A periodic column on Sanctum strategy, theory, and fun,
by Ian Schreiber, Sanctum player name Gannon. You can reach Ian at
Deck Concept: Turbo Trade, or Dwarven Direct Damage
April 6, 2000
The House of Making is known for many strengths, but fast, aggressive play
is not normally one of them. Sure, you see the occasional Making Lockdown with
Mirage, Combustioneers, Homunculi and Mountain to stall the opponent, but I
was thinking more along the lines of a fast, consistent, 30-card deck featuring
Found City. Sound impossible? Well, read on ...
Basic Strategies Used
In spite of the fact that this deck is centered entirely around casting Found
City as soon as possible, it is not an Attrition
deck. It is a Powerhouse deck
that uses a lot of fast mana generation for support, although it does have a
definite edge over other 30-card decks in that it might have more late-game
options due to numerical superiority.
The tradeoff I made is a questionable one; while I can almost always start
casting Found Cities by turn 5 or 6, I have no late-game spells. Sometimes the
additional recruits you get from casting Found City so early make it worth the
tradeoff, other times I wished I'd added a few more spells.
As noted above, Found City is a start. How do I cast it so soon? Dracha's Trade
on the first town. I also added Bursts of Order, giving the possibility of a
turn 3 Burst, turn 4 Trade, turn 5 Found. I once dropped a Found adjacent to
the center town and squandered my opponent's Bursted Hellion on turn 5
I swear I could hear his jaw drop to the floor from across the country.
I then started thinking what would be able to build on this base. I decided
on group-killing cards as a second theme: Homunculi, Belvario's Trap and Siege
Engine. Any two of these could kill most enemy Hordes that I'd be likely to
run into, and it worked nicely with Bursts to give a possible mana path of 2
Order then 2 Will, with the option to Burst-Trap (your first city will give
you a third Order for the possible Burst-Trade as well).
Oculus of Will and Astronomic Clock are obvious possibilities, but I actually
left them out due to the mana path of
this deck; I'd usually rather not generate 3 Order right away, as that would
slow Combustioneers and Burst-Trap down a turn.
There's still some room left in the deck. I rounded it out with a few more
utility spells, like Parted Sea to protect against early Water squares, Shieldbearers
and Beobogh's Helm to protect my Horde, and Mountain to slow enemy groups.
There's an important fact to note about Dracha's Trade: if you cast it on a
town that is captured on the same turn, whoever captured the town will get the
town mana but NOT the mana flame-out from Trade on the following
turn (and on all subsequent turns the town will produce no mana at all).
This means that if your first town is three steps from your Sanctum, you do
not want to Burst on turn 2 and Trade the (then Neutral) town on turn 3! You
might consider doing this to the opponent's town, however, to deny them mana
from the beginning ...
It pays to be aggressive with this deck, especially if your opponent is not
expecting it. You have a lot of spells that, in combination, can kill the opponent's
Horde before center town; use them as such. Don't waste spells on the second
enemy group unless you're sure you can kill it completely; it's worth sparing
a Combustioneers to kill a single-recruit enemy group before it takes the second
town, but it's not worth using it just to inflict some small damage on a group
of 2 if they can take the town anyway. And if the enemy Horde is still alive,
you'd rather use your Traps on them than a two-recruit second group!
You should expect to take the center town and be dropping Founds all over the
place. Much as you'd like to put all of your Founds in the center of the board
for positional purposes, don't be afraid to drop one near your Sanctum early
for the sake of gaining Initiative; Initiative is important, as it gives you
greater control over your movement, and lets you make sure you'll take that
Found you just placed this turn. And as mentioned before, you'd rather have
your Found squander an enemy monster than vice versa!
I could imagine a more combat-based
deck centered around the idea of Burst-Trade-Found, with fewer group-harming
spells and more group protection. Such a deck would take advantage of the fact
that it has more recruits earlier on, by using spells such as Master Smith (or
maybe even Master Bowyer) in addition to Shieldbearers, perhaps Ogi's Arrows,
Ancient King, Ogi himself, and so on. Helms would be the order of the day, and
you could march your Horde fearlessly forward while creating a much nastier
second group to follow it up in a few turns.
This variation would give you more staying power against non-targeted group-killing
spells (like Pyrrhic Victory and Accursed Minion) than a more conventional Making
Combat Protection deck. As before, the tradeoff would be a weakness in late
game...but you intend to create an unkillable group and march them forward in
mid-game, which at least gives you a chance to attack (and drop a few Founds)
before being forced to admit defeat against a superior defense.
The late game is this deck's greatest weakness, of course. Expect to run out
of cards far before you'd like to, and pray that you'll have enough recruits
on the board by then to overpower an opponent on their own.
You're also in big trouble against Unmaking; you may be able to cast several
Founds before your opponent is even capable of casting The Unmagicking, but
a single casting of that (or repeated Entropia spells, or Ancestral Home spells
from Body) can leave you with no mid-game options.