Review – Sagrada

The Sagrada Familia is an unfinished church in Barcelona. The church, a work of the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, One of the major features of this beautiful place is the stained glass windows. That is the inspiration behind Sagrada, a game where you are put in the shoes of an architect, perhaps Gaudi himself, to create stained glass windows from translucent coloured dice.

Designed by Daryl Andrews and Adrian Ademescu and published by Floodgate Games, Sagrada offers a short but sweet view into a world of stained glass windows. The art style is unique and really quite pretty and gives some thematic flair to the game.

The cover art is very detailed and colourful and really adds to the overall appeal of the game.

When I opened the box for the first time, the first thing I noticed was how great the insert was that came with the game. It holds everything neatly and once all the packaging is removed, it still fits back perfectly.

The insert from the box. Cards and window patterns are stored underneath the player boards and both dice and favor token bags fit well.

To begin playing Sagrada, each player first chooses one of the player boards, made of thick, sturdy cardboard and featuring more beautiful art in one of four colours.

The player boards in green, purple, red, and blue.

Next, each player is given two window pattern cards and must choose one of the four options (each card is double-sided) to complete. These window patterns range in difficulty from 3 dots (easiest to complete) to 6 dots (hardest to complete).

Here are four of the twenty-four available window patterns, each with a different difficulty level. Note that each pattern has its own name to add to theming of the game.

To help balance out the difficulty between windows, the dots on the bottom are indicative of how many Favor Tokens a player is given at the beginning of the game. These Tokens are beautiful glass stones which are each worth 1 point at the end of the game, but can also be spent on a Tool (more about that later) to aid the player in the game. I think this is a really neat mechanic that helps balance the game.

The Favour Tokens. They aren’t quite clear, as one can see in this photo, but they aren’t opaque either.

Next, players are given a Private Objective which they, and they alone, will score at the end of the game. Next, three Public Objectives are placed in the centre of the gaming area. These will determine how points will be scored for the game. They can be anything from sets of numbers on a window, to sets of colours, to having all different numbers or colours in a row or column, to the number of the same coloured dice that are placed diagonally from each other.

The dice on the back of the Public (left) and Private (right) Objective cards help differentiate which is which.

Three Tool cards are then chosen and placed in the centre as well. These tools can be used by players at a cost of one or two Favour Tokens, depending on whether a player is the first player to use the Tool or not.

A variety of the Tool cards available.

Lastly, set up the round track so it is showing squares with numbers one through ten on it, and you’re ready to play.

A general look at what setup should look like.

Sagrada involves drafting translucent dice that are in five different colours to place in your window. The placement of the dice is very important. Each window pattern will have coloured spots which determine which colour of die can go there, shaded spots with pips, determining which numbered die can go there, and white spots, which are open to any number or colour. However, players also have to abide by two key rules for placement: No two dice of the same colour and/or number may touch (diagonally is okay), and that when placing dice, it must touch another placed die (diagonally counts).

An example of a properly completed window.

The number of dice pulled each round is determined by the number of players. Each player should get the chance to draft twice, plus an extra die is pulled to mark the round completed. The draft begins with a starting player who pulls the appropriate amount of dice, rolls them, and then chooses one to place in their window. Play goes clockwise, until the last person has chosen one die, then the last player chooses their second die, and play continues counter-clockwise. The remaining die (or dice in case of a player passing) is placed on the round track to signal the round being completed.

Dice a.k.a. board gamer candy

Play continues through ten rounds. At any time during their turn, a player may spend their Favour Token(s) on Tool cards which remain on that card for the duration of the game. After ten rounds, the dice are cleared off the round track, which is then flipped over to reveal a scoring track. Each player board has a token associated with their colour for this scoring track. Then scores are compiled from both Private and Public Objectives and Favour Tokens. As well, players then lose one point for every space on their window they could not fill. The player with the highest score after all this wins!

The scoring track with player tokens. Note the Red is flipped to the 50 side. This helps keep track of higher scores.

It may seem like a lot to grasp at first, but once you get the hang of it, games of Sagrada go by really quickly, usually in about the 30 minutes given on the box. I’ve found a lot of success teaching this to some of my family who enjoy gaming, but are not as heavily into the hobby as I am. It offers enough of a challenge for more experienced gamers, but is light enough to be good example of a gateway game.

The production quality of this game is top notch. As mentioned multiple times, I love the artwork of the game and think it adds a lot to my enjoyment of the game. The player boards are well designed and study. The window cards slide easily in and out of the boards. The glass Favour Tokens are a nice touch and add a lot to the overall quality of the game. My one complaint is that the player scoring tokens are a bit small and thin. As well, having a double sided round and scoring track is a neat idea, but in practice, proves to be a bit frustrating, particularly in the solo game.

Yes, there is a solo variant to Sagrada which I have found to be very enjoyable and perhaps even more puzzly than the original version. Game play is mostly the same. However players have a pool of 4 dice to work from which they can either draft and place 2 in their window per turn or draft and use on a tool with a matching colour square instead of paying favour tokens (not used in the solo variant) and draft a third die to use the tool on/place. The unused dice then go to the round track as usual, however instead of being just round markers, the pips showing on the dice determine the score you are trying to beat at the end of the game. Scores are calculated from two Public Objective cards and one of two Private Objective cards that are drawn and placed face up at the beginning of the game. The number of tools is what determines the difficulty, from 1 (hardest) to 5 (easiest).

Overall, I find Sagrada to be an excellent game with a great component quality to enhance the experience. 

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