also great ways to score extra points through Grasslands tucking and even extra food on top of it (in the case of the Waxwing and Junco).
This concludes our guide on how to play Wingspan Grassland engines. For more in-depth strategy, check out our comprehensive Wingspan Strategy Guide. Check out our other guides, How To Play Wingspan Forest Engines and How To Play Wingspan Wetland Engines (Coming Soon).