Sagrada: The Great Facades – Passion is the first of three new small box expansions for Floodgate Games’ dice based abstract strategy title Sagrada. Designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews, the expansion adds in new rare glass dice, unique player powers and plenty of new ways to score. However, does this shine new light onto the tight experience of the base game? Let’s find out!
From the start of setup the Passion expansion makes minute tweaks to the Sagrada experience. Firstly, each player starts with a unique player power, via an inspiration card. These range from tools always costing one favour token regardless of usage through to always being able to swap a die from the round tracker. For those whom dislike asymmetrical powers, it would be possible to use one of these to apply to all players. Still, they all seem equally situational. It isn’t too hard to use them to your advantage, but they don’t seem overpowered. Note, this is past the first couple of games, when players understand how to exploit each ability. Players won’t necessarily know how opponents can bend the rules to stop/block them otherwise.
Another new element done during setup is the rare glass tile. Replacing one of the three tool cards from the base game, this sits in the middle for all to see. Each offers a unique way to pay for a rare glass die. When empty, like at the start of the game, enough rare glass dice are rolled to fill the slots. These are then the available values. Rare glass dice are purchased with favour tokens, like how tools are used. The cost can be the number of empty corner spaces a player has on their board, dependant on the number of dice left on the tile or more.
Each player can only ever claim one of these multi-colour but valued rare glass dice. Whilst wild, this means players cannot splatter them across their stained glass windows. Combine this with their favour cost and it doesn’t feel like an abundance of newness is instilled. It is an additional rule for new players to learn. Nevertheless, they are easier to understand and explain than the tools which can be used multiple times in the base experience.
For the first game with the Passion expansion, to get the maximum impact, we include only new expansion objectives. They score in a rather different way to those in the base game and everyone’s score suffered as a result. Most are less forgiving patterns, which players will have to plan ahead for. Unlike the original where a set of colours for example can be anywhere, an example from the expansions is about matching the positions from the top two and bottom two rows. This makes for a more brain burning experience, and a harder one. When shuffling them with those from the base game in it became a bit simpler, and there were fewer lulls of prolonged thinking.
New personal objectives are also included. One aspect from the base game that seemed balanced was that everyone got a colour assigned to them to score. Over the game you could deduce what their colour was and it could impact decisions when picking dice. This is somewhat lost with the introduction of the new personal objectives, which include the new rare glass dice. Due to featuring the rare glass it means that taking one of these dice becomes less of a choice, as you’ll miss out on a lot of points. They are good for variety, so if playing games back to back things are kept fresh. However, this is one aspect where the base game stands stronger.
It is certainly a positive that some of the content can be included worry free with brand new players. One element to leave out are the new personal objectives, being a little more complicated to teach new players. With each scoring in a unique way, while the base game’s only differed by colour, you’ll need to carefully explain each before dealing them out – adding time to the teach. However, there is nothing, learning the game wise, stopping the new public objectives being shuffled in and the rare glass dice being used. Being the best elements of the expansion being able to use them regardless of the experience of others lets the expansion be consistently used.
Sagrada: The Great Facades – Passion is a small box expansion, and the impact feels small accordingly. In a game all about the colourful dice, being a wow factor from the base game, the rare glass dice still shine. They manage to add to the experience, without drastically changing how the game works – mostly due to the limitations surrounding their usage. The included objectives require a little more pre-planning and thinking ahead. Three new objectives at once can be a little much, but give the game a really thinky edge. It won’t change any minds but for fans of Sagrada this is a fun addition and sets hopes high for the following two Great Facade expansions.
(Editor’s Note: Sagrada: The Great Facades – Passion was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The game is currently available from local board game stores, find your local store here.)