19 August 2010

Review of Spearpoint 43

BGG has posted a review for Spearpoint 43 - thanks for the heads up Comrade James!

Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943
A game for 2 players designed by Byron Collins


Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943 is a two player card game from Collins Epic Wargames. It is a simple deck building game that plays quickly and is a lot of fun.


This game comes in a very compact package! The box is a mere 6.25" x 4.25" x 1.5", so it's easy to tuck into your game bag or inside another wargame box that you're taking to gaming night.

Photo by Andrew Tullsen

The game comes with 175 cards of excellent quality and thickness. They're nice and sturdy, and should stand up nicely to the repeated plays they'll be getting. The cards come in four decks: a 50-card American unit deck, a 50-card German unit deck, a 50-card command deck, and a 25 card damage deck. The latter two decks are shared.

The game also comes with four d10, two grey for the Germans, and two blue for the Americans. The dice are particularly nice looking and are an attractive addition to the package.

Rules & Game Play

The game is actually quite simple to set up and play. Each player decides which side they want to take. Then they select between 80-100 points worth of infantry, armor, aircraft, and crews to make up their battle deck. The rest of the cards are set aside and not used. Each deck has 284 points worth of units, ranging in value from 2 for a tank crew to 21 for a Tiger tank.

Iconography on the cards will tell you if the card you've picked needs a crew, and if so of what kind, and also has other icons on it to show how effective they are against other kinds of units.

Force selection

Photos by Byron Collins

Once you have constructed your deck, you pick 4 cards to keep as your starting hand, draw 3 command cards, and you're set to begin.

The flow of play is in three phases:
- the commitment phase
- the combat phase
- the draw phase

In the commitment phase, both players secretly select which units (if any!) to deploy. Then both simultaneously reveal what they've deployed, along with any command cards that can only be played in this phase. Units requiring a crew can only be deployed with a crew, and vice versa!

Deployment occurs in two lines - the line closest to you is your rear line, the line closest to your opponent is the front line. Front line units can only fire at other front line units and aircraft, while rear line units (usually but not always artillery) can target opposing front and rear line units, as well as aircraft.

Once the units are revealed, the combat phase begins. Again, players simultaneously decide which units will be attacking which opposing units by slightly turning the cards to "face the enemy". There is some element of "Oh yeah? Well then take that!" to this phase, which makes it quite fun and entertaining. Once both players are satisfied they've got the best options down for their cards, command cards usable in this phase are played and combat begins. Initiative is determined by a die roll, and then players alternate firing their units at their opponents. Command cards usable in this phase are also played at this time.

Photos by Byron Collins

Combat is, again, simple. Your unit card will have a number next to the weapon of choice (the main gun on your Sherman tank, say) which shows what you need to roll on 2d10 to hit the unit you're firing at (infantry, say). If you roll that number or higher, you hit! The amount of damage you do is the intensity of the weapon you used, minus the target's defense, plus the roll of a d10. If you did at least half damage to the unit, you draw a damage card for it. If you inflict more than its total hit value in damage, the unit is destroyed. Important to note, damage is cumulative in the same round, so you need to keep track of multiple units are firing at a single target, but once a turn is over, all intensity points are lost and the unit is either damaged (with a damage card under it and considered to be at their damage threshold) or full up again. There are also rules for critical hits and critical misses.

A Sherman tank's damage card results in its capture!

The captured Sherman is redeployed by the enemy!

An interesting note about the damage cards is that they're carefully structured to be usable against any kind of unit. Some of the damage results are nasty, such as the vehicle capture above, so you never quite know what you'll get out of the deck.

Once all combat is resolved, both players draw one command card, and then draw two additional cards from either or both the command card deck or their unit deck.

Victory in the base game is simple: you either capture/destroy 51 points of enemy units (captured units count double!) or be unopposed (i.e. no land units facing you) for three turns.


This is a light card game that you can easily play over your lunch hour, and it's fully meant to be fun and quick. This is not to say there isn't a lot of detail and research here - there clearly is, and that's reflected both in the information on the cards and in the point values of various units.

I had two minor complaints with the game. First, the game can be unbalanced if players build antithetical decks. If you build a deck with lots of infantry and your opponent goes with all tanks and a few aircraft, then it can quickly become a one sided romp. Second, the basic game with the deck building and "first to 51 points wins" criteria can quickly begin to feel, well, like a generic card game.

However, fear not! The website for Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943 has an answer for exactly those two items. There are currently eight scenarios (called situations) for the game plus one in development; I expect more will come in time. Then there are suggested starting decks with commentary about the advantages and disadvantages of each. If you're not sure about how to pick your deck, any of these mixes will get you pointed in the right direction and you can always make your own tweaks to the base suggestions.

If you like card games, and in particular if you like both card games and deck building games, then Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943 will give you a lot of play value for the money

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