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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: Dwarves and Arrows
January 13, 2000

Sometimes you can take an existing deck theme, add one small component to it that no one else has really noticed, and suddenly get an entirely different deck concept out of it. This week's deck is such a case.

When I say “Dwarven Archer Combat” you're probably thinking of the obvious: all of Making's archer spells, Ogi, and Beobogh's Helm and some invisibility for large group protection – and maybe some Found Cities for late-game options, or maybe not.

But Making doesn't have enough Archer-pumping spells to make a group quite as scary as, say, a Raven Shrouded group of pumped Keeper Swordsmen. Is there some way to enhance this strategy?

Until recently, the sentiment often expressed toward Making is that you either play with House mana only, or splash in Mystery for Justice spells, and those are your options.

But what if we try splashing in Clarity, to gain access to some of Mind's spells? Mind has some powerful Archer spells that could give Making just the kick it needs to make its combat groups truly scary.

Basic Strategies Used

This is a Combat deck, with the main focus on Archers. You'll be building up a large group and then protecting it with Beobogh's Helm.

Key Cards

Start with a nice base of cheap to medium-cost Archer spells, and your group-protection spells. Use the mana filters in your deck builder to see what's available; there's simply too many spells to name here.

Flying Carpet is tempting as a way to get your large combat group across the board quickly. You'll probably want some additional mana-gaining spells as well, to gain access to Clarity. How you do that depends entirely on whether you want to treat Order as your primary mana and get your Clarity from towns, or whether you'd prefer to go reverse and concentrate on Will.

Let's say you want this to play more like a conventional Making Combat deck with Archers, so you'll be generating Order first. Then you'll want Astronomic Clock and/or Oculus of Will to generate extra Will. You can rely on towns for your Clarity, and you might even consider some Found City spells to create more towns (and more Clarity) later on.

On the other hand, if you're playing reverse-mana, your deck will look more like a Mind Archer / Attrition deck.

You'll want to generate Will first, include Xin Shian Alcoves for both Order and Clarity, and some Will-based monsters and Civilize to get extra towns (and extra mana) to add more Order and/or Clarity.

And of course, you'll want to include Kumatru Academy to drop on your Civilized towns for extra recruit generation.

You might be tempted to add Found City in here as well, even though you won't be able to play it until very late in the game, as you could conceivably get up to eight extra recruit-producing towns.

Playing Hints

Be aware of what House your opponent is playing, and whether or not they might have access to anti-Archer spells.

Justice has Dracha's Sphere, and Death has Skeleton and Skeletal Horror; these can all be devastating to an all-Archer group, so be ready to make groups with at least some Swordsmen to protect your groups.

This knowledge may also influence your deck design: include some hand damage enhancing spells to give your groups some protection against these threats. Of course, you can ignore this (and even discard the hand damage spells if need be) against an opponent with no such threats.

The choice of how large to make your opening group is an important one, and in part depends on your initial hand. Adding two archers to your Horde right away is tempting, and could work in your favor if you can protect them quickly; but doing so will practically announce your strategy and allow your opponent to play accordingly.

Also, it would be exceedingly risky if your opponent might be able to kill your group before you can protect it. So, it may be preferable to make a second group of one or two recruits in an attempt to either take a second town, draw attention away from your Horde, or simply mask your true strategy.

If you're playing a Will-heavy deck, you may get the opportunity to delay or kill your opponent's groups with Mind's monsters and lockdown spells; if such an opportunity presents itself, don't pass it up just because you're playing a combat deck. If you happen to draw Burst of Will, Mirage, Stalking Blyk and Maloch Horror in your opening hand, use them!


Aside from what has already been discussed, you have a lot of choices in terms of deck size and deck focus.

You can include a lot of extra cities or only a few.

You can even have no colony generation at all, and just focus entirely on combat.

You can add some of Mind's Lockdown to slow the opponent's progress, or simply march forward and try to beat them at a center town battle.

You can make your deck very large with a lot of cheap combat spells, or very small and focused so that you can build a single huge, powerful group quickly.


As with Death's Raven Shroud Combat strategy, your groups are vulnerable to non-targeted Powerhouse spells such as Accursed Minion, Pyrrhic Victory, Void and Apocalypse. Depending on how many Colonies you have at the time, losing your best combat group may be devastating.

Since it does take a little while to build up your groups, a faster Combat Speed deck (such as War's canonical strategy) might be able to attack before you're ready, and this could give you trouble if you don't include some way to slow an opponent's progress.

You could include a little of everything, but then you have the intrinsic weakness of a large deck, in that your opening draw (and thus your strategy) might vary from game to game, and you might not be able to draw what you need when you need it.

And, as noted before, certain forms of this deck make its strategy quite obvious, and a skilled opponent will take advantage of this knowledge to defeat you.

Good luck!

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