Saturday, 29 May 2010

Spearhead - a review.

I escorted the mem'sahib to the Churchill Theatre in Bromley to see Wife after Death with Tom Conti (Shirly Valentine). I have to say it was excellent. The very funny script was written by Eric Chappell (Rising Damp) and the actors were superb. The mem'sahib bumped into Tom Conti when we left and got a smile and greeting, so she is in a good mood.

On the way home I picked up a copy of White Dwarf.

Spearhead can be played with Codex armies or by adding to/replacing conventional armies with 'Spearhead Formations' - more about them later.

Speahead games are played lengthways down the table. My first thought is that is likely to lead to a choked die-rolling slugfest with no room to manouvre, unless one (i) restricts points and, (ii) uses heavy terrain. Of course a slugfest is, I guess, the whole point.

In Spearhead all Troop, Tank, Walker, and Spearhead units are scoring.

There are three new Missions:
1. Breakthrough - one has to get troops into the opponent's table half to score VPs.
2. Lightning War (shouldn't that be Blitzkrieg?) - Control of three terrain 'objective counters' scores VPs. In addition, wrecked enemy superheavies (where did they come from?) are objectives.
3. Vital Ground - As above but with the addition of a vital objective worth triple VPs.

And three new Deployment Types:
1. Counter Attack - both sides start in arrow head formations nose-to-nose.
2. Cauldron - Players start on back lines 36" apart.
3. Escalation - Players start 18" apart.

Spearhead Formation Units are on the GW website but cunningly hidden so as to be almost impossible to find without the investigative skills of Sherlock Holmes, so I have added the page address here:

Note: You will get the 'national page' first, but click on your nationality choice and the system should drop you on the right page. There is a pdf to download.

Spearhead Units consist of:
1. Armoured Spearhead - Assault tanks with extra protection (5+ invulnerable save).
2. Ambush Spearhead - Camoflagues tanks or walkers that have the Infiltrate or Scout special rules (but may not start in Reserve).
3. Mechanised Assault Spearhead - Transport vehicles that can make an outflank attack on the first turn.
4. Tank Hunter Spearhead - Tank or walkers that have the tank hunter special rule.
5. Archeotech Spearhead - Tanks or walkers with S+1 weapons (that are unstable).
6. Outrider Spearhead - One vehicle can shield (take hits for) another.
7. Skyfall Spearhead - Deep-striking skimmers.
8. Monstrous Spearhead - Monsters with extra Special Rules (such as Fleet).
9. Mass Attack Spearhead - Human (or whatever) wave attack with anti-tank thermite bombs.
10. Cruiser Spearhead - Ramming tanks.
11. Seek & Destroy Spearhead - Bikes or fast skimmers that can turbo-boost AND shoot once.
13. Super-Heavy Spearhead - So that's where the super-heavies come from! Each one takes a penetrating hit before the game starts.

Apparently, more spearhead units are under development.

I have to say that I feel inspired by this supplement. There is a great deal of good stuff here - much more than in Cityfight or Planet Strike. I am puzzled, but delighted, that it is free.

Nice one GW.


  1. Hi John,

    I thought I would chip in my two cents worth. Sorry for the rant below. I have played GW games since Rogue Trader days and well.... here it goes:

    I liked a few things about the new Spearhead:

    - Must be agreed by both players. You cannot just show up with it in a game.

    - The abilities of the formations cost points and are not free but some of them seem a bit powerful for the points cost - Skyfall Spearhead (from memory).

    - More choice to fight a bigger and more interesting missions using a few more fun options without resorting to Apocalypse formations and rules.

    Things I did not like:

    - It's Free - if you buy this months White Dwarf :P I think Privateer Press makes a better Magazine with a good mix of Hobby and Gaming Material. GW's White Dwarf reads more like a catalogue that you have to buy :(

    - GW's new Price rises and more expensive tank kits. It seems to be aimed purely towards sales. Seriously in Australia our Leman Russ tanks have gone from $65 to $83. I am furious. It prices most gamers out of the market.

    - I will have to wait and buy all my stuff second hand or when there is a sale. Even though I get a good discount from my LGS.

    Overall I love GW's move into plastic kits. All the Jes Goodwin Kits seem to fit like a glove and are a joy to assemble. Who doesn't like having a table full of tanks :) GW's latest price rises are out of line in my opinion. They operate more like a bank than a Hobby Company.

    So many companies, Perry Miniatures, Victrix, Immortal, Gripping Beast, Wargames Factory etc.. have moved into plastics. The products they produce are often better than GW and much cheaper.

    GW is pricing itself out of the market and needs a major wakeup call. Most 40K and Fantasy Tournaments I know of are now allowing non GW models and mixes of GW and Non GW models. GW has done this to itself.

    Having said that:

    I assembled the new Black box Fire Prism kit for my LGS yesterday. The new sprue is great and the parts fit snugly together.

    The old "Falcon Hull" is still as bad as ever. I spent about an Hour Holding different parts of the hull in place while the glue set and formed a bond strong enough to hold it in place. For $83 I will not be buying one for myself.

    I hope to talk a few mate into one or two Spearhead games though. Or use them during a 40K Campaign for major battles.

  2. I think over all this was a sub par release, the release of the Manticore and Russ kits are if anything just a matter of convience for GW if anything, and I dont know why they tagged those kits onto the release.

    But back to my only worth while point, Spearhead has now leaked super heavies into normal games, well not normal as you have to agree to play spearhead rules beforehand but in essence you are playing a regular game with squad modifiers. Out of all the choices I feel the the super heavy formation was the only worth while choice out of the lot. For most people who don't play large games IE apoc, owning a super heavy (of any sort) is just not appealing as their use is limited to one game type only which requires a sizable force and more importantly a sizable wallet.

    Spearhead has now bridged the gap between the regular rule set and the apoc book, presumably to encourage people to add a super heavy to their list for just such reason, as now it would appear viable to field one in a normal 2k point list. But that's just my take on it.

    BH Senior Editor

  3. Dear A&C
    GW Pricing is always an issue. In their defense, I would make two points. All plastic kits are now pretty pricy. Have a look at Tamiya prices. Also, the kit prices support the design studios and shops. GW have much higher overheads than the small independents.

  4. Dear Scott
    It was the insertion of superheavies that surprised me.

  5. Having managed to rescue WD off my son after 48 hours the whole thing left me cold - I like tanks but really this needs to be in a smaller scale...

    The battle report was on an 8' by 6' table and looked overly crowded.

    I know realism isn't paramount in 40K but my logical part of the brain looks at it and thinks "one artillery strike and ..."

    Perhaps I'm just getting old... :-)

  6. Dear Steve
    You are suffering from a bad attack of realism. No good will come of it. The real world is ghastly.