Colorblind Review: Sagrada

I get by with a little help from my friends. 

Sagrada - Gameplay

Short version: Sagrada was impossible for me to play out of the box without colorblind accessibility add-ons and assistance from other players.

The game: Sagrada is a basic dice placement game with a stained glass window theme. If you haven’t played, read or watch a review, then come back.

The colors: I had the most trouble distinguishing the blue and purple dice. Red and green weren’t as problematic, because in the version I played they were pretty much “Crayola Red” and “Crayola Green.” Of course, your experience will vary.

The game board itself was equally tricky, especially for blue and purple.

Help!: The solutions I used were threefold. First, when choosing a game board I self-limited to one with very few blue or purple squares. Second, my friend Chad (follow him at Cast Iron Game Lab and Twitter) created this add-on that made a huge difference. After each roll we simply sorted the dice by color (elapsed time: 3 seconds) and continued from there. That little piece of paper literally changed my Sagrada experience from unplayable to playable.

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Third, I asked other players to remind me what I was looking at on my board. Since I avoided blue and purple at the front end, I didn’t need this help too often. I tried to not purposely avoid those colors during play, but I’m sure I sometimes did so I wouldn’t have to ask for help as often.

After a few friendly games at work, I went “next level” later in the month, playing in a Sagrada tournament at my LFGS, Blue Highway Games. I brought my paper-boxes tool and asked players to support my needs, which they were happy to do. I was a bit more apprehensive to ask about my board throughout each match, but I still requested help as needed.

I did not win the tournament, but I also did not feel out of place. I was proud to participate in a color-based board game event and grateful for the support from the gaming community.

The verdict: Sagrada can be enjoyable with a friendly group of gamers, particularly those who know you and your needs. It could elicit anxiety if you’re uncomfortable sharing your color vision deficiency.  I know sometimes I am.

The fix: This one is a little tricky. Of course, I managed with the dice-color-boxes and help from other players.  If I owned a copy I could change the purple dice’s pips from white to black, write color names on every square, and/or switch blue and purple dice to black and white. These would solve the playability issues, but at the cost of immersion. I think there is an opportunity to design more elegant solutions that support accessible play while maintaining theme.

Image credits. Top: Floodgate Games.  Bottom: Brian Chandler

Colorblind Review: Splendor

Rubies are red, sapphires are blue…

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I recently played Splendor on PC, based on the engine-building board game from Asmodee. The objective is to collect gemstones to purchase developments and lure visiting nobles to earn “prestige.” The game is engaging, and on PC I liked that up to three AI opponents can be configured by type, like balanced and opportunistic.

The gems themselves are distinguishable by both color and shape, and even the red rubies and green emeralds are “ok-ish” for me. The primary problem I had was with the cards. The placement of colored shapes to indicate gemstones is not consistent, so only color distinguishes them. I personally struggled with green and red, in particular.

The bottom-row counter has the same issue, but it’s less problematic because the order stays the same and generally matches the placement of the gemstones: Top-to-Bottom gems equates to Right-to-Left placement on the screen.  However, I did still mistakenly grab rubies instead of emeralds, and vice versa.

As I started brainstorming ideas to work around the problem, I discovered that it’s already been fixed! The updated version of the tabletop game has been modified with gemstone icons next to each circle or square on the cards. It’s an elegant solution that maintains the game’s theme.

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Have you played Splendor yet, and if so have you run into any accessibility issues?

Top Image Credit: Steam          Bottom Image Credit: The Board Game Family