Active Imagination (my FLGS) on Friday and pick up a copy of Leviathan. I was really jazzed, since it sold out almost immediately from the website (thanks Ben!!!) A bout with kidney stones kept me from reviewing it right away, but here goes!
Very cool, all in all. The box set is divided into two books, one fluff and one rules.
The rules book is pretty solid with six new Echoes of War missions that recreate the fluff battles from the other book. They each have a little twist, but they are also rather limited since the sides are set. Two of the missions are for Adeptus Sororitas (Sister of Battle) vs Tyranids and the other four are Adeptus Militarum (Imp Guard) vs Nids. But that could be remedied easily enough, we all know how to do that... The design of the missions do seem to capture the feel of the fluff from the book, so that makes them pretty cool.
After the missions comes the Cities of Death rules, which are, again, pretty cool. Cities of death used to be it's own book, and I bet they will release a book for these as well, in a separate release. It comes with 66 new objectives tailored around a seriously urban terrain setup. In fact, to do these missions, the seriously recommend that you have at least 6 good sized building/ruins terrain pieces. Of course, the more, the merrier. All objectives in these missions have to be in buildings or ruins. There are also 6 missions with deployments and set ups. It all looks very interesting and should add some spice to your game table in the near future. There are no stratagems or campaign rules, which I had kind of hoped for, but the rules for achieving the objectives and the 66 new 'cards' will certainly capture the feel of an urban war, I think. As always, keep in mind that city fights tend to equalize shooty-heavy armies with opponents that might not be that good at more open terrain. Having limited lines of sight and tons of cover makes for more close-in fighting... Me likey!
Following the cities of death is the Death from the Skies section. Regurgitated from the previous two incarnations (Crusade of Fire and ... errr... ummm... I forgot where they printed these before) and have nothing new at all. Just the bare bones rules for fighter aces that cost +35 points and give some odd benefits. Some are very cool, some are useless for the points. Still, it might be a fun twist to add by mutual agreement in a pre-game discussion.
Then comes the Tyranid section. All the new Tyranid stuff is all here, the data sheets for the new and improved models as well as a few new formations for the Nids. I'm not terribly familiar with the Nid formations, but these do seem to offer some flexibility that I am sure Nid players will really enjoy. I will not let the wife see this book :)
So, the rulebook is pretty solid, overall and worth the effort to get.
The fluff book is the heavyweight here and is, as could be predicted, gorgeous! 152 pages of some very well done, if a bit drawn out, fluffy goodness. I am only about 1/3 of the way through a full reading of it, but it is very good throughout. This book presents the forces of the Astra Militarum and the Adeptus Sororitas against a splinter of hive fleet Leviathan. An odd choice of forces for the first book in what they describe as a new campaign series, but they tie it together in a way that makes sense.
The part of it that makes me laugh a little is how open ended it 'seems' to be. From the mapping (and the title... duh) we know that this is going to be the debut for the roll-out of the Blood Angels. There also seems to be a lot of spots for almost anything to be added to this framework. For me, I cannot wait for the BA release to see if they will be vanilla, castrated marines or if they will have some flavour remaining. I fear that they might bring them out neutered (like so many other codex releases) and then pump them up down the road. I hope not, but it might happen.
There is a great deal of art in this book, lots of armies on parade pictures too. There is also a great deal of well written fluff in here that ties the whole thing together. I like the snippet stories that are all through the book and give that 'history as it happens' feel to the story. I almost get the feeling that the last chapter is not written yet, as if it was like the old days with the world-wide campaigns??
So, to wrap up, this is a very good set, IMHO, with very few disappointing aspects to it. Some parts are just cobbled in from other things, but it does make for a good reference for all the recent releases. For the first time in a while, I can justify saying that you are getting what you pay for here. It's a solid release with a little bit of something for everyone and a treasure for the Nid players. If you can get your paws/claws/hands/augmetic limbs on one, go for it.