Sagrada

Publisher: Floodgate Games

Designers: Daryl Andrews & Adrian Adamescu

Ages: 13+

Players: 1-4

Duration: 30-45 min

Barcelona. 1882. The Sagrada Familia begins construction, and during the work beautiful stain glass is to be added, and you, the artisan, are called in. But you’re not the only one… more artisans have been called, and from the available glass you are all required to create the most beautiful stained glass. But only one of you can become the master artisan and created the most beautiful glass in the cathedral

Sagrada is a dice drafting/puzzle game. I’ve reviewed card drafting games (7 Wonders is a example) but dice drafting works the same… but with dice! Durning the game you will each try to fill your board according to placement rules, and score based on public and secret objectives. This game has received so much praise, was impossible to get at one point but now seems to be more available. But does it live up to its hype? Let’s find out!

Whats in the box?

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Seriously… just look at those dice! And so many…

Inside the box there are 90 dice (yes, you are reading that correctly) in 5 different colours with a dice bag, 4 player boards, 12 double sided window cards, 12 tool cards, 10 public objective cards and 5 private objective cards, 4 score makers, 24 favour tokens and a board with a round track on one side and a scoring track one the other.

This game is STUNNING… just look at the colours! The boards are amazing, the dice are gorgeous and everything about the game just feels right. The scoring markers would have been nicer as wooden pieces, but thats a minor thing and otherwise its amazing. and those dice… just look at those dice. Components are some of the best I have ever seen.

So how do you play?

Setup is simple: each player receives a player board of their colour choosing, and then gets 2 double sided pattern cards, chooses one of them, picks a side and discards the other. Each pattern has a difficulty on the bottom right corner: the more difficult the more favour tokens you get (those will be explained later, but they basically can help you bend the rules a little). Then players the round track near the centre of the play area, and place each players score marker near the round track.

Shuffle the private objective cards and hand one out to each player. Look at your own card, but keep it secret from the other players. Next, draw 3 random tool cards and place them face up in the play area, and do the same for 3 of the public objective cards. Next, choose the starting player of your choice and begin!

Take a dice, wait… take another dice, pass the bag, repeat!

The starting player will take the dice bag, and draw 2 dice per player plus one more (for example, in a 3 player game you will draw 7 dice (2×3+1… a little math for you!). And then they roll them. Now drafting will begin clockwise in a serpentine method: I will explain what this means. In a 3 player game, the first player will take one dice, the second will then take one, and then the third player will take one. Once everyone has had a turn, we start backwards (counterclockwise): the third player takes a dice, then the second and then the first player takes a dice. That means that the first player will be the first and also the last to take a dice. Once everyone has taken 2 turns, place a remaining dice on the round tracker, and the bag gets passed clockwise and the next round begins.

But wait… what do you do when you take a dice? You place it on your board silly! But… there are just a few restrictions… actually theres more than a few. Your first dice must go on an edge or corner space, and after that they must be placed either orthogonally adjacent (left, right, up or down) or diagonally adjacent to an existing dice on your board. But thats not it… your board will have colour and number restrictions on some of the spaces. If its a coloured space, you must place that colour dice but numbers aren’t restricted. If its a number space, you must place that number value dice, but colour isn’t restricted. Sound simple enough, can we just go on? There’s a little more to it… you may not place a die of the same colour or value next orthogonally next to one another. So you can never place a purple dice next to another purple dice, or a 3 value dice next to another 3. Whoa, restrictions much? That really makes this game very strategic and makes every placement important. Oh, and those white spaces? They can be anything, as long as you follow rule placements.

Here is a good example of what NOT to do… by placing that yellow 4 there, you’ve both removed the option to place the yellow dice on it’s left, and the 4 valued dice on it’s right… the purple 5 dice also limits you from placing the 5 value dice below it.

Before or after drafting a dice, you may also choose to use a tool card. Thats where those favour tokens come into play: you can spend one favour token (if you are the first person using the tool) or if it’s been used, spend 2 tokens and use the tools power. They are all different. Some will let you place a die in a coloured space that doesn’t match (you still can’t place the same colours or numbers beside each other, or some let you change the dice value before you place it, or some will let you swipe dice on the board. Don’t worry, if you never use tools, those favour tokens are worth points at the end of the game. Also, during your turn, you may choose not to draft a dice if you can’t place one on your board. You are also allowed to pass and not take a dice, but that still counts as your turn.

Here are just some of the pubic scoring cards (top row) and some of the tools (bottom row)

The game will continue for 10 rounds, and then we start scoring. Take the dice off the round tracker and flip it over, so it becomes the scoring track (Magic!). Now we score 4 different things:

  • Public Objectives: each player will score based on the 3 cards out. Some cards give you points for having rows of different colours, some will give you points when you match sets of different numbers, some will give you points for making diagonal lines of different colours. You may score multiple times off the same card provided you met the objective (for example, if you have multiple rows of different colours, you score for each row).
  • Private Objectives: each player scores based on the colour on their private objective card: Count up the values of the dice of that colour and thats your points (example, if your colour is blue and you have a blue 6, 3 and 4, you will score 13 points).
  • Favour Tokens: You will get one point for each unspent favour token.
  • Empty spaces: You will lose one point for every empty space on the board.

Add up all your totals on the track as you score, and if you make it past 50 flip your scoring marker over to the 50 side and start at 1 again. Whoever has the most points wins, and ties are broken by most private objective points and favour tokens, and then reverse turn order in the last round.

Last importnat rule: if you ever realized you made a mistake, you must remove dice (of your choice) to correct the mistake until all restrictions are obeyed, and those open spaces will count as negative points. Enjoy!

Is it any good?

Once in a while, a game comes out that gets a lot of hype and then isn’t available cause they run out of copies, and in between print runs it becomes the most coveted game, but then it comes back in print and people realize it was more coveted because it was rare, not because it was a great game.

Sagrada is not that game.

Sagrada really lives up to the hype and more. It elegantly combines dice drafting and a puzzle game flawlessly while splashing one of the prettiest coats of any game in recent memory. It has been said it’s nearly impossible to take a bad picture of Sagrada, and it’s clear why. The cardboard is super sturdy, and those dice are just awesome! The included bag is a heavy cloth fabric and holds all the dice well.

Seriously worth the hype! Looks and plays great… why haven’t you gotten it yet?!?!

But it’s more than just the looks. Sagrada plays quick requires lots of strategy. In a lot of a drafting games, it’s easy to take something you don’t need just to hinder your opponent, and you can do that but you also have to be careful you don’t hurt yourself. The window pattern cards are well done, and the extra favour tokens can really help you out (or get you points in the end), so it really balances itself. The dice placement rules are well implemented, and the public scoring cards give you a sense of accomplishment, although you really have to find a balance between fulfilling them and not leaving too many gaps on the board (or if you’re me… not leaving any gaps at all! I don’t like leaving holes in this game). And having one extra dice at the end of the round is nice, because if you’re taking the last turn you get to choose from 2 dice, not just left with the last one.

It’s hard to find any flaws in this game, but I do find some of the tool cards to be kinda useless, they really don’t help, or are a big gamble and I’ve gone games without even using any. Also, having only 12 window pattern cards (even thought they’re double sided) doesn’t feel like enough… there are a lot of promos out there, but I feel the base game could have used more to enhance replayablity, but it looks like that is being adressed with promos and the recently announced expansion.

In short, Sagrada is an abstract game at heart, but the pasted on theme is actually so well implemented you almost forget it is one (Hey Glüx, you could really learn from this). Easily accessible to new players, yet hard to master for more experienced, Sagrads has something for everyone!

One more note: If you are a solo gamer, Sagrada has a EXCELLENT solo mode where you actually set the score with the total value of the remaining dice that aren’t drafted, and you try to beat that score. It’s a really well designed solo mode, and if you like doing strategic puzzles, this might just be the thing for you!

Pros:

  • Mechanics blend beautifully; great balance between drafting and puzzle gameplay
  • My goodness, is this game stunning or what?
  • The dice placement rules are some of the best I have ever come across

Cons:

  • Could have used some more window pattern cards in the box.

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