40K REVIEW: Planetstrike

Hi guys,

Bigred here, with our latest Warhammer 40000 product review. I have recently finished reading my copy of Planetstrike and want to go over it in detail with you guys who may be debating whether its worth your time.

Basics
80 Pages
B/W with color plates (like a codex)
Standard codex sized format
Softback
Price: $25 USD

Content Breakdown
Planetstrike Rules: 25 pages
Strategems: 13 pages
Campaigns and Missions: 8 pages
Fluff and Painted Mini Section: 26 pages

Content Review
First up, this book is an expansion for the main rulebook, so if you are already a 40k player, you’re ready to go. In the same vein as Cities of Death, the book mainly covers large attacker-defender style missions, instead of the balanced missions with no predefined roles we get in the standard rulebook. With differing sides and contrasting FOC tables, Planetstrike will require a little bit of pre-planning, and lends itself well to narrative gameplay or more organized playstyles than just simple pickup games.

Planetstrike Rules
After a brief introduction we get right into the meat of the rules section. This is broken into 2 broad categories:

-Organizing a battle
-Defensive Terrain

Organizing a battle is a real homage to the old “battles” section of the 4th edition rulebook with even more embellishments added in. Both attacker and defender are presented with new FOC tables, allowing both players to build up forces that are otherwise not possible outside of Apocalypse. Things like 6 elites for the attacker and 6 heavy suppport choices for the defender and much more are guaranteed to peak players interest ,and produce some very different games.

The book goes on to cover the placement of objectives, how forces arrive on-table, and the attackers and defenders goals and objectives. In general the attacker has a hard road early to mid-game with the defender gaining the advantage of position, and formidable defenses, but it is the defender who will start the sweating late game. Objectives may be claimed by the attacker with only a single surviving model, and every squad counts as scoring, so the attacker must not only be prepared, but thorough with his firepower. Even small rag-tag remnants of attacking squads can achieve victory.

Defensive terrain is the visual highlight of Planetstrike. Here we get detailed rules for:

-Bastions
-Interceptor Guns (with limited overwatch abilities!)
-Defense Lines
-Landing Pads
-Fortresses

The rules are clean, and work with the core rulebook well. Did I mention that all defensive weapons on the new terrain pieces fire at BS:2 and are awarded to the defending player for FREE!

Strategems
After the core rules, we move onto the Strategems. These are really cool, if somewhat analagous to the Cities of Death strategems section. There are a large set of strategems divided into attacker and defender pools, to spice missions up. From attacking Stasis Bombs, to defending Drop-Bastions, there is something for every game. The section then moves on to my favorite part of the entire book: race-specific strategems. Here we see such awesome abilities as the Space Marines mighty Drop Pod strikes, to the fear-inducing terror of Dark Eldar assaults, and their craftworld brother’s deceptive use of the Web-way. Along the way, we get little background tidbits on some of the game’s older races that is sure to tantalize the fluff nuts.

Campaigns and Missions
Next up is a short section that expands the default Planetstrike mission presented earlier into a full set of 6 missions with differing special rules and objectives for variety. These may be played in series to represent a mini-campaign depicting the invasion of a world, and are a treasure trove for narrative gamers or campaign designers. I can see many of these being used with Planetary Empires to really add depth to league play.

Fluff and Painting Section
Next up a large section covers many famous invasions of the 40th Millenium, covering every race out there. Many of Warhammer 40k’s older codices get a nice dusting off with dramatic new stories, and artwork. The Dark Eldar and Space Wolves are standouts in this department, with a bunch of intriguing hints and information.

Finally we hit the obligatory crazy color battle plates chock full of pretty pics. While not as over the top as the Apocalypse books, we get to see every major race slugging it out in and around the new Planetstrike terrain sets. High quality ‘Eavy Metal work abounds, along with lots of Forgeworld goodies and its definately inspiring.

Downsides
While everything is good so far, there are some issues. Once again, we see Witchhunters and Daemonhunters left in the cold strategem-wise. While there are thankfully Grey Knight and Sisters models in a couple of pics, I’m starting to get the feeling that continueing from Apocalypse there is some reason GW is not mentioning those two codeices by name any longer. Some will note the broad similarity between Planetstrike and Cities of Death, and the criticism is warranted. Both supplements are broadly similar, and you will find the strategem sections to be blurred reflections of each other.

Summary
On balance, Planetstrike is a good bargain for the price, with the terrain sets being even better. If you enjoy the drama of disparate roles for both players, or you feel the standard pickup-missions from the rulebook are getting a little old, you will love this product. It opens up the game to include new playstyles that let you use your existing minis collections in new ways. The ruleset dovetails nicely into the existing rulebook with little to no hickups, and the expansion of the game to include such common 40th Millenium themes as bastions, fortified lines, and the like will only enhance the dark-gothic look of your tabletops. Lastly, it is cheaper and more accessable than Apocalypse supplements, being an add-on to the core game.
4 Stars (out of 5)

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