A periodic column on Sanctum strategy, theory, and fun,
by Ian Schreiber, Sanctum player name Gannon. You can reach Ian at
Opposing House Strategy: Body and Mind
August 5, 1999
In many ways, these two Houses have more similarities than differences. Both
have little trouble crossing terrain and both have some very powerful monsters;
both have combat spells that focus on individual recruits rather than groups,
and both have spells that directly counter each other's best efforts. But the
beauty is in the subtle differences.
Strategies for Body
At first, Body appears to be a Combat strategy, although on further examination
we also see some Powerhouse spells which can be the basis of a powerful deck
Basic Deck Concepts for Body
The most straightforward deck here is Combat. This is similar to War's Combat,
in that the goal is to move quickly (Fleetness) and overwhelm the opponent before
she can set up a good defense.
However, the similarity ends there, for War has many group-enhancing combat
spells while Body has almost none; Body makes up for the relative lack of combat
power with numbers. Nomadic Tribe and Fertility can be used to give Body a numerical
advantage, even though each individual recruit isn't so dangerous on its own.
Because of this, Body can afford to lose a group or two and still keep pounding
The one decent group Combat spell in Body is Fortitude, and it is standard
issue for most decks. Olotus can also turn a numerical superiority into an overwhelming
advantage. And extra cheap combat spells like Barkskin and Strength of Body
can sometimes make the difference in the early game.
Body also has three spells which, for a long time, were considered the essence
of this House: Lycanthropy, Complacency, and Minotaur. The thing these spells
share in common is that they can immobilize or kill entire enemy groups. While
not cheap enough to totally prevent the opponent from taking any towns, you
can effectively stop her from reaching the center alive, and then keep marching
your main group forward to a largely unopposed victory.
Slay Monster is often combined with Lycanthropy to kill a group entirely, and
sometimes a little Strife is splashed in to take advantage of Despair's Lockdown
spells to give even more ability to keep enemy groups from doing anything productive.
Either way, a helping of terrain-crossing spells is in order; Body has more
ways to allow its groups to cross terrain than any other House. Consider this
some extra insurance that many decks would otherwise not have available; it
will make your play more consistent if you can ignore otherwise hazardous terrain,
so you should take advantage of this benefit.
Fighting Against Body
Against Combat decks, realize that Body has a bit of an internal problem: it
wants to win quickly, but the spells that give it extra recruits work slowly
and over time. This allows two opportunities for you to stop Body's advance:
put up a powerful, combat-pumped opposition early on, or set up an unbeatable
defense in the late game.
Stopping Body's Powerhouse can be a bit more frustrating; getting Lycanthropy
cast on your best group can really hurt you if you're not careful. You can hide
from Lycanthropy (and Complacency) by keeping your groups inside towns, but
then they can be hit with Nereid's Curse and die a slow death.
Including a way to dispel your own group can counteract some of Body's worst,
and keeping lots of separate groups can make it impossible for Body to stop
all of them. Probably the worst thing you can do is to put all of your power
in a single group and then not protect that group from enemy spells.
Strategies for Mind
Mind offers an excellent combination of Lockdown and Powerhouse, using its
cheaper spells to immobilize or misdirect groups while keeping the more expensive
spells (which are monsters) to eliminate them in combat.
Basic Deck Concepts for Mind
The first Mind deck that really became competitive was based around monsters,
monster control and movement control. The monsters that Mind can cast are all
very powerful and range from medium cost to expensive (Stalking Blyk, Maloch
Horror, Celestial Sphere, Yfreet, Itrokos Gate, Rakshasa).
For monster control, there's Betrayal, Civilize and Domesticate.
For movement control, you have Flying Carpet, Binding Cube, and Mirage. Add
some filler like Burst of Will, Focus of Clarity and the occasional combat spell
and you're ready to go: just use your movement control to slow enemy groups
down, then flood them with monsters until they die in combat, and use your monster
control if the opponent dares cast his own monsters near you!
With Bloodlines we saw the first Kumatru decks, which were Mind's version of
Combat with Archers. The entire deck focuses around a property of Kumatru Academy,
mainly that it produces recruits even on towns that normally don't do so. Combine
this with Civilize to get a town that doesn't produce recruits, and you can
get a town that produces an H:2 A:1 L:2 archer every other turn! Do that a few
times, and numerical superiority will kick in, much like a more conventional
Making or Hope Attrition deck.
You also have a nice selection of Combat spells to enhance your Archers further:
Master Bowyer, Kumatru Archer, Faerie Fire to name a few. Add your choice of
additional monsters or movement control and you can pack enough battle power
to beat all but perhaps a dedicated War or Death deck. As this has the potential
for an Attrition-style win, adding spells to hasten your opponent running out
of cards (Tan'u'zhadhi Ploy, Atonement) are welcome additions to this deck theme.
Fighting Against Mind
As with all decks that deny you movement, some way to dispel friendly groups
is helpful. Because of the large number of Monsters that Mind can throw at you,
some way to survive combat with them (either by enhancing your group's combat
power or giving them immunities) is practically required. Adding a fifth recruit
to your main group will make it harder for Mind to wear that group down with
Against a monster-control deck, it is counterproductive for you to cast monsters
near enemy groups, as they will just turn those monsters against you next turn.
If you can eliminate their recruit group with a monster in one turn then it
might be worthwhile (especially if you stop Mind from getting a town in the
process) but if your opponent already has a town, he might just Civilize your
monster next turn and walk in. Keep in mind, however, that Mind's recruit groups
will tend to be weak themselves, so if you can reach them with your groups you
will probably be able to beat them in straight combat.
Against a Kumatru deck, the obvious choice is to pack some spells that give
immunity to Missile damage, or else take along something to dispel a town or
colony. Again, don't just hand your monsters to Mind, as Mind will just Civilize
them and take more towns, more mana, and the Initiative. Also, Kumatru Academies
on Civilized towns take a while to set up, so again if you can reach their groups
with yours early on, you can probably win a straight combat.
Body Versus Mind
Mind can lock down Body's groups, stop them from getting anywhere, then summon
enough monsters to kill them all off.
Body can do the same to Mind, particularly with the strong Minotaur and the
Djinn-shredding Great Bear.
In straight combat, a large Body group with but a single Mask of Woad can devastate
the ranks of the Djinni, unless a Sar'uli Overseer is present to protect them
and turn the tables on the Cyclopes.
Because each side is concentrating on halting the other's progress, battles
between Body and Mind often end with both sides losing several groups before
either one even reaches the center town. Often, they will keep each other at
bay for the entire game, and it only comes down to who runs out of steam (and
out of spells) first. In this, Mind has the advantage for the ability to force
Body to discard its hand; however, Body's combat spells are so dangerous that
Mind must walk a thin line, and even the slightest skirmish between Djinn and
Cyclops can end with Mind's defeat.
So in the end, it comes down to whether Body can force a recruit-group combat,
versus Mind being able to fight its battles exclusively with Monsters and avoiding