Review: DIABLO: The Sanctuary Tarot

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Writer: Barbara Moore!

The Box

A sturdy box with a magnetic clasp. It’s quite large and not terribly portable as a daily use deck, even if you take the cards out of the box and store them in a wrap or cloth bag. It would make a fine accessory for a Roleplaying game setup, so long as you didn’t have to travel a lot to game.

The Book

A 96 page lateral-bound ‘landscape’ formatted book, full color (well, two colors in effect). The initial chapters do a fine job explaining tarot, preparing for a reading and caring for your cards. The Spreads chapter explains and demonstrates readings and includes simple three and five card spreads, and then hits you with a whopping nine-card “From the high heavens to the burning hells.” A spread inspired by the classic celtic cross with an appropriate DIABLO twist.

The majors get a detailed chapter and the minors collectively get one chapter. Each card gets an illustration and an upright interpretation as well as a reversed one (if you use reversals). The associations are straightforward and readable and easy to implement and make relevant when performing a reading. 

The Cards

But first: The Marchetti scale

The cards of this deck are freakishly huge. They’re an even 4” wide and 6” tall (10.16cm x 15.24cm for metric folks). They’re so big, shuffling the deck is a challenge, and the entire package is a challenge to transport casually. I’ve spoken about the Marchetti scale before but it needs repeating here. The tradeoff of these challenges is that you get a huge and evocative view of the impressive images. Just don’t go about doing spreads with too many cards with this deck. At least, not without a huge surface to be able to spread out on!

The Cards: Gothic, bloody, diabolic and gothic.

The cards of DIABLO: The Sanctuary tarot are bold, evocative, and often terrifying. The color scheme is a dramatic combination of grayscale with shocking red elements for emphasis. This serves the theme of the deck and the world of DIABLO: everything in shades of moral gray and splashed with blood, fire, passion and/or desire. While each card has a defined border, the underlying image spreads beyond and to the very edge of the cards. This gives a sense of focus upon the specific card’s imagery, and implies that they are part of a larger picture, perhaps as part of larger tapestries or frescoes on a cathedral wall. Again, this works in favor of the theme of the deck.

Characters from the DIABLO saga are used extensively in the imagery of the cards, but never named in the book or on the cards. Knowing more than the essentials from the title of a card requires experience with the setting and the background of the world of Sanctuary (which in this setting is the ‘mortal world’ between heaven and hell); with three major video games and dozens of novels expanding on this world, there’s a lot of history, movers and shakers involved. But the nuance of why Tyrael, the Archangel of Justice, appears on the Lovers card is lost if you haven’t read or played the games.

Reading with this deck

This deck requires some deft interpretation and familiarity with the setting and its deep lore if you want to get more than the most superficial of meanings from its imagery and the names of the cards alone. The cards are perfectly readable because they fit the standard framework of a Tarot deck and are clearly labeled. But again, the deck works best for a reader and querents who are familiar with the games, or at least the genre of gothic diabolic fantasy.


The DIABLO: The Sanctuary tarot is a gorgeous work of art. Its imagery and writing are spot-on and for someone who’s a serious DIABLO fan will appreciate the deck for its respect of the subject. If they have a Tarot reading interest, it’ll be even more useful. 5 out of 5 for DIABLO enthusiasts.