Tabletop miniatures battles can be a tough hobby to get into, but Moonbreaker is changing the old rules. Its brightly coloured models, which you can digitally paint while listening to audiobooks packed with lore about its world, aren’t engaged in an unending war between races, and they’re not all decorated with skulls. It’s a happier, gentler, and more accessible strategy game than tabletop wargaming has seen before.
Developed by Unknown Worlds, the studio behind the hit underwater survival game Subnautica, Moonbreaker is anything but grimdark. Game director Charlie Cleveland says the idea is to make it as welcoming as possible.
“With Subnautica, we brought in kids,” Cleveland says. “Now we’ve got all these diverse characters in here, we want to bring in everyone.”
As we saw in our first look at Moonbreaker, you’ll start each game with a single captain, and have more currency called Cinder to spend on additional soldiers and abilities with each turn – similar to how Hearthstone gives you more mana as the game progresses. With Moonbreaker, though, you’ll be able to customise your army by painting it however you see fit, the way you would with a physical tabletop warband.
Cleveland says the team is making that process more welcoming too, by building it to be accessible and taking inspiration from easy-to-use creativity apps like Procreate for the iPad.
“The goal of painting is not just to customise your units,” Cleveland tells us. “The goal of painting is to enjoy painting. That’s a completely different take on painting, right? You’re relaxed, you’re in bliss, you’re just zoning out looking at the colours, you’re zooming in and out on these little details on your beautiful mini, you’ve got this really relaxing music.”
You can also listen to one of the audiobooks bundled with Moonbreaker, which tells the story of your chosen captain, which will be drip fed out over a series of different updates. The game is set in a universe created by sci-fi and fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, and Cleveland says it’ll regularly expand with more characters and cultures.
“We have stories for every single captain, but you realise that all the captains’ stories are interwoven,” Cleveland says. Those stories tie into a forward-moving narrative that Cleveland says will unfold in audio dramas available in the game.
Moonbreaker will arrive on Steam Early Access September 29, and Unknown Worlds estimates that phase will last anywhere from one to two years – with seasonal updates and additions arriving regularly over that time and continuing after launch.
With reporting by Lauren Bergin