We devoted two episodes of Compulsory Merriment to Wyrmspan, three if you count the one where we went back to play Wingspan to see how the games differ. Everybody always wants to know who won: Mandi… we’re guessing. That’s her board on the left there, the one with all the dragons, caves, eggs, coins and dragon food. But we never made it to the part where you count the final score.

There are a few morals to the story here: Wyrmspan is a big game that’s going to take a couple of uninterrupted hours. You’re going to need a BIG table to lay the game out; and Wyrmspan is a mellow game where you spend a lot of time fiddling with one thing and another. Somebody wins in the end but there’s no sense of head to head combat as you’re playing.

Each player starts with their own board and a handful of dragon cards, cave cards, eggs, coins and resources like meat, crystals and gold. The general idea is this: You have to Excavate–which means playing a cave card from your hand. Then you can Entice–which is where you play a dragon card into the cave. Sometimes, you have to Explore–which is where you send your little adventurer meeple out to collect more dragons, caves, resources and other good stuff. Each action costs a coin to play.

The game is played in four rounds and every round has it’s own goal. For example, the goal of round one might be to get the most Shy dragons on your board. The objective of round two might be to collect the most dragons with end game effects. The goals are chosen, at random, at the beginning of the game and each round is different. Plus, there’s a Dragon Guild board you can access in various ways to get more resources, eggs and endgame points.

You can play with your hand of dragon cards hidden or exposed. It doesn’t matter because you can’t mess with opponents too much. You’ll mostly be preoccupied with building your own dragon sanctuary and there is a ton of strategy involved! There’s some luck involved with the first draw of dragons and caves but, after that, you can decide to work for the most Dragon Guild points or the most points on each round or, maybe, you’ll grow up a Hatchling–which uses the otherwise useless resource of milk but which gives huge rewards in the end. The Dragon card deck is enormous–183 cards–so you’ll never play the same game twice.

Everybody wants to know if Wyrmspan is like Wingspan and the answer is a resounding, “Sort of!” The mechanics of “build a sanctuary and attract a creature” are similar. There are resources and eggs. But Wyrmspan is not just Wingspan with 100% more dragons.

One of my favorite changes is you can choose resources in Wyrmspan–it’s not just dependent on a random roll of the dice. Plus, there are more layers of strategy without adding too many new, complicated rules. Wyrmspan is a different (and incompatible with Wingspan) game. Both games are a worthy addition to your shelf but, if you want to pick one or the other, the choice may come down to whether you prefer dragons or birds or whether you prefer simpler & educational (Wingspan) to more strategic, complicated & elegant (Wyrmspan.)

90-120 minutes playtime, 1-5 players, Ages 14+