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Sanctum | Strategy, Sorcery, SubterfugeSanctum | Strategy, Sorcery, Subterfuge



Terrain Types and Terrainwalks


Terrain Helper Spells

Terrain Types and Effects

Terrainwalks and Flight

Limitations of Flight


What if only some of a group's members are able to cross a square's terrain?

How can I use my opponent's innate terrainwalk abilities against him?

What happens to a group if, during the spell execution phase, ...

... its square's terrain changes?

... it gains or loses terrainwalk?

... it teleports to a square with a different terrain type?


Terrain Helper Spells. A terrain helper spell is a special kind of square spell. The following special rules apply to them.

  • Exactly 1. Every square always has exactly one terrain helper spell. Equivalently, we say that a square has exactly one terrain type.
    • Change replaces. Whenever a square's terrain “becomes” another terrain type, this means that its old terrain helper spell is dispelled, and a new terrain helper spell is cast. Hence, terrain helper spells are neither exclusive nor cumulative.
  • Like other spells.
    • Visible. They're visible in a square's spell list box. Double-click on a terrain helper spell's name in the list box to open its spell help dialog, which shows its art and text.
    • Sequential. They apply their effects in the same order as other active spells. To eliminate legacy race conditions between start-of-turn events, all non-terrain spells currently use the “at start of turn” event, and all (and only) damaging/fatal terrains currently use the “after start of turn” event.
  • Different from other spells.
    • Not enchanting. A terrain helper spell does not count as an enchantment.
    • No aura. A square with only a terrain helper spell (remember, every square always has one!) does not show the green enchantment aura. Otherwise, every square on the board would always show it!
    • Non-dispellable. Terrain helper spells cannot be dispelled (even though they're visible). They ignore all explicit dispel effects. The only way to “dispel” a terrain is to change it to another terrain.

Terrain Types and Effects. There are 11 types of terrain in Sanctum. Each terrain type can be created by several different real spells.


Effect and Spells


No effect.
Plains; Abatement, Nullify; Savannah (3x3), Deluge after it recedes, Jumping Land after it jumps, Justicars group as it moves.

Barren Land

No effect.
Earthquake, Gogar's Wrath, Husks, Juggernaut, Limbo, Tornado, Uproot; Scorched Earth (contiguous); Flaming Arrows after combat, Gnome and Ngozi as they move, Lava Flow after it cools off.


Minions in forest are concealed. (Concealed minions cannot be targeted by enemy individual spells.)
Forestation; Faerie Glade, Haunted Forest, Jungle, Seed on the Wind (3x3); Golden Grove after it matures, Seedbearers group as it moves.


When group enters ice, group slides in its direction of travel to the first non-ice square, or the first square that blocks movement. A sliding group ignores:

  • other groups in all squares except the last square;
  • all spells in squares except the first ice square and the last square.

Flight does not prevent sliding.
Freeze; Water's Gift; Ice Age, Icecaps when their group dies.


Mountain blocks movement unless group has Mountainwalk. Mountain; Natural Defenses; Gnome under Misfits in combat.


Group in swamp can exit only in the most recent direction from which any group entered that swamp.
Swamp Land; Mudslinging.


Desert causes 1 hit point of damage after start of turn unless group has Desertwalk.
Oasis, Wasteland (3x3); Famine at random, Sand Sphinx as it moves.


Lava causes 3 hit points of damage after start of turn unless group has Firewalk.
Salamander; Lode Star, Ring of Fire; Firewyrm whenever it appears, Lava Flow sporadically.


Volcano causes 5 hit points of damage after start of turn unless group has Firewalk. Volcano blocks movement unless group has Mountainwalk.
Volcano; Lava Flow.


Each minion drowns (dies) in water unless minion has Waterwalk. This is checked:

Water blocks movement unless group has Waterwalk.
Inundate; Jade Dragon, Overflow; Bleak Isle, Deluge.


Void removes group from the game. This is checked:

Void does not block movement.
Void; Maelstrom when it expires.


Some spells create many different terrain types: Blight, Changing Lands, Drought, Illender.

Terrainwalks and Flight. A terrainwalk is the ability to ignore the harmful effects of certain terrains, and to cross (enter and exit) certain terrains that normally block movement. Some spells give terrainwalks. Some monsters, and some nations' recruits, have intrinsic terrainwalks.

  • There are 6 types of terrainwalks in Sanctum (although Swampwalk currently isn't used).



Spells and Nations


Group takes no damage from desert.

Bone Chariot, Caravan.


Group may cross water, and does not drown in water.

Bleak Isle (II), Nereid's Curse, Water Breathing, Water Walking.

All Djinni (Mind) and Vision (Hope) recruits have Waterwalk.


Group may cross mountains and volcanoes. This does not protect group from volcano damage.

Mountain Climb.

All Dwarf (Making) and Shadow (Despair) recruits have Mountainwalk.


Not implemented.

Not available.


Group takes no damage from lava or volcanoes. This does not allow group to cross volcanoes.

Bone Chariot, FireWalking.


Group may cross any terrain, and is immune to adverse terrain effects.

Dracha's Sphere, Flight, Flying Carpet, Shaman's Walk.

Limitations of Flight

  • Flight gives immunity to “adverse terrain effects”. These are only those damaging or fatal effects from terrain types that occur in the “after start of turn” phase. Flight does not protect against anything else (unless explicitly stated).
  • Groups with Flight still slide on ice (because ice's text explicitly says so).
  • Groups with Flight still suffer all other non-terrain spell effects. (Examples: Leechwood's dispel, Faerie Circle/Lost Mine's leaving the board, monster group falling into Cessao Spiral, etc.)
  • Some monsters with Flight take less damage in combat unless its opponents also have Flight. This usually gives the monster a combat advantage similar to armor.
  • Volgaris does not have Flight (even though his card art and group sprite depict him having wings)!


What if only some of a group's members are able to cross a square's terrain? Then the group cannot enter (or exit) that square. Movement must be “unanimous”. If any one minion can't go, then the whole group can't go.

Some examples:

  • Group A has 7 Dwarves (who have Mountainwalk) and 1 Djinn (who has Waterwalk).
    • Group A can't enter a square with mountain terrain, because the Djinn bounces off.
    • If a mountain appears under group A, then group A is stuck there, and cannot move away, because the Djinn can't exit the mountain.
    • Group A can't enter water, because the 7 Dwarves bounce off.
    • If group A is thrown into a water square, the 7 Dwarves drown (die), and the Djinn survives.
  • Group B is a Horde of 4 Humans. One of them gets Forsaken.
    • Group B cannot enter any structure, because the one Human with Forsaken bounces off.

How can I turn my opponent's innate terrainwalk abilities against him?

  • Cast Volcano in the path of a group of Dwarves or Shadows. Their Mountainwalk enables them to walk onto the volcano, and then they'll take 5 damage each.
  • Cast Forbidden Ichor on a Dwarf or Shadow when its group is on a mountain. There's a 10-in-11 chance that it will change to a non-Mountainwalk nation. Then the entire group is stuck on the mountain! (The only way this can fail is if you change a Dwarf into a Shadow, or vice versa.)
  • Cast Forbidden Ichor on a Djinn or Vision when its group is on water. There's a 10-in-11 chance that the targeted recruit will drown (die) in the next “before movement” phase.
  • Cast Penumbra on a group containing Djinni and/or Visions when its group is on water. All Djinni and Visions in the group will drown in the next “before movement” phase. You could wipe out an entire group of 8 this way!

What happens to a group if, during the spell execution phase, its square's terrain changes? It depends on the new terrain type.

  • Fatal terrains (water, Void) apply their effects immediately, since their texts say “when ... created”. Hence, any minions that can't swim/fly will die or be removed from the game as part of that spell's execution, before the next spell executes.
  • Damaging terrains (desert, lava, volcano) don't inflict any damage right away. If the group moves out of the square in the same turn's movement phase, it escapes without any damage at all. Only if the group stays there until the next “after start of turn” phase would it take any damage.
  • Other terrains have no effect during spell execution. (They could block movement during the movement phase.)

What happens to a group if, during the spell execution phase, it gains or loses terrainwalk? Nothing (yet).

  • Fatal terrains (water, Void) do not say that they check their effects “after each spell's execution”. The earliest time for water or Void to recheck a group is in the “before movement” phase. Hence, groups that lose their terrainwalk during spell execution while in a water or Void square will survive unhurt for the rest of the spell execution phase! So they could be saved by a later spell in the same spell execution phase that gives them a new terrainwalk, or changes the square's terrain, or teleports them away.

What happens to a group if, during the spell execution phase, it teleports to a square with a different terrain type? Nothing (yet), for the same reason as losing a terrainwalk. Terrains do not (re)check their groups after each spell execution. The earliest terrain recheck is in the “before movement” phase, for water and Void.

Case study. Player B has previously cast a Void on the board. Player A has a recruit group on the board, without Flight.

  • Player A targets Plains on the Void square.
  • Player B, with initiative, targets Bolt of Somersaults on A's group.
  • First, B's Bolt of Somersaults executes. It teleports A's group onto the Void square!
  • Since Void doesn't check the group yet, the group survives (for now!). It “hovers” in mid-air over the Void!
  • Next, A's Plains executes. However, the Void square is no longer unoccupied, because A's group is “hovering” in it! This violates the game rule that a square spell must target an unoccupied square. So the Plains squanders!
  • This completes the spell execution phase.
  • In the “before movement” phase, the Void checks A's group, and removes it from the game!

Hapless Player A lost his group and his Plains spell, and didn't even get rid of the Void!

v2.20.00 Last updated 2009/03/27




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