Moonbreaker is a digital turn-based strategy game that not only lets you battle with fantasy miniatures; it lets you paint them as well. The only way the title could be more of a Warhammer videogame is if it had the Warhammer logo slapped on top. Despite this, Charlie Cleveland, game director of Subnautica’s Unknown Games (who is developing Moonbreaker), isn’t a big fan of digital tabletop adaptations.
“I actually loathe digital board games”, Cleveland told Wargamer. “Tabletop Simulator, I hate. Tabletopia, I hate. I just find them really draining – which is probably not what I should be saying because we’re making something like a digital tabletop game.”
Moonbreaker could have fooled us. The game, which has author Brandon Sanderson working on it as well as Unknown Games, includes over 50 different digital miniatures, with more promised for future in-game events. Each player creates an army of ten models and a captain, and then they send their troops to battle over a scarce resource called Cinder. This, combined with the options to give your armies custom paint jobs and listen to lore audiobooks while you do it, ends up seeming like a faithful tabletop wargame experience – only digital.
“I feel like we’re much more digital than we are tabletop”, Cleveland says. “The aesthetic and the ideas are all from tabletop, but it’s really its own thing.” “We weren’t ever going to be limited by tabletop”, he adds, ”we’re just making a game that’s inspired by it and gets the feeling of it”. “It’s a digital game first and foremost, and, in fact, we couldn’t make a physical version of this if we wanted to.”
Despite the reluctance to pledge allegiance to digital tabletop adaptations, Cleveland does seem to be a fan of physical gaming. “I read a lot of Warhammer and played some Warhammer”, he says, citing the game as one of Moonbreaker’s inspirations. Cleveland also pays dues to War Machine, which he calls “probably the best-designed tabletop miniatures game I’ve ever seen” (he’s read the rules, but never played it).
Cleveland also says there’s something of card games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering hidden in the way Moonbreaker plays. “Hearthstone is probably the biggest influence game-design-wise. Magic: The Gathering is also a huge one.” According to our sister site PCGamesN, Moonbreaker gives players a certain amount of Cinder per turn, much like Hearthstone supplies players with casting mana.
Moonbreaker is set for an Early Access Steam release on September 29. Until then, be sure to check out some of our favourite Warhammer 40k games – we did give Chaos Gate Daemonhunters a pretty glowing review.