Fury of the Swarm: 40K co-op version 1 is almost here

Fury of the Swarm is an experimental co-op mode for Warhammer 40,000, in which the players face off against a swarm of Tyranids following instinctive protocols. This week is the final post before the release of Version One, a fact about which I am extremely calm.

This is it, your last chance to send in feedback before Version 1 goes live. As usual, there’s feedback links at the end of the article. If there are things that need fixing after the release then I’ll fix them, but broadly V1 will be a finished project, and its release means I’ll be able to chill out and do more of my own hobby for a bit. I’ve been working on this 1-2 days a week for 6 months (although the first actual post only went up in June), so I’m excited to see it finished.

It’s possible that things will be added in the future, like new missions or perhaps an appendix with supplemental rules to cope with specific Tyranid units’ special rules. I’m also contemplating an Ork version. With all these things, however, my inclination (and Goonhammer’s editorial enthusiasm) to produce more will hinge largely on how it’s received and talked about by you, dear reader.

If you’d like to check out the final test build (v0.6) then click the big Tyranid head below. Otherwise, read on for the penultimate post in the series.

Fury of the Swarm route map

One post every fortnight

  1. Announcement post
  2. The initial release, with test mission
  3. Campaign mode go! Four missions in total, one for each campaign phase.
  4. Developer diary #1
  5. 2 new missions (Hold the Line & Resupply Run)
  6. 2 new missions (Repel Boarders & The Straggler)
  7. 2 new missions (Burn the Nest & Living Rain)
  8. Developer diary #2
  9. Developer diary #3 <<<< YOU ARE HERE
  10. The release of Version 1.

Learning from feedback: even playtesters’ mistakes are informative

If you’ve ever written something for other people, you’ll be familiar with the instinct to react defensively or dismissively when someone tells you something doesn’t work.  Even moreso if that person missed something in what you wrote. But if people are reading your rules wrong, that often means it’s worth taking another look at something. Sometimes that means changing the rules, and sometimes that means changing the way those rules are presented.

Here’s a comedy example: two players, no stranger to Swarm at this point, were playing the Sporefall mission Living Rain. It’s one of the more out-there missions, as the Tyranids begin falling out of the sky all over the place while the players try to retain control of the objectives. It’s pretty challenging, but things got a tad over-fruity when these poor lads missed the part where Tyranids can’t declare charges on the turn they come in via mass spore drop. As a result, when a Hive Tyrant and a Screamer-Killer landed right next to some Allarus Terminators in the first turn, the Players were dealt an unrecoverable body-blow before the game had really got underway.

It would be foolish of me to ignore that just because it was technically user error. Just because a rule exists, doesn’t mean it draws sufficient attention to itself.

Looking at the rules again, I could easily see how someone could skim over that vital detail, so I (rather lazily) drag-selected the sentence and hit the bold button. The absolute tiniest of changes, but hopefully sufficient to prevent anyone else suffering the same fate.

Those terminators didn’t die in vain.

Time to break a promise

OK that’s a tad melodramatic, but: I’ve been saying all along that Version 1 would be a downloadable PDF, and I’ve since come to the conclusion that there’s a better approach. The good thing about a PDF is that you can use your program of choice to make a very sexy layout. The bad thing about a PDF is that it’s shit to use on a phone, and I haveto assume some people will try to play Swarm without a PC or tablet to hand.

My plan, therefore, is to continue using Google Docs. This does give things a less professional vibe, but it means the layout I’m doing for PC and tablet users automatically simplifies itself for people loading it on a phone.

Right now I’m sorting the basic layout, hopefully placing it firmly halfway between looking like the garage band project that it is, and the official Warhammer 40,000 supplement I wish it was. Here’s an example of the very first mission I wrote, Retake and Hold, in the new layout:

It’s very basic stuff, but just having a bit of texture, and space-efficient columns feels like a vast improvement. Getting to this stage is also ramming home the feeling that, holy shit, I made a thing. An actual thing. That people have played, and tell me they’re enjoying.

The remaining challenge: art

I’d really like Swarm to have a cover, because come on, obviously I would. The problem? Rob’s art queue is already a hundred miles long, so no sweet TheChirurgeon art for me. This means doing something myself. As I write this, I haven’t started on the cover, or indeed the remaining images needed (photos or art) to fill the little empty spaces to add visual interest. I’ve got two weeks to produce what I can, which is no time at all given the need to, you know, keep going to my day job. I’d rather have no art than bad art, so I guess we’ll see what happens. Worst case scenario I guess I can do some minimalist two-tone stuff. Less is more, and all that. One might think to use a photograph, but for whatever taste-based reason, I prefer having photos within the supplement rather than serving as the cover.

Genestealers boarding a space hulk. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Besides, you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s pretty quick to take a photo like the one above. It really isn’t. Staging everything, layout out one’s terrain to provide sufficient backdrops, setting up the light sources, and then taking photos of sufficient quality from the right angles with the cheap-ass gear I’m packing? It’s a real labour of love that doesn’t always bear fruit, and reliably takes me several hours per photo, depending on the complexity of the layout. Even then, I recognise that it can’t hold a candle to the pro-tier stuff.

All I’m saying is: wish me luck. Me and my graphics tablet (the one semi-sexy bit of kit I have to hand) are going to need it.


If you’d like to send feedback or questions about Swarm, the most helpful way is probably the battle feedback form. You’re also very welcome to get in touch by emailing contact@goonhammer.com or by reaching out to me (Charlie) on Instagram. If you’re a Goonhammer patron, you can also @Charlie B on the Discord server.