Swatters Playtest 3


I got a quick mid-week game in with COM last Wednesday, so we played the “Surrounded” mission.  The Marines/Eldar set up in the middle of a 4×4′ table with a larger force of bugs equally divided on the four table edges.

The Marines/Eldar also got an emplaced weapon as part of the scenario set up but  I forgot to put it on the table before the above photo was taken.  It features in the later snaps (for all the good that it did).


The emplacement is still missing and the Alien queen really should have her base painted: it looks awful.

The scenario specified the 4×4′ battlefield.  Therefore the bugs were able to close quite rapidly.  Some decent reaction fire from the marines whittled their numbers down a bit, but a run of poor activation rolls meant that the marines became bug chow pretty fast.


The Alien queen (with the embarrassingly unfinished base) flinches a little from incoming fire while the mauled xenomorphs prepare to slice up the eldar guardians.

The marine units got to fire a couple of times, but recurring activation problems meant that a lot of bug units had an easy time getting in close.


“Tough” units (such as the “Colossal” trygon above) are particularly hard to dent in this system.  The marine power armour troops (represented by wraithguard) are very hard to shift when using rank and file bugs.  As such they tend to be a must-have unit in games, even though they are pricey.  In this game the Power Armour troopers again showed their worth by hanging around for longer than any other marine unit.


I set up the marines in a silly fashion.  I should have concentrated them a bit more on one side or the other in the hope that they could take advantage of numbers to squish the bugs piecemeal.  Memories of a previous game where the marines set up so close that they got over run in quick succession meant that I spread my troops out in an ineffectual fashion.  They paid for my poor generalship with their tiny metal and plastic lives.

This game wasnt a drag or anything and it played out very quickly, but it ended up being a bit of a dice fest rather than a narrative generating battle like the Save the Miners game last week.

In Swatters the bugs can move very fast and forcing the marines to set up less than two feet away makes some of the engagement a forgone conclusion, which is a bit unsatisfying.  The activation system can always throw a spanner into plans of course (a good thing as it encourages maneuvering and gives more chance for narrative and the like) but I think that I would like to try this scenario out another time with the bugs coming in from either end of a 6′ table instead: I think that it could be more fun that way.


Swatters Playtest 1

FaceHuggerChestBurster Online

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Aliens: Colonial Marines Trailer

The above trailer for the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines game went up last week.

Its very cute, despite the graphics looking a little dated (pretty inevitable now that the Xbox 360 is in the latter stages of its lifespan).  The trailer also uses the music from the movie “Moon”, which doesnt hurt, Moon being brilliant in every way and all that.

I find that my video game interests spin off into my toy soldier stuff on a regular basis.  Hopefully between this game and the Prometheus movie my enthusiasm might be rekindled enough to finish my Aliens project.  It fell by the wayside back in 2010.

I only wish that the game was a third person shooter.  FPSs are so noughties/nineties.

Alien Queen Basing

Uncharacteristically good weather plus an even more uncharacteristic busy social life has meant that my hobby time has been curtailed of late.  As a result todays post is a bit half-assed.  It does show that at least I am making some progress with my Aliens re-theme of Space Hulk.

Alien Queen Basing

Mikko at Dawn of the Lead has been making a lot more progress on his identical project here.  His latest addition of a very nice looking Alien Queen that came from a gashapon toy is in need of a base.  As I recently made a basic but functional base for getting my large Horrorclix Queen on the Space Hulk board, I decided to put up a quick photo.

Grid Markings

After removing the model from its clix base I stuck some styrene with a treadplate pattern on it to a 60mm plywood base.  I then added some styrene strips in a sort of tic-tac-toe pattern that matches the size of the squares in a game of Space Hulk.

While obviously using such a large figure will make some parts of the game feel a little cramped, the grid marked on the base should make it apparent where the Queen is standing in rules terms.  Adjacent figures will have to stand on small parts of the queens base but I dont foresee that being a big problem.

Mostly Space Hulk to Aliens Rules Conversion Ideas Mostly


I am finally making some progress on the miniatures side of the Space Hulk to Aliens project, of which more will follow.  Funnily enough, in one of those weird internet-ty ways it seems that lots of other people are dusting off their Colonial Marines, Aliens and Predators to tackle the same or very similar projects on both Lead Adventure Forum and Frothers.  Mikko at Dawn of the Lead has been doing some very solid work too, elements of which I intend to rip off use to inspire me.

To go along with the miniatures I want to hammer out the basic rules conversions required.  I mostly intend to game with these figures in Space Hulk (mostly), simply because it is such a tight and satisfying system.  Ideas for many these rules have been going around in my head for years while others have been as a result of talking to similarly interested Aliens and Space Hulk nerds and and I want to write them down somewhere.  That somewhere might as well be here.

The intention is to translate existing rules for various elements in Space Hulk into their Aliens equivalent and not to write new rules unless absolutely necessary.  Eventually I plan to write up a simple Force List in the style of the Force List in Deathwing that allows players to pick a simple Colonial Marine force for playing any Space Hulk scenario.

Finally, while I like the idea of Predators I have never really enjoyed the movies that much.  I really think that they are pretty shitty to be honest, even though even suggesting that to most of my colleagues tends to send them into a fit of nerd rage, complete with bad Schwarzenegger impersonations.  So, while I have a pile of Predators waiting to be painted they are not a priority for me in terms of rules conversion.  It will happen eventually but not for a while as I dont really care that much about them and they will be harder to legislate for anyway due to their stealth and all that.

So here goes.  Everything is as in 3rd Ed rules unless otherwise specified:

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Colonial Marine = Storm Bolter Terminator Marine (ignore the Grenade Launcher part of the M41A.  It is considered to be intrinsic to the weapons standard effect in the game.  Consider it represented by the sustained fire bonus if that floats your boat).

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Sergeant= Power Sword and Storm Bolter armed Terminator Sergeant (+1 in assault is fine for a veteran NonCom.  Parry from the sword can be seen as whatever you like, kung-fu grip, sixth sense, Riddick levels of badass-ness: whatever.  Regardless, Sergeants have it.  Just like they allow the CP redraw).

Shotgun armed Corporal (Hicks) = Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield Armed Terminator Sergeant (this one is a bit of a fudge.  Assuming that the shotgun is only effective at point blank range is pushing it, but it does make the shotgun very deadly at that range, just like in video games.  The Block given by the shield is explained away just like the Parry for the other Sarge.  It also makes Apone and Hicks different, but similar which is cool.  The utter absence of Hicks Pulse Rifle (Storm Bolter) is a bit counter intuiticve, but as it will then slot in cleanly to all of the 3rd Ed missions I think that that has to be way to do it.  Finally, this ties in with one of the few extra rules that I intend to use, Acid Splash.  If it works out then having the Shotgun guy run the risk of acid burn will feel just like the movie 🙂 ).

M56 Smart Gun armed Colonial Marine = Assault Cannon Terminator

M240 Flamethrower armed Colonial Marine = Heavy Flamer Terminator

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Colonial Marine with Welder and Electrical Equipment (Hudson) = Storm Bolter and Chainfist Terminator (both troopers open doors/bulkheads that are otherwise difficult to open. Simple and accurate conversion).

Caterpillar P-5000 Powerloader = Lightning Claw armed Terminator (I was initially hesitant about this but the more that I thought about it the more that I liked it.  The LC Terminator has no ranged capability and will shred most opposition, most of the time.  It will also have a decent chance to best the dangerous Alien Queen (Patriarch/Broodlord) in hand to hand, which is reasonable.  It is a neat solution I think).

Company Man Burke, Newt and Jones the cat= C.A.T., Relic or other scenario objectives (I might try to come up with rules for Burke at a later date but having to rescue his sorry ass seems just as appropriate I think).

Synthetic/Artificial Person = Terminator Librarian (I know, I know but bear with me for a second.

Having watched Alien 4 last weekend, the idea of a synthetic with potent, situation based powers like Prescience (some sort of CCTV based thing) and Force Barrier (overriding a blast door or similar) seems fine to me. Psychic Storm might be pushing it a bit but whatever: maybe Bishop/Cole/Ash has overridden the Liquid Nitrogen spraying thing or activated the sprinklers after causing a short or switching on sentry guns in that area or something else just as Deus Ex Machina.

The Librarians close combat prowess is a bit at odds with Bishops performance but not so much with that of Ash (super-strong, but not super-tough). Considering that Bishop is three laws compliant, the idea of the synthetic going to extraordinary lengths to beat up potentially harmful Xenomorphs is ok with me.  Apparently the comics had combat synths that used to get stuck in quite regularly too, although the three laws tell me that Bishop would be compelled to help whether he was built for it or not.

Funnily enough the thing that doesnt sit well with me is that the Librarian has a Storm Bolter.  It doesnt seem right that Bishop should have a rifle (and the figure that I have to represent the synthetic has a piece of technical equipment in place of a weapon too.  Does Cole use a gun at any point in the 4th film?  I dont think so.

Reluctant Badass Lieutenant Ellen Ripley = Space Hulk First Edition Captain (another fudge.  The Captain in 1st Ed is very potent: he adds +2 to the CP total every turn, adds +2 to combat rolls and has a Power Sword, Grenade Launcher and Storm Bolter.  I have found that the Captain is roughly equivalent to the 3rd Ed Librarian in potency and I have swapped the characters when playing 3rd Ed quite successfully.

I suppose that Ripley is shown to have leadership qualities in the movie so ok to the CP bonus. The Storm Bolter/Pulse Rifle is perfect and the Captains GL can simply be seen as an alternative way of using the Incinerator that Ripley carries.  Thats OK with me.  The +2 combat plus Parry is harder to explain away but in the interests of keeping the rules standard I think that I can live with it.  I will justify it to myself as Fate or Hero points: the things that make the Hero, the Hero.

So, thats the Humans dealt with.   Bugs now:

Xenomorph = Purestrain Genestealer

Alien Queen = Broodlord

Face-hugger or Chest-burster = First Edition Unarmed Hybrid (these guys will get wiped out by fire very easily.  Once converted from Blip to model they move more slowly too.  They will be a fun, straightforward way to add some variety to the Alien players forces without much additional complexity and the rules are already written.  As I will use the 1st Ed blip sets, including the Hybrid blips it will be easy to throw in a few small aliens.  I havent decided on a way to incorporate it into the standard 3rd Ed blips yet.  It will probably be something similar to how the Patriarch can be brought into play, except that a “1” Blip can be exchanged for 3 Face-huggers twice a game or something like that.)

Lastly, Acid Splash.  Some players have added rules for this.  In many ways I think that it is an unneccesary complication for little gain.  Still, after mulling it over I had an idea: rather than roll to hit any/all adjacent models when an Alien dies (which would be tedious and could easily spoil the rapid flow of the game) I want to try out an idea based on the Scatter rule from Blood Bowl.

See Mikkos comments below.

Acid Splash: Acid Splash occurs when an Alien is hit from a shooting attack and that attack rolls at least two “1”‘s rolls at least two “6”‘s. If the target Alien is adjacent to one or more non-Alien figures then one of the non-Alien figures is chosen by the shooting player.  The chosen figure is removed from play.

As noted below this gives only a 1/36 chance of damage and is incorporated into the existing rolls and game mechanics.  It also makes point blank shooting a tiny bit risky which is both thematic and entertaining.  It also means that a blast from an Assault Cannon/Smart Gun is more likely to cause Acid Splash while the Heavy Flamer cannot ever.  Quite satisfyingly accurate to the relative strengths and weaknesses of the weapons as I see them.  Nice one Mikko.

Phew, that was a long one.  Congrats if you endured it this far.  Comments and thoughts on that much are welcome.

EDIT 02/06/10: replaced Acid Splash idea with Mikkos version from comments below.

EDIT 02/06/10: replaced Acid Splash “1” with “6”.

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