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.
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.
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
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.