We have been in love with Sagrada from the moment we played a prototype version back at Gen Con in 2016. The strategy and puzzle-like thinking required to put together a high-scoring window, combined with neat dice-drafting mechanic, makes a game that we can bring to the table for any crowd. To give the title some fresh infusion of ideas, plus the ability to play with more players, Floodgate Games has released the 5 & 6 Player Expansion, which brings along new rules for adding more players, and some new twists on the original game. Does this expansion fit the pattern of colors and shades established by the base game? Do attend!
The major rule change this expansion brings is the addition of a private dice pool, which is optional for regular player counts but required if playing with 5 or 6 players. Each player takes two dice of each color and rolls them before the game begins, storing them for their use alone. The player turn is also modified, with the number of dice in the draft pool decreasing, and the snake draft of the original game going away. Instead, each player can draft a single die from the draft pool, select a die from their private pool, and activate a tool all in one turn (in whichever order they choose). When all players have completed their turn, the round ends. After the standard 10 rounds, scoring proceeds as normal.
Along with the new rules, new private objective cards are added to the game, which can be used at any player count and irrespective of the use of private dice pools. Instead of basing private scores on color, these new objectives score points based on the value of dice in specific positions in the window. A host of new window cards are also added to the stack of windows, and a few new tools are added as well to support the private dice pools.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
The base game of Sagrada can be difficult to play with four players; the nature of the draft combined with analysis paralysis can lead to quite a bit of downtime for players, especially the one at the top of the draft. When we received the expansion, we will admit that we were immediately skeptical of the prospect with playing with 5 or 6 players. However, with the inclusion of the private dice pool rules, it makes gameplay faster, since the snake draft is now gone in favor of the “pick all your dice on a single turn” rules. However, playing with a player who likes to take their time and analyze all the possibilities and permutations still can bring the game to a standstill.
We did find, however, that the private dice pool rules were not as good for lower player counts. One of the fun mechanics of the base game is the snake draft, and the thrill of trying to guess whether or not your opponent would take the second die you planned on taking, if there was a backup in the pool, and the like. This risk-or-reward aspect of the snake draft is gone using the new rules, and is especially apparent when playing with two or three players.
All that aside, the private dice board does introduce a new element of strategy and decision-making into the game that changes how you have to approach filling out your window. Since one of the dice must come from your private pool each turn, you have some advance knowledge as to what dice you will have to complete your window, ameliorating the random nature of blind draws from the dice bag each turn. Also, since your dice pool is finite, you need to decide what the most effective use of those dice are as the game progresses. While not perfect, the private dice pool rules do change some strategy in the game, and not in an unpleasant way.
The new private objective cards are the brightest spot of this new expansion. Private objectives in the base game were, admittedly a bit boring and is the only part of the game that has gotten stale for us over the years. Giving some new options (if only a handful) changes things up enough that it gives some new life and a new twist on how players can score points by pursuing their private goals.
On its own, Sagrada is a great game and is always a hit when it comes to the gaming table. While the 5 & 6 Player Expansion does a good job speeding up play for higher player counts, it does not do the job perfectly, and there is definitely a trade-off in game experience from the standard draft to the private dice pool rules.
If you have a larger gaming group and need to make this title work for more than four players, then by all means go ahead and pick up the 5 & 6 Player Expansion. However, if you typically play with 2 or 3 at your game nights, then feel free to stick to the base game – it’s elegant enough as it is.
• Optional rules not an improvement for low player counts
• Downtime still an issue with high player counts