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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 Movement Control
November 25, 1999

Normally when I think about movement-control or movement-denial, I think first of Despair and second of Mind. But Abomination has some really powerful (and really expensive) movement-affecting cards too.

Why bother? Because your opponent may be so busy preparing for a Powerhouse attack that's never coming that they won't be ready for mid-game Lockdown.

Basic Strategies Used

This is almost entirely a Lockdown deck, with perhaps a little Powerhouse to back it up once you're at the point where you must engage the enemy in battle.

Key Cards

Start with a base of movement-affecting cards: Mirage, Swamp Land, and maybe Forced March. For this deck you'll want to splash in a small amount of Clarity to take advantage of Flying Carpet as well. That's up to sixteen spells that can aid or delay a group's movement; round it out with a few monsters (Stalking Blyk, Maloch Horror), some monster control (Rogue Monster or Betrayal), and some Powerhouse spells (Accursed Minion or Cannibalism maybe, depending on how many monsters you can throw at the opponent and how much you expect to fear a large group). Finally, add whatever filler you feel the need for – terrain control (Nullify, Plains, Husks), extra mana (Burst of Will, Focus of Clarity) and such.

Playing Hint

As with all Lockdown, you'll want to stop the opponent from taking too many towns. If you draw a Mirage in your opening hand you may be able to prevent her from taking any towns at all; otherwise they may get one town but probably not a second one, as you kill her second group with monsters. She should never reach the center town; by that time you should easily be able to lock her main group out with Flying Carpet or Swamp Land, or at least defeat it in battle using Accursed Minion or a series of monsters.

Once you've established a town advantage in the mid-game, press your advantage home. Use your Powerhouse spells to kill the opponent's largest groups (which is something that neither Mind nor Despair is very good at!) and you'll be in a situation where you have more towns, more minions on the board and a good selection of spells to prevent the opponent from doing anything useful; press your advantage home for the win before your opponent can try to recover.

Also, look for combinations of cards here that work well together. If an enemy group walks into a Swamp, dropping a Mirage on a side of the Swamp will keep that group trapped for a while, maybe even the entire game. Casting Cannibalism on a large group and then following with a series of monsters can eat away at the group, even if your monsters keep dying. And occasionally, you may be able to time a Mirage so that it sends a group with Flying Carpet onto a Mountain or Water square just before the Carpet goes away.


Adding False Prophet can potentially slow your opponent down a bit, especially if she relies on a third mana and she only takes one town (and you drop False Prophet on that town). The down side is that it may not be castable right away, since most of your spells require a lot of Will.

You could also go in the opposite direction and use Xin Shian Alcoves here, which would allow you to build up your Will from the beginning and not worry about other mana types; Alcoves will give you extra House mana and all of the Clarity you're likely to need for the game. The down side here is that you'll also accelerate the opponent's mana growth.

Beyond that, you have plenty of variability in the exact proportions of Lockdown to Powerhouse spells or monsters. A lot of Lockdown with only a few Powerhouse spells will make this feel more like a Mind deck with Strife splashed in, while a lot of Powerhouse spells will play more like conventional Abomination.


While Mirage is cheap and useful, all of your other basic spells here are at least 6 mana; a fast deck might be able to out-speed your Lockdown and establish a foothold. On the other end of the scale, you don't have much in the way of late-game power either, so you're forced to be moving forward earlier than you might be comfortable with.

Your deck has a narrow range, the mid-game, where it can dominate and go for the win. Against a slow deck it can also try to attack quickly (with a good draw of cheap Lockdown) and against a fast deck it can try to slow the game a bit (with a draw of cheap Powerhouse) but it will be an uphill battle either way to try and force the game flow to go where you want it to.

As with all Lockdown, you're vulnerable to dispels and other Denial, and also some terrain crossing; your Swamps don't do much good against an enemy group with Dracha's Sphere or Flight, and your Cannibalism will only do minimal damage against a large enemy group if your opponent casts Second Chance or Ritual Cleansing on the recruit right away.

Good luck!

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