Sagrada Board Game Review
WBG Score: 8.5
Player Count: 1-4
You’ll like this if you like: Roll Player, Azul
Published by: Floodgate Games
Designed by: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews
Ok everyone be honest. You’re all here because you’ve seen the box cover and you’ve heard about the 90 pretty, colourful dice right? Yeah of course you are. I’m not sure my pictures will quite do it justice but whilst you're here would you like to hear about the brilliant game that goes along with this swath of dice and colour? Yeah of course you do.
Are you Familia with the Rules?
Set up by giving each player window frame board and two random double sided window pattern cards. They’ll then choose a side of one card and slot it into their frame. Give each player a number of favour tokens based on the number of pips on the bottom of the card they just picked. These pips also indicate how difficult the window is to complete.
Give each player a secret objective and then place out three tool cards and three public objective cards.
The first player each round will draw a number of dice out of the bag and roll them. Dice will be drawn equal to the number of players times two plus one. So for a three player game you’ll have seven dice. The first player then drafts a die and places it in their window. This will carry on until you get to the last player who will then draft two dice. At this point the draft will go back the other way and eventually end with the first player. The last die leftover will go on the round tracker as a round marker.
When you place a die in your window you will have some restrictions. The first die you place must be placed on one the edges which makes sense. Many windows have been broken from people trying to float pieces of glass in mid air. From then on any die you place must be adjacent to another one, diagonally adjacent counts. You can’t place dice of the same colours or the same numbers next to each other (diagonal is fine). Some spaces in your window will have coloured spaces in them meaning you must place a die of that colour in that space, likewise some will have numbers in them and these must be filled with dice of that number.
On their turn players may also use the tool cards. These have special abilities like, letting you swap dice on your board, change a drafted dice or letting you pick one from the round tracker instead. To use these you must pay for it using your favour tokens. The first time each tool is used only costs one token. Every time it’s used after that will cost two tokens.
After 10 rounds players will score for their private objectives in which you’ll score the sum total of the pips of the coloured dice that’s shown on your card. Then score the public objectives, one point for each favour token you’ve not used and lose one point for each empty space on their window.
Are you familiar with Sagrada Familia?
There seems to be an increasing amount of games these days that look beautiful on the table and give off a nice chilled out relaxing vibe to them, you’d even be tempted to play them in front of the fireplace for the ultimate relaxing experience. In actuality they’ll have you reaching for the paracetamol and needing to go for a little lay down the minute you’ve finished playing them. Sagrada is definitely in that family and at one point I would say was the head of the household. That’s not to say that better games have come to challenge it, they’ve just upped the cuteness to brain burn factor. It's that exact brain burn and brilliant puzzle that keeps bringing me back to Sagrada time and time again. Regardless of if you pick an easy or a more difficult window, you're going to be presented with a challenge that will keep you engaged for the entire game.
I’m going to stop here and give you some advice, it’s weird advice but it may be of use. Make sure you’ve got warm hands! Why? you ask. Because you’re going to be spending so much time with your head in your hands fretting over your player board that the last thing you’re going to want is cold hands to put your head in. This is going to be a common site around the table as you play sagrada.
The beauty and the tension.
I realise I’m presenting this game as something only top Mensa members will be able to figure out. It’s not that at all. If you were to strip it back and were just given a window and all the dice you’d be able to fill it up in a couple of minutes. In fact, Sagrada is a game that I’ll happily introduce to newer gamers. The challenge comes when you introduce dice, randomness, scoring objectives and other people. I know those first two words will send any Eurogamers running for the hills. Normally too much randomness in a game isn’t something that’s always praised in games and most games try their best to mitigate that as much as they can. In Sagrada though it’s the thing that gives this puzzle its bite. Which colours come out of the bag, what numbers are rolled and which of those you get to choose from all pull together to give this game a fantastic amount of tension.
At the beginning of the game every dice has potential to slot neatly into your board, opening up avenues to fulfil those objectives. But as the game goes on those decisions get tighter and tighter as eventually only certain dice of certain colours will do. It’s at these moments as the game ramps up that you start looking towards those tool cards and start muttering to yourself as you try and work out how you can possibly shuffle things around to try and eek out a few extra points here and there and, more importantly, not have to leave a (what feels like) a gaping hole in your window.
The one thing that you’ll notice about Sagrada is that the puzzle itself is relatively easy but being able to get what you need to complete that puzzle is something else entirely.
Every round you’ll see those dice drawn from the bag and you’ll spot the colour you need, brilliant you think to yourself, now if they could just roll a two on it, and they do! Your perfect die is sat there, just waiting for you to fill in that spot. It’s then you realise that your last to go, you now have to wait, agonising while three other people take their pick of the dice. The first two reach straight for other dice, phew, no problem. But the player right before you is undecided, they pour over their choices, even going so far as to touch the die you want which makes your heart skip a beat. If they take another die and you finally get the one you wanted and you’ll get that great feeling of slotting that die into its perfect home. If they take it from you then you start to strongly reconsider attending their wedding, even though it’s your wedding too…….but only very briefly.
The wonderful thing about Sagrada is that you end up with very little in the way of hate drafting. It’s still completely possible but every die you take is going to be so important for your window that it wouldn’t do you any good to take something just for the sake of getting in the way of another player. Not only that but you're so invested into figuring out what you're doing that even the mere idea of trying to work out another player's boards will see you wanting that little lie down even sooner.
The window to the soul.
I’d be lying if I said that 50% of the my reason for buying this wasn’t for the absolute ton for colourful dice you get with it and the production as a whole……okay maybe about 65%
The game and indeed the theme is brought out by a fantastic production. There’s going to an audible Oooooh from new players (and even some seasoned players) as you get them to slide their pattern card into their window. It’s this board that keeps the theme of making a stained glass window fresh in the mind, doubly so when the light catches the dice in the right way. Speaking of light, you only need to google pictures of the Sagrada Familia windows (and I suggest you do) and you’ll see that they’ve captured the theme and the look of these amazing windows perfectly. Everything from the tool cards to the window boards is designed to give this game just enough theme to save it from true abstract status. Those fantastic boards also give you the satisfaction of slotting dice into those spaces and knowing that a little nudge isn’t going to derail your entire game.
Breaking a dice window is seven years bad luck (in gaming)
Sagrada is a puzzle game AND a drafting game so it stands to reason that you’re going to be experiencing some downtime. That doesn’t necessarily come at the fault of the players, that’s just the nature of this type of game. Although you can see what’s out there when the dice are rolled you can’t do any real in-depth planning until it comes to your turn and you can see what dice you have access to and if you’ll need to use a tool card. This does become more apparent later in the