Sagrada - In-Depth Review
- Perfect for Sudoku and puzzle lovers
- Great at low player counts (and even solo)
- Unique theme
- 90 dice!
- The beauty disguises a highly logical puzzle game
- Difficulty increases each round
Sagrada is a lot like competitive Sudoku, but you have to track colors as well as numbers, and you have a limited set of options to draw from. It comes with ninety dice. NINETY. I love dice. Any game that comes with ninety dice is an absolute win for me. Do not be fooled by the dice though - this is not a “luck of the dice” style game. There is a lot of strategy involved.
To begin the game, each player receives a window board with a 4x5 grid to fill with dice over the coming rounds. The window board is one of the most beautiful components of the game, and it is extremely photogenic. Instagram (including the Board's Edge Games Insta) is full of pictures of these window boards. Each player then selects a pattern card, which sets the window pattern you must create throughout the game and inserts it into the window board. The game comes with many pattern cards, at different difficulty levels, which adds to the replayability of this game. Sagrada also has a limited number of rounds, which keeps the playtime pretty consistent from game to game. This is a great feature for the impatient among us.
Your pattern card plus some game rules dictate the dice placement rules you must follow to build your window. The pattern card sets specific requirements for some of the grid squares, such as “only a 5 shall go here” or “only a blue die in this spot”. The game rules say that you can only place dice adjacent or diagonally to whatever dice you have already placed. No two dice of the same color can be placed next to each other (diagonal is fine). No two dice of the same number can be placed next to each other (diagonal is fine).
At the beginning, the game doesn’t seem that hard. A common pool of dice is drafted for each player to select from, and this pool is refreshed over each round. A common set of objectives are revealed, and secret personal objectives are also handed out, which tie into the game-end scoring. The possibilities seem limitless! "Today is the day I build the most beautiful stained-glass window," you say to yourself! But over time, you block yourself into narrower and narrower boxes until you have very limited options for placement. Near the end, you pretty much can only place one or two exact dice legally. If you’re playing a cutthroat game like we often do, your opponent will track your options and try to steal all the dice you need. Even if the game isn’t cutthroat, the odds aren’t exactly in your favor in the later rounds.
There are three tools that allow you to change the drafted dice to help you get the dice you need, which cost “influence tokens.” These tools are expensive, so you can only use them a few times each game. You get more influence tokens depending on the difficulty level of the pattern you are trying to craft, but there will never be enough tokens to save you. Strategy matters.
I play with 2 players, and I really like it at this player count. At two players, you either get to go first, or you get to go twice in a row. (This is due to an unusual turn order which goes: Player 1, Player 2, Player 2, Player 1.) This results in competitive drafting decisions.
Scoring is tricky, and it’s also tricky to score highly in this game. Filling in your entire grid does not give you any points, but you pay a penalty if you don't complete your window. You score points from your personal objective and the group objectives, which are set at the beginning of the game and can't be adjusted based on the available dice.
Guest Geek's Take
Sagrada is more of a puzzle that I am trying to solve than a game. Early mistakes affect the rest of the game. You also only have enough turns for the number of dice you have to draft; you cannot miss even one opportunity, or your window will not be complete. The theme is interesting but stays skin deep. In theory, you play a stained-glass window artisan attempting to create a masterpiece. But given the limited dice available and the pattern demanded by your card, it’s more of a paint-by-numbers. The final grid may or may not be aesthetically pleasing. In the theme’s defense, it is certainly unique. The cardboard windows and grid really add to the experience.
I love Sagrada! And since it's clear that I'm a much bigger fan of Sagrada than our Guest Geek is, I wanted to share my opinion too. Of course, I also love puzzles, and I love Sudoku. And it turns out that all those hours of Sudoku on airplanes and waiting rooms come in handy for trouncing my opponents in Sagrada.
Sagrada has a solo mode. I have never before been tempted to play a board game, but I do intend to try Sagrada solo because it’s more of a puzzle. So far, my husband and I have been playing this with our typical player count of 2.
When I was reading the descriptions of this game, I expected it to be more artistic than it is. Think: style points for really pretty windows. But it turns out that this is an extremely logical game, and it plays very well with the logical engineers in my life. The style points come in on Instagram. This game is really and truly the most photogenic game I own. Wingspan, with its gorgeous bird art, is a close second, but bird cards don’t photograph as well as these colored dice!
What About Remote Play?
This game works great over Zoom, assuming all households have copies. The group objective cards and tool cards can be synced easily across households at the beginning of each game. The brightly colored dice in the drafting pool are also easy to sync each round.
Remote play score: 4 out of 4
What our remote score means: Works well over Zoom or your remote video conferencing system of choice.