The question that comes up when I make the choice to play a solo game is ‘what differentiates a game from a puzzle’? I could also question why do we even play games in the first place, but I’m here to write, not to think.

I tried the Solo mode for Sagrada the other day, after saying I’d get around to it for years. It was always something that I knew I could do if I wanted, but I didn’t really feel like it just now. 

I don’t know how to solo mode came into being for Sagrada, if the game was designed to be both solo-able, or if it was a kickstarter strech goal they hoped they’d never reach, but after playing it once, I can say that it doesn’t appear to have been given the same amount of time or thought as the multiplayer design. 

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a game designer, and making a game that is compelling for both multiple people to play competitively and solo would be quite the challenge, especially if the person sitting down to judge your work is professing from the start that he is ‘not a solo gamer’. 

Sagrada’s solo mode follows the same basic gameplay from the competitive game. Pull out a number of die, put two into your window following all the restrictions, and try to get the highest score possible (according to the average score is around 46. My own stats trend a little higher at 49.29, with the average winning score being 56.43. You can submit your bug reports here).   

Should you be able to beat a solo game the first time you play? Should it matter if you’ve played the multiplayer mode a couple dozen times? I played at the medium difficulty level and beat the goal score without much issue. But even if I cranked it up to the highest difficulty, it only would have added 2 more die to the target score, and removed 2 of the possible tools from me.  

What sets the solo mode apart is instead of having other players scores to try and exceed, you’re trying to exceed the sum of all sum of the die you pass over throughout the game. With a difficulty scaling of +/- 4 scoring die and less tools to use, I found the solo mode to be a fine way to learn how the game plays, but not a compelling experience that would have me pulling the box off the shelf when I find myself craving some cardboard time.  

One of the questions I found myself thinking after the fact is if it would have been more satisfying if I wasn’t trying to beat goal score, but rather trying to achieve the highest score possible and getting a ‘rank’ based upon the score threshold. Of course, that score would vary depending on the goal cards that are dealt at the beginning of the game and if the colours of die match the goals well. 

I wonder if there would be a way to set up scenarios? Preconfigure specific goal cards and seed the bag with a certain number of each colour, then attribute a rank depending on your endgame score. I wonder how much more you’d have to change before this becomes less of a game to beat and becomes more of a puzzle to solve. 

I recently heard a rumor of Sagrada Legacy, perhaps some of my thoughts and questions will be answered there. 

P. S. I’m still upset about the amount of empty space in the box.