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Swatters Playtest 2

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MT and COM came around last week to help me do some more Swatters playtesting, continuing our progression through all of the scenarios in the rulebook.

It was also an opportunity to use the thirty CDs that I had textured since the last session.  I wouldnt say that I was excited about using the CDs, but I was pleased to have got them finished and ready to go this time, as they look a lot better than the shiny CD surfaces visible last time.  Nerdcore.

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MT has a medium sized Tyranid force from years ago that we figured would be fun to get on the table again alongside the blueish-white tyranids that COM currently has custody of.  My modest bug collection also featured.  Between the three forces we were easily able to represent any unit from the bug force list.

None of us have a suitable painted force of Colonial Marine or Mobile Infantry or even Imperial Guard so a mix of Eldar from both MTs collection and mine performed that role.  Space elves have to fumigate their real estate from time to time too I suppose.

The first game played (shown in the photos above) was a simple, non-scenario affair to refresh MT on the core Ganesha rules, plus show him how the new elements in Swatters work.

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The next scenario was “Save the Miners” and its started off looking like as it does above.  Note the mineshaft in the middle of the table and the three units of miners (Necromunda Goliaths plus two EM4 miniatures painted by Mattias, the male and female models bookending the group in this shot) in contact with the buildings.  The Marine forces are set up across one long table edge and the bugs come in hell bent on doing some property damage and eating some miners (who look a bit chewy to me) from either/both short edges,.

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The bugs (played by MT) surged across the table in a series of very good activation rolls.  The first unit of miners barely knew that they were under attack before they were devoured.

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Tough bug reinforcements came in from the opposite side of the battlefield while the Eldar slowly advanced into the mining town, which was beginning to blaze with biochemical fires.

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The bugs break through the marine lines and mug another group of miners against the backdrop of the blazing town.  Its looking dodgy for the good guys.

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The big, tough bug reinforcements (the raveners on the right) are held at bay by a heavy weapon blast from marines that would have pulped any other bug unit.  Unfortunately for the marines, while the bugs are halted just before they could destroy the red roofed building, the offenders are suppressed rather than swatted.

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The tide turned at this point and the power armoured troops (the wraithguard) mopped up the various non-tough bug units, but it was touch and go for quite a while, which made it a fun game overall.  Probably the most entertaining Swatters game to date.

I think that I prefer Swatters games on a 6×4′ to those on a 4×4′ as it allows the Marines to get a round or two of shooting in before the bugs get too close and gives an opportunity to watch a seething horde of monsters run the gauntlet, Starship Troopers style.

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The next game involved Eldar/Marines (MT) searching through crashed spaceship wreckage while under the threat of secretly concealed bugs (me).

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Less like the do-or-die battle from the end of a movie, unfotunately this game played out like the bit at the start of the film before the credits, ending in wet slicing noises and screaming.  The bugs leapt out of the nearest piece of wreckage, accelerated towards the marines and killed them.  Game over man.

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Doubtless a big contributor to the bugs success in this game was the fact that they were lead by the well known Joan Rivers impersonator, “Alexis the Emasculator“, a human/bug hybrid with vague similarities to Sarah Kerrigan/Queen of Blades from Starcraft.  A ridiculous conversion that I thoroughly enjoy getting on the wargame table

Alexis, bug/human hybrid queen

Alexis, bug/human hybrid queen

As that scenario had played very quickly we decided to try it again, with the marines set up in a way that would allow them to provide mutual support when ambushed, rather than just get in each others way.  We also forced the bugs to spawn in smaller numbers from around the battlefield rather than allowing them to all show up in a single spot.  I also dropped Alexis from the team and fielded a pair of Colossus (COMs blue/white carnifexes, or “carnifaeces” as someone christened them last weekend), just because the models are cool and in order to get a grasp on how their rules worked.

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The marines won this time, but data regarding the scenario balance was inconclusive.  We had a chat about how to make it work more to our liking, but didnt come up with an easy fix.  That said, even at the playtest stage we are getting some fun games out of the ruleset, which is great 🙂

The next Swatters playtest was with COM yesterday evening.  I will do a quick write up on that as soon as I can manage it.

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11 Responses

  1. Good to see the photos are now far less JJ Abrams thanks to the based CDs. They’re looking well.
    It’s also nice to read about a game that ebbed and flowed, rather than another foregone conclusion like the games I played.

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    • Heya Tadhg

      The nature of the action system in all of the Ganesha games is a certain randomness. Often that makes for cinematic moments and tactical decisions based on the art of the possible. On the other hand sometimes it can lead to wipeouts and forgone conclusions, like the games that you mentioned.

      I like that the activation system at least gives a measure (or illusion) of control. It makes games like these stand out from clunkier systems like 40k, which lead to dull forgone conclusions at least as often and likely a lot more as the models trudge towards the centre the same way time after time.

      I am looking forward to trying out a larger game of Swatters than we have been playing. Doubling the units on the table will lead to some difficult decisions to be made regarding activation order which might be good fun. Hopefully you will be able to make it over for some of that at some point. You can admire the CDs in person then 😉

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      • Yeah, I’d definitely be up for a few more games. Despite my complaint above, I really enjoyed those games and the rules. Plus those CDs’ll definitely make things more appealing!
        More units also sounds like a good idea. 2000 pts doesn’t seem so intimidating after a few 1000 pt games.

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        • I am hoping to get a few of my larger unpainted bug models ready soon (once I get another Dreadball team or two painted). Those Tanker and Plasma bugs, plus an armoured vehicle or two for the “Marines” (Im thinking an Aliens style APC at the very least, although I have vehicles for the Eldar while we use them as Marine proxies) will bring the points up extremely fast Id say. Considering that we have access to plenty of figures for both sides I reckon that 3000pt games wouldnt be that much of a chore if we used reserves and the like to stagger deployment.

          But a 2000pt game first for sure 🙂

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  2. Cool, I am glad you are all getting some mileage out of this rule-set. If you are getting to the stage where you are looking to find a sweet spot in terms of balance that has to be a good thing. Those CDs look grand on your table set up. I suppose that it might be a little visually jarring (not that I personally get that jarred about basing) if you were to use those ones on a different terrain set but then it is probably best to make a set of CDs for each terrain board setup if you really get into using them.

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    • Hi Otto

      The games have been quick and fun and a great excuse to dig out some old figures and plan work on some others. I like aspects of Swatters more than some of the other Ganesha games, which makes it an even more pleasant experience.

      I matched the CDs to my wasteland terrain. When I get around to my urban terrain (to match my urban Zuzzy mat) I will likely make up a batch of CDs to match that too. But thats a while away yet. I want to tie up a few loose ends in my wasteland terrain set before I get stuck into a new one.

      I dont foresee myself making another terrain set other than urban. The wasteland will do for post-apoc. alien moon and jungle death world terrain as required. I have seen enough games that look like they are being played on a golf course (The Doctor Who effect) for one lifetime, so I will steer clear of green CDs I reckon.

      I hope to get a couple of big Starship Troopers bugs assembled and painted in the short term. They will also (hopefully) be fun and quick projects.

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  3. I am not 100% sure I would enjoy the aesthetic of the CD bases. I think I would look for an alternative movement method or skip the big bases. Probably helps to speed up playtest games though.

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    • Hi inrepose

      You are right that the bases speed up the game. It would however be awkward to translate Swatters into a game without the bases as various game mechanics rely on the CD. For example, the direction that each figure is facing on the base represents differing levels of suppression and reduced efficacy. Unsurprisingly, the line of sight and movement rules also rely on the CDs, possibly more than you might expect.

      I genuinely understand where you are coming from regarding the aesthetic of the CDs, but it doesnt bother me. Although it might sound odd in a hobby as contrary as miniature gaming, I like form to follow function and the CDs are very practical.

      Movement trays are a feature of many miniature games (anything with ranks really, like Warhammer and Kings of War) and the CDs are less obtrusive than many that I have seen, largely due to how thin the CDs are. Various games also feature a basing style that features multiple figures per base (Flames of War, Epic) and although they generally tend to use smaller miniatures than 28mm, I see the CDs in Swatters as fulfilling the same role as the bases in those games.

      After a few minutes I found that the CDs were not really any more visible to me than the individual bases on the miniatures themselves. It may not be for you though: if you dont like it then you dont like it, thats entirely fair enough 🙂

      Bases of various kinds for individual miniatures and terrain are a necessary feature of any miniatures game with any sort of modularity. Every miniature that I game with essentially has the equivalent of a trash can lid under their feet at all times. Assuming that the basing style isnt too jarring, I find that I dont even notice that the figures are each standing on sand covered discs. I feel the same about the CDs.

      I am however not a fan of the modern trend to feature more and more elaborate (and usually absurdly tall) elements on miniature bases. Its fun to add some bits here and there to break the bases up and it can definitely help to theme forces, but half a spiral staircase or a miniature perched on an inch and a half of junk is too much as far as I am concerned. I kept that in mind regarding the CDs and I resisted the urge to add little bits of rock or scrub that might interfere with the placing of models or might make too much of a feature of the bases themselves: I would rather the focus was on the miniatures.

      If you decide to try Swatters out some time in the future then I will be interested to see how you get on. Thanks for the feedback.

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