In our Sagrada review, we analyze the dice drafting board game that was designed by Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu. Published by Floodgate Games, Sagrada has its players challenging each other in a competition of stained glass crafting. Along the way, they’ll utilize special tools and attempt to achieve specific objectives in order to accumulate the most points. Does Sagrada hold a stick to a similar game from 2017, Azul? Find out in our review below.
D reviews Sagrada
(Author’s note: this review is meant to accompany our gameplay video and will not go in-depth on the game’s rules. If you’re interested in learning how the game is played, please watch the video. It’s not bad.)
If nothing else, Sagrada sure is a nice game to look at. Granted, when the theme of your game is simply “make a stained glass window”, ensuring that it’s pretty is probably a major priority. Regardless, everyone involved in creating this game’s aesthetic did a good job. The dice – which emulate the glass – are certainly the first things that’ll catch your eye, but the art on the character boards is very nice as well, although it may take you a second to figure out exactly which score marker corresponds to which board. It would have been even neater if the individual die faces were of different shades (which is what their values are meant to represent), but I’m sure this would’ve been very difficult and expensive to create. Otherwise, I have no real complaints about the art. Of course, nice art design does not a good game make, so let’s move on to the gameplay.
My feelings on how enjoyable Sagrada is to play are a bit more mixed. Its finer points are pretty obvious, so let me get those out of the way first. The game moves rather quickly and it doesn’t take long at all to finish, which is always a good thing for a lighter game. Also, there aren’t too many rules to learn and keep track of, and the rulebook does a good job of explaining them and providing clear examples. This isn’t checkers though; the game, especially in the later rounds, definitely rewards strategy and forethought. This all adds up to a game that is really easy to recommend to just about anyone. But, I do have some complaints.
Generally speaking, Sagrada’s structure is very rigid, which means that basically every session is going to feel very similar, and there really isn’t any way to keep things fresh without just up and changing the rules. For some people this might not be a problem, but for me personally, this is going to limit how often I want to open Sagrada’s box. The way players “interact” is also a little disappointing and can lead to some frustrating moments. I put interact in quotation marks because there isn’t really any true interaction, but there are some ways in which players can affect and be affected by the actions of their opponents, mainly in regards to the dice drafting. Sagrada’s player boards are very cleverly designed, but they make it somewhat difficult to keep track of what your opponents’ strategies might be. As a result, oftentimes – usually in the later rounds of the game – you’ll find that the one die you really need gets taken before you can get your hands on it. This would be fine except for the fact that such treachery is almost always unintentional. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll reiterate: treachery in board games is great, as long as it’s intentional. It’s one thing to be outsmarted – I can live with that. It’s another thing entirely to just be a victim of bad luck, which is never fun. Inversely, keeping track of what your opponents can and cannot do can lead to situations where it’s immediately clear what everyone’s play is going to be, which removes some of the game’s natural tension.
I also have a small gripe with the components. While everything is very nice to look at and, as I mentioned earlier, the player boards are really cleverly designed, I feel like everything would benefit from being scaled up a little bit. The dice are small and the spaces you place them in are fairly shallow, which makes it very easy to accidentally knock a die out of place or just have it flip to another side while in its hole. And, speaking as someone who has average-sized hands, placing dice in the later rounds requires a bit more delicacy than I think it should have to. Using normal scale dice and making the spaces deeper would simply make everything a bit easier and probably also make the designs appear more like a real stained glass window. Otherwise, I think the overall production is very good. And, ultimately, I still feel like Sagrada is enjoyable enough to recommend. It’s quick, it’s pretty, and it’s quite satisfying to see your puzzle come together, so-to-speak. That said, it’s definitely the type of game best played only occasionally.
D’s Rating: Three and One-Half Stars out of Five.
Will reviews Sagrada
I had heard and read so much about Sagrada before I ever had a chance to play it, so needless to say, I had certain expectations going in. I’ve preached before in my reviews – expectations are the devil in regards to board games. After all, they skew one’s opinions in a way that’s often unfair. Luckily, this time my expectations were validated in a way that they rarely are, and I quickly realized that all of the praise that’s been heaped upon Sagrada was entirely warranted. This game is balanced, beautiful, and fun in a way that few games are.
As I’m sure D pointed out, Sagrada is properly good-looking, which is what you’d expect from a stained glass crafting game. I’m a big fan of the colors they chose for this game (purple, yellow, green, etc.) – they’re vibrant in a satisfying way. The purple, red, and blue do occasionally blend in such a way that makes it difficult to differentiate the score markers, but you only use them at the end, so it’s no big deal. From a build quality standpoint, the components are all passable or better. The standout components are the player boards, which are eye-catching and have a neat design that allows you to slide a pattern card inside them. On the negative side, the dice are too small, and the spots where you place them are too close together. This means that you’ll often accidentally knock or flip one or more of your already placed dice, so I recommend practicing up on your photographic memory. This was a recurring problem in all of our games, and it did become tiresome.
Gameplay-wise, I appreciate most of the decisions this game’s designers made. Most of the time, you’ll be rolling and drafting dice and placing them on your board in legal spots. By legal, I mean that you can’t place a die orthogonally next to another with the same color or number value (that represents shade). I really enjoyed this design decision since it forces the players to think strategically about their placement. Without this rule, the gameplay would be mindless. But this one rule wasn’t enough, so the designers added in Window Pattern Cards. These cards slide into your player board and designate a specific scheme you have to follow. Some spots will require a certain color; others a certain number (shade). Also, there are Public Objective Cards that set a number of additional ways to earn points, such as forming a row with no recurring colors. Not only do all of these cards amplify the strategy of the proceedings, they also contribute to replayability, since no two games will feature the same patterns and objectives.
Speaking of patterns, they’re one way I think Sagrada tops a very similar game from 2017, Azul. In Azul, the players are all attempting to craft the same pattern, unless they choose the build-your-own-pattern variant. That game is definitely replayable, but I always felt that having a pre-set scheme made it underwhelming. Since Sagrada features a load of patterns, it never runs into this problem. On the other hand, Azul’s tiles definitely defeat Sagrada’s dice on the practicality and cool scales. This game’s dice are too small and even though they’re colorful, they don’t even get close to the attractiveness of Azul’s tiles, which are also properly sized. Overall, I’d say Sagrada narrowly wins in regards to gameplay, but Azul handily wins in regards to components.
In the end, if you’ve liked what you’ve heard about Sagrada, then you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s one of those games that actually lives up to the hype. It’s good-looking, entertaining, intuitive, and rather brief. The pattern and objective cards make it so that no two sessions are identical, which aids replayability. I didn’t even mention the Tool Cards, which feature special abilities for the players to use whenever they’re in a tough spot. Those cards also help the players change up their strategies from game to game, depending on which tools are available. Unfortunately, the game also has its drawbacks. The dice and their corresponding spots on the boards are too small, and the gameplay doesn’t vary as much from game to game as others I’ve played. Sure it’s highly replayable with its patterns, but at its core, it’s a dice drafting experience, and that mechanic is kind of limiting. Despite these things, I really like Sagrada, even more than I like Azul. It’s a quality game and a great experience, so I recommend it.
I give Sagrada an: A-
Sagrada Review – Board Crazy’s Ratings