Turn-Based Marines: Warhammer 40,000 Sanctus Reach

Warhammer strategy games are thick on the ground, and my current favourites cover both the Fantasy and 40k settings. In Fantasyland we have Total Warhammer and in the grimdark future, there’s Armageddon, the hexy wargame from publishers Slitherine. Dawn of War III brings RTS to the 41st millennium again soon, but Slitherine have just announced that they’ll be returning to the eternal war as well. Warhammer 40,000: Sanctus Reach [Steam page], running on the company’s new 3d Archon engine, looks like it might be the closest thing to a digital version of the tabletop game we’ve seen yet.

The game will be out before the end of the year but is only being announced today, so I’m going to jump straight to the press release for details.

Warhammer 40,000: Sanctus Reach is a 3D turn-based strategy game like you’ve never seen before: fast, immediate, deep, impressive to look at and incredibly fun! Lead the Space Wolves in their struggle against the Orks through two uncompromising and long story-driven campaigns: Stormclaw and Hour of the Wolf.

Command several dozen different authentically crated units and heroes, each with unique and extremely detailed 3D models that bring the world of Warhammer 40,000 to life. The gameplay is rich and varied: spend your points, make your list, choose your deployment, and fight!

Units at your disposal have different abilities, strengths and weaknesses, can level up and are carried over between scenarios. Choose among many different types of weapons, watch your flanks and make wise use of the terrain: any tactical choice will be vital.

This sure does sound like Warhammer 40,000 as I remember it from my teenage years, and what a lovely alternative to Dawn of War III it could be if it all comes together.

Along with the two campaigns, there’s a skirmish mode and a map generator. Each of the factions – Space Wolves and Ork Goffs – has thirty units, including Gorkonauts and an Imperial Knight. Mostly, I’m just delighted by the screenshots. I can almost smell the paint.

I’m pretty sure I made those exact walls using styrofoam. And whenever I see a Squig, it’s a happy day.

Sanctus Reach will be the first game from a brand new studio based in Elgin, Scotland, a beautiful part of the world with one of the finest cathedral ruins you’re ever likely to see.


  1. Vacuity729 says:

    This looks pretty awesome! And it’s being made just down the road from where my parents live in Nairn. I just hope it’s worth playing.

  2. PancakeWizard says:

    Damn it, it’s got my boys, the Space Wolves. I’ll have to buy it now. :(

  3. lglethal says:

    Considering the fact that the game is being produced in Scotland, the poor grammar and spelling in the press release is rather worrying…

  4. Herzog says:

    So finally a sequel to Final Liberation? I like!

    • gorgonaut says:

      Oooh, Final liberation was the first PC game I ever bought! Got it from a bargain bin, and was blown away by the cinematics.
      I still have the CD! I wonder if it works on win7..
      Loved that game.

      • Whelp says:

        The original CD version probably won’t work without a lot of fiddling, but GOG.com has a version that works perfectly for most people in Win 7/8/10.

    • tattertech says:

      Eh, Final Liberation drew far more inspiration from Epic than 40k proper. Hard to say I guess until we see more details about the game though.

    • Tuidjy says:

      I played Final Liberation and loved it. As soon as I finished, I restarted, planning to try and beat it with minimal forces. I think I planned to use only Space Marines or something.

      And then, I realized that I was being rubber-banded. The enemies were a lot less numerous than they had been the first time, everything was much much easier, just because I was using fewer units. This was my first encounter with ‘scaling’ and it was hate at first glance.

      I will always remember how my pride in beating the game was wiped in seconds, once I realized that the enemies were always just good enough.

  5. Cablenexus says:

    Well this can be some good news. Is really something I look forward to, but how is it possible I can’t find any other info on this game except this article.

    Not even in the “in development” section on the Slitherine site and when you search the developer Straylight Entertainment I can’t find any info as well.

    Is this just announced?

    • gorgonaut says:

      What if RPS is becoming a PC games version of the Daily Mail? Now, they’re completely fabricating new games! (This would make me very sad)

  6. Chiron says:

    Hope its better than the Armaggedon game.

  7. Thurgret says:

    In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, Games Workshop only sells intellectual property.

  8. totalbro says:

    Oh ffs not another Panzer General clone

  9. Gothnak says:

    Why can’t someone take the Warhammer Fantasy or 40k licence and, you know, make Warhammer Fantasy Battles or Warhammer 40k tabletop?

    The games have been around for over 30 years and are hugely popular, the only reason i haven’t actually played them is that i don’t have the room to set it up, the time to paint miniatures, and can’t be bothered to read the rules and measure with rulers etc.

    However, if a game can set it all up for me and sort out all the rules (Like Blood Bowl did) then that is perfect.

    This looks the closest yet, but i worry that i can see hexagons, doesn’t mean the game will be bad, but i’d like to play the tried and tested original!

    • malkav11 says:

      Games Workshop is absolutely terrified of licensing anything that might even conceivably cut into their primary business model of selling ridiculously expensive minis.

      • Gothnak says:

        Wizards of the Coast are quite happy making Magic Duels and Magic Online. I believe they now account for 30% of their business.

        There are millions of untapped single player Warhammer Players out there who have never spent a penny on the figures but want to play the game, it seems crazy.

        The physical players are the kind of people that will want to keep on playing face to face i’d assume as it is part of the fun for them.

        • Oasx says:

          You are thinking like a person who wants to grow his product and make money, those kind of people don’t work at Games Workshop. GW has been actively sabotaging their own business for years now.

    • redplanet says:

      The Warhammer modules for Vassal might tide you over? Though I think you’d still have to learn the rules independently link to vassalengine.org

      • Gothnak says:

        I do a bit of wheeler dealing at home and currently have around 200 2nd hand Warhammer figures in various boxes and about 6 sets of the rules. I read them now and then to help with my job in being a game designer, but boy, i can’t face the idea of setting up tons of the figures on my table, making miniature trees, rivers and bridges and then getting a ruler to measure out movement.

    • Technotica says:

      Wonder if it is, or could be, on Tabletop Simulator?

    • Bull0 says:

      Looks to be on a grid rather than hexes. There’s a screenshot on the steam page. http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/502370/ss_f1fe13ab4edc221c6a161084ef1137b1e6311e97.1920×1080.jpg?t=1470130488

    • JM says:

      Because the dirty secret is that their rules are terrible, and once you take the “fun” social aspect out of it and the tactile nature of rolling buckets’o’dice, you discover that it really doesn’t hold up.

      Yeah, sure, GW are terrified of cannibalising sales, but also be careful what you wish for.

  10. Tuco says:

    Love the concept of finally getting a turn-based W40K tactical game, but I’m getting strong shovelware vibes from this teaser trailer.

  11. Calculon says:

    This is the issue. They have it in their heads that models are the bread and butter of their business.

    Unfortunately they have failed to realize the importance of a digital market. They could make wayyyyyyyyyyyy more money on a properly instanced digital version of WH40k.

    The financial model of selling digital squads, and the ability to paint them or buying pre-done skins, as well as digital models for virtual table-tops, coupling it with the ability to find a game when you want (instead of having to know someone in r/l into WH40k and willing to fork out the big $$ to get involved) would solve all sorts of issues that choke the game. Not to mention much faster updates to rules – and the data available to actually balance the game properly.

    I’m guessing they either dont have the staff to pull this off, or the vision to do so, or perhaps there is a fear of losing control of the revenue stream (aka. hacking/digital knock-off’s etc). Either way – they are missing the boat as their player base is dwindling, and they keep making these false starts into the digital world.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I don’t know, I think they are genuinely passionate tabletop games, and making (or licencing) a proper digital reconstruction of their bigger sellers would definitely kill the tabeltop versions.
      However, I’m sure there’ll come a time where the tabletop versions stop being viable anyway, and they’ll all go digital, like Blood Bowl. I guess it just hasn’t happened yet.

      • Bull0 says:

        I thought traditional games are having a resurgence at the moment? The market is certainly more crowded than it’s ever been, and board games are becoming much more contemporary, etc.

      • Titler says:

        The Games Workshop model seems to be the same as the Whale focused model which is strangling so many amazing IPs in the kickstarter/crowdsourcing genre (Such as Shroud Of The Avatar…); there’s the assumption that a few small, hyper-dedicated purchasers are the main source of income, at the cost of pushing out all the many, many people who might make small, impulse purchases but could not or would never have been in the market for the scale of investment, both emotional and financial, the model assumes.

        Consider for a moment let’s say the coming Dawn of War III; Gabriel Angelos is the usual hero of the series. People who play RTSs may not be down for the tabletop game, or into the high street shop social aspects… but they may, having played DoW and loved it, impulse buy an Angelos minature. Especially if pre-painted. Or you could go into a shop and ask someone there to paint it. Which might tempt you to buy another odd figure…

        When looked at like that, not only is GW losing money on those who’d never play table top but might like the setting and would play it online, they’re also missing the miniture sales that would come from duplicating their franchise. They wouldn’t be competing with themselves because frankly, their Whale market is self-selectingly small anyway. But they would be opening up their wider IPs to a much larger audience.

    • Bull0 says:

      That wouldn’t just undercut their model business, it would undercut the licensing business – because like you said, I expect some people would like to play the “real thing” instead of an RTS or whatever. So they’d basically be competing with themselves twice by doing a digital version of the core games. But hey, they’ve started licensing some fairly hefty things now (Mordheim, Space Hulk, etc) and they’re pretty close to the tabletop versions.

      • Calculon says:

        Good points. It is interesting to note that they do shift all of the burden to the developer. That also may be a core issue – the cost of making such a game and retaining the rights to it. I would guess (not being a licensing expert, and only decently informed on software revenue strategies) that they would need to do this in house for them to be able to be both secure and successful at it.

        From my limited understanding of the internal GW landscape, the 3d model business is drying up. Their recent cost increases have made it unreachable for most of their market, and as a result that market share is declining. I read a blog by a former GW employee about 8 months ago basically saying ‘I told you so GW’. They are going to have to shift to a multiplayer digital game with sold instanced content eventually I think. The idea of licensing this out piece-meal is a strategy that will eventually dry-up/backfire.

        • Bull0 says:

          I just don’t think they’re the business to do that. If the physical models business ever completely sinks I doubt they’ll be able to make that transition, and warhammer will go on in book and video game form (and FFG’s licensed board games and rpg books, which are all brilliant)

  12. Calculon says:

    I am btw – super excited to see the game above – but my fear is that its not comprehensive enough or done well enough to provide GW with the revenue streams necessary to make future games like this.

  13. Wonderboy2402 says:


    Is that “created” or “crafted?? =]

    • Jediben says:

      Neither. All units will need to be unlocked via nmicrotransactions that will reveal one of 3786 possible units across all 14 major races, with the will of Nuffield either smiling upon you and unlocking Marneus Calgar for your blossoming Ultramarine army or pissing with relish upon your dreams and revealing a dozen Eldar Scouts with shrike cannon.
      All for the low, low price of £7.99 per crate (or ‘blister pack’ in GW terminology.

      If this isn’t the model they have gone for then they have missed a trick.

      • Jediben says:

        That should say Nuffle, God of random rolls and Blood Bowl. Not the God of local health authorities.

  14. gruia says:

    Warhammer 40k: Chaos Gate . thats where its at. and this is nowhere near it sadly

    • shevek says:

      Chaos Gate had wonderful cheesy sound clips (“The Emperor orders you to DIE!”) but I don’t remember much variety or tactical sophistication.

      • Bull0 says:

        Nah it was quite broad in scope with lots of different units and equipment, and it had a fully featured level editor. Cracking game.