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Sanctum | Strategy, Sorcery, SubterfugeSanctum | Strategy, Sorcery, Subterfuge



Ngozi's Way

A periodic column on Sanctum strategy, theory, and fun, by Ian Schreiber, Sanctum player name Gannon. You can reach Ian at

Deck Concept: Extreme Body Lockdown
September 16, 1999

In the old days before Oppositions, Body won a huge number of games playing a Lockdown strategy, using its Lycanthropy and Complacency (and Minotaur) to keep enemy groups from ever entering a town.

Nowadays, due to the mana cost of these three spells, it can be difficult to cast them early enough in the game to make a difference. If you get a lucky Burst, you might be able to take out an enemy group before it reaches the center town – but preventing a group from taking the center town and the second town nearest the opponent's Sanctum is difficult.

However, if Body looks carefully for a third mana, it can begin to concentrate on heavy mid/late-game Lockdown, giving Body a potential of up to twenty cards that can prevent enemy groups from moving where they want (which might just be enough to return from a slow opening game).

Basic Strategies Used

As the title suggests, this is a Lockdown deck. Since Lycanthropy removes an enemy group from the opponent's control (and dispels the group), one could say that this deck can have elements of both Powerhouse and Denial as well.

Key Cards

Lycanthropy and Complacency are standard issue. You may choose to include some powerful Monsters as well, at your discretion. From there, it depends on where you seek your third mana; both Strife and Order give some excellent possibilities.

For an Order-based deck, you'll be dipping into Nature's supply of slowdown spells. The one that fits perfectly is Will O' the Wisp, and using Inundate (either to slow enemy groups or to drown them with Wisp) is easy enough. You also have the advantage here of access to both Water Breathing and Shaman's Walk, allowing you to cross water easily.

Order mana also likely holds the best possibility of a heavy Monster attack, using some of Nature's Monsters and spells (Tree Man, Simian Warriors, Primeval Forest, and potentially Wolf Pack). Of course, depending on how much Order you want to count on, you should be dedicating both town mana and a few spells in your deck to gaining Order.

For a Strife-based deck, your main source of Lockdown will be Despair (of course). This is a bit trickier at first, since you can't get Strife mana using World mana spells; while you can get Strife from Mystery, that's rough because you really need to produce World first in order to use your Body Lockdown spells. So, your towns are really the only source of Strife you'll have access to (unless you wish to rely on Limbo for mana production). However, on the bright side, you might not need as much Strife as you would Order (above).

A single Strife gets you Forsaken, while two of them give you Disorient and Fear. You also have the ability to concentrate on Monsters here: Gorgon requires only one Strife and can kill an unaltered group of two, while Banshee and Trolls need but two Strife for an imposing force in combat.

Playing Hints

Of course, the rest of the standard Body fare fits in here just fine.

Fleetness lets you reach towns earlier to get that precious third color of mana quickly, or with an obscenely good draw it could be used to delay an enemy group from entering its nearest town to allow you to zap it with Lycanthropy or Complacency on the following turn. But realize that most of the games you play, your opponent will get one or two towns, and your goal is just to start locking down her existing groups as soon as you can, in order to prevent the groups from doing much of anything after the first part of the game.

You should hopefully have enough spells to keep her groups locked in place for a long time, and by then your own groups should be able to overrun the opponent's. You can do so even better if you include Fertility or Nomadic Tribe, which gives you an additional minion advantage over your immobile opponent.

You'll have to train yourself to dedicate your towns to the third color of mana, tempting though it may be to give yourself another World or Mystery to speed up your Body spellcasting. It's usually better to delay that Lycanthropy a turn so that you can cast Forsaken twice on the two turns after it.

Ultimately, you should have a numerical advantage on the board while preventing the opponent's groups from doing much of anything. It's not an instant win from there, but you should be able to keep it up for long enough to turn it into a win.


As noted above, you can go with either Order or Strife, and you can either concentrate more heavily on pure Lockdown or on a combination of Lockdown and powerful group-killing Monsters.


The obvious weakness is that Lockdown is typically an early-game strategy, and in this case you'll be unable to start until mid-game. This makes you start at an automatic disadvantage, and if your opponent starts generating extra recruits or hurrying forward early on, you may not be able to prevent her from reaching the center town. If you only have two towns to your opponent's three, it'll be difficult to come back for the win.

As with all Lockdown, anything that dispels a friendly group will really be a thorn in your side. Monsters can compensate for this weakness (and the above) to some extent, although they'll also give you less total Lockdown power when you finally get up and running.

Finally, of course, you rely heavily on your third color of mana, so anything that harms your mana supply (False Prophet on your towns, for example) would seriously slow you down.

Good luck!

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