Sanctum cards are called spells. You cast them onto spell
targets on the game board to support your groups, advance your strategy,
and defeat your enemy.
Spell Target Types
Spell Casting Requirements
Casting-time vs. Persistent Requirements
Spells in Play
Stages of a Spell's Life
Active Spell Lists
Real Spells and Helper Spells
Spell Requirements Recheck
The Spell List Box
- Every spell belongs to a house,
which determines the 2 mana types in
its casting cost.
- Every spell has a casting cost,
which uses only its house's 2 mana types.
- Every spell card shows its house immediately below its name.
- Each deck can freely mix and match spells from any houses, as long as
you can pay their casting costs.
Spell Types. Spell
types are distinguished by their duration (how long they last).
- There are 5 types of spells in Sanctum.
- Every spell card shows its spell type immediately below its name.
An alteration persists as an active spell
for the rest of the game.
A conjuration persists as an active spell.
It expires after a finite duration, or when a certain event happens.
A manifestation has instant effect, and then leaves play immediately
(even before the next spell executes). It never becomes active.
A summoning has instant effect and zero duration, like a manifestation.
It creates a monster group.
A Hero spell has instant effect and zero duration, like a manifestation.
It creates a Hero recruit.
- Enchantment. An active
spell (alteration or conjuration) that is also visible
is called an enchantment in numerous card texts. Some monsters
and spells gain benefits in combat or effect against minions who have no enchantments.
- Same lifetimes. Alterations and conjurations automatically leave
play if their host spell
target suffers any category
of death, or is destroyed. They can also be explicitly dispelled. Some
active spells can transfer to new hosts.
Spell Target Types.
Every spell has a target type, which determines which part of the game
board you can cast it on.
- There are 10 kinds of spell targets
- Every spell card shows its target type immediately below its name.
These spells are called individual spells.
They must be targeted on a minion of the proper type. You can drop them
These spells cannot target concealed
minions (unless they explicitly state otherwise).
These spells are called group spells. They
must be targeted on a group of the proper type. You can drop them onto:
Square spells must be targeted on an empty
(no structure), unoccupied (no group)
square. (They cannot target any square that contains a structure or
a group. If either of these entities appears in the square before the
spell executes, the spell squanders!)
Structure spells must be targeted on a town
or colony. (They cannot target a Sanctum
or Sanctum entrance.)
Terrain spells are always helper
spells. They nominally have the same requirements as square
spells (but since the game engine casts them as helper spells, it
just ignores these requirements).
Almost every terrain helper
spell has a corresponding real spell
that creates it. These real spells are always square
(spell) manifestation, and their sole effect
is to (cause the game engine to) recast the terrain helper spell, which
is what you see persisting on the board. Most terrains can also be created
by several other real spells. Hence, the real-to-helper relationship for
terrain spells is generally many-to-one.
Globe spells must be targeted on the globe.
(The globe is shown in the upper-right corner of the board.)
Spell Casting Requirements.
Many spells list various casting requirements in their texts, which begin with
the phrase Cast on .... They are checked at the following times:
- Check before casting. During the player
orders phase, while you are dragging a spell in
hand to issue casting orders,
the spell checks all of its requirements on the current spell target. If any
requirement fails, the spell isn't valid for casting on that target.
- Check before executing. During the spell
execution phase, just before each spell is executed, the game engine re-checks
all of that spell's requirements on its specified target. If any requirement
fails now, the spell squanders (fails).
Casting-time vs. Persistent
Requirements. Spell casting requirements actually fall into (at
least) two distinct categories, which are checked at different times.
Limitiation: Sanctum card texts have never clearly
distinguished these two cases (and still don't)!
These are checked only before a spell goes active,
i.e. while issuing casting orders and just before execution.
Most of these are checked both before and after a spell goes active.
Some are checked only afterwards! (e.g. spells that change terrain
Casting-time requirements restrict the initial casting, but permit players
to freely violate these conditions later through in-game actions, without
causing the spell to dispel itself.
Persistent requirements must remain true, or the spell will fail
its next recheck, and automatically dispel. Skillful players can exploit
this when they want a spell to dispel itself!
These requirements are usually casting-time only.
- ... on nation
...: The recruit may change nation later.
- ... of n or less/more: The group may add or lose
members later. Accursed Minion, Renegades.
- ... on friendly ...: The caster may lose ownership later,
by capture, minion exchange, or group stealing.
Blindness, Harmattan, Kumatru Academy, Man-Catcher, Visionary.
- ... not in a structure:
You may enter structures later: Alabaster Guardian, Sword of Zana
(I and II).
These requirements are usually persistent.
- ... on terrain type.
Dispels on any terrain-change:
Faerie Circle + Oasis.
- ... on minion with attack
Dispels on any class-change or
no longer attacks effect:
Oblivion, Pacifism, Protective Cover, Vivant.
- ... on friendly ...
Dispels on change of ownership:
Belvario's Horn, Raven Shroud, Scars of Kolekh, Touch of Death.
- ... on town (not colony). et al.
Dispels on a structure type-change: Auberol's Grace, Ghost Town.
- ... not in a structure:
These spells remain in play if you somehow occupy a structure without
entering it, but they dispel in their next recheck!
Belvario's Horn, Possession, Sentinel.
Spells in Play
Stages of a Spell's Life.
Each spell goes through the following stages.
- In deck. A spell in your deck doesn't
do anything until you draw it.
- In hand. You can target spells in your
hand for casting or discarding.
Some spells change their casting cost at the start of every turn while
in your hand.
- Targeted. When you issue a valid spell
casting order, your spell becomes targeted.
You can change or cancel your
spell casting orders at any time during the player
orders phase, until you click Confirm Orders.
- Executing. After both players have
clicked Confirm Orders, the game engine executes all targeted spells in the
spell execution phase.
Each spell execution either succeeds or squanders
- Active. Some types of spells remain in
play after they execute, and continue to affect the game.
When a spell squanders, expires, is dispelled, or
fails a persistent requirement, it leaves
play. Also, whenever a spell
target leaves play due to death
or destruction, all active spells on that spell target
leave play as well. Some spells explicitly transfer to a new host when their
old host leaves play.
A spell that fails any requirement during spell
execution is said to squander. It leaves play immediately, without
- Causes of squandering. A squandering must have been caused by something
that occurred between its caster's Confirm Orders, and its own execution:
- Typical squanderings. Squandering can happen because your opponent
had initiative, and her spells
negated some of your spell's requirements. A careless player could also
squander his own spells by casting the wrong combination of spells,
or casting them in the wrong sequence!
- Try, try again. A squandered spell does
not count as having ever been cast. Some spells may be cast only
once per game. If your first attempt to cast such a spell squanders,
you can try to cast another copy of that spell later. You can repeat this
until you finally succeed in casting the spell once.
Active Spells. When a non-instant
spell (alteration or conjuration)
executes successfully, it remains in play as an active spell.
- No max. There can be any number of active spells at the same time.
Some long games can have one hundred or more active spells.
- Spell target. Every active spell has a spell
target, or host entity. This is usually the same minion, group,
structure, square, or globe on which the spell was targeted. Some spells
can transfer to new hosts.
- Ownership. Every active spell is owned by the player
who cast it. Spells cast by the game engine itself are owned by the neutral
player. Some active spells affect non-friendly players differently
from their owner.
Active Spell Lists.
All active spells are stored in sequential lists, approximately in casting
order (oldest to youngest). The game engine traverses these lists as needed
to access all active spells. Some spells can transfer to a new host, e.g.
Jinx. Whenever this happens, the spell appends itself to the end
of its new host's active spell list. Over time, this can slightly shuffle the
active spell lists.
- Spell target's active spell list.
Each spell target
maintains a separate list of all active spells on itself, regardless of the
spells' owners. A given spell target could have spells from all 3 players,
interleaved in strict casting order.
Every active spell is either visible or non-visible.
- Enchantment. A visible active spell is called an enchantment.
Some spells and monsters count the number of enchantments on other spell
- Displayed. Enchantments are displayed in their spell target's
- Dispellable. Enchantments can be dispelled.
- Exclusive. Enchantments are exclusive
(unless they explicitly state otherwise).
- Green aura. A minion tile or
square that has one or more enchantments
is drawn with a green aura, as a visual reminder of their
enchanted status. (Group sprites and the
globe don't draw the green
- Non-visible active spells. These spells enable the game engine to
implement various intrinsic abilities, such as nation
abilities and monsters' special abilities.
- Hidden. Non-visible active spells are not displayed in any
- Non-dispellable. Non-visible active spells cannot be dispelled.
They ignore all dispel-effects. They last as long as their host does,
or until they expire on their own, if applicable. Some spells explicitly
dispel a specific other spell, even if it is non-visible.
- Cumulative. Non-visible active spells are cumulative
(unless they explicitly state otherwise).
Real Spells and Helper
Spells. Sanctum's game engine itself casts many internal spells beyond
those that you can purchase
in booster packs. Some of these internal spells are enchantments,
so you can see them once they're in play.
- Real Spells in your Coll(ection) and Deck.
A real spell is a spell that you, the player, can own
in your collection and include in your
- All rules apply (to you). Real spells go through all
five stages of a spell's life. You must obey all of their casting
requirements to put them into play.
- In your deck. In the simple case, your deck
consists of exactly the real spells you put there, and no others. In
the general case, some spells insert copies of real spells at the top
of, bottom of, or randomly into, your deck. These could be copies of your
own real spells, or copies of your opponent's real spells (but they will
always be real spells). So it's possible that your deck during play
can include spells that you don't own. You don't keep these bonus spells!
They last only until the end of that game, and don't persist as cards
in your collection.
- In your hand. In the simple case, your hand
always consists of spells from your deck. Some real spells insert copies
of themselves into your hand. The phrase when cast from a player's
hand applies equally to any spell in your hand, no matter how it
- Helper Spells in Play. A helper spell
is a spell that is internal to Sanctum's game engine. Once in play, helper
spells behave just like real spells. But the game engine has special privileges
in casting them, which bypasses some casting requirements. Helper spells are
used to implement many intrinsic abilities, such as terrain
types, monsters' special abilities,
recruits' nation abilities, the
Colony game rule, etc.
- Usually non-visible. Just like real spells, helper spells can
be visible or not. Most of them happen to be non-visible
(because you don't need to know about them, and also to make them non-dispellable).
- Visible means dispellable. Some active
helper spells are deliberately visible. These
can be dispelled like any other visible spells. They also count as
enchantments! Examples include:
- Generated items: Dwarven Blade, Djinni Bow, Dwarven Arrows; Changelings,
- Trophy items: Gorgon's Head, Minotaur's Axe, Obsidian Armor,
- Temporary effects: Karillian Venom, Nihil's Curse, Shadow's Chill.
- Persistent effects: Faerie Blessing, Gorgon's Gaze, Thermite
- No Target Hides from the G(ame) E(ngine). The game engine is
specially empowered to cast its spells. It ignores some casting restrictions:
- Ignores concealment. Helper individual spells
Think of the game engine as your friend!
- Ignores occupants. Helper square spells
and terrain spells ignore any groups and structures
in those squares.
- Ignores blocking. Helper spells ignore any blocking by active
spells (even by other helper spells!). For example, Bedlam
can cast additional Chaos Features onto minions that already
have Wrack, Brimstone Dragon can still
Fireball an enemy group that has Raven Shroud, all monsters'
spell-like abilities ignore Intercession, etc. Mnemonic: Spells
block your mouse. They don't block the game engine!
- Always cumulative. Helper spells are always cumulative
(unless they explicitly state otherwise, e.g. Minotaur's Axe).
- Real Spells as Helper Spells. The game engine sometimes casts
real spells as if they were helper spells, e.g. Yfreet's
Cleansing Light. Such spells benefit from all of the game engine's
special casting privileges.
Spell Requirements Recheck.
A spell target must
recheck all persistent requirements (only)
for all of its active spells (real
and helper, whether visible
or not) whenever any of the following things happen. Each spell that fails any
persistent requirement is immediately dispelled.
- Spell flux. For all spell
targets, whenever any other spell on that target executes successfully,
or leaves play for any reason. Dispelling one spell may cause several
others to immediately fail their recheck!
- Structure flux. For a square,
whenever it gains or loses a structure, whether by creation, destruction,
boardhopping, or moving.
- Minion exchange. For a minion,
whenever it exchanges
into a new group.
Spell list box. The spell list box
is located at the bottom of the game window's left sidebar. It always displays
the current spell target's
active spell list. Click any spell
target to select it (which makes it become the current spell target).
- Enchantments only. It shows all enchantments
on this spell target, and their owner dot colors. Non-visible active spells
are skipped automatically. (That's what non-visible means!)
- Potents this turn. During the player
orders phase, it also shows all potent
spells you have targeted successfully on this spell target, with their
names in parentheses.
- Double-click for spell help. Double-click any spell name in the spell
list box to open the spell help modal window, which shows:
- Actual house and cost. It shows the spell's house and base
casting cost at the time of its casting, including any transmutings
to a different house (which also transmutes the 2 mana types in its casting
cost). Note: Any spell cost penalties (e.g. Dissolution)
or reductions (e.g. Syzygy, or Ogi's Armor when Ogi
is in play) are not included in the base cost.
- Card text with radio buttons. Up to four radio buttons are displayed
on the right edge of the spell help window. Click these to show different
pages of the card text. These 4 radio buttons are identical
to the ones in DeckBuilder, which see.
- Spell text. Describe's the spell's in-game effect.
- Flavor text. Shows the card's flavor text, if any.
- Monster text. [If this spell creates a monster group or
special recruit]: Shows
the in-game text associated with those monsters or recruit. This
is an abbreviated version of the spell text, with all casting requirements
elided (since they are no longer relevant after the group is already
- Helper text. [If this spell creates, or is otherwise associated
with, a helper enchantment]: Shows
the name, house, target type, and spell text for that helper enchantment
(which you'd see in a game if you double-click on the helper enchantment
itself). Example: Master Smith's helper text shows the
spell text for Dwarven Blade (even in DeckBuilder!).
- Duration or tokens (if applicable). Spells with a finite
duration, or tokens, display them at the bottom.
v2.20.00 Last updated 2009/03/27