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.