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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 Defense with Hope
November 18, 1999

Hope is already known as the “come-from-behind House” for its defensive nature. As with any Attrition-style deck, Hope is mainly vulnerable to an early-game attack before it gets up and running.

One might naturally think that a good Hope deck would do all it could to reduce this weakness by speeding the deck up ... but what if Hope went in the other direction instead, strengthening its endgame in the hopes that it will be able to dominate other Attrition decks while still acting as a “regular” Attrition deck against other decks? We will explore this option today by splashing Will into Hope, taking advantage of some of Making's defense which combines surprisingly well with Hope's theme.

Basic Strategies Used

This is an Attrition deck. Unlike the standard Making with Mystery splashed in, there is little if any Denial here; it is entirely focused on Attrition, with a few Powerhouse spells intended solely to drag the game out to the Attrition phase of the game.

Key Cards

Start with the standard Hope fare: Settlement, Citizens' Militia, Valiant Stand, Sanctuary.

To this, add but a single spell: Fortify. Consider that it takes some combat spells, a Dispel, or five or more recruits in order to break through a Citizen's Militia with Fortify, and if the opponent ever gets anything that big it'll be begging to be nailed with Settlement or Sword of Zana.

Another excellent spell to slow the game down here is Karkara. For a mere 1 Order and 1 Will you get one of the strongest monsters in the game, easily able to take out all but the most powerful enemy groups. If you lose a group in the process, so what? One Karkara will easily do more damage than 3 wimpy Visions, and if you can “spend” one group to eliminate the opponent's group that will certainly slow the game down – and you'll still have a waterwalking crab on your side. Also note that you can use Army of Light to generate fodder for your Karkara, something that Making cannot do.

Playing Hints

The purpose here is to defend your towns, and eventually create new ones. If you can create a few towns right on the perimeter of your Sanctum and you can make it impossible for an enemy group to pass, then you've got a defense that will stand for as long as you need it. Citizens' Militia is your primary defense, but you can also use Sanctuary as a way to lock enemy groups out.

In the early game, you have two main priorities: generate lots of mana and slow down the opponent. Mana can come from many sources: Astronomic Clock, Threshold of Order, Prophet. Slowdown comes from your defensive spells, and perhaps a Karkara on your Horde to kill the opponent's Horde.


Note that once you start casting Settlements, you'll be gaining more mana than you know what to do with. It's tempting, therefore, to toss in a few Found Cities as well. Between your Settlements and Astronomic Clocks (and other mana-gaining spells) getting 8 Clarity, 6 Order and 3 Will by the end of the game is really not too unrealistic. If you draw the Found Cities too early you can just pitch them, but if you draw them late in the game it means you can potentially outnumber another Attrition deck that “only” has four spells to generate extra towns.

Otherwise, if you're keeping it at a simple 1 Will for Fortify and maybe Karkara, you may not even need to include Astronomic Clock; simply dedicating one town to Will is sufficient. This could save deck space and make your deck a little more efficient.

You could also compromise between the above at 2 Will; this gives you access to Beobagh's Helm which can allow for a late-game legion of Visions to make a march of death across the board (imagine Shieldbearers, multiple Leadership spells, and various Spirit Swords scattered over a large group that's protected by a recruit wearing Beobagh's Helm and Ogi's Gauntlet ... or even a single recruit with Piercing Rays, True Aim, Kumatru Archer and Bow of Quickening). Until you reach the point where you can build this ultimate group, your purpose will still be to slow the opponent down, which Hope is very good at doing.


As I said at the beginning, this deck makes a typical Hope's opening game even weaker than before. Since you'll have even higher mana requirements than usual, it will take even longer to get completely active; if you need to dedicate your first town to Will mana that'll slow down your in-House mana generation even more. You also run the risk of drawing a lot of Making spells early on and being forced to discard too much mid-game and late-game power, if you include too much of it in your deck.

You'll be relying on your extreme defensive spells to keep you alive; it's a risk, but one that may pay off if you manage to survive past the opening game. And against another Attrition deck where you won't be under attack early on anyway ... well, this could give them a nasty surprise when they figure out what you're doing.

Good luck!

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