Partying On Sanctus Reach for the New Year!

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We are almost one year closer to the 41st Millennium, and so what better way to ring in the New Year then by waging total war in a future where there really isn’t much else to do, but fight and kill?  So, if you like the smell of napalm in the morning, afternoon and night, you’ve come to the right place.

Last year, Straylight Studios brought to life their Warhammer 40,000 game Sanctus Reach introducing players to the Space Marine Chapter known famously across the universe as the “Space Wolves”.  The original title was released with two campaigns following the Wolves’ exploits against the Orks and their Waaagh! on the planet of Alaric Prime.  Grogheads covered the core game briefly in our interview with Straylight, who true to their word, have developed DLC for the Orks, Astra Militarum, and the Chaos Demons.  What next I wonder; the Eldar perhaps, or the maybe the Necrons?

For now, read on to find out what you get with this DLC pack, which makes the original game a whole lot more interesting!

By: Boggit,


Nice artwork and a mini map of the location for action on Alaric Prime is a nice addition to the campaign choice screen. There is also a tutorial

As can be seen above there are now three new single player campaigns.  For the Orks, there is the “Legacy of the Weirdboy”.  The Astra Militarum (aka the Imperial Guard) get “The Red Waagh!”.  Finally, “Horrors of the Warp” brings the Space Wolves back for a third bite at the campaign apple.  Strangely, although the Chaos Demons are central to this campaign, they do not get a campaign of their own.  It is not that I object to another Space Wolves campaign, but to me it seems strange that the developers introduce a new faction without giving it a campaign of its own. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future DLC so that a player who likes the Demons (and having played them in skirmish mode, I think they’re a really cool faction) will get a campaign to follow through. Ironically, in that case it will seem like the developers are putting the cart before the horse. Even so, if it comes, it will be better late than never.


This is a typical campaign map screen. Victory in one area then allows expansion towards adjacent areas.

So what of the Ork campaign – Legacy of the Weirdboy? The campaign offers sixteen missions, most of which require a victory in an adjacent map area to unlock for the next mission. Central to the Ork campaign is a Ork warboss called “Big Redd” who is a Weirdboy.  As you may know, Weirdboys are a kind of Ork psyker, or mage, with a variety of buffs/abilities beyond the usual fire and mêlée characteristics.  Big Redd is readily identifiable for lacking the top of his skull and exposing his red brain … eeugh!  He is also joined by a new unit to the Sanctum Reach world; the Painboy. A Painboy operates as a kind of cleric giving protection to units, and healing up damage.


Oi luvz da lootin. It meenz oi kann hav morr Boyz in me armey. Viz lotz got choppa’s to cut up da humies! (Lyrics from: Ork rapper MC Choppa).

One of the nice features of the game is unique unit abilities.  These add an interesting twist to the game by opening up a new avenue for tactical options beyond the usual move and fire/mêlée combo. Using one of these abilities uses up an action in the game, thus a player might forego shooting in order to throw a grenade instead.  More abilities can be obtained for a unit as they level up, so keeping campaign core units alive can really pay off.


Contact!  Space Wolves are encountered and face a barrage of largely ineffective Slugga fire.

The relative strengths and weaknesses of the factions in the campaign have a huge influence on gameplay.  The Orks tend to do very well on hit points, which is just as well.  I found my early mêlée troops especially would get hurt badly in a faceoff with Space Wolves mêlée troops who – transhuman for Ork – are just more deadly with their skills in a fight.  To compensate, the Painboy is really essential to heal wounded Orks within a unit to ensure that they often survive long enough to level up.  That said, the Painboy can’t be everywhere on the battlefield, and when an Ork within a unit is killed he stays dead. One word of warning, as I found to my cost – the Painboy cannot heal vehicles!


The Blind Barber of Alaric Prime tried so hard to get the Space Wolves Blood Claw Pack to look uniform for their big day. They think their new coiffure looks “edgy”.

The Space Wolves are pretty élite compared to the Orks, but are comparatively brittle with fewer hit points than comparable Ork units. This makes the Space Wolf equivalent of the Painboy: the Wolf Priest, indispensable.  Depending on what is thrown at them, they usually do well with their otherwise high stats.


This is the battle briefing screen, detailing your objectives, and such intel as is available.

Although Sanctus Reach has a distinctly Warhammer 40,000 table-top feel to its game play, I formed the clear impression that it is powered by the Battle Academy engine with its own rule set and graphics similar to what we see most closely with Slitherine’s Field of Glory 2, Pike and Shot, or Battle Academy 2.  This is, on the one hand, a solid engine to rely upon, but also causes a sense of déja vu.  It does not bother me particularly, as I personally like the game engine, but it does resonate when I play the game.


Introducing the Astra Militarum (aka, the Imperial Guard). The Bullgryn seen here give the Orks a run for their money, and serve as excellent blocker units – they’re even better if you support them well (and don’t frag them with friendly fire – that’s another story…)

The Red Waaagh! DLC brings the Astra Militarum into the game as a new faction.  In this campaign the Imperial planet of Alaric Prime has called upon its Planetary Defense Forces to defend against the Greenskin horde. The Astra Militarum gets both their own campaign and is also available for single and multiplayer skirmish modes.  As with the other campaigns, The Red Waaagh! requires a victory in an adjacent campaign map area to unlock new missions in adjacent areas.  The campaign offers a massive 30 missions, plus an intro mission as a bonus.


The Astra Militarum relies strongly on firepower, and bad things generally happen if the Orks manage to close with them.  That said they have tremendous firepower to offset the risk.

In my opinion, firepower is the key strength of the Astra Militarum.  Although they do have excellent mêlée troops like the Bullgryn, the Bullgryn are not enough to secure victory as the Orks have plenty of good mêlée troops too. However, with firepower in mind, there is one thing that I really don’t like about Sanctus Reach.  It is when the game engine performs long-range fire during the opponents turn; it will not snap to the target unit if that unit is off-screen.  A player might see the firing unit fire its weapons, but a player will not see the effect until their own turn.  For me, this spoils part of the immersive nature of the game, and I sincerely hope that the developers of Sanctus Reach will code in a patch for this issue.


Chaos Demons enter the fray with the third DLC: Horrors of the Warp.  Here, Bloodletters teach Ork mêlée infantry a thing or two about close combat…

Aah! Demons! Sadly there is no campaign for a Demon player, but at least they are now accessible for single-player and multiplayer skirmishes.  Horrors of the Warp is the third campaign for the Space Wolves set with the task of rescuing Alaric Prime from the Chaos Demons.  The campaign features sixteen missions, as with the Legacy of the Weirdboy, and has the unique twist of the first mission being played as the Orks attempting to escape Alaric Prime whilst under Demonic attack.  It is a great scenario to play. Playing the Orks well requires a different approach to playing the Space Wolves, providing a more varied experience.  It also prepares a player for the wide variety of demonic horrors that the Space Wolves will face in the subsequent missions.


… Meanwhile the Orks teach the Chaos Demons that superior firepower will trash their rank and file units.

I really like the Chaos Demons.  They are overwhelmingly a mêlée army with generally good heavy support.  They have no vehicles, but are compensated with good support units and a wide variety of, often multiple, special abilities.  Like the Orks, their lower tier units are really cheap to buy in skirmish and multiplayer mode.  They have a lot of low tier units available giving them a real horde-like character, having lots of expendable units to soak up losses whilst their more expensive high tier units wreak some serious damage.  The trick to defeating Chaos is concentrated firepower, but this is sometimes hard to achieve, and becomes even harder if they manage to close to mêlée range.


Under constant and heavy fire, and with their front ranks breaking, the Demons bring up some serious bad boys.

Although I was disappointed with the lack of a Chaos Demon campaign, The Horrors of the Warp DLC is a great addition to Sanctus Reach because of the Chaos Demons.  They add a really colorful mix into the game, being so “alien” in comparison to the Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and even the Orks.  I found playing skirmishes with the Orks against Demons especially challenging, as the Orks lack the firepower of the Space Marines and Imperial Guard, and rely more heavily on mêlée units – a combat type where the Demons generally excel and have more numbers!


The DLC’s also expand the range of options in the Skirmish screen.  All available races and all factions are playable.  You can even fight a civil war between factions on the same side.

I think Sanctus Reach is a great Warhammer 40,000 game.  It is, in my opinion, probably the closest game on computer to playing Warhammer 40,000 as a table top game.  It also features a scenario editor enabling players to construct their own scenarios, several of which are already available to download.  I really do like it!

If you like Sanctus Reach, the DLC are all really worth having for the campaigns, for the additional units (particularly for the Orks), and for the new unit factions.  The campaigns are very entertaining, and the factions introduced add very welcome variety to the tactical options in the base Sanctus Reach game.

Still, I was very disappointed that the Chaos Demons did not have their own campaign, as in the case of the Ork and the Astra Militarum DLC.  I think it was a mistake by the developers to break from the consistency of their earlier approach, and I hope they will address this by releasing a Chaos Demon campaign for owners of this DLC.  That said, the Horrors of the Warp campaign is a fun campaign for the Space Wolves with the added twist of having the ability to play the Orks too.

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