Base price: $40.
1 – 4 players.
Play time: 30 – 45 minutes.
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?) (Will update once it’s available at retail.)
Sometimes I ridiculously delay reviews that I’ve already written for, forever (coming up on a year of still-haven’t-pushed-my-Onitama-review), and other times I just churn out a review of a game that literally just popped up at my house. This is one of those times, so let’s talk about Sagrada.
Sagrada is named for the Sagrada Familia, an awesome minor basilica in Barcelona. You’re on task for building those sweet stained-glass windows that everyone loves so much. Thankfully, you’ve got the best window-building tool in town — a bunch of bright, colorful dice. At least, I’m like, 10% sure that’s how you build a window. Maybe it’s not. Either way, can you build the best one?
So you’ll find a few things in the box, here. Every player should take a window:
And set the round tracker near all players:
You’ll want three of the Tool Cards:
And then three Public Objectives cards:
Once everyone’s seen those, give each player one of the Private Objectives:
And then give each player two Window Cards. They’re double-sided, so pick a side and slide it into your window:
Each of them has a rough “difficulty” on them (more dots means more difficult), and that is also the number of Favor Tokens you get. Favor Tokens are the difficult-to-photograph-against-a-black-background clearish tokens with the game. Give every player their specified number. If you’ve done all of that correctly, you should be all ready to play:
If you’re playing the Solo variant, there are a few differences:
- Tool Cards are used to set the difficulty of the game, not Window Cards. 1 Tool Card for a very hard game, 5 Tool Cards for a very easy game.
- There are no Favor Tokens. Sorry.
- Only use two Public Objectives, and make your Private Objective public (flip it face-up). No real point in having a Private Objective if you’re the only player.
Sagrada is played over 10 rounds, each with two turns per player. Whichever player starts the round pulls a number of dice from the dice bag and then rolls them:
- 1 Player: 4 dice
- 2 Players: 5 dice
- 3 Players: 7 dice
- 4 Players: 9 dice
Then, starting with that first player, each player takes a die until the last player, who then takes a die again and all players take in reverse order. Essentially, for players 1, 2, and 3, this should happen:
1 -> 2 -> 3 -> 3 -> 2 -> 1
Any remaining dice should be placed onto the Round Tracker. But, there’s more to do. Technically, on your turn, you can do each (or none; you can pass) of the following actions:
- Use a Tool Card
- Place a Die
I’ll explain each in turn.
Use a Tool Card
So, with the Tool Cards, you can slightly break the rules in order to progress forward. As you remember, there are a bunch:
And they generally have pretty solid abilities. When you use a Tool Card, you must pay Favor Tokens to use its effect (and you can only use one Tool Card, once per turn). If there are no Favor Tokens currently on the Tool Card, you must place one Favor Token on the Tool Card to use it. If there are already Favor Tokens on the Tool Card, you now need to place two. Some benefit to going early!
Place a Die
The heart of the game is placing dice onto your Window Card, since that’s the majority of how you score points. That said, it’d be no fun if you could just place them however you wanted, so there are some caveats:
- On your first turn, you must place your first die along the outer edge of the window. Can’t start building a window from the middle, after all.
- You must obey your Window Card. If it has a space that has a certain color or number, that color or number must be placed on it.
- When you place a die, it must be orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to another die already on your Window Card. That leaves you a bunch of options, though, so it’s probably fine.
- When you place a die, it cannot be orthogonally adjacent to another die that is the same color or the same number. That makes it a lot harder. Watch out for creating situations in which you can’t place a die — if you place a yellow die orthogonally adjacent to a yellow square, you cannot place on the yellow square ever because it violates one of the placement rules. Bummer.
If you cannot place a die, you pass and the die stays in the draft. Technically, if you’re found to have violated a placement rule, you must remove violating dice from the game and take the endgame penalty, but we feel like that’s mean so we just help players on their turn (especially new ones).
So, for instance, take this before-and-after:
They spectacularly managed to violate three different rules. The yellow six in the upper-left corner was placed next to another yellow die, the blue six was placed next to another six, and the purple five was placed on a “six” spot. None of those are correct, so … don’t do stuff like that.
Play continues until 10 rounds have passed, at which point you break out the Score Markers and flip the Round Track over to the Score Track side:
Add up the following:
- +1 for every Favor Token you still have.
- Your Public Objectives. Note that most of those are scored as sets so you score the pictured number of points per set you have.
- Your Private Objectives. Note that that is the sum of the values, not just the number of dice of that color. Go for sixes.
The player with the most points wins!
Solo Gameplay is mostly the same, except for one thing — you now can only use Tool Cards by spending a die from the draft that matches that tool’s criteria (the die in the top-left corner). That die and the Tool Card are removed from the game. All Tools are one-use in solo play.
You’ll note that there are four dice, even though you only choose two per turn. This is by design, and unless you spend them on tools, they’ll both be put on the Round Tracker.
Once the game is over, add up all the values on the dice on the Round Tracker. This is your Target Score. If you beat the Target Score, you win! Otherwise, you lose.
Player Count Differences
The major difference is just that you run the risk of taking “worse” dice at higher player counts, since there are more dice in play and more turns between yours and another player’s. I generally like this game the most at two, but it’s certainly not bad at 3 or 4.
- Diagonals are your friend. The more you play along diagonals, the better your life will probably be. This is because you can place dice along diagonals without violating placement rules, allowing you to quickly and easily expand your board.
- Fill objectives as quickly as possible. In my opinion, your life gets a lot easier when you’re trying to decide what your best option is instead of getting stressed and hoping that you roll a purple 1 on your last turn. There are some times when this isn’t a hard rule (for instance, a 6 of your Private Objective color is rolled), but generally I highly recommend this.
- Your Private Objective can be one of your highest-scoring things. I’ve seen people with 30+ points just on their Private Objective (highest score I’ve seen is ~70), which isn’t shabby at all. Hoard those 5s and 6s of your color, if you feel like it.
- Watch out for traps. If you have a red 2, blue 4, purple 6, and yellow 1 around a single spot, the only two dice that could go there are a green 5 and a green 3. That’s not terribly likely within a random sampling of dice. Even if you just manage to make it a yellow 6 and a yellow 1 you already double your options. Try to avoid too much variety on your board, as it makes it hard to place in the future, especially if you’re trying to be cognizant of Public Objectives.
- Don’t waste time trying to screw over other players. You generally have enough to focus on without trying to mess over everyone else, I’ve found (and several other players have mentioned this as well). It’s probably easiest if you just stress over what dice they’re going to draft, instead.
- Pick the right Window Card. It’s not always beneficial to pick a Window Card that requires dice of your Private Objective’s color — for one, they might all be adjacent to 5s and 6s, meaning you won’t score a lot for playing them. Try to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success or at least making the most of what you can get.
- Use the Tool Cards. I’ve noticed a lot of apprehension from new players about playing Favor Tokens for Tool Cards since they’re worth points, but there’s no reason to fret — Tool Cards are often extremely useful. I recommend making use of them as much as possible.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Such a beautiful game. The colors work super well and the sense of accomplishment you get from seeing the entire window come together is awesome. Everything just works super well, art-wise.
- Also the component quality is amazing. The dice are nice, the cards are good enough, but the window pieces are awesome. They have a nice weight to them and they really feel solid in the hand. Would highly recommend for component quality. The dice are small but not too small (I think they’re Roll for the Galaxy-sized), everything just works.
- Feels puzzley in the right ways. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it has a Sudoku-like feel when you’re trying to place the dice, and I get what they’re saying, completely. It’s fun to try and figure out how to set yourself up for success with what you have.
- Interacty without being too take-that heavy. I still maintain there’s almost no reason to attempt to actively screw another player over. Passively, perhaps, but all of your ducks need to be in a row before you attempt that. I’ve still managed to do it (and have it done to me) unintentionally, but trying to actively do it doesn’t seem to be incentivized.
- Doesn’t feel too long or too short. It’s definitely polished in that sense — it feels like it should take exactly as long as it does, and I really appreciate that in a game.
- New players generally feel heavily disincentivized to use the Tool Cards. Just a bummer that I’ve seen, since the Tool Cards are pretty useful. It creates a tension for them where they don’t want to spend points to allow someone else to be able to spend points for the same result, so nobody does. Alas. I also think it comes from not totally understanding how Tool Cards work.
- The Window Mistake rule seems a bit aggressive, so we just try to keep an eye on other players’ windows and remind them before their turn ends so they can fix it. These are friendly games, after all. I’m “Meh”-ing that rule because I choose to ignore it, so so can you.
- I am ever-so-slightly saddened by the lack of a yellow window. There are yellow dice with no home. 😦
- Fair bit of luck to this game without always having a way to mitigate it. Sure, part of that is that you made some bad choices early on in the game, but the only time I’ve felt unsatisfied playing this game is when I needed a red or a purple anything, only to pull only blue and green dice from the dice bag on the last round. I checked the Tool Cards, but nothing let me change the color, so I was just stuck. It was a bit frustrating. It might be interesting to have a persistent tool card of some kind that always costs 2 or 3 to allow you to slightly tweak the number or color of a die as a permanent mitigator, but then again, who knows what that’d do to the probabilities. To be fair, if you’re complaining a lot about luck in a game, you probably shouldn’t have picked up a dice game, so, your mileage may vary.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, Sagrada is a really good game. There’s probably some aspect of hype to this (as of writing it’s the #2 game on BGG’s Hotness), but I feel like it does live up to it, if it’s the kind of game that you’re interested in. It’s solid, a good length, easy to teach (with some risks of rules mistakes, but that’s life in the city) and a beautiful game with awesome components. Generally a big fan of the puzzley element, and I like that there are often ways to mitigate or change bad rolls (though it becomes more difficult as the game progresses) Floodgate Games really knocked it out of the park with Sagrada, and I’d highly recommend checking it out!