The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Sagrada
Sagrada, co-designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews, is an aesthetically stunning game of stained glass window crafting. The game, Kickstarted and published by Floodgate Games, combines dice drafting and dice placement over ten rounds, as players compete to become the Sagrada’s Master Artisan.
To set up the game, which plays up to four, each player will take a thick cardboard player board and slip in a window pattern card. Each card has five rows and four columns, with different restrictions for placing certain colors and numbers -- referred to as shades in the game -- on certain squares. While each window pattern card is not the same difficulty, the harder cards give players more favor tokens, which can be used on rule-breaking tool cards or kept until the end of the game for victory points.
At the beginning of each of the ten rounds, dice will be drawn -- the formula is two dice per player plus one additional die. Then every player will draft and place one die, and then reverse the draft order and each pick and place a second die, with the remaining die being put on the round tracker to denote the round is over.
Each die placement must obey certain rules. First, each die must be placed adjacent to a previous die (the first die may be placed anywhere along the edge of the player board). Second, no dice of the same color or shade may be orthogonally adjacent to one another. Third, the restrictions of the player’s window pattern card must be obeyed, meaning certain spaces require certain colors and certain shades.
At the end of ten rounds, the boards are scored. Every player will have a hidden goal, where they will score points equal to the total value of the dice of a specific color. There will be three public goals, which will score if certain objectives are met, like getting two points for each set of 5s and 6s, or scoring extra points for having diagonals of a like color. Players will also get two points for each remaining favor token they have, and will lose a point for each empty square in their window pattern card. The highest score is the winner.
Pros: Gorgeous components -- thick player boards with grid cutouts to hold the dice in play, vibrantly colored translucent dice, glass favor tokens, and a cloth bag with the Sagrada logo to hold the dice. A simple, streamlined rule-set with a well-written rulebook that is only four pages in length. Interesting puzzle-like gameplay, reminiscent of Sudoku, that mixes dice drafting and pattern arranging. Unique theme that fits this rather abstract game well. Lots of variety to add replayability, with twelve window pattern cards, twelve tool cards, and ten public objective cards.
Cons: Only plays a maximum of four players. The solo mode, while perfectly functional and always a welcome addition, feels too difficult, even on the easiest setting. At higher player counts, the game can be slowed down by players with analysis paralysis, especially in the later rounds of the game. This downtime is exacerbated by the snaking draft where the first player will draft the first and last die in a round.
Sagrada has a remarkable table presence, quality components, a simple rule-set, and fun, puzzle-like gameplay, making it a great game to introduce to newer gamers. But don’t mistake it as just another gateway game, as there is enough decision space and tension in Sagrada for more experienced gamers that are in the mood for a lighter 30-40 minute game.