Stained glass windows are beautiful things to look at. No matter what you think of a church’s architecture, the stained glass is usually one of the main attractions and draws your eye to them.
You know what else draws your eye? Beautiful boardgames! (Editor: That transition was painful)
Sagrada is a dice game about creating stained glass windows. But with dice!
I’ll bet you thought you’d never hear stained glass and dice in the same sentence, unless it was that news story a few years ago about vandals throwing dice at stained glass windows and breaking them.
Sagrada was designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews, with artwork by those two and Peter Wocken. It’s published by FloodGate Games and plays 2-4 players (Disembodied voice: “Until the expansion…muwahahahahahahahahaha!”).
Let’s see how it plays.
In Sagrada, each player is given a choice between two double-sided window pattern cards to try and build with dice that will be rolled (as dice are wont to do). You can choose either side, so you technically have four choices.
They slide it into their player board so that each square will hold a die.
The game consists of ten rounds in which the current player will draw from the bag a number of dice equal to twice the number of players plus one.
These dice are rolled and that will be the draft pool for that round.
Starting with the current player, each player will draft a die to place in their window. On the first turn of the game, the die must be placed on one of the outer squares of their window. Subsequent dice must be placed adjacent to at least one of their already-placed dice.
This placement may have some limitations, as shown in the picture above. The white squares can hold any dice. However, if there’s a number there, the die placed must equal that number. If there’s a colour, then the die must be of that colour.
Here’s where it gets tricky.
Dice of the same number or colour cannot be placed adjacent to each other. Diagonal is fine, but not directly next to.
Don’t forget to mention that aspect when you’re teaching the game, unlike the person who taught me the game where I created the above window. (Editor: You can’t even win when you cheat? What’s wrong with you?)
Once everybody has drafted a die, players go in reverse order to draft the second die, so the last player in the round actually chooses two in a row.
There is one other thing you can do on your turn to help your drafting. When you choose your window, the difficulty of successfully completing the window determines how many “favor” tokens you will get.
There are three “tool” cards out on the table. You can spend a favor token (or two if the tool has already been used once) to use that tool, which may help in your dice placement or choosing.
If there are no dice you can legally place, you choose not to draft a die and you will have a (some would say “gaping”) hole in your window. That’s not good.
The unchosen (and probably really depressed that nobody wanted it) die will go on the round track. Certain tools (like the Lens Cutter above) will let you interact with that die, but otherwise it’s just there to mark the round.
End-game scoring consists mainly of the goal cards that are out on the table and your own private objective (this card is basically summing the value of all dice of a particular colour).
For example, the Row Color Variety goal gives you six points for each row that has all five colours.
You lose one point for each open space in your window. In other words, the local villagers are laughing at how pathetic your window looks with that big hole in it.
Finally, you get a point for each unused favour token.
Highest score wins!
Is Sagrada a vision of medieval beauty or is it an ugly clash of colours that hurts the eyes?
It took me a long time to get to play Sagrada, as it kept coming out just as I was in the middle of something else.
When I finally did get to play it, I fell in love with it.
The components are lovely. The vibrant colours with both the dice and the design of the player boards are breathtaking. It’s almost guaranteed to get people passing by to stop and wonder and ask you about the game.
The window patterns are a bit flimsy and you have to slide them into your player board, so I could see them getting frayed with a lot of play. It’s not really anything to worry about, though.
The dice are small, so could potentially be easily lost if you’re not careful, but they are nice and solid and with five colours, they really light up the room!
Your finished window is really nice to look at.
The scoring pieces are really small, as is the scoreboard.
The design of the scoreboard is beautiful, but can make it hard to use sometimes. The numbers blend in. It’s very fiddly, but manageable.
It is a dice game, of course, so while there are ways to potentially change your dice or draft the die that you really need, there is definitely luck involved. They’re dice! Of course there is.
There are 90 dice in the game, and players won’t be rolling that many except in a 4-player game. With two or three players, not all of the dice will come out, so that could cause a problem.
If that is an issue for you, you will not like this game.
I, however, love it. It’s fast and easy to teach. In my work environment, lunch time games are becoming a real treat, so any game that is fun and can be completed in 45-60 minutes (both teaching and playing) is a winner in my book.
I haven’t tried the expansion yet, but I’d like to.
Give this one a try, unless you’re a dice-hating heathen. (Editor: Damn, there go most of our readers)
This review was written after 3 plays