Dale Yu: First Impressions of Sagrada Artisans  (mostly spoiler free)

Sagrada Artisans

  • Designers: Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu
  • Publisher: Floodgate Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 13+
  • Time: 40-60 minutes per game, in a 10 game campaign
  • Played with review copy provided by Floodgate Games

“Will your family’s stained-glass legacy stand the test of time? In Sagrada: Artisans you’ll compete as rival families, each chronicling your construction of the cathedral’s windows over a campaign spanning generations.  Gain powerful abilities and unlock wondrous new tools that you’ll carry through the campaign…and beyond. By carefully drafting dice and coloring in spaces to most cleverly meet each window’s restrictions and objectives, you will be victorious!”

** We will do our best to keep this spoiler free.  All of the pictures here are taken from our Window 1 game, and only in the first few rounds.  No spoilers are shown (as far as I know), but you will see part of this first game in progress; so I suppose you should be warned of that.  I don’t think that anything we show here will “spoil” a campaign in any way **

Sagrada is one of my favorite drafting/pattern making games; the way that you make this beautiful stained glass window of translucent dice is absolutely fantastic.  https://opinionatedgamers.com/2017/05/25/dale-yu-review-of-sagrada/    When I had a discussion with Daryl Andrews, one of the designers, a while back and he hinted at an upcoming legacy/campaign version of the game, I couldn’t wait to give it a try!  In the past few years, Legacy games have been growing in popularity, and we’ve played through a number of them in our group, and we were looking for a new campaign to take us through the fall…  We tend to start by playing the first game or two, and then we use the game as the opener in upcoming sessions until we finish the campaign (or in the case of some, until we decide to abandon).  Our group is pretty stable – we have the same four players every week, and this is usually good for legacy games as they often prefer the same players to play in every session…

Here, in Sagrada Artisans, players are again working on constructing windows to La Sagrada Familia, the famous Barcelona cathedral.  Each player gets their own journal which they will keep throughout the campaign.   The inside cover shows you that the campaign will take place over 10 Windows (games), split up into four Ages.

The Cathedral board is placed where all players can reach it, and the start player for the game is determined (usually the player with the fewest Legacy Points at that time).  The Intro Story Card for the game is read and placed on the table.  Usually, this card will provide some special instructions for the particular game.   A set of colored pencils is also made available to everyone.

All players turn to the corresponding page in their Journal to match the game being played.  On the right, you can see the particular window that you will be working on this game.  The left side will have a box that outlines any new rules for this game as well as other useful information – such as public goals and tools available to you.  There is also a bit of the story provided here to be read.   Go to the master set of cards and pull out the intro card for the particular Window.  More story to be found as well as other things you’ll need for the game.

Each game follows the same general rules (well, until you get stickers to place in the rulebook to permanently change how you play!)  For now, I’ll stick to the basic rules as to avoid any spoilers.  There are 12 rounds in each game, and each of those rounds follows the same order.

First, from the large bag of dice, draw 2 dice per player plus an extra die, and roll them.  Place them on the corresponding spaces on the Cathedral board.  If you get identical results, reroll one of them until there are no duplicates.  All the dice should each be on their own space on the Cathedral board.  Nowe, there is a Snake Draft starting with the start player, going clockwise around the table to the last player, and then back the way it came.  Players will take turns drafting one of the dice available on the Cathedral board and then filling in a window space in their journal. The number is written in black and then a colored pencil is used to shade in the space to match the die. 

Your first die can go anywhere, but then each other space must be adjacent to a previously filled in space.  You may never have two adjacent spaces with the same color or number.  If you ever discover that you have broken this restriction; simply mark the space with a large X – it is now a broken window.  Certain spaces on your window have numbers or colors already in the space; you must use a die that matches the pre-printed restriction in that space.  Finally, there may be special spaces in the windows with a little starburst in them; there are usually special rules each game that are related to those spaces.

As the campaign progresses, you might gain some abilities – there are four different types – and if you have them, you can use each type once to do things like flip a die or mentally change the color of a die.  If you have Tools available to you, you can also use one tool ANY NUMBER OF TOOLS.  There are some tools available to you on the left side page of the Journal, and you may also have physical Tool cards.  You are free to use any that you have access to.  Unused tools generally score points, so you will have to carefully decide whether or not to use them.

Continue this process for 12 rounds. Some games (such as the first!) have an effect that could be triggered at the end of a round; be sure to check at the end of each round so that you don’t forget to do something cool like opening an envelope!  When the game ends, it’s time to score it…  You can read the Outro Story Card to further the story, and learn about any particular rules that you’ll need.

Each journal has a scoring section near the central gutter, you will record scores for:

  • Tool cards you started with
  • The 3 public Objectives (found in the Journal itself)
  • The Private Objective you had been given
  • 1 pt per unused Tools in the journal
  • -1 pt per empty or broken spaces in your window
  • Any special rules specific for this particular game

Once the scores are totaled, now each player gains rewards based on their relative finish in this particular game…  Ties broken in favor of the player with the fewest Legacy points currently, then by the fewest broken/empty windows this game, then by most Private Objective points, then by player order.   There are charts in the rules (and the final page of the Journal) to help you remember what you get.  The winner of the game gets legacy points (1-4), and the second place finisher gets 1 Legacy point.  Tool cards and Coins are also awarded; with more stuff going to the people who did worse this game – a built in catch-up mechanism.  

If you get Tool cards, you will choose from a selection specific to this game, and you may only own one copy of each tool.  Once all players have done this, any unchosen cards go into the Market box.  Coins can be used at the Market – to be spent on three possible tracks – or to expand your toolbox – meaning you can carry more tools between games.  At the start of the game, these two options are the only uses for coins, but there are future stickers to be placed in this section of rules…. So I’m sure you’ll find other uses later for these coins at some point.  As it stands now, there is no use for unspent coins; they do not carry over. 

At this point, you can move onto the next game.  Or… if you’re ready to take a break, you can use a storage pouch found in the front of your journal to hold all your cards so that you’re ready to go the next time you open up Sagrada Artisans. It’s a pretty cool system and a clever way to keep things organized. 

Once you get to the end of Window 10, the player with the most Legacy points is the overall winner.  

At this point, you can either continue playing the game with the included Window Booster Pack, or if you want to start over, there is a Campaign Reset Kit available to do the whole dang thing over again!  I won’t explain how the Booster Pack works as we haven’t gotten to it yet – but supposedly everything is nicely explained in the packet in the box.

My thoughts on the game

So, I’ve only seen the contents through Window 6, so I cannot make comments about the conclusion of the campaign – but let’s face it, even if I had finished, I likely wouldn’t tell you those details anyways for spoiler-y reasons, so I’m just going to give you my thoughts on the game so far.  With SPIEL coming up in the near future, I thought it would be beneficial to relay some of my thoughts now in advance of the next big show.

In the first session, we played twice.   The rules teach took about 20-25 minutes, but it went quickly as we all have played base Sagrada before.  We quickly got into the first game.  There is one change in the rules that we missed at first – in Sagrada Artisans, you take a die each turn, even if you can’t legally place it.  This leads to a bit of play where you might try to screw someone else over by taking a die that they could use.  The rule is equitable – I don’t have any issue with it – but I just wanted to highlight that it is different from the base game.

The books themselves are great. If you get bored, they even gave you a little bit of area to color in while you wait between turns.  I will say that I had some issues with the colors.  First, the colors of the preprinted spaces in the book are unfortunately different shades from the pencils.  The book red is pretty orangish, and the book purple looks a lot like the pencil blue to my eye.  Once you figure out what color is what, it’s fine – but make sure that everyone understands what colors are preprinted on the page before you start the first game.  Otherwise, the pencils are great, though I’d definitely recommend keeping a black ballpoint pen around as the black pencil is not easily seen through the darker pencil colors – using a pen makes things much more legible.

The other issue I had was probably more a “me” issue than a game issue.  Here, you don’t place the dice on your book, as you need to keep using them from turn to turn.  So you color in backgrounds and fill in numbers.  My brain had a really hard time seeing what spaces were completed and which were simply pre-printed – because there wasn’t a physical die in a space making it clearly obvious which spaces were completed.  I figured out that if I circled the numeral in a completed space, I could more easily see what still needed completion.  

The components that we’ve seen so far have been fine.  The journal books are nice, and the quality of the paper is high, which makes the coloring/drawing easy.  There are a lot of small boxes that you use to organize and store stuff, and while the icons on the boxes themselves are helpful – man it would have been nice to have text on them also to make sure that you put things in the right boxes AND you weren’t worried about possibly spoiling anything because you couldn’t figure out what a box was used for.  A simple caption would have cleared up any questions.  

You’ll be asked to open up envelopes as you play, and man, be sure that you realize that there are some rules/instructions printed on the inside flap of the actual envelope.  We had an experience with one of the early envelopes when we couldn’t figure out what we were supposed to do… until we stumbled onto the fact that there were rules printed inside the envelope!

Speaking of the rules, so far, they are, umm…, not great.  Not quite disastrous (but also not far away from disastrous IMO); but there are a number of major things that we encountered in our first two games.  I had never thought of looking for errata – in part because I didn’t want to spoil anything, but I’m glad that JN looked.  I really don’t like searching online for rules questions in legacy games because I’ve had some pretty major things spoiled in the past on different legacy campaigns, and as a rule, I avoid BGG forums for those games completely until we’ve completed play.

However, due to some rules issues that could have happened (had JN not looked up the errata), we would have played a number of things in a way completely not intended by the designer.  For me, the importance of having clear and correct rules is magnified by the fact this is a legacy campaign game.  It’s one thing if a misinterpreted rule costs me in a 30-minute game.  But, what if that one misplay leads to a ripple effect that now might affect my overall performance in a 10-game, 12+ hour campaign?  Yeah, not cool.

The main point – if you play the game, go ahead and bookmark this page: https://floodgate.games/pages/sagrada-artisans-errata-clarification

It outlines all the areas of the game that require errata, and while it’s helpful that they have outlined the impact of the errata on gameplay; it is a bit distressing that 3 of them are already labeled as “high” impact  (as of 20 Aug 2023).  I applaud Floodgate Games for keeping an up-to-date list of important clarifications; but it is frustrating to feel like you have to check the Errata page every time you encounter something new or open anything.   As of 20 Aug 2023, there are EIGHTEEN errata entries. That’s a lot of different things to deviate from the rules or the components in the box.  If you want to make sure you’re playing the game as intended, you’ll definitely have to recurrently refer to the webpage.

Again, not necessarily fair to magnify the rules errors/confusing spots, but in a legacy campaign game, there are things which can’t be undone, and better proofreading would have been desirable to ensure the best possible experience for the gamers.  And, if nothing else, I feel like anyone who is going to play this should at least be aware that such errata exists so that they can try to play the game as it is supposed to be played.  

In some of the areas that do not require errata – there was still some confusion.  I will discuss this in abstract terms to try not to spoil things.  At the end of a round, some players were given the chance to acquire some cards, getting to look at a supply and choose the cards they wanted from that supply.  These cards had a different format than other cards seen in the game to that point.  Frustratingly, the rules for these cards weren’t explained until the start of the next window – which meant that they were chosen without the choosers really understanding everything about them.  If we were going to learn about them at the start of the next game, why make me wait?  Why not explain the differences in the card now so that an informed choice could be made in the choosing?  Perhaps this delay in explanation is the intent of the designer – that is, you’re actually not supposed to fully understand the cards when you choose them; but given the game proximity to the choice and the explanation, it was something I would have liked done in a better manner.


So, the other thing I want to discuss is a strategy developed by one of us… Is there a feasible tanking strategy?  The game is set up to keep players together in the legacy sense.  Players that do better in a particular game score legacy victory points – this is the overall goal, to have the most legacy victory points.  As you go down the finish order in a particular game, you will get more endgame bonuses which should make your next game more competitive.  While you may not have scored legacy points this game, you should gain plenty of advantages that you can use in future games…  But, there are some abilities which can be gained that eventually provide legacy points, and you can activate these fairly early in the campaign if you simply do poorly in the first 3-4 games.  The question that remains to be seen is: though you will put yourself in a decent hole by being last in the first 3-4 games, will this legacy point exploit be enough to make up for those losses in the end?  We may not know for sure because it’s unclear whether the strategy will actually be followed to the bitter end; but at least at the end of two games, it appears that it’s gonna happen… (I’m of the opinion that this is going to be a non-issue – I’m surmising that there are additional ways to score points as the rules keep coming – mostly because of the size of the score track that we’ve been provided… but I don’t have any knowledge of that yet)

Competitive legacy games tread a fine line trying to balance the long term campaign battle with interval short term advantages to those doing worse – in order to keep the game competitive.  We haven’t gotten to the end to know how this will play out… but in retrospect, I probably would have traded in my early legacy points for lots and lots of tools…


So, after the first two games, the road had been admittedly bumpy, and we played a few things wrong in our first game due to us not realizing that there were multiple errata that we should have been using.  That being said, it was an enjoyable session, and everyone was looking forward to playing the game again the next week.  It  was a good start, and each game has played in 35-40 minutes, so it’s currently holding to its promise of quick games.  We’re 20 percent thru right now, and looking forward to continuing the campaign next week.

In session Two  (mild spoilers here, but no specific information on anything secret), we played a few more games, and I had a full week to think more about the errata.  In the end, nothing is truly broken – there are just a frustratingly high number of little things that need to be fixed or clarified.  And as some of the guys in the group have noted – it may not matter if we’re playing with all the “correct” rules, as we’re all playing by the same rules, and we’re all making our plans based on the same ruleset, correct or not.   None of the errata changes have affected the amount of fun we have had with the game, and we were all looking forward to continuing the campaign this week, and everyone is still excited about pressing forward next week.

The games are becoming a bit more complex as more rules/concepts are being added to our games. Game length for game 3 was over an hour; and the downtime between some turns was noticeable.  I think this has a direct relationship to the number of things you are being asked to consider with each die choice and placement.  If you want to play well, you have to take your time to consider the options of which die to choose, which tool to possibly use, which space to put the number/color combo in, etc.   There are often new rules associated with each successive window, and you end up with a lot of options.

The games are getting longer as the rules are slightly more complicated with each iteration.  For most of our group, this is neither good nor bad.  For me, as I’m the most sensitive to game length, I’d prefer the games to have stayed shorter, but so far the games aren’t TOO long.  

We’ve seen a lot of neat ideas – the designers have great ideas and excellent ways to implement them. Example – there comes a time when the game wants low numbers to be left behind after the players have chosen their dice.  This mechanism only moves forward if the last die in a round is low.  Cleverly, all of the public objectives at this time prioritize high numbers; thus making sure that lower numbers are less desirable – so the mechanism plays itself out organically.  It’s really well done, and I’m hoping that whatever comes in the future is also as well constructed.

This is sort of legacy game (thus far) where small changes are added with each envelope.  Each change is not necessarily large or groundbreaking, but each forces you to look at the game just a little differently.  For the gamers in our group who enjoy the original Sagrada, it has been a good experience thus far, and those changes kept things from feeling the same, which is probably a good thing when you’re going to be playing the same sort of game over and over.

I wanted to write up my thoughts now prior to completing the full campaign in order to be able to say something prior to SPIEL and to also make sure that everyone who plays the game is aware of the official errata and to know that everything on that page is arranged to avoid unnecessary spoilers.  I’ve liked much of what I’ve seen, and I hope to complete the campaign later in the fall… We still have a number of envelopes to open and I’m looking forward to seeing what is inside them.  If you’re a fan of Sagrada, this is a journey that you’ll likely be interested in taking as well.

(No rating yet as I haven’t finished the campaign!)

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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