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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: Dances With Wolves
April 20, 2000


Thanks go to my colleague SanctumSage for a topic that inspired this week's deck. Between about ten of us thinking together, we came up with the concept of a Justice + World mana structure (using World Dance), and all of the neat things that could be done with it. I'll concentrate on one particular deck using this mana structure (there were several others suggested), called “Dances with Wolves”.

Basic Strategies Used

This particular deck is very much a Powerhouse strategy, as it managed to squeeze in several group-elimination spells beyond what Justice is normally capable of. There are also a few Combat-based surprises to catch an unwary opponent off guard.

Key Cards

The main Powerhouse cards are Pyrrhic Victory (of course) and Lycanthropy (hence the name of the deck). World Dance and Burst of World are included to get the obscene amount of out-of-House mana required, while Rite of Mystery and Codex of Order were added so that I could concentrate mainly on generating Order in the early game.

A lot of the rest of the deck is stuff you'd expect from any typical Justice deck – Intercession, Sentinel, Spawn of Toganni and so forth. The serious choices involved what other World-based spells (if any!) to add. I decided on Fleetness for the surprise town rush, and Nomadic Tribe for some quasi-Metropolis options. The final deck was in the 50-60 card range ... I knew I might have to discard heavily early on if I drew any World-based spells, and I wanted the flexibility of a late-game strategy if I was playing against an opponent who put everything into an early attack.

Playing Hints

As noted above, discard heavily in the early stages of the game, go heavy on Order, and get those World Dances into play as fast as possible. It may be painful to discard that Lycanthropy or Pyrrhic Victory on turn 1, but believe me, it will be much more painful to not draw World Dance until turn 15! Try your best to take a second town (possible between Ogi's Armor, Chamberlain, Retribution and Deflection to fend off enemy monsters) so that you can get four World permanently, as opposed to only being able to Burst for it. Around mid-game when you have the mana you need, start mercilessly squashing enemy groups and marching forward in an all-out offensive. With some luck, your opponent will be unable to stop a mad rush, and surprise spells like Fleetness could get you an unexpected town.

Above all, this deck demands that you make the most of what you draw. Force the opponent to stick to small groups only, and then kill those small groups in standard combat by outnumbering them. Then, when you're ahead, start dropping Intercessions and steamroller the enemy.


Too many to count! Just for the sake of giving a few ideas to modify this base ...

Try going really Order-heavy, with Justice's 5-Order-first mana path: Deflection, Ogi's Armor, Rite of Mystery, World Dance, Codex of Order, Obsidian Dragon. Not only will this get you your mana faster, but it'll allow for some powerful attacks before the center town.

Or, go for the 3 Order 3 Mystery mana path, with the intent of slowing the game down early to give you more time to develop your World mana; City-State and Intercession can both slow things down a bit, and you'll get Spawn of Toganni and Pyrrhic Victory much faster.

Or, try cutting back World mana to two only, throw away Lycanthropy entirely, and just play like a Justice Combat/Denial deck with Fleetness dropped in for extra speed.

Or, take it up to 5 World mana (use one town to generate World, in addition to World Dance) and use Inundate, Deluge and Will o' the Wisp, placing Dracha's Sphere on your own groups to let them survive the flood, and use four Nomadic Tribe for a late-game Attrition win.


With the possible exception of Combat/Denial with Fleetness, none of the above are really serious attempts at competitive decks; they just develop too slowly. This strategy's biggest weakness is speed; an enemy attacking quickly, before you have the mana to hold them off, is your worst enemy. A really good draw can save you, but that's about it.

Lockdown could also be a big problem; you're slow to begin with, and this would just make you slower. You'd ultimately suffer the same fate as you would against a speed attack; in either case, you'll be confronted before you're ready.

Good luck!

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