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.
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.
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
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.