The worlds of tabletop games and video games often overlap. Here at Gamescom 2022 he has three different Warhammer games, and over the years we’ve seen games like D&D, Pathfinder and more adapted to different video game formats. But Subnautica developer Unknown Worlds Entertainment’s Moonbreaker is unlike any tabletop video game I’ve ever seen. Rather than bringing lore to life, Moonbreaker is literally a tabletop miniatures game where you play with your own painted figures. This is a hobby celebration of paint and play and I think it has great potential.
Unlike the games we’ve already mentioned, Moonbreaker isn’t based on an existing tabletop game. All built from scratch by Unknown Worlds, but with all the features you’d expect from a miniatures game. A robust rule set for turn-based combat, simple tactical choices to build deep strategies, and a very cool collection of miniatures divided into colorful different factions. That his sci-fi world also has lore created by beloved author Brandon Sanderson, delivered via audiobook. Virtually without Space Marines, Games on PC is the hobby of his workshop.
At Gamescom 2022, I was able to play Moonbreaker for an hour. This was enough to complete his one match of brief tutorial and fast-paced Versus mode. I like what I see, but the fact that Moonbreaker is actually closer in design to card games like Hearthstone rather than playing a real-life miniatures game like Warhammer or Infinity is more than enough. is also surprised.
It starts with your captain. For me, it was Astra, the genius boy on top of a giant frog. She’s the most important mini on the board because if she dies it’s game over. My opponent (her AI in this case) also has the captain Zack Jacquard. He is essentially the recently deceased Han his solo, living his second life via a hologram. To win, you must kill him at any cost.
Backing up my captain is a crew of nine. They are your decks, in CCG terms. Just like Hearthstone cards, each has an attack power and his HP value, plus he has 1 or he has 2 unique skills. They are also unfolded like cards. If you have a hand (here called a bridge) and enough “cinders” (like Hearthstone’s mana pool for him, which builds up each turn), you can put your character on the board. A more powerful ally needs more of his Cinder, so you’ll have to decide when is the best time to spend or conserve resources.
It’s on the board that Moonbreaker begins to break away from card games, albeit with its CCG design foundations still inspiring its intentions. Movement and location are the most obvious factors at first. As the turns progress, I start thinking more and more about where to place Astra. It also means she’s too far away to use powerful buffs on my other crew members. Attacks against Astra take a precision penalty by placing her in the swirling cloud of her steam vents.
Since Astra is safe, you should consider building your ground forces. Sachs deployed his toxoid. Toxoid is a bee-like fighter who poisoned one of my crew members, killing them on the next turn unless cured. To counter this, I deploy the Medic Stitch his McPatchie. But there are complications. The newly deployed mini can’t do anything until the next turn, but the moment I click “end turn” my sick crew croaks. From a new position closer to her allies, she can now use the ability to activate Stitch, requiring her Cinder to activate these special abilities. That means we’re too poor to deploy another miniature this turn, but we desperately need medical services right now. I wake Stitch up and immediately use the last of Cinder to heal the sick crew.
It’s a simple synergy, but it shows how Moonbreaker’s abilities and terrain affect tactics and, ultimately, strategy. There seems to be real depth and richness here. After that, Zack summons a crew member who can increase in power with each turn. I warn you that you can win against This kind of character forces interesting strategies from both sides. For Zack, it’s all about saving his new nuke at all costs. let
I choose the latter. Call in Orbital Strike for quick damage. This is Ship Assist, which is free to use, but is one of several abilities that require charging over several turns. This bombardment takes four turns to warm up, but when you’re ready, it rains heavy ammo across the battlefield. However, Zack still has plenty of health left and must decide what to do with Cinder. Do you spend it putting in a few new crew members who can hit him next turn, or do you spend it on ability-fueled tactics that could end the game here and now? Risk it and duplicate the previous deployment/activation plan, this time with a giant turret. The laser barrage cuts through Zack’s remaining health and sends him back to the graveyard.
It’s a very satisfying win and it’s our first match. I’m already excited about the possibilities that different crew setups can offer and how different abilities, ship assists, and passive skills can be combined.
But despite this enthusiasm, I’m also a little worried about how that crew will be organized. When Moonbreaker launches in Early Access on his September 29th, it will come with quite a few miniatures from his collection, but that’s just the beginning. Its range has expanded, and new miniatures are delivered via booster pack-style loot boxes. That means both microtransactions in premium games and the risk of duplication of pay. I’m a bit cranky about the extra cost, but in theory I’m not totally against buying a new mini. But as a hobby in real life, I go to Games Workshop and buy the models I need. I hope Moonbreaker follows that model (or sells pre-assembled crews) rather than the random potluck that has plagued card games since the hobby began. There’s in-game currency you can earn, which can take some of the blemishes out of Moonbreaker’s tremendous promise, but the rate at which you earn it matters.
I may never own a huge collection of Moonbreaker minis, but I’m really looking forward to exploring the depth of these tactical battles and devising devilish multi-turn plans. I have already formulated some theoretical strategies in my head and can’t wait to see them unfold when Early Access launches next month.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.