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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: Abomination Dispel
September 30, 1999

Think of the Life Dispel deck we discussed last week. It had two spells which really took advantage of the opponent having no spells on a group, and two spells which dispelled the groups. Abomination can get in on the fun too, using a similar deck concept; it only has one group dispel and even that takes a bit of work, but Abom has some other things going for it which can make for a powerful deck concept.

Basic Strategies Used

Abomination is usually Cheap Powerhouse, and this deck is no exception. Due to the dispel, there is a tiny bit of Denial; there will be some opportunities for a little Combat as well.

Key Cards

Well, the two key cards for this deck (if you haven't guessed them already) are Unholy Aura and Rain of Blood. The former protects a recruit from unaltered enemy recruits, while the latter can kill everything in a group (recruit or monster) that isn't enchanted. Your method of dispelling groups is Yfreet; yes, that means you'll need to splash in at least two Clarity mana (using Focus of Clarity and/or your towns).

Playing Hints

Since you only get four Yfreets, guard them carefully; for once, you might not want to discard them if you draw them early (instead, concentrate on getting the mana to cast them quickly!). Rain of Blood is most effective when you have Initiative; your opponent can't spoil it with a group spell that turn, and if they try to cast a spell on their group it will be squandered – so, do your best to get and keep Initiative.


There are a number of ways to add on to this base ...

  • You can go with the recruit-pumping method (lots of cheap Combat alterations) to turn the Unholy Aura recruit into an unstoppable killing machine, and you can protect it (somewhat) with Chaos Fog or Inscrutability or Kumatru Trance.
  • You can add some extra Monsters aside from the Yfreet (Maloch Horror, Stalking Blyk; Bog Horror is not recommended since it makes it harder to use your Rain of Blood on a group) and toss in a few Cannibalism (thus killing off enemy recruits even if they can beat your Monsters).
  • You can add Ambush for use on your Yfreets, so that they can simply dispel a large group and live, allowing you to Rain of Blood the surviving group next turn before they can damage your precious Yfreet further.
  • You can add Domesticate, in the hopes of casting Unholy Aura and Inscrutability on the Yfreet itself; putting Domesticate on top of that gives you a nearly unkillable, controllable combat machine.
  • Since Initiative is important to have (for your Rain of Blood spells), consider adding one or two Encampment spells.
  • And of course, you can't go wrong with most of the standard Abomination fare (Swamp Land, Mirage, Accursed Minion, etc.).


If your opponent manages to dispose of your Yfreets and then cover her own groups with spells, your main deck concept will be foiled and you'll be at a disadvantage (at best). If you don't have Initiative by the time you're able to cast Rain of Blood and you can't take it from your opponent, you'll be forced to cast it without Initiative (and your opponent might save the group and laugh at your spell). A deck that is good at killing Monsters or taking Initiative will be a serious challenge.

Since you don't have any easy ways to dispel your own groups, a good Lockdown deck might prevent you from making any real progress with your groups. While this isn't absolutely fatal (you can survive on spells alone for the first part of the game), it will begin to really hurt later if you don't yet have two Clarity mana and you're sitting on a hand full of Yfreets.

Finally, a highly defensive Attrition strategy might be tough for you to break through. If the opponent has a lot of novices holding you off from inside her towns but nothing actually on the board, your most powerful spells (Rain of Blood) are useless, and your Unholy Aura minions will be unable to prepare for an enemy recruit that emerges from a town and has a spell cast on it that turn. Against such a deck, you may be forced to ignore the enemy towns and go for an early win at the Sanctum – and if your main group fails to reach it, your opponent may have all the time she needs to build her metropolis and walk all over you.

Good luck!

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