Warhammer 40,000 has an enormous range of background materials - what made you select 'Sanctus Reach' as the setting for your game?
We were given permission by Games Workshop to choose any source from the Black Library. We spent a solid month researching the different materials. We documented the different armies, what enemies there were and what the general plots were. Generally we found most of the stories progressed in literal “Grim Dark” fashion before finally clinching a victory at the end (though sometimes not...), which we felt might not be the right feeling we wanted from our game. Then we found Sanctus Reach and it had pretty much everything we were looking for. Epic battles, legendary heroes and some brand new characters recently introduced to the Space Wolves and Orks. We simply could not pass up the opportunity to have the major leaders of the Space Wolves in our game - and the challenge of creating them!
What has been the driving idea behind the game design for this game?
It boils down to wanting to make a game that we would have loved to have as 14 year olds 'back in the day'. We wanted to replicate some of the “feelings” one might get from the tabletop experience., so we put a lot of effort into the unit roles and their weapons personalities while giving players a new way to experience 40k. The art style was inspired by Duncan Rhodes.. he’s our hero. (do you want to take a look at some Sanctus Reach Space Wolves models? Look no further!)
Sanctus Reach has been designed to appeal to both long standing fans and new players, what was the most challenging aspect of this from a game design point of view?
The most challenging thing was definitely just trying to find a balance between these two audiences. To a new player the 40k universe can seem a bit overwhelming. Games Workshop has been developing and changing the universe for longer than some of our team members have been alive. There’s so many different units with different roles that it can easily be confusing if we didn’t present the information correctly. The 40k veterans on the other hand know all the units like the back of their hand and have certain expectations. At one point our Gretchen were a bit overpowered and taking out half a squad of Grey Hunters in a round of firing, to a new player this wouldn’t mean anything but to a veteran this is pure heresy. This is why we chose to keep the unit roles familiar but produce the experience in a new way that both new and veteran players could learn and enjoy together.
There are a lot of very impressive unit models in Sanctus Reach - which one was the most challenging to get into the game - and which one is your favourite?
They were all uniquely challenging in their own way, but the most challenging units by far were the Imperial Knights and the Gorkanaut. Literal blood sweat and tears went into those guys. They have so many parts to model and they were so time consuming that there was no room for error. The Knights model on it’s own was pretty bare so the trims, vents, studs and decals were all added on in texture later by hand and baked before painting. All of the vehicles were done in this way, but I think the Gorkanaut has the most studs, it was quite painful but definitely worth the effort!
Sanctus Reach uses the new Archon engine - how did you find using it?
The Archon Engine is brilliant. For anyone starting out and wanting to make a strategy game we would highly recommend it. It’s easy to use and has great support. It’s been ideal really.
Do you play the tabletop game? What is your favourite army and unit?
Most of us have played the tabletop in the past and remain firmly attached to our original armies. Gordon and Mark prefer Eldar, me (Kim) and Alex are heretics and both enjoy Chaos.
How would this game differ from other 40k games in your opinion?
The vast majority of 40k games offer very unique experiences that are not turn based. I think there are a lot of people out there (ourselves included) that crave more turn based games which have a lot of content and depth. I feel like we’ve covered that.
Did you choose a turn-based system instead of real time to be closer to the tabletop experience?
Yes and no. We wanted to replicate a familiar feeling to the tabletop without duplicating the experience directly and we as a team just prefer turn based strategy games in general. We wanted to make an immersive game that you can really sit and contemplate what you’re going to do without the need for rushing or stressing, I think we all have enough of that in our lives!
Are there any previous games that influenced you in developing Sanctus Reach?
Chaos Gate and X-Com are probably the biggest influencers. Gordon and Mark played a lot of Chaos Gate back in the day.