- Number of Plays: 29 (Mostly 3 players, equal amount of 2 and 4)
- Game Length: 30 minutes
- Mechanics: Dice Rolling
- Release Year: 2017
- Designers: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews
- Artists: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews, Peter Wocken
- Publisher: Floodgate Games
Some photos have been provided by Floodgate Games
I love churches. I’ve always marveled at the massive ornate buildings that were erected long before electricity was harnessed. It’s a seeming impossible task to consider how much work, engineering, and planning that had to take place in order to create these monuments to God. Inside these old churches it’s usually dark as light has a difficult time penetrating stone. The solution wasn’t just to place gaps in the rock and close them with clear panes of glass, because if you’re going to create a monument to the almighty creator it should be head and shoulders above what we do for other morals.
A beautiful stained glass window is the centerpiece for a cathedrals. The vibrant colours illuminated by the sun create a majestic display of light and the artistic story told within the glass becomes breathtaking. The game of Sagrada takes the idea of building these stain glass windows and creates an unique game of dice drafting and window crafting.
The game of Sagrada begins with a blueprint inside of a dual layered cardboard frame. The blueprint is slipped in, the public objectives are laid out, and you contemplate your secret objective. The first player pulls out a mittful of colourful translucent dice (2 times the number of players plus 1). Once the die are cast, the first player selects a single die and fits it into their board somewhere along the edge (because if you try to suspend a shard of coloured glass without anything for it to hold on to, gravity will strike). Then every player in clockwise order chooses a die and fits it onto their board. Once the last player has taken their a die, they take a second and in reverse player order everyone gets a second die from the pool. With that second die the placement restrictions begin to rear their ugly head and the game begins. You must place a die directly adjacent or diagonal from an existing die on your board. However, you cannot place dice of the same colour or the same number directly adjacent to each other.
Each blueprint will have colours and numbers on the board that also need to be obeyed. You don’t want to place a die with 2 pips next to a slot that will requres a 2, lest you enjoy having a holey window. The game plays quickly over 10 rounds, in which hopefully you will take and place 20 dice. More likely near the end of the game you’ll end up with a gaping hole that requires a red five and the player to your right took the only die you needed before you ever had the opportunity.
Throughout the game you also have some glass beads that allow you to make use of the tool cards. These cards allow you to break the rules of the game and can be used either before or after drafting your die for the turn. This flexibility helps the windows that feel impossible to complete with the die that are being pulled from the bag, and add a bit of variation to the game. One session you may have several tools that let you move die around on your window, while in another session the die will be locked in place for good, but you do have some leeway on changing the pips before it’s cemented in its place.
Often this game can feel less like a game and more like a off-brand very colourful Sudoku. You want to place a red die down, but you need to make sure you aren’t placing it next to an existing red die, and that the number on the die you’re placing isn’t going to make it impossible to play another die later. I’ve often found myself in a situation where I need a specific colour and number to fit into a hole in the middle of my board. If that colour die doesn’t come out and the tools don’t allow for the flexibility I need, then my window is destined to have a hole in it.
I’ve read that a lot of people really love this game at the 2 player count and I need to disagree. At 2 players only half of the die in the bag will come into the game. This has the opportunity to screw over the private objectives; If I need to get as many yellow die as possible but only 3 happen to come out of the bag, than my score will suffer as a result (for what it’s worth an average score in this game is around 50 points. The secret objective often gives around 20-ish points, up to 40% of a players total score!)
My preferred player count for this game is 4. Every turn 9 die will hit the table and at the end of the game the bag will be empty. An equal amount of die will be drawn and the likelyhood of getting the die you need increases as a result.
While the 3 public objectives change in each game from a pool of 10, only a few varieties exist with simply different qualifiers. For every pair of 1 and 2, get two points. For every pair of 3 and 4’s and pairs of 5 and 6’s, get 2 points. There’s objective cards for having a different pip value in each row and a card for different numbers in each column. The same goes again for colour. Two more objectives exist that require you to have an entire set of either colours or numbers. The final objective is finally unique as you score each die
At first it seems having 10 public objectives with only 3 on the table each game would give a lot of variety, but with only 3 different goals (pairs, colour/number variety, and full sets) the variety is a simply a mirage.
The box that holds Sagrada is almost comically large compared to the contents. The amount of empty space rivals Spledor and I’m sure could contain every expansion that’s been released to date.
Sagrada is a simple to teach game that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. While the variety in the goal cards does wane after repeated plays, and I have my issues when played with two players, I wouldn’t hesitate to give this title my full recommendation. Some expansions have released that include a few more goal cards which I think would do well to address my main complaints of this game. Unfortunately I haven’t played with any of the expansions, so I can’t speak for how well each of them work.
When Sagrada was first released back in 2017 it was released alongside Azul. As much as I want to take a look at Sagrada on its own and judge the game based on it’s own merits, the reality is that no game exists in a vacuum. Azul is also a light, aesthetically pleasing, puzzle-y game that is great to introduce newer players to the hobby while still having the depth to keep ‘core’ gamers interested. The community consensus seems to be that Azul is the preferred game of the two, but that doesn’t hold true for my own tastes. I absolutely prefer to play Azul as a duel game, and if three or four people are at my table, then Sagrada is the box I’ll be pulling off the shelf.