Sanctum | Strategy, Sorcery, Subterfuge download rules and faq

create account edit account

buy cards trade cards

news forums maillist

top players cabals links


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: 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.

Key Cards

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.

Playing Hints

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.

Good luck!

Read more


Home | Usage Agreement | Privacy Policy | FAQ | Contact | Mailing Lists