Chamber Militant forum. Now of course you have to understand before reading this post, I've yet to get in a game using the Spearhead rules, but feel like I'm still qualified to pass some kind of judgement on them.
Being a treadhead (30ish IG tanks assembled/painted and counting) I started sporting a 24/7 raging hard-on as soon as I heard that Spearhead was coming out (there's probably another dick joke in there somewhere, but I'll give you guys the comments section to see how many dick jokes you can make- homework: make dick jokes in the comments). Once the blood started rushing back to other parts of my body and I could think clearly I started mulling over what a vehicle-centric version of 40k might look like. This brought me to thoughts of the games I've been playing over the last 2 years or so with 5th edition. Then it came to me- we're already playing a vehicle-centric game of 40k. Or well at least those of us that at least partially understand 5th edition and can afford the models are. If I bust out my IG and don't have at least 12 vehicles on the table in even a small game, I'm doing something wrong.
Well what then could Spearhead possibly have to offer? Well it's got new missions, this usually isn't a bad thing when they're kept simple. We get a new 3x3 grid that looks pretty solid actually. No obvious 'fuck you X army' moments that I can recall. I'm not sold on playing the game lengthwise on the board, but that probably has more to do with the physical layout of my gaming dungeon than anything else.
We also get new rules for scoring units, in that everything is scoring. This is welcome news for me, as I understand why the current scoring rules exist, but don't appreciate them or feel that they apply to real life. It's nice to blow the lid off of this and finally say that 'yes that big fucking tank sitting by your flag probably has shit locked down pretty tight- objective scored.'
But wait, that's not all. We also get to alter the FOC slightly. No minimum restrictions on HQ and troops gives you some room to play around with bizzarro builds. Being able to play around with the FOC is always fun and keeps things from getting stale.
Now last we get to the biggest and most unfortunate change- the Spearhead. Much like the apocalypse formations before them, we get the ability to take crazy amounts of vehicles and slather them with extra rules. We can also do this without taking up any FOC slots (why bother even having an org chart at this point?). For a nominal points cost you get to take the vehicles or other units you wanted anyway and amp up their power. As with the last few supplements, there seems to be way too much emphasis laid on creating a story based game. This creates a distinct lack in worrying about balanced mechanics on the part of the game designers. The net result is that your game is likely to favor certain armies or players with bigger wallets.
Go download the spearheads from GW.com and you'll see what I mean. As always several formations are so bad that they're not worth taking (crusher spearhead and outriders spearhead)*, while others are so good that they will be the only things played (armoured spearhead and tankhunters spearhead anyone?). Don't even get me started on allowing super heavy vehicles in this. Taking a titan or a baneblade in a low points game pretty much means you will beat anybody who doesn't have a super heavy of their own. Woohoo, lopsided shit, sounds fun.
Speaking of lopsided- if you have the ability to take vehicle squadrons, you get a huge advantage over anybody else. The spearheads are pretty much a big fuck you to anybody who can't squadron their vehicles. That 50 points you paid to give a formation a 5+ invulnerable save is a lot more efficient when you're IG and can put it on 9 vehicles then when you are playing Smurfs and drop it on 3 predators. Now look at Archeotech (30 points) and Tank Hunters (60 points). Sweet, they both do essentially the same thing, but one of them costs a trivial 30 points less and blows up your vehicles when you use it. Sure tank hunters only applies against vehicles, but that's most of what you're going to be seeing anyway. If your weapons aren't already hurting infantry then you've got problems. Plus on some vehicles it will essentially give you S11 shots (demolisher cannon- roll 2d6 +10+1 and pick the highest....yes please).
So the jury is still a little out over here. I may try and get in a couple of games with the spearhead rules this week, but my hopes are a little low for what that experience will look like. What do you guys think? Is there any benefit to be gained playing this over regular 40k? What's the best Spearhead related dick joke you can come up with?
*crusher spearhead on a fast vehicle like the Devil Dog might be kind of fun, though. It would certainly make your opponent laugh.