Well...not to put too fine a point on it, escalation missions are escalation missions.
This is simply not true. I won't quote straight from the book, but if you take a moment to look at the Escalation book under the Lords of War Datasheets
heading, there's nothing
stating that you require your opponent's permission. In fact, it says that you may include a Lords of War unit if you wish
. It is treated just like a Fortification/Allied detachment. There are a few extra rules that get thrown in to help compensate if your opponent doesn't bring one of their own, and they are:
-enemy bonus to sieze initiative
-secondary objective involving VPs for HPs removed
-another Warlord Trait Table
Now, there's nothing stopping someone from walking away from the table because you're not playing in the spirit of the game, but the same could be said for Cron Air, and 3/4x Hellturky/Wraithknight/Riptide, or the new elysian lists too. i'm an all or nothing type guy.
There ARE escalation missions, but they follow the same rules as regular Altar of War missions; except that you
MUST roll on the Escalation table, given the choice.
By which I mean, if you're in a position to field it, you're playing an escalation game, which means either you're looking at an enemy Lord Of War unit or an army built in full knowledge of the fact that it's facing one and that a significant portion of the victory conditions of the mission you're playing revolve around murderising it. Expect 25% plus of your enemy's army to be one giant stompy thing that you really, really need to be able to knock holes in to win.
Again, in theory, you could
play a pick up game, and surprise your opponent; their only extra prep being those previously mentioned perks.
However, since we're all good spirited gamers here (right?), I assume you'd give fair warning. In that case, yes, your enemy is going to fill his list up with lascannons and brightlances in every slot they can stick them. that could be a benefit in itself however, since you're probably going to spam cheap units to flesh out your numbers, and these kinds of weapons struggle to bring down hordes (well…big squads anyway).
With these points in mind (especially the last one) I think the best option is actually the Obelisk. It's cost is meagre, at just over 300pts, and it gets to use it's anti flyer/skimmer ability EVERY shooting phase (both yours, and your opponent's). This gives a great edge when playing those armies that can outmaneuver you rapidly; which is not only our biggest weakness (IMHO), but works very well to knock down top tier armies like Taudar and DE. Plus, you can leave it powered down for a storm shield quality invulnerable if you just want to soak up shots for first turn. Assuming you're playing someone without flyers/skimmers; the Tesla Spheres are quite excellent in their own rights. Imagine deep striking into your enemy's backfield (to maximize target opportunities), and loosing 20+ Autocannon shots per turn plus the auto hitting gravity pulse.
The initial reaction from most of the locals is, "this is the end of 40K". Most people are looking at it as an out of control, out of balance, attempt by GW to earn some quick bucks at Christmas. I'm not judging, just repeating what I'm hearing. I have no opinion myself.
That was my line of thinking too; but I played my first Apoc game last month, (IG vs Eldar/Dark Eldar, 6.5k each) and I gotta say, my baneblade went down to two squads of wyches (about 2/3 it's cost, including their raiders) right quick, and had I been playing a 2k game they still would have been there. My opponent's lynx on the other hand was a bit of a bugger to drop, what with cover and holofields and all.
Also, there's some interesting missions in the back of the book titled 'Gauntlet Missions.' I think these are the real draw of the book. One in particular (Defiant to the End) is basically a superheavy vs an army of 1000pts more than the superheavy's cost. The flavour text recommends playing the mission, then swapping armies and playing again, the winner being the player who kills the superheavy the fastest (I guess?). THAT sounds entertaining.
In all though, I think the world could probably skip this book. Go to the store, read the warlord table/2nd objective (through attrition, victory), and apply the Lords of War FOC to games of planet strike; for fast playing Apoc games
. No-one will complain about your transcendent c'tan if they've got 6 HS slots to play around with.