The Stonghold Assault supplement has been much maligned in the 40K community. The Aquilla strongpoint had been declared OP, Not enough new stuff is included, it doesn't add anything to the game. I find these statement to be pure malarkey for the most part. The trick to using this book is to understand what it is trying to bring to the game.
This book is all about bringing sieges and the storming of fortified lines via the somme 1916 or Verdun 1916 to the game. It is filled with fortifications and upgrades to recreate those horrific killing fields to allow epic clashes to take place on the table top. That's it. That is all it is designed to do.
To that end it contains not only fortification rules but also a number of fun scenarios tailor made for these Verdun style games. Fun as playing the standard 40k missions are, they can get a bit..stale after a time. Playing through these new missions can be a lot of fun and change up your playstyle for a bit. Allowing for a bit of fresh air in the game.
And then there are the modeling opportunities this release brings. The cance to plan and build cool fortifications and extras. I'm a terrain guy so maybe this appeals to me more than most. But in my humble opinion this book really allows for the creation of customizable terrain for your army. To build something unique to you. However here is where the critics tend to get it right. There is very little inspirational artwork or fluff in the book, certainly not enough given the rather high price tag. in fact the only really new inspirational picture is seen below.
However we are 40K players and modelers. We are quite capable of using our imagination and even historical inspirations. Furthermore we don't need to build the above picture to make cool stronghold assault terrain there are a number of smaller pieces that help add the wow factor to these games. Some examples are as follows.
Necrons- Dragons teeth done as mini pylons with glowing symbols. Or a small mine with a whole in it a LED light inserted glowing green, and maybe one of those mines you take a cadian, chop off a leg replace it with a skeletal leg, paint the model and have the skeletal leg in the light.
Dark Angels- add scriber Angel or lion plates to fortifications, Use the lion rubble kits to represent rubble. Hang a gibblet from the giant kit from a fortification with a sign that reads "Fallen". Add braziers to give it a medieval feel. Use sci fi style mantlets for barricades similar to mantlets used in middle ages siege operations,
Chaos- Add Chaos bits. Make Dragon's Teeth that appear to be real Dragon's teeth. Add corpses and hands to tangle wire like the movie "All Quiet on the Western Front".
An added benefit to these projects that even when not being used to play games of Stronghold Assault they can greatly increase the visual power of an army display board for a tournament or armies on parade.
Of course some complaints can be heard that the book doesn't give ideas on strategy and tactics for either the defender or the attacker. While there is truth in this I highly recommend you look at other books for ideas. Such as the one shown below.
Not only does this book give great ideas on defensive doctrines and field fortifications it provides ideas for city fight. Other books and movies can also greatly aid in your creative and tactical process. Of course another way to gain ideas is through experience I recommend a campaign representing a siege. playing a few games might provide you with ideas.
So go ahead and give this book another look and give it a go. the results may surprise you. We used it after all in the soon to be reported Operation Scimitar games.