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.
Start with a base of movement-affecting cards: Mirage,
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)
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.