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



The Combat Pipeline


Precedence Between Groups

Minions' Combat Attributes


Pipeline to Check for All Combats

Pipeline for a Full Combat

Pipeline to Choose Victims Wisely

Combat Damage (Quasi-)Immunities

Pipeline for One Combat Round

Pipeline for One Attack


If my group is surrounded, in what sequence will it fight?

Why didn't my attacker apply her “hits give” effect to her victim?


Precedence Between Groups. Precedence between two groups is uniquely determined by:

  1. Owners' initiative: Precedence goes to the initiative player's group, then to the neutral player's group, then to the non-initiative player's group, in that order. Note: This is a non-standard sequence, used only for combats.
  2. Older group: If both groups belong to the same player, precedence goes to the older group, i.e. the group that was created earlier (regardless of their current positions within their owner's group sequence). (This rule is needed to disambiguate neutral-neutral combats.)

Minions' Combat Attributes. Each minion (let's call him Joe) maintains these dynamic attributes for each combat.

  • Current armor. This is Joe's remaining armor for this round. At the start of each round, it is reset to Joe's maximum armor stat. During a round, it soaks off incoming damage until it reaches 0.
  • Remaining attacks. This is Joe's remaining number of attacks for this round. At the start of each round, it is reset to Joe's attacks per round stat. Each time Joe attacks his victim, it decrements by 1.
  • Victim. Joe's victim is the single enemy minion whom Joe is currently attacking.
    • The victim relation is non-symmetric. Joe's victim could attack one of Joe's comrades instead of Joe.
  • Idle. A minion with no current victim and 1 or more attacks per round is said to be idle. A minion with zero attacks per round is a non-combatant instead.
  • Misses. This is the number of consecutive times Joe has attacked and missed any victim(s) since the last time Joe hit any victim, due to level differences. The victims could be a single enemy minion, or any combination of different minions.


Pipeline to Check for All Combats. During the combat phase, every orthogonally adjacent pair of hostile groups will fight 1 combat per pair. All groups check for combats as follows:

  • A group could fight 4 combats in 1 turn, if it is surrounded on all 4 sides by hostile groups (and if it survives the first 3 fights).
  • Each pair of groups g and h will fight only 1 combat per turn against each other. If both groups survive, then the group with lower precedence will usually find the same pair of groups later in the same turn, but it will skip that fight.

Pipeline for a Full Combat. Each combat involves two hostile groups. Each combat lasts for 10 rounds, or until:

  • Either group (or both groups!) loses all of its minions
  • The two groups are no longer hostile





Start of Combat

Both groups animate into their combat poses.

All “start of combat” effects happen, in group precedence order.

Check for “ending combat”. Some spell effects cause combat to end early.


Combat round 1 (“missile round”)

  • All minions use only missile attacks in this round. A minion that has both hand and missile attacks uses only its missile attacks in this round.
  • All missile attacks are at -1 damage in this round.
  • Bashers (minions with only hand attacks) skip this round.


Combat rounds 2-10


End of Combat

All “end of combat” effects happen, in group precedence order.

Surviving groups animate into their standing poses.

All “after combat” effects happen, in group precedence order.

Pipeline for One Combat Round. In each combat round, all minions on both sides strike with all of their attacks, unless otherwise stated.





Start of Round

All minions reset:

  • their current armor to their maximum armor stat
  • their remaining attacks to their attacks per round stat
    Note: Any “do/does not attack” and “no longer attacks” effects (even those that were received in the immediately preceding combat round!) will set a minion's attacks per round stat to 0, and the minion will be a non-combatant this round.

All “start of each combat round” and “every round” effects happen, in group precedence order.

If either group has died, or has been displaced, halt.

If the two groups are no longer hostile, halt.

All shooters (minions with 1+ missile attacks) go idle.


Choose Victims
(round 1)

All minions set their misses to “infinite”. This ensures that each minion's first attack will hit, regardless of its victim's level.

All minions forfeit all of their hand attacks. Some spells allow all hand attacks in round 1.

(All shooters remain idle until step R3/R4.)

Choose Victims
(rounds 2-10)

Bashers pair up. All idle bashers on each side “pair up” randomly with each other, i.e. each basher becomes the other one's victim, and vice versa. This usually locks these two bashers into a duel until one of them dies.

Compulsion. All idle minions on both sides check all “must attack” effects (which could assign their victim).

Idles wise up. All minions on both sides who are still idle now choose victims wisely. This includes all shooters, and all unpaired bashers.


High- precedence side attacks

In the group with precedence:
For each minion m with 1 or more attacks remaining,
from first to last in this group:

Compulsion II. If minion m is idle (e.g. because its victim already died), m checks all “must attack” effects (which could assign a new victim).

If minion m is still idle:

  • Shooter is wise. If m is a shooter, m immediately chooses a new victim wisely.
  • Basher retaliates. Otherwise, m must be a basher. If m is still the victim of 1 or more enemy minions, m immediately chooses the first such enemy minion to be m's victim.

Basher forfeits. If m is still idle, m forfeits all remaining attacks this round. (Invariant: m must be a basher who couldn't retaliate.) Return to the top of R3.

(Invariant: Minion m has a victim, and has 1 or more attacks remaining.) Minion m attacks its victim once.

If m now has 0 attacks remaining, return to the top of R3.

Multi are random. For each of minion m's remaining attacks this round:

  • m sets its victim to a random enemy minion (with uniform probability).
  • m attacks that victim once.

Return to the top of R3.


Low- precedence side attacks

Same as (R3), but for the group without precedence.

Pipeline to Choose Victims Wisely. Minions who choose their combat victims “wisely” use the following tiebreakers to select a victim.


Wise Targeting Tiebreakers



Prefer the victim who isn't (quasi-)immune to your damage type.


Instant kill

Prefer a victim whom you estimate you (and your fellow group members) can kill off in this round. You might be wrong!


Highest armor

Prefer the victim with highest maximum armor (regardless of its current armor).


Lowest HP

Prefer the victim with lowest current hit points.


Highest damage

Prefer the victim with highest hand damage or missile damage per single attack (ignoring any multiple attacks).



Pick randomly.

Combat Damage (Quasi-)Immunities. The following spells give immunity-like effects, so “wise” targeters will avoid minions who have them (until nobody else is left). Note: These effects don't really give immunity to damage. But they are used as the first (highest priority) tiebreaker, so they tend to dominate wise targeting decisions.

  • Against non-magical missile damage: Fae Gift, Karillian Venom (from Karillian Arrows), Pixie Dust.
  • Against non-magical hand damage: None.
  • Against magical weapon damage: None.

Pipeline for One Attack. Each single attack goes through the following steps. Some spells can cause the attacker to die during this pipeline!





Check for Hit

Attacker decrements its remaining attacks by 1.

Compare the attacker's level + misses to its victim's level.

If the victim's level is greater, the attack misses.

  1. The victim's minion tile animates ducking.
  2. The attacker's misses increases by +1.
  3. Halt (return to the Pipeline for One Combat Round).

Otherwise, the attack hits!

  1. The victim's minion tile animates taking a hit.
  2. The attacker resets its misses to 0.


Calculate Damage

Attacker calculates the total damage quantity for its current attack type, including all nation abilities, combat round modifiers, and active spell effects.

  • If the damage quantity is negative, it rounds up to 0.
  • If attacker has any “does not deal”, “nor deal(s)”, and “no longer deal(s)” effects, the damage quantity is set to 0.
  • Each attacker's minion tile accurately (re)displays its “strength” (total damage dealt) for each attack it makes, including all combat round modifiers!


Victim Takes Damage

Victim takes attacker's damage. Go through the “Takes Damage” Pipeline, with the damage type and quantity from A2 (even if 0), and the attacker. This returns a result of bounced, damaged, or killed. If this causes either minion to be buried, skip to A6.


Attacker “hits”

Attacker applies all “when ... hits” and “hits give” effects. If this causes either minion to be buried, skip to A6.


Attacker “damages”

If the result of A3 is damaged or killed, attacker applies all “when ... damages” effects. If this causes either minion to be buried, skip to A6.


Victim “died” early

If the victim is already buried (from a spell effect), halt.


Apply damage result

If the result of A3 is bounced or damaged, halt.

(Invariant: The result of A3 must have been killed.) If the victim is no longer dying (because the victim already applied a dying-cancel spell effect), halt.

Otherwise, the victim is now killed, and the attacker is to “blame”. Go through the Minion Death Pipeline. The victim will either cancel this dying, or be buried.


Attacker “kills”

If the attacker is itself dead by now, halt.

Otherwise, the attacker applies all “kills an opponent by combat damage” effects.

If the attacker is a recruit who does not already have an experience level, then it qualifies for one. This will be awarded at the start of the next turn.


If my group is surrounded, in what sequence will it fight? The following map shows what the blue player would see. For the red player, just turn the map upside-down.

A group at g, with initiative (regardless of its color!), will fight adjacent hostile groups in the order shown below.

  • The blue player sees this order as NE, SW, SE, NW.
  • The red player sees this order as SW, NE, NW, SE.







































If group g doesn't have initiative, then it will not have precedence, and it won't be picking the combats.

Suppose g is a blue group, but red has initiative.

If group g and groups 1-4 are all neutral, then their combat sequence is determined by the neutral player's group sequence. In this case, if group g is the oldest neutral group, then it will have precedence over groups 1-4, and it will pick the combats in the sequence shown in the diagram.

Why didn't my attacker apply her “hits give” effect to her victim? Some defensive spells or spell combos can cause your attacker to die (or be killed by her own victim!) in the middle of her attack, in step A3, while still inside her victim's “Takes Damage” Pipeline. In this case, after your attacker returns to step A3, she skips steps A4 and A5, so she never applies those effects! Then she checks step A6, might go through step A7, and halts for sure in step A8.

v2.20.00 Last updated 2009/03/27




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