Picked up the Battle Missions book yesterday, gave it a good once-over.
Overall, looks pretty good. Decent variety, even though most missions are basically variations of Seize Ground or Annihilation with tweaked deployments. Out of the 30 basic missions presented, 17 are objective based, 9 use Kill Points or modified Kill Points, one uses a version of Victory Points, and three use something different (wipeout, slave points or loot points).
There's been some complaining that the Inquisition armies and Space Marine variants don't have specific missions. For those folks, there is a tidbit that they do plan to publish more missions for other armies in White Dwarf and/or online, so hopefully we'll see some Witch Hunter, Black Templar, etc. missions down the road.
But even if you don't have a mission specific to your army, you should be able to find one pretty close, or just use any mission. With a little imagination pretty much all of them could work with any combination of armies. And unlike missions in some other supplements like Planetstrike, the 30 basic ones here all use the basic Force Organization Chart, so you don't have to make new army lists, making them easier to use for pick up games. In fact, they advise choosing your army and setting up the table prior to determining the mission. In a lot of the missions they are very specific about where objectives should be placed, so you may want to adjust the terrain into more dramatically appropriate placement sometimes however. Also some missions have special rules for area terrain, so if you get those missions you may want to be sure that you have some on the board (shouldn't be a problem, most folks use area terrain anyways, right?).
The example chart for totally random selection includes a section for going back to 'themed' (random choice from one of the army types being played) selection, but those rolls (11-16) could also be replaced with the standard book missions from the rule book or even other published or custom scenarios if you want even more variety.
Some general things about the mission writeups themselves:
- Almost all (only one does not, one of the Chaos Daemon ones) of the missions use the standard random game length. While I guess it's nice to see everything spelled out on the mission pages, part of me thinks that's a waste of space putting the same paragraph in 29 times. One line saying "Random Game Length" and referring people to the rule book or a paragraph one place in the Battle Missions book would have been enough for me, and use the space for extra stuff, options, or more pretty pictures. Still, it's only a minor gripe and overall the layout is very good.
- Some missions have one side going first automatically, others on a 2-6, some are 50/50. Many missions have a very clear attacker/defender which can provide for a different dynamic than the standard book mission meeting engagement style of play.
- Some very close potential deployments in some missions, shooty armies be careful.
- Very clear deployment zones and table edges designated. (Unless you're red/green colorblind - I would think they might have problems since one table edge is in red and the neutral areas are in green)
- Some add in army-wide special rules like Stubborn, Preferred Enemy, Hit&Run, etc. which can change the dynamic of some units/armies a good deal.
- Many missions mess with Reserves, some prohibiting all, some requiring some, etc. (More on this in Part 2)
I think this is a good supplement for adding some variety to friendly pick-up type games and some good pre-fabs for folks to build narratives and campaigns around. For extra wackiness you could also combine these missions with other supplements like Cities of Death or Planetary Empires and get even stranger/more varied games.
I'd be very careful about using these for competitive environments like tournaments though - some missions can be weighted towards one side or another, and some army builds could really excel or suffer due to special rules. If you do use them for a tournament they should be looked at closely and perhaps modified.