The Return of House Sanctum
Austin Kukay on Sanctum in Mass Mutation
“The Red Shroud will defend the Crucible from the threat of dark æmber.”
As mutants run rampant on the Crucible and change threatens the very balance of the world, who better to save the day than the mighty knights of House Sanctum? Since their last appearance in Age of Ascension, Sanctum has added many new threats to their repertoire. Let’s look at how the strategy of House Sanctum has changed over time—and what to expect when you see them across the table in Mass Mutation.
A Glorious Beginning
House Sanctum’s tale began in Call of the Archons as one of the first Houses discovered on the Crucible. Sanctum’s original suite of cards largely focused on establishing board presence and maintaining it. With an above-average creature power and their added armor, they could go toe-to-toe with the giants of Brobnar or the beasts of Untamed without a care. Cards like Champion Tabris (Call of the Archons, 240) and Francus (Call of the Archons, 243) encouraged fighting to maintain the board (and to prevent your opponent from forging a key).
In addition to these creatures’ effects, cards like Shield of Justice (Call of the Archons, 225) and Take Hostages (Call of the Archons, 226) could be combined to both protect your creatures and capture even more of your opponent’s precious æmber. The protection theme continued with Bulwark (Call of the Archons, 238) and Champion Anaphiel (Call of the Archons, 239) as common cards, providing taunt and armor for your battleline. Healing was also prominent for House Sanctum in Call of the Archons; cards like Cleansing Wave (Call of the Archons, 215) and Protectrix (Call of the Archons, 254) could remove any damage that got through your creatures’ armor.
Sanctum’s strength as a house developed on the battleline—and it was supported by effects covering many areas of Keyforge play, from creature disruption in cards like Blinding Light (Call of the Archons, 213) to artifact destruction with cards like Gorm of Omm (Call of the Archons, 232). House Sanctum even had “house-cheating” cards like Inspiration (Call of the Archons, 220) and Sigil of Brotherhood (Call of the Archons, 236) and a “board clear” in The Spirit's Way (Call of the Archons, 229). Leveraging these diverse cards allowed Sanctum to support other houses by filling in weak points in your deck—both in your battleline and in your deck’s composition.
While many of the original rares of House Sanctum continued the themes found in the commons and uncommons, the Four Horsemen were notably sought-after for their unique playstyle and synergies. As a unit, the Four Horsemen were large creatures that could decimate an opponent’s board if left unchecked. They encouraged fighting, damaging, and destroying opponent creatures—all characteristics that synergized with the abilities and traits of other Sanctum cards in the set! With their identity established, House Sanctum returned in the following set, Age of Ascension, with new characteristics and strategies to use.
The Ascension of Sanctum
The next chapter in Sanctum’s story brought with it the introduction of a new keyword focused on the battleline. Of the five cards introduced in Age of Ascension with the deploy keyword, three of them were found in House Sanctum. "Lion" Bautrem (Age of Ascension, 211) and Challe the Safeguard (Age of Ascension, 216) bolstered your defenses anywhere you needed it while The Grey Rider (Age of Ascension, 226) let you use a friendly creature from any house to fight.
By using increased power from “Lion” Bautrem and Haedroth's Wall (Age of Ascension, 236), creatures like Maruck the Marked (Age of Ascension, 220) and Barrister Joya (Age of Ascension, 228) were able to fight with ease. If The Grey Rider wasn’t around to spur them into battle, Smite (Age of Ascension, 224) took the place of Inspiration from Call of the Archons to let you ready and fight with a friendly creature. Sanctum also retained their healing capabilities with Healing Blast (Age of Ascension, 219) and Golden Aura (Age of Ascension, 217). The inclusion of Hallowed Shield (Age of Ascension, 218) and Golden Aura with Potion of Invulnerability (Age of Ascension, 239), and Shield of Justice reprinted from the previous set meant that House Sanctum was able to continue taking on adversaries as they came. With Proclamation 346E (Age of Ascension, 261) added as a rare, Sanctum could further leverage board control into a way of controlling an opponent’s æmber and key forging, focusing on targets in play to meet the condition.
With Aubade the Grim (Age of Ascension, 213), Bordan the Redeemed (Age of Ascension, 215), and Baron Mengevin (Age of Ascension, 227), Sanctum continued their capturing theme, but added Equalize (Age of Ascension, 232) to further manipulate æmber. This proved to be quite strong when played against the upcoming Saurian Republic in the Worlds Collide set, forcing all of an opponent’s exalted æmber onto a helpless creature.
While capturing an opponent’s æmber, Sanctum could both prevent them from generating more æmber with Barrister Joya and Sir Marrows (Age of Ascension, 223) while generating æmber of their own with cards like Free Markets (Age of Ascension, 233) and Prince Derric, Unifier (Age of Ascension, 240). Creature-based disruption was also seen on The Vaultkeeper (Age of Ascension, 265), a rare reprinted in this set. This creature-based disruption is once again found in Sanctum’s suite of cards as we move closer to Mass Mutation, among other developments.
The Keepers of Order
With the villainous impurity of dark æmber being introduced to the Crucible, Sanctum rises to enforce order and righteousness. In Mass Mutation, creatures with the Mutant trait will be quite common. As such, you can expect to see many cards across the houses that are concerned with Mutants. For House Sanctum, this usually comes with cards targeting the Mutant trait, such as Gizelhart's Wrath (Mass Mutation, 163), which can destroy each Mutant creature!
In addition to the reprint of Champion Anaphiel (Mass Mutation, 129), House Sanctum is also seeing the inclusion of Ardent Hero (Mass Mutation, 126) and the rare card Lady Loreena (Mass Mutation, 165) as new creatures with taunt. Against many Mass Mutation decks, Ardent Hero will easily protect your board against large threats and Mutants alike, despite its lower power. If that isn’t enough protection for you, Lady Loreena will bolster your board incredibly—giving you four battleline spots “protected” by her Taunt and ability. You can expect bulky, protected boards from Mass Mutation Sanctum.
Sanctum also isn’t losing its ability to capture—those bulky boards will be protecting æmber captured from cards like Commandeer (Mass Mutation, 131), Bring Low (Mass Mutation, 147), and Font of the Eye (Mass Mutation, 134). These cards will add large amounts of captured æmber to your board, and with capture icons distributed throughout your deck by the new Enhance keyword, you’ll also see more consistency in your ability to capture. With Font of the Eye and cards like Lieutenant Gorvenal (Mass Mutation, 137), Gizelhart's Zealot (Mass Mutation, 136), and Lord Golgotha (Mass Mutation, 166), you can expect Sanctum to fight—and to capture plenty of æmber for doing so. Even a card combination like One Stood Against Many (Mass Mutation, 171) and Lieutenant Gorvenal could capture three æmber from your opponent in one turn!
While you’re not capturing from your opponent, you may need an answer to a different problem posed by your opponent. In Mass Mutation, the cards that you need will be more easily accessible. With cards like Orb of Wonder (Mass Mutation, 173) and Angry Mob (Mass Mutation, 143) in House Sanctum, you’ll be able to access those answers faster; either by directly searching for a card or by emptying your deck faster for a re-shuffle. While having the added speed and consistency will help catch up, House Sanctum also isn’t losing its disruption to slow your opponent down. With the return of Radiant Truth (Mass Mutation, 154) and the introduction of more creature-based disruption like Purifier of Souls (Mass Mutation, 174), you can force your opponent into tricky situations. Due to complex battlelines and powerful Destroyed: effects like that of Praefectus Ludo (Mass Mutation, 195) or Keyfrog (Mass Mutation, 369), each of these cards will see excellent use against the dark æmber threat.
Change is coming to the Crucible. Will you change with the Crucible and accept these new mutations? Or stand with House Sanctum, fighting for what is just and pure?
Whatever you decide, may your Æmber always shine bright.
Austin J. Kukay, or RealPlayerOne, is the creator and a writer at the The Epic Quest Blog and a member of the Moor Wolf Pack community-team. While he isn't searching for new Epic Quest decks, you can find Austin preparing for the next Vault Tour or finding new stories to tell from The Crucible. Austin supports organized play tournaments and events in his local Keyforge community in Seattle, Washington by creating tokens and trophies as prize support. You can continue the conversation with Austin on social media @TheEpicQuestKF.