Moonbreaker preview - A tabletop RPG artist’s dream

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Following its reveal during Gamescom Opening Night Live, I got the chance to play the latest game from Unknown Worlds (the Subnautica developers), Moonbreaker. During my 30 minutes with the game, I ran through the tutorial, played a match against one of the developers, and took a look at some of the game’s cool additional features.

To be honest, tabletop, turn-based RPGs are completely out of my wheelhouse. I can count on one hand the number I’ve played, so Moonbreaker was a foreign language to me. The gameplay, which sees you use various skills and varied characters in a battle against another player, is fun. Using positioning well to get the upper hand or timing defensive tactics correctly to limit the damage your opponent can do is satisfying.

Moonbreaker allows free movement for your units around the beautiful arenas and is made complex with a variety of skills, such as shields and the ability to call a rain of fire from above. There are certainly similarities with Hearthstone and other card games in how you create your squads or plan out attacks. However, it's a feature away from the tabletop itself that really stood out.

Moonbreaker’s painting feature is intuitive

All of the characters, which are tabletop figures, have been painted from scratch by professional artists using Moonbreaker’s in-game painting tool. It allows you to make any of the game’s 50 units your own using traditional painting styles, but “with a few added digital benefits, like an undo button,” as Unknown Worlds say in the reveal of the game. It’s all really intuitive. Rotating the figures feels natural, staying accurate with your painting is simple, and colour switching possible on the fly.

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You’re also not limited to Moonbreaker’s default colours. Using a mixing tool, you can mix any colours together to create exactly the shade you think will be perfect for the figure you’re painting, and then save it for use sometime in the future.

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There are metallic colours, matte colours, and everything in between for you to play around with and create the perfect collection of unique characters that you can combine to make a crew that fits your style. This is alongside the ability to add “a customized banner, making every aspect tailored to your preference.”

The combination of intuitive tools and loads of colour options makes for a feature that I can see players sinking countless hours into.

You could spend countless hours with it

Even as someone without any tabletop RPG experience, either in physical or digital form, this feature makes Moonbreaker really interesting. It’ll be fascinating to see how the artists out there iterate on the already wonderful character designs. They won’t be limited in what they can create, with just as many tools at their disposal as the creators of the canonical characters. I’m sure Unknown Worlds will continue to add new characters too, adding to what those invested in the painting tool can create.

I’d like to see more of the actual gameplay to get a better idea of how matches play out from start to finish, but playing with your own uniquely created characters will add an additional dimension. This is the aspect that makes physical tabletop RPGs special, and Moonbreaker wants to celebrate it, with Unknown Worlds taking out the time-sink aspect and the possibility of making mistakes.

If you’re a tabletop RPG fan with an artistic side, Moonbreaker will be more exciting than any of the competition.