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40k just escalated the arms race.....



Okay, maybe not literally, but this book does add super-heavies into the main game and that is a big step up from what we've been playing.

Now, I'm sure there are a number of people are aren't looking at this book as the new best way to make their friends hate them. So aside from those players who just like to watch the world burn I'll be covering this book. Why for you guys? Because the people who want to employ the new, best way to make their friends mad already bought the book and are trying to decide which D-Weapon platform they should pick to build an army around.

That covered, let's just go ahead and get the obvious joke out of the way really quick:



So now that the Anchorman references are out of our system let's get to the book shall we?

I like to stay organized, so I'll be tackling this book in order by section, covering each, adding my thoughts and then wrapping it up with some final thoughts and overall opinion. I won't be covering special rules in depth or points values at all though because I like not being sued.

The Book

If you've seen any of the 6th edition books you have a good idea of what this book basically looks like. It's a hardback with full color pages, and the same quality of paper used in the codexes. There isn't anything I've got to complain about here, nor much more to say so let's move on.

Escalation of War

This is what I feel is the book's real introduction as it sets the stage of the setting, gives us a feel of the kinds of things these monstrous war-machines and gargantuan creatures are and how they tie into their armies.

Uprising on Obsus Prima

The lore section of this book is shorter than in codexes or even the short section in Stronghold Assault, only spanning two pages and covering the tale of Obus Prima, a manufactorum who attempted to shirk the yoke of the Imperium

If you're interested in the background parts of these sorts of books it's worth a look, but I have a feeling a lot of people will be skipping it.

Warhammer 40,000: Escalation Rules

First off, before we dig into the rules too deep, this is a rulebook supplement, not an expansion. So much like codex supplements it's completely optional for use, but it doesn't have to stray from standard games to be used.

The book adds a new FOC slot called Lords of War. Unlike the Lords of War found in the Horus Heresy series they are not bound by any points restriction. Things that can be taken in this slot are restricted to Super-Heavy Vehicles and Gargantuan Creatures in this book.

And before people ask, yes there are Forgeworld models in this book, just like there are in Apocalypse. So for those who like to argue that somehow the main game and Forgeworld are separate things, that gap you've been imagining got a lot smaller with this release.

Apocalyptic Weapons, Destroyer Weapons, and the other rules regarding these vehicles are here as well. So if you've seen those rules, then you're familiar with these ones as well.

Now honestly I think the book is pretty interesting from the get go, despite this section only being to serve as a reference point for these rules (and preventing people from needing to have the Apocalypse book handy to use them).

Showcase

It's pictures of models. Well, to be more specific of the plastic super-heavies GW sells. If you like looking at them then you'll like this section. If not, well skip on to the next one.

Lords of War Datasheets

So this section starts off pretty straightforward:
If you wish, you can take a Lords of War detachment when choosing your force. This is an optional detachment just like Fortifications and Allied detachments, as shown in the Force Organization chart opposite.
And just like that we know that this is not here to soft shoe it: this book is for normal games and is as valid as any option you can take. An important thing to note is that the Lords of War must be taken in the Primary Detachment only, and if it's a transport can only carry models from that detachment. And yes, it counts as if it were from the same codex as your primary detachment too. So no, you can't just slap whatever on the board (at least not without a fair amount of homebrew) and say your Berserkers are carting around in a Stormlord this week.

Taking a Lord of War also changes some things about the game. First if only one player has a Lord of War his opponent adds 1 to their Seize the Initiative roll. Additionally for each 3 Hull Points or Wounds removed from a Lord of War give you an additional Victory point (Hull Points or Wounds that were regained don't count either). And lastly if your opponent has a Lord of War you have access to a new Warlord Traits table.

Honestly I feel these rules go a long ways to trying to help balance out the game a bit for those occasions were only one player has taken a Lord of War. Especially the Warlord Traits table which is designed to give your army advantages when fighting against the Lords of War.

So let's take a look at which armies have access to what options. Now before we get too far, I do want to lay something out really quick before anyone gets upset with me: neither Adepta Sororitas nor the Inquisition have access to any of the Lords of War in this book. While I understand these aren't really fully supported armies at the moment, this is a bit of a slap for anyone who primarily plays them books. So if you really want to field your own Lords of War make sure you work something out with your opponent or event organizer ahead of time to save yourself the grief.

That aside, let's take a look at the options.

Imperial Guard:
  • Baneblade
  • Banehammer
  • Banesword
  • Doomhammer
  • Hellhammer
  • Shadowsword
  • Stormlord
  • Stormsword
Guard players rejoice, you have the most options out of anyone in the entire book.

Space Marines (yes all of the Loyalist ones):
  • Thunderhawk Gunship 
Sorry Astartes, only one option for you. Not that it's a bad one, but it is worth noting that that it's the only one you have.

Forces of Chaos (Chaos Space Marines and Daemons):
  • Lord of Skulls
Once again, only one option here. And no Super-Heavy Flyer options for the Chaos Marines either.

Necrons:
  • Obelisk
  • Tesseract Vault
  • Transcendent C'tan
Everyone's favorite undead legions make off pretty well it seems.

Orks:
  • Stompa
Sorry Ork players, you don't get rules for looting all the other army's options. Shame because that'd be kind of awesome.

Eldar and Dark Eldar:
  • Revenant Titan
Yes, both of the pointy eared armies share the Revenant.

Tau:
  • Tiger Shark
For the speculators I saw asking about this, it's the one with the Drone Rack.

Tyranids:
  • Harridan 
Once again, another army with only one option given.

Now obviously there are a lot more options out there, such as Warhound Titans or the Orca. Unfortunately that'll have to be handled by coming to an agreement with your opponent about any additions or changes you want to make (such as having your Orks drive a looted Stormlord into battle).

But seeing as you need to make a fair number of agreements with your opponents to play the game anyways playing around with your options or homebrewing up some new ones to play with shouldn't be a huge issue for people wanting to play with this book.

I will say I was highly disappointed that the Adepta Sororitas didn't get a tracked cathedral Super Heavy with this, or at least access to the Guard options but with how often they get left out in the cold it wasn't too surprising.

So, good, but not perfect and leaves a lot of room for house rules and homebrew.

Altar of War: Escalation

Six new missions are in this part of the book, adding quite a bit more to the game. These open up if either, or both players have Lords of War in their army and are alternative missions to those in the main rulebook. They are:
  • Trampled Underfoot (Objectives within 3" of a Lord of War at the end of it's movement are crushed and removed from the table. The player who crushed it recieves 1 Victory Point. Each objective marker controlled at the end of the game is worth 2 points to the player who controls it)
  • Slay the Beast (Replacing the usual rule about victory points by removing hull points and wounds from Lords of War, instead each hull point or wound left on the Lord of War at the end of the game gives its controlling player 1 Victory Point. The opposing player recieves 1 Victory Point for each wound or hull point they removed (not counting any that have been regained))
  • Armoury of Annihilation (D3+2 Objectives are each worth 3 Victory Points to the player who controls it. Additionally Objectives give the unit who controls it Armourbane, Fleshbane, and Interceptor for all their shooting attacks. Additionally they count as AV15 on all sides and have a 4+ Invunerable save, can be targeted by shooting attacks or hit automatically in close combat. If it suffers a single glancing or penetrating hit it is destroyed)
  • The Approach of Doom (5 Objectives, each worth 1 Victory Point. Additionally, for each scoring unit still alive at the end of the game their controlling player gains an additional Victory Point)
  • Ultimate Linebreaker (End of the game each non-Lords of War unit that hasn't gone to ground or is falling back with at least 1 model in the enemy's deployment zone is worth 1 Victory Point, additionally, non-Zooming, Gliding or Swooping Lords of War score 2 Victory Points each turn they end their movement phase in the enemy's deployment zone. Zooming, Gliding or Swooping Lords of War score 1 point for each turn they end their movement phase in the enemy's deployment zone)
  • Crucible Extermis (3 Objectives worth D3 Victory Points. Additionally each player scores an additional victory point for each scoring unit they have on the table at the end of the game)
A lot of really neat missions here. I really like how nicely they've scaled some of these victory conditions up to match the scale of the game that's being played (and the threat of the Lords of War themselves).

Gauntlet Challenge Missions

Unlike the Altar of War missions, these are a new kinds of missions with a lot of specific rules for them that aren't rolled for but agreed upon between the players. They are:
  • Dead City Rampage (One player is the attacker, the other is the defender. Defending player hides 3 objective markers inside ruins. The attacking player attempts to gain control of the objectives (worth 5 points), or Bury them in Rubble (by destroying the ruins they're hidden in). The defending player gains 5 VP for each objective marker that is unsmashed at the end of the game, or isn't controlled by the attacking player. Additionally they gain 2 VP for each hull point or wound they inflict on the Lord of War).
  • Defiant to the End (One player is the attacker, the other is the Escalation player. Victory Points are not used, instead the game is determined on when, or if the Lord of War is destroyed. Attacker gets 1,000 points to use, the Escalation player gets their Lord of War. The attacker may not take a Lord of War)
  • When Titans Clash (Purge the Alien with both players fielding a Lord of War. Additionally it has Lord of War traits as well)
 Honestly this is my favorite part of the book. The missions are creative, and I really love the Defiant to the End mission because it seems like a lot of fun.

Final Thoughts

The book is good, but not great. It's packed with a fair number of options, but could have had a lot more, especially for the armies who only option is from Forgeworld. It's not unsalvagable though as the rules are great, the idea is really cool and the few short comings it has for unit options can be solved by some friendly house ruling.

That said this book isn't for everyone. Not everyone likes the idea of super heavies in their games and some groups won't want to play it period. If you are the kind of person who likes this idea, and has friends who want to play it I'd give it a go. It's a lot more organized than Apocalypse, and easier to manage, even if whole units are still perfectly capable of disappearing into a puff of greasy smoke. Played with a friendly attitude this book can be a lot of fun, but if played by someone who just likes to grind his opponents to dust every game it may be less so (unless you just play Defiant to the End everytime!).


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