I was kind of incredulous at first, since I started with Escalation. For those who don't know, this is the expansion that allows you to bring "Lords of War" into the normal 40k games. Lords of war are nothing more than Apocalypse models that are normally held only within the bounds of Apoc games. Not every super-heavy from Apoc is here, but most of the signature models are here. I have to imagine ForgeWorld will be adding A LOT to this as time goes on.
First, You have to remember that allowing Lords of War (LoW) into the normal game is strictly optional and needs to be agreed upon by both players. (EDIT: I should point out, there is nothing that says, in the book, that these are optional rules, the community consensus is that these rules are now standard, I say optional since nobody can force me to play a game I don't want to play, nor should you!!) That being said, these are still big time game changers. I do not see these rules being the norm for many games. A single Apoc type model is going to seriously change a game. There are D weapons on those things. D weapons are such super-heavy weapons that they kill everything on a good hit, no save, no invul saves, no cover saves, no reanimation, just DIE. Luckily, to have this huge effect, D weapons have to roll on a separate chart to determine the severity of their impact. At the lower end of the scale, they just cause A LOT of wounds and carnage.
There is a lot of talk going on some of the boards, that I have seen, that these are going to ruin the game. I don't think so. First, you have to agree to use them. Second, they are not unkillable by normal units. Most of them have between 9 and 12 hull points, so they are not beyond the scope of most armies to kill. Of course, they do not roll on the normal vehicle kill table (no 6 to explode a Thunderhawk gunship). Lastly, they cost a BUTT load of points to put on your list. Oh, one more thing, there is a Warlord trait table in here for the person who does NOT take a LoW unit. This is a MASSIVE table that you WILL use if you play against a LoW player, they are warlord traits that will even up the game immensely.
I see the escalation rules as just being another way to play the game. It will let people that have LoW scale models use them in a friendly game and have some fun with that super-expensive thing you bought and only get to use 1-2 times per year. Will they change the meta? nope. I don't think Adepticon is going to change their format to allow these into the game any time soon.
I also see a great opportunity here to have a lot of fun with a new twist on the game. Just think about how cool a three way game might be with one player having a LoW unit and a last man standing format. The other two can gang up on the LoW guy or not, but there will be carnage!!!
And lets face it, this rule set is just a way for GW to sell more models. That's all it's really about. I don't think it's a bad thing, I think it's a great thing. Oh, and if you have the book/digital codex, check out the pictures, you'll see a preview of the new Nids! Yeah, those little kidders at GW slid a pic of the new nid warriors into a panorama shot.
Can you say sales catalog? This book is all about selling the new terrain and fortification kits and also bringing the entire Wall of Martyrs stuff into normal 40k. They have data sheets for every scenery kit that they make. The rules aren't bad either. They do have a few pages of rules that replace/amend the building and ruins rules from the main rulebook. IMHO, these are good rules that should be the new standard.
The data sheets are updated a bit, and there are additions for all the stuff they make. They even have a rules set for the 'honored imperium' set. Your statues do something besides look cool now. All in all, it's not a bad book, but to be honest, for $33, I would like to have seen more. But it is nice to have all the building/fortification rules in one spot.
There are also some new data sheets for things we have not seen yet. Even the pictures on the pages are not there. Promethium Relay Pipes are a 40 point fortification. They are a double edged sword, in that taking a cover save from them may lead to them blowing up. They do increase the effect of flamers within 2 inches though. Kind of like being able to connect your flamer to a garden hose :) There is also a Void Shield Generator, a 50 point fortification. This is an AV12, one shot shield that will absorb one attack. Not too tough to get by, you just have to plan your fire on protected units a bit better than you may have before. Once they are penetrated, they are down, although they may regenerate at the end of your turn. You can buy up to three levels, so for 100pts, you can get a three layer, total bubble shield that could really mess up an opponent. Hmmmm. three wave serpents in a 3 layer void shield don't care about first turn no more ;)
So, I think these are two very good books, I don't think either will change much, but I do see them as adding a great new way to play the game for people that want to do it. Remember, Escalation is optional, you don't have to play it.