‘Swatters’ is Ganesha’s Games’ recent Science Fiction release covering fireteam infantry actions against close-combat oriented aliens. The inspiration is clearly a mix of Aliens and Starship Troopers. Khurasan’s 15mm Exterminators, Space Demons, and Federal vehicles are extensively used as illustrations. I have read but not yet played these rules, and these are my initial impressions after a read-through. I’m itching to give them a go.
A ‘standard game’ will contain between 20-50 figures a side, in fire teams of 2-5 figures. Forces are points-based, with a basic soldier and basic bug costing about the same, but having big differences in shooting and close combat abilities respectively. Humans can get more expensive troop types as well as vehicles, HQ units, and power armour, as well as cheaper armed and unarmed colonists. Bugs can get cheaper fodder, and larger specialist bugs including flyers, burrowers, shooters, and a Queen.
The basic rules are familiar to anyone who’s played a Ganesha game. Each unit has a Quality and a Combat number, and a special rule or two for further differentiation (eg Shooter, Long Mover, Flyer etc.)
Combat is an opposed D6 dice roll + Combat ability + modifiers (range, special weapons, etc.). The difference between results influences the severity of the combat outcome (number of figures removed and figures ‘flinching’- see below).
Each unit has a Quality ability. You choose to roll one to three dice to activate a unit, and each pass gives you an Action. If you roll two fails, then your turn ends. Do you roll several dice for lots of actions, and risk losing the rest of your turn, or roll less dice for more security but less actions?
Only humans suffer morale: sustaining over 50% of starting points cost as casualties forces morale rolls, which are usually catastrophic!
The chief difference here from the basic Ganesha rules is the use of fireteams based on 8-12cm discs (for 15-28mm figures respectively), rather than individuals skirmishing. The discs represents a squad’s zone of control and cohesion distance, and figures can be merged and split as you go. A fireteam consists of 2-5 models. The number of models on a base directly reflects its Combat ability- the more, the more powerful. It is suggested to use CDs and Mini-CDs for these bases.
Overwatch and ranged fire gets a subtle overhaul- not as complex as the Flying Lead variant. Stumbling as a combat result is gone, but flinching is added- a flinching figure does not add to the combat score, but can be rallied for an Action.
There is also a dice pool mechanic. Each side gets about 10D6 at the start of the game. You may take dice from the pool to add to your shooting or alien reinforcement rolls as required. This is not entirely a finite resource, as destroying enemy units gives you extra dice.
|28mm playtest from http://sho3box.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/swatters-playtest-2/|
Scenarios, table size, and scenery:
There are twelve scenarios included, including a straight-up fight, raiding a bug cave, protecting civilians, a last stand whilst awaiting rescue, etc. Table size depends on the scenario, from 3x4 to 4x6 feet (and I’d probably reduce this to two-thirds for 15mm). Scenery appears to be a bit light on the table- maybe 4 CD-sized bits of terrain on a 6’x4’ table, if I read things correctly. You’re not going to be doing Space Hulk or urban/ jungle battles here.
If you’re a movie fan without imagination like me, I want to represent Hollywood’s battles on my tabletop. As an Aliens fan, things that appear to be missing are a facehugger equivalent, sentry guns, civilian power lifters, and some sort of air support. These could, however, be easily made up using the provided points calculator. Flamethrowers, Sniper Rifles, pistols, Mortars and Missile Launchers get special rules, but there’s nothing for SAWs or Grenade Launchers. The omission of Acid Blood gets a specific mention as being below the scale of these rules. I think that Predators are below the scope of these rules, but maybe they could be treated as stealthy power armour? The Power Armour rules provided don’t match up to my idea of Heinlein’s bouncing Apes, but again this can be easily tweaked with the points calculator given in the back.
The vehicle rules aren’t terribly detailed, but are treated as a special kind of infantry which can’t fight back in hand-to-hand but can do overrun attacks. Again, if you want to differentiate between trucks, cars, and wheeled and tracked APCs, you could try to make your own with the points calculator.
There’s a QRS on the back, which unfortunately doesn’t cover the Combat Results charts.
The beauty of Ganesha Games is that their core rules are simple and fun but give challenging decisions. These rules are a continuation with a bug-hunting vibe.
As usual, you can easily create your own units by mixing and matching Quality scores and a few special rules to taste. A points calculator is included, which is excellent.
As I was reading these, I was already thinking of rules variants for zombies and robot apocalypse. But Ganesha was ahead of me: these rules are there, along with suggestions for humans vs. humans, and for more shooty alien cultures (Crusties or Skinnies, for example).
As a further bonus, there are also suggestions for the solo gamer.
These rules will allow you to fight squads of humans against moderate hordes of aliens, in a scenery-light environment. I’m giving them a score of 4 out of 5 combat drops. These pdf rules are only $US8. Do yourself a favour and pick them up, they’re excellent value.
As a bit of gossip, it is mentioned that Khurusan is working on an alien corridor system…
Except for the book cover and where noted, all the pictures are from Spacejacker, whose painted Khurasan figures are used in the book. Check out his blog Tiny Solitary Soldiers