Sagrada: Life

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Sagrada is one of the jewels in Floodgate Games’ crown. And talking of jewels, it sure it pretty! It’s all about drafting translucent dice to build a stained glass window for Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. Due to Sagrada’s immense success, a whole range of expansions are available now from designers Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu. Sagrada: The Great Facades – Life is the …
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Adds more challenge and depth
  • New dice
  • Apprentice cards giving individual player boosts

Might Not Like

  • Much more to think about
  • Conflicting Objectives with the base game
  • Solo rules not included in the box
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Description

Sagrada is one of the jewels in Floodgate Games’ crown. And talking of jewels, it sure it pretty! It’s
all about drafting translucent dice to build a stained glass window for Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia.
Due to Sagrada’s immense success, a whole range of expansions are available now from designers
Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu. Sagrada: The Great Facades – Life is the second in the
Facades Trilogy, after ‘Passion’.

Sagrada: The Great Facades – Life takes the core of what makes Sagrada so popular, and adds in
extra. There’s a bunch of different modules you can add into the mixer – either as separate add-ons,
or all together. You can also mix and match these with the other Sagrada expansions. As an
expansion, you’ll need a copy of Sagrada itself to play Sagrada: The Great Facades – Life.

You get a load of new windows, which are identical to the designs in the base game. The major
difference is that some of the 20 squares have Apprentice symbols on them. Whenever you draft a
die that you use to cover an Apprentice symbol, you take an Apprentice Card. This acts like a
personal bonus that you alone can enjoy.

The biggest change though is the introduction of the orange Masterwork Dice. These don’t have
numbers on the faces, but arrows. When you draft a die, you can swap it for a Masterwork Die and
instead place that in your window instead. The arrows on the Masterwork Die need to point to
matching dice (colours or numbers) in your window. If they do, you earn extra end-game points. If
they don’t, you lose points! You might need to visit the new Tool Cards to help you out in that
regard. There’s six Public Objectives that feature the Masterwork Dice, too. These give you a big
incentive to build your strategy around them from the start…

Player Count: 1-6 Players
Time: 20-40 minutes
Age: 13+

If you haven’t already heard, and I’m sure you have, Sagrada is the beautiful dice drafting game in which you attempt to create the best stained glass window by placing coloured transparent dice according to colours and numbers on your individual window board. If you’re unfamiliar, do check it out! Now, here is Sagrada Life.

Returning to the Familia

Sagrada Life is the second of three expansions in the Great Facades series. It introduces two new elements that are sure to shake up gameplay, the Apprentice module and the Masterwork module.

The game suggests you can add in one module at a time, depending on how you like to play, and for a first play, this might be a good idea, just to wrap your head around the new mechanics. But ultimately the two modules complement each other well and it’s manageable to throw it all in at once, just try to remember your drafting options have expanded!

The Apprentice Module

The Apprentice Module consists of Apprentice cards and new Window Patterns. The Window Patterns are the same as the base game save for two spaces. These spaces have a symbol instead and no longer require a numerical value, but the colour still applies. When a die is drafted into one of these spaces it grants an Apprentice card.

Apprentice cards are handy tools that help only the player who holds them. Some have the same or similar effects as the tools from the base game, some a brand new tool and some give YOU extra scoring conditions for the end of the game. You keep them secret until you wish to play them, and then (if stated on the card) discard them to the discard pile.

What’s great about the Apprentice cards, as well as adding more objectives and strategic thinking into the mix, is that if you must discard the card after using it, it returns to the discard pile. When drawing an Apprentice card players may choose to draw two from the deck and keep one, or choose the top of the discard pile. So you need to be conscious when using and discarding cards that your opponents might try to get their hands on them too!

The Masterwork Module

The Masterwork Module contains what draws us to the expansion. New. Dice.

Lovely orange dice that bring with them fantastic new drafting opportunities.

At the start of the game, you place the Masterwork Module board near the round tracker and place the orange dice onto the marked squares with the correct symbol showing (alternatively you can roll the dice and place them randomly). Depending on your player count you either use just 6, or all 12 of the Masterwork dice.

The Masterwork dice have a unique symbol on each face and all dice are the same. The symbols add new placement objectives and are fairly self-explanatory, but there is a reference guide in the rulebook.

Masterwork dice award victory points if their objectives are completed at the end of the game, however, if you weren’t successful, you will lose points. So you must be careful when deciding to draft these new dice.

In order to draft a Masterwork die, you must draft a die from the roll that corresponds with one of the two options for the Masterwork die you wish to take. These options are all clearly marked on the Masterwork Board.

Public Objective Cards

The new toil scoring objectives definitely add some fresh and exciting challenges. Once you come to terms with managing all of the different objectives together! It’s great to have some entirely new conditions that aren’t solely related to the expansions modules too.

We did find that some conflicted with the base game, and so decided to draw new public objectives for those that directly clashed. I do think the rulebook could have come with clearer instructions about how to score some of these new objectives as they were a little unclear and left us guessing. In the end, we resorted to BGG to ask, and found we had indeed mis-scored those particular objectives.

In fact, it seems the rulebook could have done with just a few extra pages. The scoring clarification irked me personally, but for many enthusiasts, having no solo rules included inside the game box has left them feeling forgotten, particularly as the game outwardly presents itself as a 1-4 player game.

Passion Plus Life

Playing with both Sagrada Life and Sagrada Passion there is a LOT to be thinking about. I found that Passion’s scoring objectives completed Life quite nicely. However, placing both types of dice may sometimes hinder your game more than help it.

Playing with both expansions simultaneously will no doubt give some players the chance to flex their muscles in the mental gymnasium that they crave. You really must take great care with each move, constantly evaluating the scoring potential of each die compared to another in order to reign supreme (at least in our house where we take Sagrada victories very seriously).

Focusing on one strategy may fare you better though, as there are so many variables with both expansions in play, it’s inevitable that sometimes the dice won’t play nice. It can be really difficult to complete all objectives seamlessly.

My final thoughts

Sagrada was a game that I added to my collection fairly early on, and it remains a firm favourite. I do have a penchant for abstract games and I love drafting and placement games, so it was always going to have a place in my heart. Plus so pretty.

What I really enjoy about the Sagrada Life expansion is the new, well, LIFE it breathes into the game. The elements that I love about this game, the puzzle, the plan, the strategy, the choices…ALL stepped their game up.

For me, this expansion brought more to the game than its predecessor, the Masterwork dice are up for grabs until they run out, which means you’re presented with more than one chance to get your hands on them. And when you draw an Apprentice card that adds another scoring mechanism to those dice…on top of what you were already trying to achieve…there’s so much to think about. So much puzzle joy.

If you’re thinking about adding an expansion to Sagrada but can only get one, then Life would definitely be my recommendation. It’s exciting, there are more choices and avenues to explore and it remains important throughout the game. Passion, at first, felt a little one-note, but with Life, it becomes better and you can see the elements of the Three Great Facades weaving together to form a whole. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

If abstract games are your bag, you should try out another classic Azul, and it’s siblings Summer Pavillion and Stained Glass of Sintra.

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!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Adds more challenge and depth
  • New dice
  • Apprentice cards giving individual player boosts

Might not like

  • Much more to think about
  • Conflicting Objectives with the base game
  • Solo rules not included in the box