Mass Mutation Review: Sanctum
Welcome to my house-by-house review of the cards in Mass Mutation! I want to thank Alex’s Worlds Collide previews for being the inspiration for these. In an effort to not fix what isn’t broken, I am mostly going to keep Alex’s format, and his rating scale. Here is the scale:
5 – All-Star. This card gets it game on and go plays. It’s great in any deck it’s in.
4 – Great. Just like Philip Hamilton, this card is pretty great. It works in most decks.
3 – Average. This card’s favorite color is grey. It’s squarely in the middle, meaning that it provides either low value or inconsistent high value.
2 – Situational. This card is waiting tables, waiting for its big break. It will shine if the stars line up perfectly, but most of the time it isn’t very good.
1 – Trash card. This card is roommates with a certain Muppet grouch. You almost never want it in your decks.
Guess who’s back, back again? Sanctum’s back, tell a friend. As you can tell, today we’re moving on to review House Sanctum. They’re back after a brief hiatus, and they don’t like what they see with all this mutant craziness running around. But are they good enough to do anything about it? Let’s find out.
The Knight Creatures – 3
As is the general practice by now, I am just going to lump all these together. I think these are generally pretty solid, as they can provide a significant threat on the board in addition to their other abilities. Obviously, as usual, some are better than others, as the Techno-Knight and Xeno-Knight really shine here. The Umbra-Knight is the one that is lacking, as is typically the case for the house combiner mutants.
Ardent Hero – 4
It’s a Taunter, and it’s very hard to remove from the board. It also has a tendency to create play mistakes by your opponent, as it is easy to forget about one or the other of its abilities, especially the no damage from mutants ability. A great combo with Ardent Hero is Shoulder Armor. Yes, that limits its Taunt to only one side, but it makes it darn near impossible to get off the board without spot removal or a board sweep.
Bull-wark – 2
It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it’s not good. It is clearly a downgrade from Bulwark, as the ability to spread armor along your line and protect your important creatures is just better than the ability to spread Assault around. That said, it does have some upside. Its Assault damage or its neighbors’ Assault damage can take out small elusive creatures, or give you the extra punch you need to take out something like Sinder. It also (ironically) combos really well with Gizelhart’s Zealot. Play Bull-wark down, then drop the Zealot next to it and let the Zealot use the Assault 2 on its attack..
Burning Glare – 2
In set, it’s a pretty good card, as there are a lot of mutants running around. Its ability to simply stun one non-mutant creature is a good way of making it have value beyond MM. That said, this would still be a pretty bad card without the Æmber pip. At least it doesn’t give you two chains for using it!
Commandeer – 2
This card is great for taking your opponent off check and sticking captured Æmber onto your big, hard to remove Sanctum guys. The problem is that one board sweep and all that Æmber comes back. It speaks to the fundamental problem that Sanctum has in this set; they really need to be paired with the Saurians and their Æmber removal to be successful.
Fangs of Gizelhart – 2
I came awfully close to rating this card a 1. The problem is that it purges the most powerful creature, and oftentimes your Sanctum guys will be the most powerful creature, forcing you to discard the Fangs and not even get the Æmber for it. It is really good for removing Gigantic creatures. In a recent league game I got down Deusillus, only to have my opponent waiting with Fangs in hand. Ouch!
Font of the Eye – 3
This card reminds me a little bit of Pile of Skulls from COTA, which was a great card for taking your opponent off check. Font of the Eye isn’t quite as good, as it is limited to only once per turn, but it still provides consistent value with its Omni ability, which will generally trigger almost every turn. As with most everything in Sanctum, it gets much better when paired with Saurians.
General Xalvador – 2
The two capture pips are nice, and he’s a serviceable body on the board. I find that he is a great place to store captured Æmber because your opponent usually doesn’t care enough about him to want to kill him. That said, this is not a card that you want to see a lot of in your decks.
Gizelhart’s Zealot – 3
I really like this guy, but I do have a fondness for any creature that enters play ready. Back in COTA, even little 2-power Silvertooth had value for its ability to enter play ready. The Zealot has all kinds of uses. He can come in and immediately break a pesky elusive, allowing another creature to swing in for the finishing blow. He can come into an empty board and immediately reap. He makes a great heat-seeking missile, as he is kind of half-creature, half-removal action. And he eats pie like a champ!
Lieutenant Gorvenal – 3
If you can get Gorvenal protected behind a Taunter like Anaphiel, it can become a real problem for your opponent as it removes all their Æmber. However, after a while it starts to become a piñata, and one piece of spot removal might give your opponent a full key worth of Æmber. This means that Equalize makes a great combo with Gorvenal, and that’s even more true if Curia Saurus is in play. One thing to keep in mind, If you have Gorvenal in play and you play capture pips, put the Æmber elsewhere! Spread it out and try the best you can to keep Gorvenal from becoming the gift that keeps on giving to your opponent.
Seeker of Truth – 1
Wow, this card is bad. Where do we even start? First of all, it needs to survive for its ability to do anything, and at 3 power and 1 armor, there’s a lot of fights it won’t survive. Second, you need to have creatures from other houses on the board for it to do anything. The only real use I have found for it is to swing it into an elusive to break the elusive, and then let an off-house creature come in for the kill. It does combo well with Shoulder Armor, so that’s something.
Squire Alys – 1
Sanctum went from Aubade the Grim, who could capture three Æmber, was more survivable, and could remove the captured Æmber, to this card. Here’s what I want to know – who at FFG decided that Sanctum was so overpowered that they had to be nerfed? This card might keep your opponent off a key for a moment in an emergency, but that’s about the extent of its value.
Æmberheart – 2
Fully healing and warding a creature is nice, but the cost is awfully high. Exalting the creature is effectively paying your opponent an Æmber to use the artifact unless you have Saurian cards to mitigate the Æmber.
Angry Mob – 1
This card seems to come in sets of anywhere from three to six. It’s basically a vanilla creature whose only virtue is that it lets you move through your deck quickly. Unfortunately, the only thing it lets you find when you move through your deck are more vanilla creatures. I have seen many a good deck ruined by having a set of Angry Mobs.
Baldric the Bold – 4
This card has a lot of utility. If your opponent has nothing but small creatures on board, it can gain you two Æmber every turn while surviving. If they have bigger creatures, it can at least do some significant damage to one of them while gaining you two Æmber. It also happens to combo well with a number of other Sanctum cards, including Shoulder Armor, Smite, and Grey Rider.
Berinon – 2
Berinon’s value swings wildly based upon whether you are playing against MM or other sets. Against MM, Berinon is basically a big body who can fight a lot. Against other sets, Berinon has the ability to reap and capture two, which can be a huge tempo swing. This is pretty much the definition of a situational card.
Bring Low – 4
In MM, there is no scaling Æmber control like Too Much to Protect or Interdimensional Graft (except as the occasional legacy card), so this one of the few cards that can save you if your opponent is about to forge with a whole bunch of Æmber. Obviously, it is made even better if there is a card like Curia Saurus in play to make it difficult for your opponent to take their Æmber back.
Gizelhart’s Standard – 1
The good news is that the Æmber balances out, so at least it’s not a net negative. You gain an Æmber for playing it and your opponent gains an Æmber when they kill the exalted creature and take the Æmber. The best thing to do is to play this into an empty board. It makes a solid turn one play for that reason. This card might have been really good if it gave +1 armor for each Æmber on a friendly creature.
Purify – 2
I find myself discarding this more often than not. In inter-set play, it suffers because the only mutants it has to target are generally your own. That can sometimes be an advantage, as it is clearly worth it to purge a Gloriana’s Attendant or a Mutant Cutpurse. That said, oftentimes you don’t want to purge your own creatures. In MM only play, it can be quite potent, but it has to come up at the right time of the game, and there’s always the danger that it will give your opponent a better creature than the one you just purged. It is a great way to remove a pesky Johnny Longfingers, Rad Penny, Deusillus, and the likes.
Scrivener Favian – 3
She is a solid card. If you can get her protected, the ability to turn all your capture icons into steal can be devastating. Her problem is that she is a witch card that tends to die quickly. She’s not one of those cards that has to be removed as soon as it hits play, but your opponent probably doesn’t want to leave her in play too long or she can take a toll. Her value is also highly dependent upon the amount of capture icons in your deck.
Book of Malefaction – 5
This is one of my favorite cards in the set, and another in the series of great cards with the Law trait. Steal is back in a big way in MM, and the Book is a fantastic way to punish your opponent for stealing your Æmber. This has a lot of value for various reasons. First, it’s an Omni ability, which is huge. The fact that you don’t need to call Sanctum to use it really benefits your tempo. Second, it can remove those annoying creatures that keep stealing your Æmber like Rad Penny. Third, it’s fantastic against creatures with Destroyed effects, as those effects don’t trigger when they are purged. Your opponent has to think hard before they decide to steal your Æmber if you have Book of Malefaction in play.
Call to Action – 4
This card is obviously dependent on how many Knights you have in your deck, but Relentless Assault was a great card, and Call to Action should generally get you about the same value as Relentless Assault. However, Relentless Assault was limited to fighting, and Call to Action can just allow you to reap or use creature action abilities. It does lack the ability to go off-house that Relentless Assault had, but it’s still a fantastic utility card that can easily swing a game. As a side note, this seems to be the rarest card in the entire set. In a couple hundred MM decks I have seen so far, I think I have only seen this card show up once.
Gizelhart’s Wrath – 2
It’s good against heavy mutant decks, and bad against everything else. It can also easily backfire. However, Regrettable Meteor was a good card in the WC meta, so it’s possible that Gizelhart’s Wrath will end up being a good card in the MM meta, especially in sealed. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.
Lady Loreena – 4
She’s a huge, hard to remove creature that can protect up to four of your other creatures, which might make her the ultimate Taunter. She might also win the prize for most awkwardly worded rules text.
Mad Prophet Gizelhart – 2
So many things have to go right to make this card work. It has to be in the center of your battle line, there need to be damaged creatures, and those damaged creatures need to not be mutants. Look at how easy it is to get value out of good leaders like Captain Val Jericho or Zenzizenzizenzic, and how hard it is to get value out of bad leaders like Eldest Bear, and it’s pretty clear that Gizelhart belongs in the latter camp.
Master of the Grey – 5
This card is so good as to almost be broken. It’s almost certainly the best Sanctum card in the set, and it’s one of the best cards in the entire set. This is a witch card that is very hard to remove. It will usually sit behind a Taunter like Champion Anaphiel, so the only good way to remove it is typically spot removal like Imp-losion or board wipes. It can shut down a whole host of strategies, from MM bonus icon strategies to COTA Æmber rush strategies. In the right list, this card can make Sanctum worth playing.
Orb of Wonder – 5
I wasn’t sure whether to count this as an MM card given that it already appeared as an anomaly in WC, but since this is the first time it has appeared as a standard card, it seems worth including. There are fairly few cards in Keyforge that let you tutor (an old Magic term) for a card in your deck, and even fewer that let you tutor for any card in your deck. The ability to fetch an answer right when you need it can be the difference between winning and losing a game, and Orb of Wonder gives you that ability.
Purifier of Souls – 4
Not quite as good as Master of the Grey because the effect is two-sided, so obviously you don’t want this guy in a deck where Dis is one of the other houses. However, he can be really tough on your opponent’s strategies. Not only does he shut down lots of Dis cards, he also shuts down Rad Penny and Q-Mechs. He also has the benefit of being even harder to remove than Master of the Grey, and doubling as an effective attacker if you need it.
Final Rating – 2
Sanctum is pretty bad. They do have some highlight cards (Master of the Grey, Book of Malefaction), but all those highlights are rares. The primary value of Sanctum is the same as it has always been; they are hard to remove from the board. However, if your opponent has board sweeps (especially chainless ones like Savage Clash), your Sanctum is going to have a bad day. Of all the houses in MM, Sanctum is the most dependent on being paired with another house, as they need the Æmber removal tools in Saurian to be successful. Star Alliance might be slightly worse than Sanctum, but Sanctum is definitely among the bottom houses in Mass Mutation.