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 we have two new missions for commanders to have a crack at.
Today’s post adds Hold the Line and Resupply Run to the four missions already in the bank. I’ve yet to win either of them in test games, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t. I’ll explain why in a moment, but if you want to skip all this commentary and check out the rules, click the big Tyranid head below.
Fury of the Swarm route map
One post every fortnight
- Announcement post
- The initial release, with test mission
- Campaign mode go! Four missions in total, one for each campaign phase.
- Developer diary #1
- 2 new missions <<<< YOU ARE HERE
- 2 new missions
- 2 new missions
- Developer diary #2 going over feedback, and resulting rules changes.
- Developer diary #3, with a few previews of the laid out pages.
- The release of Version 1 as a downloadable PDF.
This week’s new missions
Hold the Line
This is arguably the mission everyone would expect when they think of playing a co-op game against a swarm of alien bugs: you stand in a corner of the board and scream “come at me.” The friendly twist? The Tyranids get a 50% points advantage over you, and bonuses to respawn units.
Playing turret defence against the hungriest space invaders is a classic concept, but I didn’t want to include it in the initial release, as I wanted the mode’s default setting to be more about objective-based manoeuvre. Sometimes, however, you just want to stand in front of an oncoming horde of monsters, clench your dice-filled fists, and give the order to open fire.
Usage in other campaign phases
For all that I think Retake and Hold is the most flexible and generic mission, Hold the Line could legitimately be used in other campaign phases beyond the Fulcrum, perhaps representing a delaying action during the Sporefall and Evacuation phases.
This in turn has led me to add a note in the campaign section emphasising that, hey, if you want to use missions to represent other things in other campaign phases, you can absolutely do so. Rules for narrative wargames in particular fall into that beautiful tradition of offering the players a toolkit rather than firm edicts. Since we’re not in an organised tournament, you can do what you like so long as everyone’s enjoying themselves!
Convoy escort duty is an absolute classic, so writing this was high up my hit list. You need to safeguard up to three trucks through a wall of chitinous death.
I’ll be particularly interested to get feedback on this one, as the trucks are fairly squishy as vehicles go, but it’s still a trio of hulls to chew through. The rules make it clear you can use whatever APC, cardboard template or comatose pet you like to represent them, but obviously I simply had to produce a datasheet for them:
How the test games went
Oh god the rolls. The rolls. The thing about playtesting is that you can’t theoryhammer the dice outcomes, since you need to know how scared or excited one feels making certain rolls. This however means variance, and variance sometimes makes for fairly useless data. Randomness means sometimes getting a lot of the unexpected, such as (real example) failing eight out of ten 3+ saves for my marines, or whiffing with all my anti-armour fire for three turns in a row while trying to stop the Tyrannofex just HONKing a supply truck out of existence. In the end, the most useful thing for my Repulsor Executioner to do was feeding itself to a Tervigon, buying the supply trucks one more turn to run for the escape route.
It almost worked.
Then of course there were the Hold the Line playthroughs. Particular highlights included my Redemptor Dreadnought boldly striding over the trenches and into the approaching horde, then missing with all its shooting, then missing with all of its melee attacks despite Oath of Moment, and finally failing all of its (admittedly harder) armour saves. Truly, Gaius Atalus was crowned King of the Dickwhistles that day.
Despite my own slapstick losses I remain convinced that both these missions are winnable, albeit challenging. I’ve been wrong before, though, so if you have a crack at either of them I look forward to hearing from you.
The added challenge is the infinite variety of player armies and skill levels. It’s broadly impossible to balance a game as stupidly huge as 40K, and when you’re playing Swarm it’s basically up to you to do a certain amount of balancing your own play experience by writing your army lists to be a fun matchup against each other. That requires a degree of skill that can’t reasonably be asked of a newer player, so rest assured I am still planning to provide some guidance on writing Swarm army lists in the future.
Mini dev update: how’s the project going?
I’m still very much enjoying this process and stuff is running on schedule, so yay. It’s become clear that the constraints of reality and time mean that I’m basically never going to produce more than two missions per fortnight unless I stop playtesting stuff, and my instinct is to aim for some quality over turning into nothing but an ideas man.
I’ve updated the route map accordingly.
No promises, but once I’ve finished writing this post I’m jumping straight into an Evacuation mission called The Stragglers, in which a quarter of your forces start off surrounded by Tyranids and are reliant on the rest of your force to make it back to their home turf.
I’m also keen to write a Boarding Action mission for Sporefall now that I and a couple of friends have finished painting our space hulk terrain. I fully appreciate most people probably don’t own the GW stuff, so I’ll see to what extent I can write it in such a way that it doesn’t require the extremely specific instructions typical of official GW Boarding Patrol missions. Then again, maybe people would prefer that level of clarity? Lemme know what you think.
If you’d like to send me feedback or questions, the most helpful way is probably the feedback form. You’re also very welcome to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by reaching out to me (Charlie) on Instagram. If you’re a Goonhammer patron, you can also @ Charlie B on the Discord server.