Many years ago, I took a trip to Germany to see the sights and practice my secondary language. Besides eating a multitude of authentic bratwurst, we visited an extensive list of cathedrals and castles. I was absolutely blown away by the architecture. This includes the beautiful stained glass windows that accented the majority of these structures.
Even though stained glass isn’t a common design nowadays, you’ll see it pop up every once in awhile in the most unlikely places. Take Sagrada, for instance. In this game, designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews, players get the chance to create their own ‘stained glass’ windows from scratch.
No specialty tools required! What’s not to love?
Sagrada: Bringing Your Vision to Life
Players start out the game by selecting the template that they want to follow. Each of the two-sided templates displays a grid of 20 squares. Some of these squares are filled in with a color or a numbered face of a die.
One by one, the players draft the brightly colored dice from the shared pool and place them into their window. Any dice color or face can be placed In the blank squares on the template. However, there is the additional placement rule that you can’t place a dice of the same value or color next to a dice sharing that color or value.
At the beginning of the game, placement is relatively simple. Once that template begins to fill up, however, you’ll face some tough choices!
Luckily, there are some tools that can help you out. Some of these allow you to redraft a dice, while others allow you to swap the locations of dice in your window. Use these wisely, as their benefits are limited!
Once all of the dice are drafted and placed, the scores are tallied. Depending on the variable scoring modifiers and how well you filled out your template, you’ll be awarded points. Highest score wins the game and gets major bragging rights. After all, it’s not every day you get to design a stained glass window.
Unless it’s your profession, that is.
Staking Our C.L.A.I.M. On Sagrada
I hope you like dice! In fact, if you’re in the market for buying bulk six-sided dice, you might be better off just picking up Sagrada. That way, you’ll get some extra bang for your buck. The translucent dice shine best when playing the game in bright, natural light.
The game even comes with a nice cloth dice bag to hold all of your brand new dice. It’s necessary for the drafting stage of each round, so I’m thankful for the inclusion.
Everything is impressive about the components. The window cards slide perfectly into the grid formed by each player’s blank window template. That way, when players place their dice, the dice sit snugly. Take notes Terraforming Mars!
You’re hardly going to encounter any issues with luck in Sagrada, although it does play a minor role. When the drafting dice are pulled from the bag, there are definitely times where NOTHING is going to work for you. However, everybody is playing with the same dice, so somebody’s bound to have the same issue at a different time.
The 5-6 player expansion for Sagrada introduces a Private Dice Pool mechanic that really helps minimize the luck-factor of the game. Once I played with these private pools for the first time, I don’t think I’ll go back to the base game.
Essentially, each player gets to start with two dice from each color. On their turn, they can draft from the collective pool, their own pool of dice, or one from each. Not only can players plan their turns further in advance, but it helps round out the reliance on luck for later rounds if you play your cards right.
Plus, if you’re worried about your terrible luck with rolling dice, you’ll only have to roll them a couple times a game.
Your eyes will be immediately drawn to this game. The box art of Sagrada is beyond incredible, and you instantly know what the game is about. It’s right up there with my favorites.
The choice to use translucent dice is a winner, since it takes the semi-abstract nature of the game and transforms it to a recognizable visual medium. It definitely wouldn’t have the same appeal with opaque dice, or if the player mat wasn’t shaped like a tall window.
In fact, the powerful aesthetics of the game are exactly why Sagrada shouldn’t be considered an ‘abstract’ game. Players feel like they’re literally creating a beautiful stained glass window, and the designers nailed the theme perfectly.
Sagrada is relatively light in terms of complexity. Fans of Azul, particularly Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra will find comfort in some of the distinct similarities between the games. At its core, Sagrada is easy to teach and its components are familiar to people just getting into the hobby.
If you enjoy drafting mechanics, like those in Sushi Go, this will probably be a game that you enjoy. The puzzle-aspect of building your window helps keep all players engaged, even if you typically enjoy games with more weight behind them.
Regardless, you’ll find it very difficult to stop staring at the wonderful windows that everyone is crafting around you. It’s also a major plus that each game can usually be played in under an hour.
Another great part about the game is that it’s relatively laid back. Sure, there are instances where you’ll be on the edge of your seat HOPING that nobody takes that blue-five dice that you’ve been eyeballing. However, for the most part everybody is just casually choosing dice and thinking about the best way to incorporate those dice into their window.
The public objective cards help give everybody an idea of how to stop other players from scoring too many points. Where the real fun comes in is the reveal of the private objectives! Every player has their own personal point-scoring objectives that can massively turn the end-of-game scoring right on its head.
There has hardly been much of a point disparity in the games I’ve played. Typically there is a close race for first place and the other players aren’t far behind. This tension provides an edge of mystery to the game, as you sit there wondering why Nate would be drafting SO MANY RED DICE.
Sagrada: Exceptional Beauty
I’ve talked a lot about how Sagrada’s presentation is beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, and awesome. Don’t get me wrong; this game is more than just a pretty face. It’s an excellent puzzler that just so happens to have some fantastic curb appeal.
In fact, I’m going to slap down our Seal of Awesomeness right on top of the box! This game will be in my collection for a long time, and I doubt it’ll ever collect any dust.
And if it does? I’ll just break out the Windex.
You can get Sagrada here or, better yet, ask for it at your FLGS.