Game Buzz: Sanctum

Czech Games Edition is one of my favorite publishers in the industry. Not only are they the home of most of Vlaada Chvátil’s catalog, but they’ve been consistently putting out great game after great game since 2007. Their latest is called

image by BGG user Jana Zemankova

Sanctum is a 2-4 player game from designer Filip Neduk, whose previous games for CGE include Goblins Inc. and Adrenaline. In the game, which is inspired by hack-and-slash video games, players are delving into the city of Sanctum and trying to build up enough to be ready for their final battle against the Demon Lord. It may sound like it should be a cooperative game, but it’s not – only one can win.

There are three main areas in play during the game – a Hordes Board, where the demon cards are store; the Act Boards, which will show which of the six acts you’re currently in, as well as the next; and the Achievement Board, which holds the achievements and divine intervention tiles. Players each get one of the four characters – the Huntress, the Outlaw, the Slayer, or the Dancer. These are asymmetric characters, starting with their own skills and stamina/focus levels. Everyone starts the game with two dice. Each player also has their own individual skill table, which is made up of individual cards and tiles that make them different from everyone else. Based on turn order, each player gets certain bonuses, like potions and/or a starting bonus card.

image by BGG user Rukus

On your turn, you will Move, Fight, or Rest. Your first action of the game has to be a Move.

MOVE: Move your figure ahead one space on the track. If there’s someone in front of you, move to the space in front of everyone – after a Move action, you will always be at the front of the line. Then, you will reveal demons based on the icons at the space you landed on. On the first Move of the game, you’ll add five sets. Thereafter, it will be just one set (though a set may have more than one demon in it). You will take one of the five available sets and add it to your battle board. You’ll have to deal with them eventually.

If you landed on the last space of the Act board, you will open a treasure chest. This flips all demons over to their item side, and players get to draft one item each. The demons are then discarded, and the next move will take you onto the next Act board. In a four-player game, you’ll use all six acts. With three players, you won’t do Act III, and with two players, you’ll skip Acts II and IV.

FIGHT: This is where you fight your demons. First, you can discard potions to regain stamina or focus. You’ll then roll your dice (two at the beginning of the game and more as play progresses). The numbers you roll will hopefully match the numbers on the bottom of demons. You may be able use abilities to adjust dice, and rage tokens can be used to set a die to a value of your choice. A rage token will be reset at the end of your attack so you can use it again next turn.

If you didn’t manage to defeat a demon, it will hit you. Abilities will help you block damage, and you lose health for each unblocked damage. If your health falls to zero, you will die and be out of the game, but this should be avoidable before Act VI.

Each defeated demon will give you levels based on their levels. This allows you to move up gems on your skill table, making them available. The defeated demon then flips over and gives you an item. At this point, you check to see if you earned any achievements.

REST: First, you restore all stamina and focus tokens that you’ve spent, and your used abilities become available again. Then you can equip items by spending matching gems. Your first equipped item will give you an extra die for the rest of the game. During this step, you can buy potions and check to see if you earned any achievements.

image by BGG user JanaZemankova

When you reach Act V, you have reached the The Walls of Sanctum. Five sets of demons will be dealt out, but no new ones will be added for the remainder of the Act. All demons need to be defeated before you can breach the walls. At this point, the Demon Lord appears, with the Act VI board replacing the achievement board. All players then take turns deciding whether or not to answer the call to arms, which has them enter the city and land on a Demon Lord card. A new Demon Lord card is added each turn, whether you choose to answer the call to arms or not. You’ll move on to Act VI once everyone has answered the call to arms. Players can Rest first, and then the Demon Lord cards are flipped face up and resolved.

image by BGG user JanaZemankova

In Act VI, each player gets five Demon Lord cards and four Fury cards. These are dealt out in an alternating line. Then, you will play a round of Fight actions. In Act VI, you can only fight the card you’re on, and once it’s defeated, you move on. You’ll have to block damage from any undefeated demons, including ones you haven’t gotten to yet. Fury cards are resolved as you cross them.

After everyone has taken a turn, it’s the Demon Lord’s turn. It will resolve two Demon Lord cards, then there’s another round of fights. On the Demon Lord’s next turn, it will only resolve one DL card. Then, there will just be fights until all players are done because they have defeated their rows, or because they are dead. If everyone dies, the player who got the furthest wins. If one person defeated their row, they win. If multiple players have defeated their rows, the one with the highest health remaining wins. And, in good Galaxy Trucker fashion, the rules say “anyone who defeats the Demon Lord can claim victory. The winner is simply more victorious than the others.”

image by BGG user JanaZemankova

As mentioned, I always love seeing what CGE comes up with. This game has a very dark theme to it – I mean, how much more intense can you get than a battle against the very forces of evil themselves? It looks quite interesting to me, what with the narrative arc, and the choices of how you’re going to deal with the world. It all looks very straightforward, with only a few choices for actions each turn. It seems like a very exciting adventure game, and it’s one I’d love to check out just to see how everything comes together.

That’s it for today. Programming note – I’m about to take my annual December hiatus from the blog, so I’ll see you on Friday for Kickstarter Blitz #71, and then not again for a few weeks. Thanks for reading!

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