Jumping off from an old thread about computer games based on actual habitats… I’ve recently discovered Wingspan, a very engrossing (=addictive!) strategy card game about building a nature reserve for birds.
Quick summary: there are 170 species to play in three habitats: forest, grassland and wetland. Each bird has specific food and nesting characteristics, and most have a special ‘power’ that activates when you make another action in the habitat. For example: if you have a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher in the forest habitat, the Gnatcatcher allows you to pull a food token (an invertebrate) that you can then use to feed another bird. The possible interactions ripple out more and more as you and other players add birds to your habitats.
Aside from the game’s incredible ability to chew up free time during pandemic lockdowns (!), it’s also a beautifully-designed thing. The illustrated bird cards in the original physical board game are lovely and accurately depict the 170 species. The on-line version reproduces the cards faithfully and adds song/call recordings for each bird. The recordings play in the background as the game continues, and for me that’s the most enjoyable element. It’s also the most useful in a meta way: anyone wanting to learn the calls and songs of these species will know them cold after playing a couple dozen games.
The game bills itself as “relaxing” and the game play is basically collaborative not competitive. Many of the bird powers give the same benefit to all players.
TL;DR: Wingspan is highly recommended by this previously-non-gaming birder.