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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: Eat & Run
March 16, 2000

Not all decks have to be powerful tools of destruction. In my old CCG playgroup, we had more admiration for “fun” decks than “killer” ones. To us, a fun deck was one that did something interesting, unexpected and out of the ordinary; or, one with a weird theme that somehow made a reasonably cohesive deck anyway.

Same Old Despair Lockdown is forgettable even if it does win games, but this week I'd like to present a deck that, while not ranked-game worthy, will certainly stick in your opponent's mind for a long time.

I call the deck “Eat and Run” because (strangely enough) nearly every card in the deck has something to do with either eating or running.

Basic Strategies Used

The House is Abomination, but you won't find many of Abom's staple cards in here. If there's a cohesive strategy in here at all, it would be Combat Speed. There's no Combat spells in here, per se, but there's a lot of extra movement to allow you to reach the opponent before they're prepared to defend, and there's enough ways to increase your recruit count (or decrease the opponent's) to give you a reasonable shot at a combat victory.

Key Cards

The one card that this deck is entirely built around is Xin Shian Alcoves. It uses five of the six mana types, so it relies on drawing and casting XSA before anything else.

The “Eat” cards are: Cannibalism, Ostralek, Entrail Eater, and Sawbones (I know Sawbones doesn't actually eat anyone, but he may as well).

The “Run” cards are: Fleetness, Forced March, and Flying Carpet. Yes, I really did put twelve extra-movement spells in this deck, and I can typically cast any or all of them on turn 6 or earlier.

That's pretty much the entire deck right there. 30 cards so that I have a decent shot at drawing XSA early on (2 Ostralek, 4 of everything else).

Playing Hints

One thing that I will stress with this deck: you MUST draw XSA and play it. There is simply too much of your deck that is dead weight if you don't draw it. If there isn't a copy in your opening hand, start discarding, and keep discarding until you draw one.

Always make 3 Will first, even if you don't have XSA in hand; tempting as it is to cast Forced March on turn 3, you'll hate yourself when you don't have enough mana to cast XSA until turn 10 and all you draw are Fleetness and Flying Carpet. Always set your first town to produce World mana; that's the only way you'll get the mana needed for Fleetness, and you can't rely entirely on taking a second town early on.

Other than above, there's a huge amount of room for creativity during gameplay. Since all of the spells are general utility effects, you really have to think about how to use them to their fullest extent.

I've used extra movement to take a new town, take an enemy town when they weren't expecting it, or keep the enemy out of a town. Once, my opponent cast Lycanthropy on my main group and I cast Fleetness on his Horde, causing his (Cannibalized) Horde to overstep the center town and get into combat with my Wolf Horde (which killed them off).

Sawbones is a spell that's useful on both friendly and enemy groups; I've used it on a single-recruit group for extra damage potential and on large enemy groups to keep their size down. One time I had a wall of Entrail Eaters keeping a single enemy with Immersion at bay; I ended up casting Sawbones on that enemy group one turn, then Cannibalism on the Sawbones next turn in order to kill the recruit! The Entrail Eaters killed that enemy group the following turn.

I'd be willing to bet that there's some clever uses for spells in this deck that I haven't run into yet.


Already, you can probably see a number of spells that would add to this deck's potential in play.

Stalking Blyk is probably a better choice for a monster than Entrail Eater (I like the latter because it fits the theme of the deck, though).

Mirage would both fit the theme and give yet another use to your extra movement spells: combine Mirage with Forced March or Fleetness to make a controllable Amok-like spell combo.

You could add Possession (you already have the mana if you cast XSA and Ostralek) and Karkara to steal/sacrifice enemy groups permanently (which, incidentally, would make it so this deck used all six types of mana).

Adding a few more cheap monsters would give you more mileage out of your Cannibalisms and Sawbones that you cast on enemy groups.

As always, season to taste. Me, I rather like the original flavor :-)


Clearly, this deck relies on a single spell so anything that got rid of or prevented that spell (Intercession, Adriel's Glamour, The Unmagicking) would entirely destroy this deck concept. A deck with a lot of ways to dispel or kill friendly recruits would be able to counter the offensive “Eat” spells.

Then again, this isn't supposed to be a competitive deck. Most competent players with decent decks should run this into the ground. But then they'll miss out on all the fun ...

Good luck!

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