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Swatters Playtest 1

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Inspired by what Mikko at dawnofthelead has been doing with his “Utopia” campaign, last week I contacted Ganesha Games to find out when their dedicated bug-hunt rule set “Swatters” was due to be released.  Ganesha told me that the rules were close to finished but required some further playtesting.  I volunteered to get involved in the process as it sounded like fun and had a playtest copy of the rules within a day or so.

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COM and TM were available to get involved in a couple of games last Saturday, so my bugs were unearthed and reinforced by some xenos from COMs hive.  My Iacon Eldar did their best Colonial Marine impersonations and we got a couple of games played.

The first game that we played (shown in the photos above and below) was the standard Meeting Engagement scenario using forces of about 1100pts each on a 6×4′ table.  Swatters is a squad based battle game rather than the skirmish sized games that Ganesha is known for.  Being a Ganesha game Swatters is a lot more streamlined than many similar games, which appeals to me a lot.

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One aspect of the rules is that five man/bug squads, objectives, spawn points etc are all arranged on individual CDs for numerous reasons, both in terms of game mechanics and for simplicity when it comes to moving large numbers of figures around.  As I only had a little lead up time to this game I didnt get around to texturing the CDs to match the table before the game, so the photos are a bit uglier than usual.

The next playtest session (planned for next weekend with MT (not to be confused with TM)) will take place using properly textured CD bases with a bit of luck.

I played Meeting Engagement with TM.  I set up the terrain according to the rules in the scenario, but couldnt help but add a few more bits of terrain, as it seemed a little too open.  As it happened the bugs got wiped out before they even made contact with the Eldar, although not all of that was due to the open terrain.

It was TMs first Ganesha game and he picked up the basics fast so the game only took about an hour or so.

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In “Space Demon Omelettes” ten units of bugs line up opposite three units of Eldar (marines). The other CDs scattered around the table are either Spawn points or Egg markers. Despite the fact that I used painted models for the spawn and egg markers the reflective surfaces on the CDs look awful. They will be covered up by the next game.

The next scenario that was played was “Space Demon Omelettes”, with TM playing the bugs again and COM playing his first Ganesha game as the Eldar/Humans.  The scenario involves a raid on a 4×4′ bug nest to smash up some eggs.  The bugs have access to a lot of cheap drones that are absolutely terrible in combat, but numerous.

Bugs on the baseline.  That phot would look significantly cooler if the CDs were camouflaged a bit.

Bugs on the baseline. This photo would look significantly cooler if the CDs were camouflaged a bit.

Each side has a dice pool in Swatters that can be used to either buff shooting (for the marine side) or close combat (for the bugs).  The bugs can also use dice to generate reinforcements that spawn either on their table edge or at areas specified by the scenario.  From what I have seen so far the reinforcements for a standard game will amount to roughly one base of pretty decent troops per game.  In this game however the reinforcements were limited to the very poor Drone troop type, although TM did generate quite a number of them right in the marines faces, as seen below.

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Eight bases of drones (the blueish Termagants) emerge from the spawn points in the first turn of the game.

Given the option to use the dice to buff attacks or to generate more figures TM went with the more figures option, as he had done in the first game too.  I find it hard to imagine a game where I wouldnt go for the reinforcements in preference to be honest, although in this scenario the drones generate more easily than regular reinforcements do, so its definitely the way to go for Space Demon Omelettes I reckon.  A few more games will have to be played to see if I think that the bug close combat buffs are worth it or not.

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At this point we figured that the marines (the three units on the dark CDs in the photo above) were in trouble.  Despite one of the units being comprised of nasty “Power Armour” troops (the Dire Avengers with the retro paint jobs in the middle) we figured that they might not have been able to bring their strengths to bear.

We neednt have worried.  A quick look at the rules for drones showed us that they are absolutely woeful and COM spent the next few turns killing forty of them for the loss of one marine.  The only problem with it being open season on drones was that the significantly more dangerous Queen and her entourage were closing in.

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In the end the drones did their job by dying in droves while engaged with the marines while the more dangerous bugs came up behind them.  The Marines gave decent account of themselves but once the properly scary bugs hit them they fell apart.

It was a fun game, marred visually by the big ugly CDs.  I enjoyed played a game with a higher figure count for a change and bug hunts have a lot of appeal to any Aliens fan of my vintage.

A couple of the game mechanics regarding the basing of the figures worked quite well.  I am looking forward to trying out some different units and putting the rules through their paces further next weekend with MT.

The CDs will be less ugly next time too.

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