Is Now The Best Time To Dive Into Warhammer Age Of Sigmar? Part 2 – Spearhead

July 9, 2024 by brennon

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Last week, I talked about how Games Workshop has done a great job expanding The Lore of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar to make it more inviting to those diving in. In this week's article, I talk about the new Spearhead game mode and why I think it's a great way to start in The Mortal Realms, dipping your toe into a faction and playing games "out of a box".


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With that in mind, I'll explain what Spearhead is and what you need to get started with this game mode plus my general thoughts on it, especially when compared to Games Workshop's last attempt at this style of game in Warhammer 40,000 with Combat Patrol.

What Do You Need To Play Spearhead?

Spearhead has been designed as an entry point into The Mortal Realms without having to buy a massive army. Games Workshop have marketed Spearhead in the past as a game you can play in a lunchbreak but, as others have pointed out online, this feels like they're missing the trick. It should be marketed as a game where you can buy one box and start playing with your friends without lugging around rulebooks and cases full of miniatures. One box, a week or so worth of painting and you should be good to go for quick games in the evening in a beer and pretzels style.

fire and jade cover age of sigmar

When you get stuck into Spearhead, you and your opponent will pick an army with a set list of miniatures. This is usually a hero (or two) joined by a couple of core units and something iconic. All of the rules that you then need to play Spearhead can be found online. There is a PDF for the Core Rules and one for your specific Spearhead (to be released soon) as well as a Quick Reference which will be handy for checking special rules as and when they crop up.

Now, it would be lying to say that that then gives you everything you need to play. Whilst you could just battle it out with your two boxes on the coffee table, it would be a good idea for you and a friend (or a group of you) to buy yourself the Spearhead Gaming Pack. Now, this is an additional cost but whilst it comes in at £40-ish from Games Workshop, independent stores and your lovely friendly local will sell this for a discount.

battleboard age of sigmar

So, with a Spearhead costing you about £70 and the Spearhead Gaming Pack around £30 (even less if you split the cost of this), you'll have everything you need (finally) to start playing once you've got the different digital rules loaded onto your phone or tablet.

twists deck age of sigmar

Why do you need the Spearhead Gaming Pack I hear you say? Well, that's because it comes with a gaming board which is the appropriate size for your games plus the Spearhead Cards that will dictate the way you can score victory points, both from objectives and Battle Tactics. There is also the Twist deck which helps add flavourful rules to your games and ways to even the playing field if one person is doing better than the other (a neat catch-up mechanic). You also get a few pieces of terrain to help set the scene.

What Is Spearhead?

So you've got all of the kit but what is Spearhead? Spearhead is effectively a quick, smaller slice of the normal battles that you'd play in regular Warhammer Age Of Sigmar. It makes use of the core rules of the larger game but with a few differences. The regular rules for magic, prayers and command points have been shifted into the statistics for your units and the cards that you'll make use of during each turn. Importantly though, everything that you learn in Spearhand can be directly translated into your regular games of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar. So, if you do decide to take a step into the larger game, it won't be an odd change.

fire and jade age of sigmar

This was the problem with Combat Patrol for Warhammer 40,000. It felt like it was a disjointed take on Warhammer 40,000 where you'd have to unlearn a lot between playing Combat Patrol and the regular game. A lot more attention seems to have been paid to Spearhead to make sure that not only are the Spearhead armies more balanced but also mechanically, they've honed in on what people want from a smaller game.

One of the things about many Games Workshop games is how lethal they are and that could also be said of Warhammer Age Of Sigmar. Spearhead however has a rule called Reinforcements where select units, once they die, can be recycled back onto the board so they can keep fighting. This means that even if you get battered in early turns, you can still dive back into the game. Spearhead armies also have specific army rules and abilities which are cutdown versions of ones from the main game, usually tailored towards these smaller skirmishes but with enough variance for you to try out different tactics against different armies.

chaos spearhead age of sigmar

Games of Spearhead then take place over the course of just four battle rounds. Each player will take a turn, scoring victory points at the end of each and the player with the most will be the winner. Nice and simple. The game doesn't outstay its welcome but there's also enough time to get your head around tactics. The priority roll-off at the start of each turn is still there (including the infamous double turn) but, as within the full game, there are now ways that Games Workshop has mitigated the benefits of the double turn so that it's another interesting tactical decision you need to make.

lumineth realm lords spearhead age of sigmar

Talking of tactical decision-making, I think I should probably talk more about that. One of the key mechanics that I like about Spearhead is the way that the cards work. Each card has an objective that you can try and score each turn and then on the bottom, a command which you can use to influence the flow of battle. This means that even if a card features a battle tactic objective that can't be achieved that turn, you can make the choice to use the command instead. This makes games of Spearhead a lot more dynamic than its Sci-Fi sister, Warhammer 40,000 and generally more fun.

All of this, in addition to just how straightforward the rules are for Warhammer Age Of Sigmar, means that Spearhead is a game that has a lot of pick-up and play potential.

Could You Be Tempted?

As someone who has always been Warhammer Age Of Sigmar curious (and playing third edition) but has been burnt by the likes of Combat Patrol, I was naturally hesitant to recommend Spearhead. But, after reading the rules and playing the game, I can say that I am suitably surprised. As mentioned earlier, it feels like Games Workshop has paid attention to the pitfalls of Combat Patrol and made a game that genuinely feels like it could be a good introduction to The Mortal Realms.

seraphon spearhead age of sigmar

Whereas Combat Patrol felt incomplete and my friends and I often felt like we had to add units to the armies to get the most out of them, it feels like Spearhead gives you enough of a vibe for these factions and a complete game without feeling cheated.

Some of you will be saying that surely if you were going to get involved in Warhammer Age Of Sigmar, try Warcry or Warhammer Underworlds instead. A lower model count and a skirmish/board game focus is surely the way to go. I would normally have said yes but I think that, at least currently, Warcry and Warhammer Underworlds feel like they might be a BIGGER upfront investment. Spearhead feels nicely self-contained and I think for the Warhammer Age Of Sigmar curious, those thinking of diving in, it could provide you with a solid "game" which has plenty of potential for expansion, either within a single faction or by veering off to pick up different armies.

fyreslayers spearhead age of sigmar

I also think that Games Workshop has a lot of space to update Spearhead in the future. We currently only have two realms to fight in and there are many others to choose from. They can also do different decks to change things up when it comes to commands and battle tactics, themed around different theatres of war and campaigns. They also have the space to add more Spearheads as factions are released alongside the Battletomes and in White Dwarf magazines and other supplements. It feels like it could be great to see where they go with a more thought-out core system.

Do you feel like I might have convinced you regarding Sperhead?

"...Spearhead is a game that has a lot of pick-up and play potential"

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"I also think that Games Workshop has a lot of space to update Spearhead in the future..."

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