40K TACTICS: Intro to Spearhead Part 1

It’s been a holiday weekend in the UK, so after 3 days off work, and 3 days spent playing 10 games of Spearhead, I feel a little worn out. I’m really enjoying it, more so than when I first played Apocalypse. 

I wanted to do a brief introduction to this new expansion, the next week I’ll go through some of the tactics we have found worked particularly well, and then onto some short battle report snippets in a fortnight. I’m not going to regurgitate all the rules, so to whet your appetite, for now here’s a brief rundown on what it’s all about, and how it differs from ‘normal’ 40K.
After you’ve read this, if you haven’t already, have a look at JWolf’s article on Spearhead formations. There are lots of horrid combinations to play around with, and I am sure we’ll find even more as the weeks go on.
First and foremost, Spearhead sits somewhere between standard 40K and Apocalypse. It is primarily aimed at large tank battles, but there are allowances for Monstrous Creatures and non-tank vehicles in their too.  The rules are in two parts, the core rules are in the June White Dwarf and the Spearhead Formation sheets are on the GW website. We played it at 2,000pts right up to 4,000pts, and it certainly benefits from a few more points than normal, so grab a copy of White Dwarf, download the PDF (you need to be signed into the GW website) and crack out as many tanks as you can!
The Force Organisation Chart undergoes two changes. First, there are no compulsory choices at all, and secondly, in addition to the normal choices you have the allowance to take one or more ‘Spearhead Formations’, which are special formations of a few units that all gain a special rule, ranging from the simple addition of ‘Tank Hunters’ to a dramatic vertical deployment method. Again, JWolf’s article is a good place to go and read about them.
Regardless of the formation chosen, you get two additional advantages:
1.       Vehicles can fire one extra weapon (at a separate target if you wish). Walkers and Monstrous Creatures may run and shoot
2.       You count as scoring

The first one is a massive boon on tanks with lots of heavy weapons, but the second is vital for the new missions in the expansion, which are all reliant on scoring units. In addition to Troops, Spearhead allows all tanks and walkers (even if immobilised) and any units in a Spearhead formation to be scoring (with the exception of swarms).
Something else to note is the ability to include a Super Heavy. We have quickly agreed to only do this with prior notification of your opponent. In one game I found myself facing a Warhound unexpectedly, and needless to say I lost! The penetrating hit does not counter-balance the surprise of facing one of these (unless you are very good at rolling 6s!).
The next big changes come on the table top itself. The games are played lengthways along the table, so you get a narrower frontage, but a deeper battlefield to play on. This alters a lot of the dynamic of the game, for instance, something like outflanking from the table edge is now very powerful, but then it’s harder for your army to be outflanked by units already on the board. You soon find that you have to change your normal tactics, just because of the layout of the board.
There are three new missions:
Breakthrough involves you trying to get as many of your scoring units into your opponents half of the table as possible.
Lightning War is like Capture and Control, but with 3 objectives, one being towards the centre of the board
Vital Objective is already my favourite. It’s a bit like Seize Ground, but one side has 1 major objective (worth 3pts), the other side has 3 minor objectives (worth 1pt each). The jury is still out as to which it is better (something we’ll go onto next week!), I personally prefered defending 3 minors and attacking the major.
In both of the latter missions, destroyed Super Heavies become an additional objective (worth 1pt in Vital Objective).
The other change that goes hand in hand with the missions are the new deployments. As previously noted, the game is played lengthways along the board.
Counter Attack is the biggest change, and in my opinion the most fun to play. You have a triangular deployment zone, so you are able to deploy your tougher units at the front to protect your weekend artillery. Counter attacking units can then start attacking the enemy from the sides.
Cauldron is the simplest of the deployments, effectively being a pitched battle between the two forces, with 18” of no-man’s land to fight over.
Escalation is Spearhead’s answer to Dawn of War, letting you deploy 3 units or one spearhead as a starting force, with the remainder arriving from reserve.

And it’s as simple as that…. 

So, that’s it for now, Pick up June’s White Dwarf, read the full rules, have a few games and see how it goes. A lot of the things we thought would be horrid, turned out to be ok, and sometimes it was the units that you don’t expect that did all the damage. Get a few games under your belt and let us know how you got on. If something special happens, feel free to drop me an email at
and I’ll try to include your stories in the next couple of articles!

Comments are closed.