Sanctus Reach is an upcoming Warhammer 40k game from Straylight Entertainment and published by Slitherine. It’s a turn based title played out in an isometric view.
I love top down strategy games, and have never touched Warhammer in my life so this was a bit of a gamble, no idea if id like it or not. Turns out I love it. The strategic component is well integrated and fluid, while the lore is nicely tucked away (though it’ll probably be more prevalent in the campaign).
I suppose I should mention that I have played a single skirmish and therefore will only be discussing that one skirmish. The map available in this early version was a capture map, wherein I had to capture 4 out of 7 control points within 14 turns. The settings was some futuristic cathedral like-place, which was pretty neat. The graphics were very nice and the little models were high-quality, so there has obviously been a lot of time and effort put into this product.
In the map played, I took on the role of the Space Wolves (humanoids in big power suit things) against a group of Orkz. There was a wide array of troops available for deployment, ranging from a small plane with a machine gun, to infantry squads equipped with rifles, hammers, flamethrowers and rocket launchers. There is also a big mecha robot that turns up halfway through the battle which is pretty cool.
At the start of the round you are given a number of points, and a ghostly army to pick from. You can purchase units to stick around once the battle starts, and each unit has a different cost. Sadly there is no way to change formations before the battle, but we’ve yet to see the full version of the title – so this is something that might be adjusted or added prior to the game’s release.
One really cool mechanic I found is that guns aren’t accurate. While this may sound stupid to say, hear me out. Say you’re attacking another infantry unit whilst there is a friendly unit nearby – flanking. In other turn based games (such as X-COM) this doesn’t matter. In some titles those bullets will simply not exist short of hitting your target or not.
However, in Sanctus Reach some of the shots that miss are gonna go slamming into those friendly soldiers. This sometimes can be a blessing, spraying and praying into disorganised rabble can score some useful collateral damage. As a matter of fact, one instance where it really helped was when I had a large machine gun laying down heavy fire on an Ork armoured unit; and a few missed rounds cleared out a Grunt unit for me.
One interesting strategic idea this gave me was using a high damage, high spread weapon at long distances. Normally this is a bad idea as most of the projectiles will spread out and miss, but… if you are aiming this weapon at a large crowd of enemies, most of the bullets are going to hit something over there. This mechanic makes me think twice while organising troops, and also provided a layer of risk and reward while fighting, possibly dealing some damage to your troops in exchange for doing a lot of damage to the enemy. All of a sudden, flanking enemies [not that Space Marines are well known for pincer movements – ed] wasn’t as viable a tactic.
Each unit has a certain number of movement points, and two attack points. Most tiles count for one movement point, while obstacles such as rubble count as 2 points. Attack points is fairly straightforward, you can either use your weapons twice, or have leftover points at the end of your turn which will allow the unit to automatically engage any enemy which enters their vision. This can be a danger if you cast your mind back to the previous paragraph, so there is the option to change the units reaction arc, though I have not yet mastered this. Units also have different ranges, but this is pretty straight forward so I wont dedicate much time to it.
I have really enjoyed my playthroughs of the Sanctus Reach scenario, and am looking forward to its release early next year. The gameplay is solid, the graphics are top notch and I’ve really enjoyed my time with it.
Warhammer 40,000: Sanctus Reach launches in Januaray 2017 on Windows PC.