As with the Sagrada Familia in real life, the board game Sagrada (still one of our favorite games from Floodgate Games) is built off of the core architecture with three façades that have their own unique structure and expressiveness.
We have previously taken a look at the Passion expansion, and in this article, we will turn our critical eye towards the second façade: the Life expansion, which explores the journey of life as expressed through the core game
Each of the Great Façade expansions consists of a series of modules that can be added to the base game of Sagrada in any manner of combination, either individually or all together, depending on the gameplay experience that is sought. This review assumes familiarity with the rules and gameplay of Sagrada.
The Apprentice module brings the idea of hiring novice artisans into your construction, by introducing a secondary deck of Apprentice cards, and additional window patterns. When an apprentice assists in the construction of a player’s window, shown by placing a die on a specially-marked pane, that player can draw an Apprentice card and activate it for a variety of special powers. Some of these powers are one-shot powers that provide abilities similar to the Tool cards, while others potentially award large point bonuses for meeting very particular requirements in window construction.
The Masterwork module introduces a new set of dice that provide additional restrictions to how a player can construct their window. Players can use their drafted die to select a Masterwork die, which has various directional arrows printed on it, and when it is placed in the window, the arrows must connect dice that meet certain conditions. Depending on the Masterwork die selected, the connected dice may need to be of the same or different value or color. At the end of the game, victory points are awarded for successfully meeting the Masterwork requirement, and a penalty is applied to players who cannot.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
As with the Passion expansion, both modules included in the Life expansion are relatively quick to explain and integrate into the base game. The Apprentice module can be easily explained to a first-time player, as it only adds a single additional rule to the base game, but the selection and effects of the Apprentice cards can most likely be taken advantage of more effectively by an experienced player. That said, it is a great expansion module to expand gameplay options for players who have gotten their money’s worth out of the base title.
The Masterwork module involves a bit more strategy and experience with Sagrada, allowing players to exchange a drafted die for one of the Masterwork dice. In the many (many) times Sagrada has hit our table, we tend to think both in terms of short-term and long-term strategy, trying to balance out sacrifices made to maximize scores from public and private objectives. The Masterwork dice, being of new color and value, add a bit of complexity to the rules explanation—not much, but enough to perhaps hold this module back for the more experienced players.
We are true fans of modular expansions that the Life expansion has been designed as. Some titles suffer from rules bloat when all the expansions are added together into a base game, and the modular nature of the design allows players to custom craft their gameplay experience, whether it be a simple game with an additional twist from the Apprentice cards, or a more complex experience with the Masterwork dice. Especially helpful in the Life expansion are clear instructions as to which cards need to be removed if not playing with some of the other modular expansions. We found this extra touch of detail extremely helpful when sitting down to set up our plays.
Five years after we first previewed it at Gen Con, Sagrada remains a mainstay at our game table. The addition of the Life expansion can be enjoyed both by new players who are looking for some extra variation to their regular play of Sagrada, as well as by experienced players looking for a little extra challenge and the addition of a risk and reward mechanic. For the benefits to gameplay and the value, this is an expansion that is not to be missed, and we cannot wait to get our hands on the Glory expansion at Gen Con 2022!
• COVID and personal issues causing this review to be extremely delayed