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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: Heart Transplant
August 3, 2000

(Well, what do YOU call it when someone literally has a change of heart, hmm? Oh, never mind.)

The other day, I was talking to Merakon about this card, Change of Heart, and whether or not it could be used competitively. Whenever I see the card, I like to think of it as a way to guarantee taking your second town. If you know you'll capture the second town with this spell, you don't need to make a second group, which means you can keep more Novices in reserve at your Sanctum to make extra mana. And since Hope is typically so mana-heavy to begin with, the existence of this spell offers you the chance to go with an abnormally mana-heavy strategy without worry of being left short in towns. I won't be looking at that use of Change of Heart today, though; something one learns when playing enough Sanctum, is that different players can use the same deck, and in this case the same card, in entirely different ways

Much as I'd like to take credit for this idea, then, it was Merakon who introduced me to the deck concept. (Now all I have to do is convince him to write articles for me and my job will get a whole lot easier just kidding!)

Basic Strategies Used

This deck, alarmingly, is primarily Lockdown. There are a few Combat Protection, Denial and Powerhouse elements as well, but the deck is built around Lockdown. Try aiming for a 5+4 + 2 Will mana structure, with a mana path of 2 or 3 Order first, Will from your towns, and then finally Clarity. You'll see why shortly. The idea is to deny the opponent's second town, eventually use Change of Heart to capture it yourself, then use it to build large groups and march quickly on the enemy Sanctum.

Key Cards

Change of Heart, of course, will be needed desperately. Ways to defend your faraway town and build a force to be reckoned with will also be required: Citizen's Militia and Sanctuary for defense; Army of Light, Leadership, and Beobogh's Helm for offense.

Ways to keep the opponent out of the second town will also be required. Homunculi offer an excellent early-game stall, and once you take a town you can follow up with Ascension and perhaps Combustioneers or Mirage (using Astronomic Clock or Oculus of Will to get a second point of Will after you capture your first town).

The inventive player will, no doubt, find several other cards that fit this mana structure and deck theme.

Playing Hints

Hope doesn't normally have a lot of variation in its strategy; your opponent will be expecting a highly defensive Attrition deck with some expensive Powerhouse spells like Sword of Zana and Settlement. Play to your opponent's expectations, then; march an occasional small group at the opponent's Horde to make them think a Sword of Zana is coming, don't train your Novices in towns for awhile if you can help it so that your towns won't be attacked, and so on. The more you can disrupt your opponent's early-game strategy, the better a position you'll be in for a surprise mid-game win.

If you do manage to capture a town near your opponent's Sanctum, do your best to turn it into a win as quickly as you can. If you're unable to prevent your opponent from capturing the second town you should at least be able to capture the center town for yourself in the process, which will at least give you a reasonable platform from which to launch offensive attacks. If you let your opponent get both nearby towns and the center, then your Lockdown spells weren't doing their job and you should change your mix of spells to accommodate more Lockdown.


The idea of capturing a town near the enemy Sanctum with Change of Heart has been around for a long time, but it has usually been difficult enough to pull off that it was not a major threat. Using it in this way, only one variation on this theme comes to mind: Found City. If you can somehow design a Hope deck that gets a full 4 Will (or a Mind deck with 5 Order, or a Making deck with 5 Clarity, but it somehow seems easier with Hope), you could conceivably drop a Found City in the enemy backfield, cast Change of Heart on it, then build up an army as little as two steps away from the enemy Sanctum!


The most glaring weakness in this deck is that it's a bit of a one-trick pony, and if the opponent guesses what you're doing from the start you may have a hard time keeping a successful Lockdown.

The Found City variant is exceedingly risky; putting a neutral Colony adjacent to the enemy Sanctum may simply end up giving the opponent a new Colony if you're not careful!

This entire deck concept is also highly vulnerable to a bad draw. You need to draw sufficient Lockdown spells (and some way to gain extra Will) very early to be effective. The answer to this may simply be a tight, small deck but then your late game suffers even worse if your initial attack fails, and you may be unable to press home an extended attack before running out of spells. On the other hand, if your deck is too large you won't be able to draw what you need when you need it. It's a tough thing to balance, and generally means that the deck is its own weakness.

Good luck!

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