Sagrada
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Sagrada

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Sagrada is a game of “dice drafting and window crafting” from Floodgate Games where players compete to construct a stained glass window masterpiece while gaining extra prestige through the completion of public and secret objectives and even calling upon the church for favours from time to time in order to achieve their goal. Played in a series of 10 rounds, this abstract family …
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Exceptional Components

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • It's simple but replay-able.
  • Sagrada is a beautiful game!

Might Not Like

  • It's a luck-based game.
  • Atmospheric, but not in the way you'd expect.
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Description

Sagrada is a game of “dice drafting and window crafting” from Floodgate Games where players compete to construct a stained glass window masterpiece while gaining extra prestige through the completion of public and secret objectives and even calling upon the church for favours from time to time in order to achieve their goal.

Played in a series of 10 rounds, this abstract family game by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews sees players drafting dice from a central pool and adding them to the window grid on their lavishly illustrated player boards. Players are given two window cards during set-up and can choose a window pattern from the four available sides – they all offer different dice placement options and vary in complexity.

Each round the first player will draw two dice per player, plus one additional die and roll them (so seven dice in a three-player game, for example). They will then choose a die to add to their window – the drafting continues in a clockwise direction until the last player has completed their turn – the last player will then take another turn as the drafting direction shifts to anti-clockwise, ending on the first player who will be left with a choice of two dice.

Placement rules are such that a new die must be placed adjacent (either orthogonally or diagonally) to previously placed dice and no numbers of the same value or same coloured dice are ever allowed to sit orthogonally adjacent to each other. This presents a nice little special puzzle that some often compare to the popular number-placement puzzle, Sudoku.

Three public objectives are drawn at the start of each game and can give players extra points when achieved. These can relate to filling rows or columns with colour varieties or counting up numbers of shades in their window. Each player also has a private objective that gives them points equivalent to the visible dice pips on a specific colour of dice in their window.

Favour tokens can be spent on using tools – three of which are revealed during set-up – and these tools can give players special abilities that can aid them in times of need. But watch out, once a player has used a tool it becomes more expensive for subsequent use.

Sagrada has proved to be a popular family game, and despite being recommended for ages 13+ on the box, it can easily be enjoyed by children of a younger age. It is pretty simple and quick to play while being very engaging and fun.

Player Count: 1-4
Time: 30-45 Minutes
Age: 13+

 

Sagrada takes its name from a place, the ‘Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família’, aka Gaudi’s vast, unfinished church in Barcelona. The game tasks you with creating stained glass windows through drafting dice and they’ve gone the extra mile to make this a tactile treat.

Your Window

You start the game be selecting a window card. There are 12, each double-sided, and on it is a pattern of colours, numbers and white spaces which will become crucial in your task. The game could have left you with just the window cards, but instead it comes with four wonderful cardboard frames that your card slides into, each notched to secure dice and give the window vibe a firm, 100 per cent upgrade. Then each player takes a private objective card (these are all ‘add the pips on dice of a particular colour’), and public objective cards are laid out (e.g. columns with no repeat colours.)

Columns, colours? Here’s how you play. There are 10 rounds, and at the start of each one dice are drawn from a bag: two dice per player, plus one more. There are 90 dice, each D6 but of five different colours, and when they’ve been randomly drawn from the bag players take it in turns to select one and add it to a slot on their window card.

The twist is that you have to put dice next to another one diagonally or orthogonality (unless it’s the first die of the turn, then it’s against the edges), but you can’t put the same colour directly next to each other, you can’t put the same number on the dice directly next to each other, and the dice have to fit in with the colours and numbers shown on your window card. So you take it in turns to pick and play dice (moving clockwise first, until the last player takes two dice and you work back anti clockwise until you’ve taken one each), discard the remainder, and continue for 10 turns, aiming to fill your window.

Dice, Beautiful Dice

Two brilliant things are happening here. Firstly, you are constantly battling to achieve your objectives, working with what you’ve got (and yes, it is luck based), by fitting different colours and numbers alongside each other. A stain glass window has you building a pattern, and this does too, albeit to a far more arcane requirement.

 

What else is happening? The dice! They are clear, coloured and look wonderful, almost glowing as you place them. The fact they’re slightly transparent and being built up in a large cardboard window really gives the game an odd beauty as you put it all together. Add this to the fact all the game components carry the theme through, and you have a wonderful aesthetic and a tactile treat.

There are other rules. Before each game a number of tool cards are drawn, and these can be tactically played to swap dice, re-roll dice and other benefits that can really help at the close of a game. Scoring is done by totting up all the objectives and reducing scores for blank spaces in your window. That said, while the game looks and feels wonderful and light, the Sagrada theme does feel a bit pasted on to the gameplay: there’s the nagging doubt in your mind that stained glass windows get cut and shaped not built out of leftovers. Yes the dice look like clear glass, but you don’t feel you’re building a window, rather than fighting to create a filled colourful puzzle card.

The game’s looks and design give you a feel of rich atmosphere, but not of a finished window. It’s a subtle distinction, but worth mentioning.

Sagrada Conclusions

This is a swift game to teach, and in general terms a quick game to play. It’s a feast for the eyes and a puzzle for the mind, but luck does play a major part. Even with the tools, it’s possible for the dice you need to simply not appear in the last few turns, before players even get a chance to block you. It’s a puzzle, but not a balanced one every time, and that’s going to annoy people.

I’m sure someone good at probability can show this isn’t true, but Sagrada feels more prone to luck than the game it’s frequently compared to, Azul. Both share a richly tactile and visual nature, both came out around the same time, both can fit into your collection, although I suspect only one will call to you. For me, Sagrada has the visual and thematic edge, Azul the gameplay.

Sagrada feature image

In Sagrada, players are competing to build the most beautiful stained glass window for the Sagrada Familia.  In order to do this, players draft dice of different colours and values.  They are trying to meet different criteria during the game, both public and hidden.  At the end of the game, the player with the most points will have created the most beautiful window and wins the game.

Set Up

Game Set Up

Place the round track in the middle of the play area.  Then shuffle all the tool cards. These tool cards can help players complete their window by changing the rules of the game in one way, only on the turn they are used.  Three tool cards are in play each game and these are placed face up in the middle of the table.

Next, shuffle all public objective cards (which have the blue die on the back).  Place three face up in the middle of the table.  These show the ways in which points are scored at the end of the game.

Place all 90 dice in the black dice bag.  A starting player is randomly assigned and they take the dice bag.

Player Set Up

Firstly, shuffle the private objective cards with the gray die on the back and give one to each player.  This will tell them which colour of die they can score points for at the end of the round.

Each player then receives a window frame player board and two window pattern cards.  These cards are double sided.  The player then has to choose which window pattern card they will try to complete.  They can look at their private objective card to help with this decision.  The window patterns range in difficulty from three to six pips. Players receive the number of favour tokens (which can help them use tools to complete their windows) indicated on the card.

Players then place their score marker, of the same colour as their board next to the round track.  Finally, they slide their window pattern card into the bottom of the player board.

Play can then begin.

Sagrada cards

Rules

Gameplay

Sagrada takes place over 10 rounds.  At the start of each round, the starting player draws a number of dice from the bag and rolls them.  The number of dice they should pick depends on the number of players.  Five dice are used in a two-player game, seven dice in a three-player game and nine dice in a four-player game. There should always be one die left over after every player has picked two dice.

On their turn, a player can select (draft) a die from the draft pool and place it in their window.  However, there are certain restrictions on where a die can be placed – these are set out further below.  A player can also choose to use a tool card by spending favour tokens.  Both actions are optional so a player could choose to do nothing on their turn.

In each round every player will have two turns. Once the last player, clockwise, has completed their first turn, they then immediately take a second turn. Play then moves back round the table anticlockwise until the first player has had their second turn.

Placement restrictions

A player can place their first die anywhere around the edge of their window as long as it matches any value or colour restriction of a space.  White spaces have no value or colour restriction and any dice can be placed there.  If a space is of a certain colour, only dice of that same colour can go there.  There is no value restriction on such spaces.  If a space is grey and shows the value of a die, only dice of that value can be placed there.  There is no colour restriction on these spaces.

Each die after the first must be placed adjacent to a previously placed die.  This can be either horizontal, vertical or diagonal. However, a die may not be placed in such a way it would be vertically or horizontally next to a die of the same colour and/or number.

If a player sees that a die has been placed in breach of the placement rules, it must immediately be removed.

Using tool cards

During the game, players may use their favour tokens to play a tool card.  The first player to use a specific tool card will only have to pay one token.  Later players will have to pay two favour tokens to use the same card.  Players should then follow the text on the tool card.

There are a variety of different benefits on the tool cards. These include being able to ignore number or colour restrictions and being able to replace a die from the draft pool.

Tool cards can be useful, but a player does not have to use them at all if they do not wish to do so.

End of the round

Once all players have had two turns, it is the end of the round.  Any dice left in the draft pool should be placed on the round track, on the number of the round which has just taken place.  If there is more than one die left, they go on the same space.

The dice bag is then passed clockwise to the next player.  They become the starting player for the next round.  The game ends after 10 rounds.

Game End and Scoring

Once the tenth round of Sagrada has finished, clear all dice off the round track and flip it over.  This will reveal the score track.

Players get points for the objective cards and favour tokens left at the end of the game. Each player gains victory points from their private objective card by adding up the value of all dice of that colour in their tableau.  They then receive points for each public objective card.  If the player meets the requirement, they can score points for the same card several times.  Players then get one point for each favour token left at the end of the game.  However, they lose one point for each open space on their window.

The player with the most points wins Sagrada.  If there is a tie, the player with the most points from private objectives wins.  If there is still a tie, the player with the most remaining favour tokens wins.  If there is still a tie, the player who went last (of the tied players) in the first turn of the final round wins.

Sagrada towers

Hints and Tips

  • Try not to place a die next to a space with a matching requirement. For example, try not to place a yellow three next to a square with a requirement for either a yellow dice or a dice with the number three.  If you do this you will not be able to place a die on the other space without using a tool, as you would otherwise be breaking the placement restrictions. Empty spaces are worth negative points, so plan carefully when placing your dice.
  • Where possible, use high value dice of the colour of your private objective card. Remember that the value of these dice counts towards your overall score.
  • Make the most of being the last player. Remember that the last player gets to take two consecutive turns and this can really help towards building your window.
  • Spread across the board as quickly as you can. You can only place dice next to a previously placed dice, so spreading across the board will give you more placement options.
  • Tools can be valuable but are most useful later in the game. Although you may end up having to pay two favour tokens rather than one, tools can be more helpful in the later stages of the game when it is harder to place dice.  So, don’t be afraid to wait until later in the game to use them.

In Sagrada, players take on the role of skilled artisans who use their expert planning and clever craftsmanship to create a stained glass window masterpiece for the Sagrada Familia. Each round players take turns drafting glass pieces represented by dice and carefully choose where to place each within their window. As the rounds progress each glass piece becomes increasingly harder to place but the tools at your disposal will assist you. Creating a window to the preferences of your admirers will gain you additional prestige as you compete to become the master artisan.

Solo Mode Overview

In Sagrada’s solo mode, you are aiming to beat a target score of the total of the dice remaining on the round tracker. The setup up is similar to a multiplayer game with a few small changes. During the set up you will not be placing out any favour tokens, these are replaced by a different mechanic. Place in front of you two public objectives, two private objectives and between one and five tool cards depending on the difficulty you wish to set.

Each round you will pull four dice from the bag and roll them, from there you will take two turns. On your turn, you can draft a dice as you would in the multiplayer game or you can use a dice from the draft pool to use a tool. The dice used for the tool must match the colour of the square shown in the top left corner of the card. Once a dice has been placed on this square the tool cannot be used again then the card and dice are removed from the game.

Once you have taken both turns in a round all remaining dice in the dice pool will be placed on the round tracker making sure to keep the dice showing the value that was on them in the drafting pool.

After finishing the tenth and final round, add up the total value of the dice on the score tracker, this is the target score you are trying to beat, the dice on the toolcards are not counted towards this total. Then calculate your score as normal however you lose three victory points for every open space as opposed to the normal one victory point. If your victory point total is greater than the target score value then you win.

How It Plays

I am going to open with my opinion from the get-go, I am not a fan of this solo mode. Though on the surface it appears that not too much has changed and that it should play pretty similarly to the multiplayer experience, it does not. The biggest issue being that the total score on your unused dice is going to be used for your target score.

When playing in the multiplayer game you only really need to focus on the public objectives and your one private objective, and while yes other players can become obstacles to achieving your goal by drafting the dice you want, you never have to take a dice that does not align with one of your objectives to stop that dice being used against you.

That is the issue in this solo mode, I could be working towards one of the variety of shades objectives or the light shades objective but knowing a five or six value dice will make that target score higher than any victory points I would gain from my objective makes me more likely to focus on filling my window with as many high-value dice as possible.

I’m a fan of solo modes in board games that minimise the change in gameplay from the multiplayer game, which unless it is stated completely that they are aiming for otherwise is probably most people’s assumption when buying a game that caters to a range of players including solo. I want to be able to pick up this game when my gaming group is busy or when I want a break from a screen and it be the same or very similar experience I liked the game for with the multiplayer. So this game misses the mark on it.

The solo mode does feel like a little bit of an afterthought as it also only takes up a very small section at the back of the rule book comparatively to other solo modes in games.

So Does This Mean Don’t Get This Game For Solo

Potentially. Think of the solo mode in this game as a little bonus to buying the multiplayer game, as the normal game is a fun creative pretty game, which may occasionally lead to you getting mildly angry at another player when they draft the perfect dice for your window before your turn. I would not suggest you go out of your way to get this game just to play its standard solo mode.

However.

After a few games of being frustrated with how this solo mode works, I went exploring forums for a way to improve the solo experience with the game. The answer came from user @dukefanblue2005 on Board Game Geek, he had created an Automa mode for this game. From the brief description, it seemed like the sort of thing I was looking for and he has previously created similar modes for other publisher’s games that have then gone on to be published by the games publishers, which gave me hope for this mode.

For those who don’t know an Automa in board games is an AI opponent that allows for a solo game experience to have a similar play style to that of having a human opponent. The Sagrada Automa worked as expected, working to beat the AI rather than some number based on remaining dice and felt very similar to a two-player game. It’s the solo experience I was seeking. He has made variations to work with Sagrada’s expansions and has a lot of information and tutorial videos to help clear up any questions you might have from the written instructions.

I’m still not sure I would suggest buying this game just for solo with the knowledge this fan-made Automa exists but it is something to note if you are interested in the game for both the multiplayer and solo game modes.

So Many Pretty Dice

Components, the easy praise of this game. If you like translucent coloured dice you’re in luck the game comes with 90 of them in five different colours.

But in all honesty, this game initially won me over with the components, the frames you slot your window card in are technically an extra flair but add so much to the game as they created a multilayer board where your drafted dice sit snugly. They took time to have the artwork look like windows and features you would expect to see in the Sagrada Familia and this extra mile that other publishers might have seen as adding cost at no additional benefit they saw as a way to sell the theme even more.

Final Thoughts

I would not recommend going out and getting this game for the solo mode as it is. It’s flawed and does not give the same gameplay as the multiplayer game. If you are looking for a great multiplayer game that has the solo capability just make the purchase more based on the multiplayer side of things not the solo side of things.

But if you are still tempted you now know that there is a fan-created Automa that makes for a better and more balanced solo game experience.

Pretty Game, with good multiplayer, but not so good solo.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • It's simple but replay-able.
  • Sagrada is a beautiful game!

Might not like

  • It's a luck-based game.
  • Atmospheric, but not in the way you'd expect.