Full disclosure: A review copy of Sagrada: Passion was provided by Floodgate Games.
New year, new games! It’s taken me a bit to get to this one, but that’s why … we don’t particularly make scheduling guarantees, anymore. There are so many games. But I’m here now and I’m back to reviewing! Live from Seattle, at least, where I’ll be from now until OrcaCon 2020. Without divulging too much of my future schedule plans, let’s see how the latest Sagrada expansion goes.
In Sagrada: Passion, you’re completing The Great Facades with some stained glass purpose, now. This is the first of three mini-expansions for the widely popular dice drafting game, and it purports to add Rare Glass Dice, Inspirations, and an increased focus on symmetry. Will you be able to meld together a cohesive strategy, or will it just end up being a pane?
So, like I said, the expansion is a bunch of additional modules. You’ll want to factor them into certain setups in certain ways. For photo reasons, we’re going to be using all of them, so, get hyped?
Inspiration Cards Setup
For Inspiration Cards, you’ll want to do this first, before you even pick a Window Pattern Card. Give each player a face-up Inspiration Card:
These are essentially player powers, so, not much else to tell, there.
Rare Glass Dice Setup
Rare Glass Dice are sort of the crux of this game; they’re very fancy dice you can use for various things. First, before selecting Tool Cards, select a Rare Glass Dice Board:
Then, roll and add Rare Glass Dice to the slots:
If you want, you can include the Rare Glass Dice Private Objectives, or shuffle all the Private Objectives together. Whatever works. Once you’ve done this, reveal 2 Tool Cards instead of 3.
New Public Objectives Setup
These are the easiest to do; just shuffle them into the base game’s public objectives:
Just be careful, as some of these will directly conflict with existing base game objectives. Avoid having pairs of both Symmetry and Variety of the same type; that will lead to a bad time.
Either way, once you’ve thrown in your modules, you’re ready to start!
Again, the modular nature of these doesn’t really lend itself to a cohesive narrative, so let’s break this bad boy up into segments.
Inspiration Cards Gameplay
Inspiration Cards have very few gameplay effects outside of what they detail on the cards. They generally give you additional benefits, like making used Tools cheaper or allowing you to take a die from the Round Track or other bonuses. Turn the card to the side if it’s used once per round; if it has a once-per-game effect, flip it over once it’s been used.
Rare Glass Dice Gameplay
Rare Glass Dice are more complicated. They replace a Tool Card and frequently allow you to spend Favor Tokens to collect a Rare Glass Die. A Rare Glass Die can be placed on your board following normal placement rules with one important detail: it’s considered to be any color, so it doesn’t violate adjacency rules when it’s placed next to any color die. The value restrictions are still in place, however.
Note that you may only have one Rare Glass Die in your window at any time. If, at the end of your turn, the Rare Glass Die Board is empty, roll new Rare Glass Dice to fill up the board (if possible).
There are additional Private Objectives that deal with the Rare Glass Die; use them (or shuffle them in with all the others) when using this specific module. Don’t use them if you’re not using this module, of course.
New Public Objectives Gameplay
The new Public Objectives are just there to melt a few brains. These require symmetry on your board, in that certain spots must be the same value or same color for an additional challenge. As I mentioned elsewhere, this directly conflicts with the Variety objectives, so, make sure you don’t have contradictory objectives in your game when you’re playing.
End of Game
Nothing about these particularly impacts the end of the game beyond how the objectives are scored, so, once the game ends, the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Adding in another decision point to a game is going to make the game tend to take longer with players that agonize over decisions. This isn’t a particularly groundbreaking idea. That does, however, mean that I’m less likely to break this out at 4+, since I already think that 5- and 6-player Sagrada takes too long. I’m not generally a big fan of expansions that increase the viable player count anyways; I think that causes games to bloat a bit and take too long to finish. That said, at two, this still zips along, especially with the Private Dice Pools in play from the last expansion.
- Don’t overindex on your Rare Glass Die objective. This happens to a lot of players; they see that private goal and they try to get as many points as possible on it, often to the detriment of their public goal. If you can get 20+ points on your private objective, you’ve done really well, but you’re not going to win the game on 21 points. You need to have another couple scoring vectors available to you if you want to clinch that.
- I find it more useful to place the Rare Glass Die on a color-restricted space on your board, but it may not be a bad idea to place it on a value-restricted space if you can make that work. Either way it takes up a restricted spot, which is nice, but you should really consider where it’s most useful to place immediately so that you can knock out a particularly challenging requirement. It’ll serve you better long-term, that way.
- Try not to place the Rare Glass Die on an edge or a corner. That makes it really hard to get a lot of points for the Rare Glass Die Private Objectives, if you have one of those. There are a few exceptions, of course, but generally yeah, I try to avoid that because it also means that you can freely place more colors adjacent to it if you have all 8 adjacent spots available.
- Keep in mind that it may be worth taking the Rare Glass Die before or after you place your drafted dice (including the ones from your Private Pool, if you’re using that). Since they don’t create or adhere to color restrictions, they can be helpful when placed on certain spaces. Just remember that they’re not going to help you with color chaining, either. They’re just … something else. I usually just recommend trying to find a good spot for them early on and hoping that it pans out for you.
- Try to lean into your Player Powers. As with pretty much every game with player powers, using your player powers is going to give you an edge over players who don’t. They can be really helpful in certain binds, if you’re willing to take on some of the risk associated with them. Up to you!
- The Symmetry Objectives are tough. Plan for them, if you can. They’re essentially additional restrictions on your placement, so it’s going to be hard to factor them in among other things. I’m generally a fan of kind of ignoring them and hoping for the best, but, I tend not to win a lot of games with that strategy, so your mileage may vary.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I really like the look of the Rare Glass Dice. They’re very fancy dice. People are gonna like these.
- Modular expansions are always nice ways to ramp up new mechanics. They’re individually not that hard to learn, so you can always play with one piece before introducing another or play with all of them in every combination. It’s a great way to get more longevity out of your expansions without that much additional upkeep, if you’re into that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I’ve abused my game groups enough that they no longer remember playing Sagrada, so I just need to explain the whole game every time anyways. So it goes.
- The art on the Inspiration Cards is really nice. I actually like them a lot? Makes me wish we got more art in the game, personally.
- This one fits in the base game box. I think it’s the last one that’s going to, but I’m always pleased when I can cram one more expansion into the base game box. Or I’ll just need to remove the insert, but it’s so nicely molded that it feels like a shame to get rid of it. It’s been a really reliable insert!
- Pretty minimal setup time for each. These are pretty easy expansions to get to the table. The hardest one is the symmetry Public Objectives, since they require making sure you don’t reveal mutually-incompatible options.
- Player powers and “more objectives” aren’t necessarily the most exciting of expansion materials to find. This feels a bit like one of those Kickstarter mini-expansions you might find as a stretch goal. That’s not necessarily bad, but I wouldn’t go into this thinking it’s going to completely change how you play Sagrada. It’s just a bit extra.
- Adding more challenging decisions is interesting, but it tends to slow the game down if players are thinking about it. If you play with the Private Dice Pools, it’s not too aggressive, but if not, you’re going to see a decently slow game get even slower, which might not be what you want. Adding the symmetry objectives makes placement more challenging (you need to plan a bit more long-term) and the Rare Glass Dice is another decision for players to make in the early-game that’s got far-reaching implications.
- We’re starting to hit peak Sagrada, it feels like. There are three mini expansions in here and that’s fine, but I’m worried that I’m starting to get complexity / expansion fatigue. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the next two; I’m hoping that they’re relatively mild. None of these are really quite as groundbreaking as the previous expansion, in my opinion; they’re certainly nice, but that one is an expansion that sweepingly improves the base game. It’s hard to top something like that.
Overall: 7 / 10
Overall, I think Passion is a solid expansion for the discerning Sagrada fan. I’m glad I’ve had the chance to try it, but it’s definitely not something I’d use when I’m introducing the game. Like I said earlier in my review, it feels like the kind of thing that you’d unlock via a social goal or a stretch goal on Kickstarter. Usually with games like these, that’s exactly what you’ll see; a set of scoring cards unlocked because you got 500 thumbs on BGG or some more player powers revealed because you hit a certain amount of money. It’s interesting to see these come along later in Sagrada’s lifecycle; for a game like it, you’d expect to see something more … substantial isn’t quite the word I want to use, to be honest. I’m thinking more of games that add significant new effects in their expansions, like Heroes & Hexes. To be fair, two of my favorite expansions (Pandemic: On the Brink and Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals) are both fairly low-key and modular, as well, so perhaps I’m not being entirely fair to Passion. I think for a smaller box expansion it’s solid in that the small modules it adds aren’t terribly distracting on their own. Together, that’s where I start to waffle a bit. It feels like it’s starting to add too much to Sagrada, if I’m being real. Once we had the Private Dice Pools, the game started moving quickly enough that I felt like the experience should streamline itself to start matching that energy. Passion is wholly unconcerned with streamlining, and while that’s great for some folks, it doesn’t necessarily make me overwhelmingly enthusiastic to play this at more than two players. But at two, it’s great, so, that’s not the worst thing either. And so I continue to waffle a bit. If you’re looking to add that extra oomph to a game you already love, then yes, Passion should be right up your alley! If you’re enthusiastic about how the first expansion really cut away some of the game’s clunkier parts, well, I don’t think this is going to appeal to that desire for streamlining. That said, I do like what it adds, so if you feel like that’s going to be for you, I’d recommend checking it out!