Designer: Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews
Artists: Peter Wocken
Publisher: Floodgate Games
Play Time: 30 minutes
Target Age Range: The box says 13+, but I’d say 10+
I’ve got to admit, Sagrada took me by surprise. It’s a very simple game, easy to learn, easy to teach, but very compelling to play. Plus, it’s gorgeous!
Named after the famed Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Sagrada is meant to invoke the feeling of building stained glass windows. Started in 1882, the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia (or Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) remains unfinished to this day. In spite of that, construction continues, and many people anticipate that it could be completed in 2026, 100 years after the death of Antoni Gaudi, the cathedral’s original architect.
Sagrada (the game) is a dice-drafting game, where players take turns drawing dice from a bag and rolling them, then selecting dice to fill out a pattern sheet. Each player’s pattern is unique and must be filled out according to several rules. Dice may not be placed directly next to dice of the same color, nor can they be placed next to dice of the same value. Certain spaces on the pattern board can only be filled by a die of a particular value. All players can earn bonus points by following particular layouts, and each player can also get bonus points by gathering dice of a color assigned to them at the beginning of the game, which is kept a secret from opponents. One of my friends described it as “Sudoku meets Yahtzee,” but that doesn’t really do the game justice.
The game works well for up to four players, and it even has an enjoyable solitaire mode. Playing with four players gives the game a bit more depth than fewer player counts, but it’s a lot of fun with any number.
Gameplay is simple for Sagrada, but there’s definitely a lot of analysis to be done as a player. Each round, players are able to draft two dice from a pool. The player who rolls gets the first selection, then each other player draws progressing clockwise around the table. When the final person in the circle takes a die, they are then able to draft a second die and drafting continues in the opposite direction. The player who rolled draws the final die and places the one die that remains onto a board. Depending on a number of “tool” cards, players may or may not be able to access those dice during later rounds.
The game is rather straightforward, but each time I’ve played, I’ve realized that there is more strategy involved that I believed at first. When there are more people playing, more dice are rolled each round, which gives people a wider variety to select from. At the same time, players also have more competition for dice when there are more players. It’s important to keep an eye on your own board and the boards of other players, because it may benefit you to take a die that someone else needs to prevent them from scoring a large number of points. Or you may have two dice that you want, but you know someone else will draft one of them. In that case, it’s wise to take the die you’re competing for, then hope to take the other when your turn to draft comes up the second time.
I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to score this game on theme. At its heart, Sagrada is a rather abstract game, but the designers put a lot of work into the design which does kind of draw you in. The dice are such bright colors, and they’re semi-transparent, which really does a good job of simulating stained glass—if the stained glass pieces were actually dice. While it may not seem like I’m actually crafting a stained glass window, it does feel like I’m making an artistic endeavor. Speaking of which…
Visual/Physical Appeal (9/10)
To put it simply, this game is stunning. The player boards are bright and vibrant, and the dice are such vivid colors that you just want to play with them. The dice are a great size and weight and feel nice in your hand, and the bag is a nice, somewhat soft linen material. Plus, there’s just something so incredibly satisfying about putting your hand into a bag filled with 90 dice!
Setup Time (3–5 minutes)/Play Time (~20–30 minutes)
This game’s setup is almost nothing. There are three small decks of cards to shuffle. You draw three cards from each of two of those decks and lay them face-up, side by side, then deal one card from the third to each player. Each player selects a pattern card and puts it into their playing board, taking a number of Favor Tokens that corresponds with the card they drew. You put the 90 dice in the bag. And that’s it! It’s time to go!
Play moves fairly quickly, because players can decide which dice they want as other players are taking their turns. Players may pause if the die they were hoping to draft is taken and they need to decide on a new one, but those pauses are generally very brief. Each time I’ve played, it’s taken somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes to complete.
Complexity (Rank 4)/Teach Time (~5 minutes)
Sagrada is a very simple game that relies on both strategy and luck. Players have to carefully place their dice on the board, gauging the likelihood of coming across dice that fit the pattern later on. There is strategy to the drafting, there is strategy to the placement, and there is even strategy to the use of the special tool cards.
They great thing, though, is that it takes almost no time to teach. The pattern boards are fairly intuitive, so most players will pick up the rules quickly. There are a few rules that need to be made clear at the beginning of the teach, but as a rule, it doesn’t take much time at all to get up and running.
With chance having a hand in the pattern cards players are trying to match, which objective and tool cards are drawn at the beginning of the game, which colors of dice are drawn, and which numbers are rolled on those dice, no two games are ever going to be exactly the same.
Although I always felt I’d enjoy this game, I keep coming back to it more than expected. It’s one I enjoy pulling out and playing with friends, largely because it’s so easy to teach. Plus, it’s just such a pretty game! The artwork is beautiful, the dice are bright and colorful enough that they’ll catch your attention, and the construction of the window boards players use is nice and sturdy.
This is definitely a game I’d recommend. Just make sure not to lose any of the dice, because if you’re playing with the full complement of four players, you’ll end up using all of them. Any fewer and that won’t be an issue, but it could add a snag to your evening if you come up short. I’m glad I’ve got Sagrada in my library, and it’s one I’ll continue to share with people for a long while yet.
— The Innkeeper