from the Spearhead Rulebook

SPEARHEAD is a complete rules set that simulates Division-level tactics of WW II. The emphasis is on commanding a multi-battalion force, and all game mechanics serve that priority.

In every period of warfare there existed some manner of tactical procedure, or doctrine, based upon the operational combat limitations of the period and the armies within that period. A common misconception among many rules writers is that WW II was different in this regard than earlier periods. Because of the advances in technology before and during the war, writers often focus on those concerns. Consequently, many WW II games function no differently than western shoot-outs with big guns. In these games we see tank and infantry units moving randomly about the battlefield, with no regard for unit boundaries, orders or operating doctrine, blowing-up whatever targets may appear.

WW II did bring greater tactical flexibility, increased mobility and a more efficient communications system than in any previous era. These advances in technology did not obviate the need for tactical doctrine. They did not permit random maneuver, or offer infallible intelligence, or simplify the commander s role in battle. Rather, these advances complicated the commander's job, especially since he could personally observe less of his operational front than in any previous era.

We believe it is not enough to represent merely the weapons employed by a given army. Instead, the tactical operating system and the inherent limitations brought about by the realities of combat are stressed.

Spearhead Cover

Planning and Command

No plan survives the first ten minutes of a battle. This truism is frequently misinterpreted and used by many to argue against the use of a restrictive command control system. Above all, it does not mean that a new plan can be extemporized to replace the faulty one. A commander adjusted as best he could, given the systematic limitations of his troops and the availability of reserves. These factors are of paramount importance in Spearhead.

National differences are reflected. The key reasons for the alleged German tactical superiority lay in their fighting system and training not in better equipment. This is seen by studying the early-war German victories that did not reflect technical dominance. In SPEARHEAD, the German player controls a flexible system which can adapt more handily to the demands of an ever-changing battlefield, but one whose resources cannot be squandered.

Conversely, a Russian player employs a less flexible, but resilient system requiring him to plan more carefully. The player-general now overlays his own skills on these systems, seeking to maximize the advantages inherent in each. Weapon types simply become an extension of the army's operating doctrine and the commander's will. SPEARHEAD's combat priority rules represent combined arms operations in a manner which we believe comes closer to simulating this doctrine than ever before.


We believe that a set of rules seeking to recreate Division-level maneuvers cannot work without a system for representing unit orders. Orders that bind Battalions to specific actions on the tabletop serve to limit the unrealistic advantages of a player's helicopter view. This prevents the absurdity of a player moving units arbitrarily back and forth across the tabletop in perfect response to every move of his opponent. Just as it was for his historical counterpart, the role of the player-general is to make decisions that matter. In SPEARHEAD, players plan their battle carefully, because they cannot change bad plans quickly.

The battalion orders system in SPEARHEAD reflects how commanders manage battles. Initial orders send the troops into action. The proper use of reconnaissance and reserves is essential in SPEARHEAD because commanders could not easily respond to every unforeseen event. Players issue new orders only when tactical circumstances dictate or permit.

Level of Combat

The goal of SPEARHEAD is to allow play using a minimum of several Battalions up to an entire Division on a side. To enable this scope we have abstracted details which we feel are inconsistent with the level of command that Spearhead stresses. We are chiefly concerned with the operations of Battalions, which are the building blocks of Divisions. Once opposing Battalions are within fighting range, SPEARHEAD assumes the combat is taking place within a flexible combat area, where local Company and Platoon Commanders are making tactical decisions for you. For example, multi-range bracket charts that encourage skirmish-level micro-management are not used. In SPEARHEAD, you are a Division or Brigade commander and we keep your focus right there.

Because many gamers are drawn to WW II, and because of the diverse vehicle types, we have taken pains to represent the distinct characteristics of most of them. The handy Data Cards permit players to reference any of 400 Platoon types without leafing through pages. Here, we focus on the general relationships between unit types, rather than representing the minute gun/armor details of every vehicle at every range.

The use of the Platoon as the smallest combat element was inspired by the work of Arnold Henricks (1944), and later, Gene McCoy's unit organizations (Wargamers Digest) in the 1970s and 80s. With all this explanation SPEARHEAD will only be successful if you have fun playing it. All letters will be answered provided a SASE is enclosed. Mail to:

Arty Conliffe
2818 Dudley Ave
NY 10461.

Arty Conliffe & Hans Johannsen


The SPEARHEAD Website is edited and maintained by John Moher. SPEARHEAD is © 1995-2000 Arty Conliffe. The contents of these pages are © 1996-2000 John Moher, Arty Conliffe, Hans Johannsen, John Kovalic, and/or the appropriate Authors and Contributors.