What are the best cards to pair with Hooded Merganser?
There are eight cards that pair especially well with Hooded Merganser, which is a card that doesn’t get to enjoy the limelight very often. Just looking at its general qualities, it’s barely an average play. Five points with a four-egg nest aren’t horrible for the cost of one fish and one worm, but there are often better plays to make than that.
Wingsplain’s Bird Card Tier List rates the other repeat birds, Northern Mockingbird and Grey Catbird, as Tier 0, but Hooded Merganser doesn’t enjoy the same position. That’s because this bird is double restricted; it can only be played in the Wetlands habitat and can only repeat Predator powers. The other two repeating birds can repeat any brown power in any of the habitats they get played in.
Despite a rocky start in the Wingspan Core Set, Hooded Merganser has a lot of potential. It only stands to get better as more sets are released and more Wetlands Predators are introduced into the game, as repeating powers are only as good as the powers you have access to. The Oceania Expansion, in particular, was a boon to this bird.
The 8 Best Cards in Wingspan to Pair with Hooded Merganser
After hundreds of game playthroughs, we’ve come up with eight Wingspan cards that help make the most out of the Hooded Merganser’s powers. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle card will likely be played as a mid to late-game point bomb due to its prohibitive cost of three rats. Some big eagles can generate extra points through their power, and the Golden Eagle is no exception, sitting at the top of its archetype with an 80% success rate.
2. Peregrine Falcon
Golden Eagle’s little cousin. It’s easier to get this falcon on the board a bit earlier with its cheaper food cost of two rats. Despite it being a smaller predator, both in real life and in the game, its real-world hunting prowess is reflected in-game by its tucking power’s 80% success rate.
Fun fact: this is Jamey Stegmaier’s favorite bird.
3. Laughing Kookaburra
In general, this bird is a great opening play. Its power boasts a success rate that’s over 99%, so it ends up being a cheap and flexible way to refresh the birdfeeder and generate a lot of food from the Wetlands when paired with Hooded Merganser.
4. Little Penguin
Little Penguin has a big appetite, tearing through large volumes of cards as it searches for fish.
As of the Oceania Expansion, its power is only successful about 59% of the time (a pain that many of us have felt), so doubling its efforts can lead to bigger yields. Who would have thought that a Penguin and a Merganser could work this well together? At least the Penguin is a seven-point bird with a two-egg star nest, so it can be useful even if it fails to produce.
5. Tawny Frogmouth
Tawny Frogmouth is similar to Laughing Kookaburra, except it caches food instead of putting it into your supply. Its power is successful over 96% of the time, so in this regard, it is a better point scoring partner for Hooded Merganser than the big tucking predators.
It must succeed three times, though, to equal the raw point total of the Golden Eagle (eight points). I guess that’s the price you pay for consistency.
6. White Bellied Sea Eagle
This expensive big-point predator resets the birdfeeder and successfully caches food about 87% of the time. It’s another mid to late game point bomb but still a good partner for the Hooded Merganser.
7. White Faced Heron
The White-Faced Heron is an expensive six-point bird. It’s one of only six birds in the game worth six or more points that also has a nest that can hold four or more eggs.
It resets the birdfeeder and allows you the choice to keep or cache ALL fish that come up. About 60% of the time, you are getting some quantity of fish from this bird’s power, which is better than a coin flip.
This Heron really wants that Merganser by its side! He will have to fight Little Penguin for its company.
8. Bonelli’s Eagle
When all else fails, tuck to play!
This entry is meant as a joke, but never-the-less, there will be times that Hooded Merganser won’t be useful to you. You might as well make it a useful resource and convert it into points through alternative methods, Thekla’s Style!
That wraps up our shortlist of the best Wingspan cards to pair with Hooded Merganser. Let us know what your favorite pairings are in the comments below!