There’s a new miniatures game on the way, and it’s played on PC rather than tabletop. Indie video game Moonbreaker aims to capture the feel of miniature games like war hammer in all aspects: fighting, collecting and painting – and it does. The team at Unknown Worlds Entertainment has done a great job of adapting this feeling into a video game. However, like any new tabletop game, there is a lot to learn. Moonbreaker takes practice to master, and its obvious blueprints of microtransactions and seasonal rewards can turn away all but the most dedicated.
Moonbreaker is still in its beta stage, so there’s plenty of time for changes and there will be more in the final version than was available during last weekend’s playtest. The main parts of the game were present – combat, building and painting. That was enough to see what it was all about, and it even provided some clues as to what to expect with the full release. CBR was able to participate in this playtest to get an idea of what players can expect.
This version of the title offered three modes: VS Player, VS AI and Painting. Player and AI modes are straightforward, offering a miniature battle against other players online or against the AI. There was no campaign mode, but since MoonbreakerThe world of was created in part by a science fiction writer and the units have their own lore, there’s a chance the final version will have a story to tell. Still, the miniature battles are the meat of the game, and they were very refined in playtesting.
Players can create and then mix and match teams. There’s a good selection to choose from and what was included in the playtest was just a sliver of what will be available in Early Access later this month. There seem to be three different factions so far, but players aren’t limited to sticking with just one. Captains and units from all teams can be combined, allowing for interesting compositions and synergies. For example, Dead Eye, a ranged smuggler unit with the ability to give an ally +40% accuracy for two turns, can be combined with the Novian Bulwark, a heavy but immobile Methedori ranged unit, to give it a best shot, allowing to decimate enemies behind limited cover. By removing typical faction barriers, Moonbreaker creates almost unlimited team combinations, but also adds to its difficulty.
Unlike a game like war hammerin which groups of units are mostly composed of the same type, Moonbreaker gives players nine different units and a captain, each with their own unique abilities, stats, and uses. Most are also designed to work with passive and active abilities, as alone they tend to fall easily. This is what makes the learning curve steep as it means understanding the different units in order to use them correctly and competitively.
The object of battle is to defeat the opposing captain, which means other units can be ignored unless they become a nuisance or there are too many on the field. Matches begin with only captains on the field and units are deployed by spending Cinder, the equivalent of action points. New units can be randomly added to the deployment list by also spending Cinder. This means players have to be strategic, as they can’t choose who to use right away or have the Cinder to spend.
Cinder is earned each round in increasing amounts, so as the battle progresses things get more chaotic. Like AP, it can also be stored, a good early strategy when there isn’t much to do. Besides deployment, Cinder is also used to activate units and player aids. These help the team, and some are quite devastating. They can give players the ability to heal units, damage enemies, and affect the battlefield, which can turn the tide. There are a lot of moving parts to Moonbreakerde, and everything works together seamlessly to create engaging, yet challenging gameplay.
There was also evidence of a tier system, although it was not active in playtesting. Player profiles and units have experience bars. Fighting will likely contribute to this while progressing through the seasons. The addition of Seasons means this game will work primarily online and encourage players to play consistently. The level present in the playtest included customization items such as banners, stickers, icons, etc. to use for a profile or when creating a team. However, there were also some big things like new paint schemes, alternate unit models, loot boxes, and new unlockable units. While game seasons are getting somewhat controversial because they take a relaxing thing and make it feel like a necessary chore, but loot boxes have earned a terrible reputation and come under scrutiny as a form of gaming .
Looks like Moonbreaker is set to include not only loot boxes, but also microtransactions. There is in-game currency that can be earned through tasks such as painting or battle, as well as progressing through seasonal levels. There was no store to browse in the playtest, but one will likely be used to purchase customizable items and new or alternate units. If there is an in-game currency in the final product, there may be ways to purchase it. It’s a little disappointing, but something that makes sense in the world of miniatures.
When it comes to painting, it allows players to customize their team or just enjoy the art of painting models. It’s different from painting miniatures in real life, but it does a great job of simulating painting techniques and has all the features one could want in a tool like this. There are different types of brushes, including wet and stippling brushes, and colors can be mixed, layered, and saved to new palettes. The paint cursor can be resized and the opacity changed. There’s even a way to make sure the wrong area doesn’t get painted over. Multiple schemas can also be saved, so a team can always adopt a new theme. The mechanic offers plenty of room for creativity, especially with alternate character models.
Moonbreaker does exactly what it set out to do: bring tabletop miniature games to the gaming world. The gameplay is solid and fluid. The aspect of customizing an army and coloring it to one’s liking is well implemented, and the overall style of the game and the creativity put into the characters is unique and interesting. Like any miniatures game, there is a learning curve that can only be overcome by playing and learning the game, which may put off some but present the perfect challenge for others. The only real harm to Moonbreaker maybe its microtransactions and its seasonal FOMO (Fear of missing out). Still, there’s still plenty to see when the game hits Early Access on September 29.