Sagrada: The Great Facades – Life is the brand new mini expansion for the dice drafting and pattern matching board game Sagrada. Designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews, Sagrada Life is the second of the three Great Facades expansions, adding new dice to help craft stunning stained glass windows. Both apprentices and masters get involved across two main modules. However, will Sagrada players want to get involved too? Let’s find out!
Sagrada Life is a modular expansion with 2 main parts: Apprentice cards and Masterwork dice. Also included are some new public objectives, some of which these can always be shuffled in, regardless of modules being used. For the Apprentice module, as well as shuffling and putting into play an apprentice deck, during setup players are dealt window pattern cards from a new Apprentice window pattern deck. These cards feature two apprentice symbols which will trigger when covered by a dice. The window patterns are almost the same as normal window patterns, so players could use expansion window pattern cards ignoring the apprentice symbols, but less favor tokens are awarded by them.
During play, whenever an apprentice symbol is covered the player can either take the top apprentice card from the discard pile or draw two cards from the top of the deck, choosing one to keep. Apprentice cards come in two forms: discard and activate. For the most part the discardable cards offer smaller potential but are solid effects, such as gaining favor tokens or rerolling drafted dice. Interestingly, these go to the discard pile so another player may then cover an apprentice symbol and choose to pick it up straight away.
As the name suggests, activated cards are played rather than simply discarded – though some are discarded at the end of the turn. These have the potential to be much more impactful, in terms of points or just during play effects, but they may also end up being… pointless. A prime example of this, one card scores the player 20 victory points if they manage to score zero points from a public objective card AND fully complete their board. 20 points is normally enough to swing a game but the final dice placement could score you minimal points on a public objective and see none of the 20 points earnt from the apprentice.
While each window pattern card only features two apprentice symbols there are opportunities to gain more than 2 cards. If on separate turns a player is able to move a placed die, via a tool card or an apprentice card, and then once again cover the apprentice symbol another apprentice card is earnt. Note if this is done on the same turn it doesn’t trigger but there is still the opportunity for players to plan ahead!
Like with the Passion expansion, Sagrada Life has a new type of dice to add into the mix, introduced in the Masterwork module. These new dice are orange in colour and are not numbered dice like the others in Sagrada. Offering new ways to earn points, or lose them, and a way to earn additional favor tokens, the masterwork dice feature arrows and special symbols on the dice faces.
To play with the Masterwork module a new side board is put into play during setup. The board has 6 slots for the orange masterwork dice, with the rules suggesting placing a different dice face pointing face up on each. In 2 – 4 player games the rest of the masterwork dice are returned to the box, though in 5+ player games the remaining six will fill in slots when dice are taken. Each of the slots on the masterwork board has two dice features assigned to it, a colour and a number. When selecting a dice the active player can choose a dice to trade with the side board to claim a masterwork die instead. For example, to take the left most die on the masterwork board the player can trade in a red die or a 6 value die of any colour. Taking masterwork dice see the player earn favor tokens, with the amount depending on the slot (between 0 – 2).
When placing one of these orange dice onto your personal player board they are treated as a unique colour and a dice with a value of 0. The key is that when a masterwork dice is taken it must be placed with the same side face up. Scoring only at the end of the game the masterwork dice will score 5 points if successfully fulfilled but will lose the player 2 points if they are failed. The arrow dice faces must point towards two dice of matching colour or number, with the special dice faces must point towards different colours or numbers orthogonally according to which is placed.
While adding a new way to gain points the Masterwork dice don’t increase the brain burning aspect of Sagrada – being just more of the same logic applied in a new way. Having the ability to gain more favor tokens makes for some interesting choices, with the slots earning 2 favor tokens negating the potential of lost points. Still, it is this new way to earn points and a different way to not take the rolled dice from the middle that really impacts play.
As a mini expansion I appreciate that, like with the Passion expansion, Sagrada Life fits into the base box with ease, and that the new dice don’t get put into the bag. With the dice being separate, there isn’t the issue of flicking between modules and having to empty the bag just to remove the last orange die. Having it all fit into the base game box also means there isn’t a otherwise small box floating around, with all the Sagrada content stored neatly together. Some will not want to get rid of the expansion box, but for those of us with limited space it is useful.
Sagrada Life is the second mini expansion for Sagrada and much like the first it doesn’t drastically change the way the game plays. The two modules add something different to the mix but don’t break the core puzzle that keeps the game hitting the table time and time again. The new masterwork dice may grab players’ attention more. Yet, both modules add that spot of freshness to the puzzle. If you were hoping this expansion would change the game and didn’t fully enjoy it before you’ll be disappointed. Those that get the base game to the table a lot should definitely try the expansion and will probably put the modules into rotation. It’s more of the same and when it comes to Sagrada that certainly isn’t a bad thing!
(Editor’s Note: Sagrada Life was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The expansion is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)