I got some time to try Chain Reaction 3.0 Swordplay, which is the other free rulebook from Two Hour Wargames. The main question I wanted to answer was: how different it is from the "standard" Chain Reaction, which I have previously reviewed?
The answer is: quite different. Sure, the basics of character Reputation, passing 2d6 tests and reactions remain the same, but then you have different reaction tests, since this is aimed at fantasy/historical medieval conflicts. And there are different reaction tables for each broad type of unit, so that knights on horses react differently from archers or infantry. If the Chain Reaction 3.0 was already loaded with information, this one goes further bringing two scenarios, six historical army lists and four fantasy army lists, to boot.
I ran a quick game using 15mm miniatures and halving all distances and ranges. In this scenario, a small band of orcs controlled by me must steal two treasures from the undead, stored in locked treasure chests. The two orc heroes (in armor) are Rep 5 warriors with heavy armor and two-handed weapons. The one with the cloak is a star. The other orcs are Rep 3, unarmored. Two of them have small shields and swords, the other two have polearms.
To unlock a chest or bash it open, a figure must be adjacent to it and roll 2d6 against Rep. If they pass 2d6, they open the chest and immediately grab the treasure. If they pass 1d6, the chest is not opened but another character may try again in the same round. If they pass 0d6, the chest is not opened and another attempt can only be performed (by any character) on the next round. After grabbing the treasure, a figure may leave through any board edge.
I set up the map with a few forest patches and placed my figures. Then I rolled for the placement of the chests and enemy forces, using the same procedure for setting up terrain explained in the rules.
I had fun with this little fantasy skirmish, although I should have included some ranged figures too. In any case, melee combat and reactions worked well and the rules for different weapon and armor types allow you to play according to what your figures are wearing and carrying.
I also found the book easier to read than Chain Reaction 3.0. That's hard to judge accurately since I have already read the other book and took some time to think about it. However, there are things like the short clarification on taking multiple reaction tests on page 13 that help to understand the system. I think someone new to Chain Reaction might want to start trying Swordplay and then move on to the basic book. On the other hand, players sticking with Swordplay might want to "import" the Challenge system and the rules for hidden movement (PEFs, possible enemy forces) from there.