The worlds of tabletop video games and video video games have usually overlapped. Right here at Gamescom 2022 there are three totally different Warhammer video games, and through the years we’ve seen the likes of D&D, Pathfinder and extra tailored into quite a lot of online game types. However Moonbreaker, from Subnautica developer Unknown Worlds Leisure, is not like any tabletop-inspired online game I’ve ever seen. Moderately than making the lore a actuality, Moonbreaker fairly actually is a aggressive tabletop miniatures sport performed with figures you paint your self. It’s a celebration of the paint-and-play pastime, and I feel it has the potential to be good.
In contrast to the video games I’ve already talked about, Moonbreaker isn’t primarily based on an present tabletop sport. All the pieces has been created from scratch by Unknown Worlds – nevertheless it does have every little thing you’d count on of a miniatures sport; a strong rule set for turn-based fight, easy tactical selections that construct into deep methods, and a group of very cool miniatures cut up into vibrant totally different factions. Its sci-fi universe even has lore created by beloved creator Brandon Sanderson, which is delivered by way of audiobooks. Successfully, it’s your complete Video games Workshop pastime in your PC, simply with out the Area Marines.
At Gamescom 2022 I used to be capable of play Moonbreaker for an hour, which was sufficient to get via its fast tutorial and one match of its fast-paced versus mode. I like what I noticed, however I’m additionally stunned by the truth that, somewhat than enjoying akin to real-life miniatures video games reminiscent of Warhammer or Infinity, Moonbreaker is definitely nearer in design to card video games like Hearthstone.
It begins together with your captain. For me, that was Astra, a baby genius mounted atop an enormous frog. She’s a very powerful mini on the board, as a result of if she dies it’s sport over. My opponent (on this occasion an AI) additionally has a captain, Zax Jak’ar, who is actually a recently-deceased Han Solo dwelling a second life by way of a hologram. To win I have to kill him, no matter the associated fee.
Backing up my captain are 9 crew mates. They’re, in CCG phrases, your deck. Very like a Hearthstone card they every have an assault and HP worth, plus one or two distinctive abilities. They’re deployed like playing cards, too; you will have a hand (right here often called the Bridge) and you’ll place a personality on the board when you will have sufficient ‘Cinder’ (which, like Hearthstone’s mana pool, builds every flip). Extra highly effective allies price extra Cinder, and so that you’ll want to evaluate when it’s finest to spend or save your sources.
It’s on the board that Moonbreaker begins to interrupt away from card video games, even when the basics of CCG design nonetheless gasoline its intentions. Motion and site is initially the obvious issue. Because the turns go by, I start to place increasingly thought into the place Astra must be positioned. Putting her on the sidelines retains her protected from the vary of Zax’s minions and his personal twin handguns, nevertheless it additionally means she’s too distant to make use of her highly effective buffs on my different crew members. I accept tactical use of the board’s terrain; by putting her inside the billowing clouds of a steam vent, any assault made in opposition to Astra suffers an accuracy penalty.
With Astra protected, I would like to think about the composition of my floor troops. Zax has deployed his Toxoid, a wasp-like fighter who has inflicted one among my crew with a poison that may kill them on the following flip until healed. To counter this I deploy my medic, Stitchy McPatchy, who will preserve my poisoned ally within the combat. However there’s a complication; newly deployed minis can’t do something till the following flip, however the second I click on ‘finish flip’ my sick crew member goes to croak. However that’s the place Astra is available in; from her new place near her allies, she will be able to use a capability to activate Stitchy proper now. Particular talents like these price Cinder to activate, which suggests I’ll be too poor to deploy one other miniature this flip, however proper now I’m in determined want of medical providers. I wake Stitchy up and instantly use the final of my Cinder to heal the sick crew member.
It’s a easy synergy, nevertheless it’s indicative of how Moonbreaker’s talents and terrain can affect ways and, finally, technique. There seems to be real depth and richness right here. Later, Zax summons in a crew member who can develop in energy with every flip that goes by. The developer guiding me via the demo warns that, if not handled, this character will theoretically have the ability to one-shot my captain, and thus win Zax the sport. This type of character forces attention-grabbing methods from either side; for Zax it’s all about preserving his new nuclear bomb in any respect prices. For me, do I construct a technique round eradicating her from the board, or double down on ending the sport by defeating Zax?
I go for the latter. To inflict a fast chunk of injury, I name in an Orbital Strike. This can be a Ship Help, one among a number of talents which might be free to make use of however have to be charged up over a number of turns. This bombardment takes 4 turns to heat up, nevertheless it’s prepared and so I rain heavy munitions throughout the battlefield. However Zax nonetheless has loads of well being left, so I’ve to decide on what to do with my Cinder. Do I spend it deploying a number of new crew members who can mob him subsequent flip, or do I spend it on an ability-fuelled tactic that might finish the sport right here and now? I threat the latter, and replicate my deploy/activate plan from earlier, this time with an enormous turret. The laser barrage cuts via Zax’s remaining well being, sending him to the grave for a second time.
It’s a deeply satisfying victory, and it’s solely my first ever match. I’m already excited concerning the prospects totally different crew set-ups can present, and the way numerous talents, Ship Assists, and passive abilities will be mixed.
However, regardless of this enthusiasm, I’m additionally just a little involved about how I’ll construct that crew. When Moonbreaker launches in early entry on September 29, it’s going to include a respectably massive assortment of miniatures, however that’s simply the beginning. That vary will develop, and new miniatures will come by way of booster pack-style loot containers. Which means each microtransactions in a premium sport and the danger of paid-for duplicates. Whereas I’m a bit grumpy concerning the added prices, I’m not essentially utterly opposed to purchasing new minis in concept. However in my real-life pastime, I’m going into Video games Workshop and purchase the fashions I need. I’d a lot somewhat Moonbreaker adopted that mannequin (and even bought pre-assembled crews) somewhat than the random potluck that has plagued card video games for the reason that pastime started. Fortunately there’s an in-game forex earned via play which takes just a little of the sting out of that blemish on Moonbreaker’s great promise – though the speed at which you earn will probably be key.
I could by no means personal an enormous assortment of Moonbreaker minis, then, however I’m nonetheless actually wanting ahead to exploring the depths of those tactical battles and devising devilish, multi-turn plans. I’ve already acquired a number of theoretical methods formulated in my thoughts, ready impatiently to be deployed when early entry begins subsequent month.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK Information and Options Editor.