If you’re reading this, I’d wager you’ve played Sagrada before. (No? Woah, there! Click here to read Zatu’s review of the base game, or here to read Zatu’s How To Play… guide.) Sagrada is a dice-drafting game by Floodgate Games for 1-4 players. You’re constructing a stained glass window for Barcelona’s Sagrada Família basilica. Breaking it down into a mechanical sense, that’s a 4x5 grid, so 20 squares. Over ten rounds, players each draft two dice, slotting them into their window. Ten rounds, two dice a time… that’s 20 dice. It sounds easy, but trust me: it’s a brain-tickler of a puzzle!
I’ll go easy on you, dear readers, if you’d read this expansion’s title and raised an eyebrow, Roger Moore-style. Sagrada 5-6 Players Expansion? “Tom,” you might think, “I’ll save you some trouble. This expansion, I’d guess, provides components for what? A fifth and sixth player to join in? Boom. Review done. Mic drop. Curtains close. El fin…”
But wait. Hold your horses, smarty-pants. I’ll be the first to admit that this expansion doesn’t have a catchy name (like Judgement Day or, erm, Part Two). But there’s more in this expansion than the mere capacity for two extra players to play Sagrada. The real question is: does this box’s content throw a stone through the original’s window? It’s time to get familiar with Sagrada: 5-6 Player Expansion…
To Quote Brad Pitt: What’s In The Box?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, first. Yes, inside are two extra windows for a fifth and sixth player. These are more sublime player mats. Like the originals, they’re double-layered with chunky cardboard. Again, they have a postbox-slot at the base, where you slide in the window layout of your choice. (Talking of which, you’ll take delight in noting there are six new double-sided Window Pattern cards.) There’s also a fifth and sixth circular scoring markers in corresponding colours (yellow and orange). Plus, of course, there are further dice and Favour Tokens for player scaling.
Here’s a super-duper, at-a-glance list of the other extra bits you get inside:
- 6x Private Objective Cards
- 6x Private Dice Pools
- 2x Tool Cards
- 1x Dice Tray
Draft Divine Dice In A Delightful Tray
Let’s kick off with the latter on that list: a punch-your-own dice tray. For a game that’s all about rolling dice and taking turns to draft them, this is a wonderful inclusion. Now you can pass the dice around in a literal fashion from player to player. It slots together to form a sturdy structure, but there are no instructions on how to build this in the rulebook. A minor quibble, but if you’re an idiot like me, please be gentle with it! There are delicate slots that fit together.
Once it’s made you’ll want to keep it built, and it fits in the expansion box. These 5-6 Player Sagrada Expansion additions all fit into the base-game box’s plastic insert, too.
Mirror, Mirror, On The (Cathedral) Wall…
Six new Private Objective cards provide different means to scoring personal end-game points. In the base game, there’s five of these – they incentivise you to chase after a specific colour of dice for pip value. These new Private Objectives score pip values for dice sitting in six specific mirrored spaces within your window.
This provides a deeper cloud of mystery into proceedings. I’ve found that usually, you can predict which colours your opponents want, in base-Sagrada. Not here. This is a tougher cookie to crack, and that’s a good thing. It means less (colour) hate-drafting. (But let’s face it, if that’s your strategy in Sagrada, you’re not helping your own window.) Shuffle all 11 of these Private Objectives together and voilà: quite the cauldron.
It does make higher die numbers a heck of a lot more appealing, though – everyone’s chasing them. You can attempt to realign the scales by including one of the original Public Objectives: scoring points for every pair of 1 and 2s. That’s part of the great thing about Sagrada. Every game has the potential to feel unique, given the flop of scoring cards. And that’s multiplied again, with this element within the 5-6 Player Expansion.
Dive Into Your Own Private Dice Pool
Now onto the biggest change of the new shiny bits! The main inclusion in this Sagrada expansion is the Private Dice Pools. This provides a new module that changes the way Sagrada works, in quite a drastic fashion. There’s six of these circular boards, one for each player. They have ten squares to punch, which form an outer ring. They sit flush on top of the upper half of your window board.
You can play with this variant at any player count. Either way, each player takes two of each dice colour (so a total of ten) and rolls them at the start of the game. You then place the resulting die rolls into your Private Dice Pool. The game has 10 rounds, as per usual, but this time there’s less dice in the communal pool. Each round you roll one dice per player plus one, instead of the default two dice per player plus one. So in a six-player game, you’d roll seven dice (into that new dice tray, why not)!
On your turn, you can draft one die from the public pool. You can also draft one die from your Private Dice Pool. And, if you want, you can spend Favour Tokens to perform one of the three Tool Card actions. This means there’s no ‘snake draft’, like in the original. (In the base-game, turn order for drafting went in an 1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1 pattern. Meaning, the first player got the first and last – eighth – pick of the dice.)
An Inviting Pool? Or Tying Your Own Noose?
This module brings the promise to the table of less down-time between turns. Sagrada is a puzzle, and some players need time – verging into analysis paralysis – to figure out their options. The snake draft, without the Private Dice Pools at six players, could be painful for the first player. Because they’d have to wait for ten turns before it comes back to them! Drafting one public die and picking one from your own private stash eliminates that.
But it does provide some challenging difficulties. If you’ve played Sagrada before, you’ll know it’s a game of two halves. To begin with, the world’s your oyster! You can place all manner of dice almost anywhere. In the latter stages, though, you’re reliant on getting a specific colour or number (or even both for the same die!). If you’re not careful with managing your private dice, you’ll tie your own noose. And if you roll, ahem, feeble (to use a polite term) numbers, you’re sort of stuck with them.
The Right Tool For The Job
But! If you’ve played Sagrada then you’ll know that there are ways to mitigate shoddy die pips. Tool Cards to the rescue! And sure enough, there’s two extra Tool Cards in this Sagrada expansion. These work the same as the 12 Tools Cards you get in base-Sagrada. On your turn, you can spend a Favour Token to perform a window-saving switcheroo.
Both new Tool Cards involve dice in your Private Pool. One lets you re-roll up to two dice in your Private Dice Pool. That’s a dance with the dice gods, but hey, it could get you out of Dodge. The other lets you swap a drafted die with one in you Private Dice Pool. What the latter means is you’re dumping an unwanted die in your pool and placing it into the public pot. Then you’re playing the die you drafted alongside another one from your Private Pool, as per usual. It’s essential to play with one – or even both – of these Tool Cards if playing with the Private Dice Pool module. Otherwise, Lady Luck can ruin the day, and that ain’t cool.
It goes without saying that these Tool Cards are moot if you don’t play with the Private Dice Pools. There’s a circular window symbol on them, as a reminder. In the same fashion: the Glazing Hammer and Running Pliers Tool Cards don’t work with the Private Dice Pools. This is because they involve taking a second die from the public pool.
Dice To See You, To See You, Dice
You’ll find an extra 40 dice in this expansion. (Eight of each of the five colours – green, red, blue, purple and yellow.) Come on, you must have seen that one coming! These are here for player-scaling purposes. This, alongside the base game, brings the total dice up to a whopping 130!
In the rulebook here there’s a handy guide that explains how many dice you need to put into the bag, based on players. It’s all 130 (26 of each colour!) for a standard six-player game. You use 110 for five players (four less per colour, so 22 of each). You use four less of each colour again for a four-player game (so 18 of each; 90 dice – the ones from the base game). And so on, and so forth. This differs from the base game, where all 90 of the dice get used in every game, regardless. This makes it an iota more predictable because all dice get drawn this way. But unless you’re Rain Man, you’ll struggle to count 90-130 dice and focus on your window…
For the Private Dice Pool module, it’s a little different. Start by giving players two dice of each colour, as explained above. For scaling, you’ll put less dice in the bag. (Because 50% of the dice players are going to draft are sat among everyone’s Private Dice Pools.) Again, these quotas are in the rulebook. This isn’t a strenuous task, but it does, of course, add on a scintilla of additional time into set-up.
Final Thoughts On… Sagrada: 5-6 Player Expansion
The designers have allowed extra players to join in this gateway-plus experience. And they’ve done so in an interesting fashion. When I first played base-game Sagrada, my first thoughts were: “I don’t think this would be pleasant at higher player counts.” But the Private Dice Pools eradicates that fear. It eradicates the snake drafting element that causes dreaded downtime.
You do have to take care when drafting from that Private Dice Pool. Knowing that those ten dice can make or break you might sway you into picking a tougher window design. Why? So you’ll start with more Favour Tokens. So you can spend said tokens to manipulate those dice, when (not if!) they screw you. It feels tougher than base-Sagrada. It’s not for total newbies.
I have to applaud the additions you get inside this expansion, though. This, in my eyes, is the best kind of expansion – one with modules. You can pick and choose which ones to add in. You can tailor the experience to provide the exact kind of game you want to play.
Extra window layouts mean replayability's leapt through the roof. (Not that replay-ability has ever been an issue for Sagrada!) I love the new Private Objectives. The challenge is to not let them become a distraction, while you’re shooting for the other three public scoring goals. They’re easy to digest but challenging to master versus the original ones. Again, that’s no problem. Any expansion’s aim is to inject extra life into a game. This 5-6 Player Expansion achieves that, tenfold.
Some people might look at the dice tray as a pure gratuitous addition, but I see it as a welcome component. Chances are it bumps up the price point a tad, but I’d say it’s worth it. The component quality has always been an enormous lure with Sagrada, and the standard remains tip-top. The only disappointment I have is some of the glass Favour Tokens feel a tad misshapen. But they’re the last component players tend to think about or even study in detail. It’s no biggie.
So when push comes to shove, now I have access to playing Sagrada as a 6-player game, would I want to? Ahh, sweet irony. The answer is a wincing No. I admire the fact it can accommodate six. But the things I love about this 5-6 Player Sagrada Expansion are the new modules I can play with 1-4 players. My ideal tailored Sagrada experience might differ to yours. But the fact that we can both tailor it to our personal needs is an impressive strength, indeed.