Alright, been flipping through Hammer of the Emperor (HotE). Overall I'd say pretty nice; players certainly should be happy.
Anyway, as with any of these new books, it always seems to raise the question of power creep. How bad is it in this book, and as a GM, what should I be concerned with?
Overall, I like the new regiment options (as always, I'm a bit sad to see new chargen features though, as those are more difficult to apply to an existing game). The drawbacks certainly were needed, and overall, they seem to be reasonably weighted (although some of the "cheaper" versions are hardly that bad of a drawback vs. something like say condemed or Doomed, and even Doomed is pretty tame once players accept the fact that the game is going to feel like a meatgrinder, it practically rewards that style of thinking).
The cavalry rules are pretty nice, and I'll say quite a few of the associated talents are pretty crazy (felling on a charge?!). But given the inherent risk of basing your combat style on a mount that is going to die at some point, I think its pretty fair.
The new talents are pretty effective as well. Although quite a few of them seem to eat fate points, which I think helps balance alot of them. I saw things like Overkill and kind of balked, then saw it ate a reaction. It does appear to try and help players choose a weapon of mastery (e.g. the Las Weapon Mastery talents), but it doesn't seem too broken when compared to other talents of a similar tier (Fearless would seem pretty broken too if it was added in a new book).
Vetran comrades is probably one of the few "must haves" in that it basically doubles the effectiveness of a comrade, as well as opening access up to alot of the new comrade orders. But still, it doesn't seem that broken.
My main issue currently is with how the advanced specializations work. Or more specifically, the new options a PC gets every 2500 XP. More specifically, the option to switch around, with reasonable frequency, ones own aptitudes to fit whatever seems to be most effective for leveling. That, or the option to get +5 to a stat. That seems like a pretty broken way to handle this. Especially given that its actually handing out free skills and talents too. Obviously, this is a point GM and Player must come to an agreement on, but still, RAW it very easily allows for a very high level of power gaming.
Personally I would of liked advanced specialities to have a stronger set of pre-reqs, as well as a cost to purchase. And have those provide bonus talents, new speacialty options (comrade orders etc.). Perhaps provide a series of talents that are inherently reduced in price as if they had one of the aptitudes (e.g. a Sharpshooter specialization could class the user as already having 1 of the two aptitudes requred for a set of talents, like Deadeye Shot, making it signifacantly cheaper to access). Instead we now have a set of options that dramatically improve XP efficiency.
As a side note - anyonce catch the wording "eligible specializations," and how the book says Guardsmen careers can go to any in HotE, but makes no reference if Support Specialists can do so? It makes sense that a Sanctioned Psyker or Tech-Priest can't go Brawler or Scout, but what about Storm Troopers? Also, realize, this book is giving +5 WP to psykers every 2500 XP (for free btw, just have to hit the xp milestone), with apparently no upper limit.
Is is this any worse than say the Crimson Guard or the BoM Battle Sisters that start DH play with power armor? From what I can tell, I'd say its nowhere near that bad and overall quite enjoyable.
TL;DR = I am trying to get a single thread going to discuss game balance and the long term ramifications of what has been added to OW from HotE.