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How To Play Sagrada Life

Sagrada life how to play

Sagrada has to be one of the most beautiful abstract strategy games around. If you aren’t familiar with the dice rolling, set collecting, pattern building masterpiece, then I have no hesitation in recommending Adrian Adamescu’s masterpiece.

At the end of every game, the table is replete with gorgeous stained glass windows to admire. It's often accompanied by the sound of teeth-gnashing from any player who couldn’t complete their die-mazing display!

If you need to get yourself into the Sagrada zone Kirsty has written a brilliant how to play guide here and so I don’t need to cover the base game. Furthermore, Sagrada Passion, the first in a trilogy of expansions (collectively called “The Great Facades”) and the 5/6 player expansion module each also offer more in terms of gorgeous die, public and private objectives, and tools which can be mixed into the base game as and when the desire takes hold!

But, if you are a giddy glazier wanting another Sagrada fix that brings something a little different in the mix, Sagrada Life could be the expansion for you!

If you would like to read Rebecca’s sparkling review of Sagrada Life, please click here. But if you are already keen or would like to know how to play first, however, keep on reading as this guide is for you!

Sagrada Life - Apprentice v Masterwork

As there are two distinct modules in Sagrada Life, this guide will take each one separately as the way you play changes depending on whether you are a newbie or a dab hand at glass blowing.

I would mention that if you’re feeling like a mind-blowing (let alone glass-blowing!) challenge, you can mix both new Life Apprentice and Masterwork modules in with the base game at the same time. Or, for an even wilder ride, you can include the other expansions too if you’re feeling brave – just don’t crack under the pressure!

For the purpose of this guide, however, we will take it nice and slow. Mastering the art of beautiful stained glass windows is, after all, a delicate operation!

Shimmering Set Up

Regardless of the module being played, the base game is set up in the usual way– one board per player, the round track in easy reach, favour tokens to match the difficulty level of window-pane chosen, and the correct number of die for the number of players placed into the bag. Private objectives are also selected at random and kept a closely guarded secret.

But then things start to change. Subtly at first.

For example, new public objective (Toil) cards can be mixed in with the base game options on both modules – again those which are only relevant to Masterworks will need to be separated out if that module isn’t in play. There are also 2 new tools which will help the Masters amongst you perfect your glass craft.

After that, it is safety goggles on and heat resistant gloves at the ready for we are diving into the world of Apprentices and Masters!

Apprentice Module - Set Up and Game Play

In apprentice mode, you will have a set of 22 apprentice cards and a set of new window-panes from which to choose. Helpfully, they all have the new circular symbol on them. So there’s no diving back into the base game or the Masterwork deep end by mistake!

The Apprentice cards are primarily designed to help you hone your craft. They give you additional options both during the game and in the form of end game bonuses. They are triggered when you cover a circular symbol on your window-pane. And comprise a variety of actions, bonuses, and moves. There is one Apprentice card that only applies if you are also playing the Masterwork module. However, you can just remove this during set up if you aren’t playing both simultaneously.

These extra helping hands sound like they are going to be a sure-fire way to score extra points. They also introduce some shiny new strategic play – lessons will be learned along the way!

Apprentices At Work!

During the game, you will select die from the bag as usual using the regular turn order rules. If you place a die on one of the Apprentice symbols on your window-pane, however, you then have two new choices:-

  1. Pick two Apprentice cards – keep one and discard the other; or
  2. Select the top-most Apprentice card from the discard pile.

You now have an extra power or scoring condition at your disposal. This is kept secret from the other players until you decide to activate it!

If the Apprentice card has an in-game action and you do choose to use it, the card is then added face-up to the discard pile. “So what?” you might think. Well, discards can backfire beautifully. Given Apprentice rule no.2 above, this could also give another player the chance to use that same glass blowing bonus later in the game. This could shatter your chances of success!

Glazier’s Bonus Guide #1: Interestingly, if you use a tool to move a dice in your window-pane from a space with an apprentice symbol, and on another turn, a new dice is placed there, you get to pick more apprentice cards! This could be a useful strategy to adopt if there is a chance of getting something more profitable than the cost of the tool to make it happen. Especially if the last discarded Apprentice card is a dazzler!. Another bite of the cherry! haha

After ten rounds the game ends and scoring begins. The only thing players need to remember in this mode is to include any scoring condition Apprentice cards in their final total – those secret bonus points could be the difference between being top of the class and bottom of the glass!

Masterwork Module – Set Up and Game Play

If you consider yourself to be the greatest glazier ever then this module will make your skills shine!

Masterwork introduces a new board with spaces for orange die. Yup. That’s right. To coin a phrase from that big telecommunications company, “the future’s bright. The future’s orange!”.

Not only that, these are not common-or-garden regular die. These little cubes of tangerine trickery have directional arrows on them which, if the window-panes themselves weren’t already tantalisingly tight, further restricts the ways in which your die may be placed on any turn.

It is worth rising up through the glazing ranks, however, as the new die reward the brave with victory points at the end of the game if placement satisfies the rule on display. Crash and burn, however, and your chances of success will be smashed to smithereens with negative penalties!

To set up the Masterwork module, you place the new board close to the round track and place one of the 6 orange die on each of the indicated spaces – all the die are the same but show a unique face as indicated by the space on the board. Each player is given their own board and private objective card. Then shuffle in the new Masterwork public objective cards and pick three in the usual way. Repeat the process with the Tool cards and it is time to get glazing!

Glazier’s Bonus Guide #1: You can roll the orange die and place them showing random sides – you don’t need to follow the faces shown on the board. I would suggest this is another way of adding some crunch once comfortable with the game-play. Plus, in games with 4, 5 or 6 players there is the opportunity to replenish the Masterwork die, hence the inclusion of 12 rusty rascals!.

Sagrada Life Masters at Work!

During your turn, you will be able to do one of the following steps: -

  1. Pick a die from the pool and place it into your window-pane in the usual way; or
  2. Pick a die from the pool and replace it with the orange die on the Masterwork board which either matches the number or the colour of the die selected. Don’t forget to take any corresponding favour tokens with it!

Once you have the orange dice in your hand, you must then place them on any space in your window-pane which is not already restricted by colour. The double-ended arrows on each face are fairly self-explanatory; wherever they point, those two dies must be the same colour or value. The remaining two Masterwork die symbols require each orthogonally placed dice to be either a unique colour or value.

You can ignore number restrictions when placing an orange die as each one either-

(a) represents any number when placed in your window-pane

(b) scores zero when being included in a row/column total – a double-edged ability when trying to reconcile conflicting public objectives!)

(c) will need to be classified as a different number. (If there are two or more orange die in a given row or column.)

During a game, you may also move an orange dice to another space and rotate it to suit. You must not, however, flip it to show a different symbol – nobody likes a cheaty cheater!

Glazier’s Bonus Guide #2: Where 12 orange die are in play if one orange die has been swapped with a die of the corresponding number. (e.g. 6). Another player can still nab a Masterwork die from that same column. This is done by replacing it with the corresponding colour die from the pool. (e.g. red.) Once both available spots have been taken no more Masterwork die can be swapped. Not for either that number or colour.

End game scoring happens after ten rounds in the same way as the base game. But, with the orange die counting for zero in total column/row values.

Two orange die in the same row/column will also mean a fail when it comes to any public objective requiring unique colours. Although, the new public objectives do include specific goals designed around the placement of those nuggets of puzzly goodness!

For every orange dice objective fulfilled, you will score a glittering five points. But I did mention negative marking at the beginning of this guide. Masterworks is not afraid to hand out the demerits! And so, if any orange dice restriction is not satisfied, you will be graded down by two points. Similarly, if any arrow points to an empty space or the edge of your player board, that’s another two marks off your Masterwork total! As Chris Martin once warbled……. Nobody said it was easy……..

But, unlike Coldplay’s back catalogue of brooding alt-rock, Sagrada Life is a fun, crunchy addition to the Sagrada Familia!

I hope this guide has helped you navigate the sometimes sharp entry into a new expansion. Good luck in your glazing adventures!