Brief Description Players command multi-battalion forces, using division-level tactics. Pre-game orders determine how units perform, with limited ability to change plans on the fly. Playable rules.
Period Second World War, European Theater
Scale Grand-Tactical. 15-30 minutes per turn. Ground scale is 1" = 100 yards, "height level" unstated. Each stand represents a platoon of infantry or armor.
Basing Each stand is 1 1/4" square. Usually one vehicle per base; any number of infantry figures per base.
Contents 44-page rules booklet, 50-page organization booklet, six player charts
Designer Arty Conliffe
Publisher First edition published 1995 by Quantum Printing

A detailed description is also available.

What You Think

Eric Stjern (frontlineshobby@frontlineshobby.com)
I think that Spearhead is the most playable divisional-level game on the market - in fact, much more enjoyable than Command Decision III.

The reason for this is that I am finding out that when a group of fellows get together to play a game in one evening, they don't want to be there all night checking morale, resolving armor penetration, what soldier took what round in the forehead, etc... etc.., but instead having fun, moving their miniatures around the table and rolling dice, and finishing a game so someone can say they won. Sounds kind of shallow, but it's been my experience as of late.

CDIII is a good game, don't get me wrong, it's just more detailed than most gamers want to do. I also like CDIII, but maybe with only 1 or 2 other players so it moves faster.

I give Spearhead an A+ for playability.

Charles W Sharpe Jr. (Dalichuc@pacbell.com)
I think that Spearhead is the most playable divisional-level game on the market.

I have served in Tactical Operations Centers and Headquarters in the U.S. Army, and I have been in many U.S. Army wargames in my career. I agree with others that it is not the most detailed set of rules with respect to individual systems and weapon types. It is not supposed to be!!!

The rules' mission is to simulate the inaction and execution of divisional operations. If you want to play battalion or lower level actions, use something suited to that purpose; if you want to recreate a divisional or higher action, use Spearhead. Too many gamers try to fight Kursk at squad level to represent the battle and tactical situation. Spearhead allows a gamer to refight it at a comfortable decision level, which by the simplicity of the rules allows for decisions based on the level of the commander the player is supposed to represent.

As to the comment that the use of platoons are too small a level to be used in this style of game, one must remember the adage:

A good commander knows where all of his units are three levels below his command level. - Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

Daniel T. Shaw (danflo@qatar.net.qa)

Rules Errata: German troops often rode into battle on the back of their tanks, but are not going to be "Tank Borne Infantry" in the sense of the Russian special units. They would also use tanks to withdraw in haste, but as SH covers this with retreating units just vanishing at the failure of a morale test, they don't need to tank-ride. I suggest most infantry could ride into battle on tanks, but not remount during combat is a better ruling. A platoon of tanks would be about right to carry one platoon of infantry.

Mark Serafin (mserafin@halcyon.com)

Written for larger games than Command Decision. In CD, players can have plenty of fun as battalion commanders. In SH, the player assumes the role of regimental/brigade/divisional commander. Many tactical decisions are 'pre-made' for the player, on the assumption that it isn't the job of the brigadier to determine where platoon x is firing this turn.

An interesting and fun set of rules, but it falls down by attempting to move the player up the chain of command without modifying the figure scale from that of CD (i.e., stands are still platoons). This means that resolving fire combat requires a ton of die rolling, since a full-strength infantry regiment will be rolling 30-40 dice.

Scott Savory (Spear_head@msn.com)

I agree with Mark Serafin, in that Spearhead does make larger games playable and enjoyable, and is better suited to big games than Command Decision.

The real heart of the game system - and in my opinion, the best feature of the rules - is the command/control/orders system. The game mechanisms for plotting units' orders are elegantly simple and easy to use. Yet, careful thought during this planning phase, prior to pushing units around on the table, is crucial to victory. Very often, if your plan is flawed (which depends as much on what the enemy does as what you do), it can be tough to turn things around. Some gamers may not like this, and may ask why bother playing the game if the result is pre-ordained based on the orders. However, in Spearhead, as in most games, nothing is guaranteed, and personally I enjoy not having unlimited freedom to change my plans on the fly, depending on the latest intelligence.

I don't agree that combat resolution is unduly burdensome, however. Quite the contrary, the combat mechanics (i.e., simple charts, few modifiers), make fire combat resolution move very quickly, even with large numbers of platoons engaged. In fact, if there's anything I miss when I play Spearhead, it's the lack of "granularity" in the unit/weapons ratings. Using a d6-based system, in lieu of a d10-based system, really cuts down on the detailed distinctions between different weapons. This is not all bad, however. It is this simplicity which makes Spearhead so playable. Although I might miss some of the subtle differences in penetration versus armor thickness at such and such a range (having been a tread-head from way back), I think the end result is better without the added detail. The ability to conclusively resolve large battles in an afternoon makes Spearhead my rules of choice.

Mick Brookes (mickb@cmsnet.demon.co.uk)

Sorry, but I could not let what Mark Serafin says about Spearhead go without comment. He says that you could be rolling 30-40 dice per infantry regt - not true - unless he and his opponents employ the most wierd strategies.

I am new to SH and I can honestly say it's probably the most enjoyable WWII game system I have played in 28 years of historical wargaming.

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Online Resources

The Auckland Wargaming Club Webpage
Includes Spearhead news, battle reports, unit organizations, a points system, and a review.
Rules Clarifications
Our best efforts to provide answers for your rules questions.
John Kovalic's Spearhead Web Page
Includes rules errata and clarifications, and an official preview of coming supplements.
Spearhead and Crossfire Mailing List
"This list is devoted to the discussion of the Spearhead and Crossfire miniature wargames by Arty Conliffe."
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Last Updates
20 November 1999comments by Eric Stjern
17 April 1999comments by Charles W Sharpe Jr.
2 November 1997comments by Scott Savory
5 October 1997comments by Daniel T. Shaw
21 September 1997comments by Mick Brookes
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