VOXCAST (Dar Sai – 3 244 735.M41)–An Imperial offensive against Tau insurgents operating on Dar Sai (second moon of Sculptor III) was repulsed yesterday despite a spirited attack by elements of the 728th Cadian Regiment.
Commanded by Captain Stevrous Stark, who won acclaim for his previous victories against the xeno threat, two companies of Imperial Guard, with assistance from PDF support troops, advanced down the moon’s infamous Hanui Valley in a widely spread line just after dawn.
The goal of this advance was a towering white structure—clearly of xeno design—that rose like a cancerous blight over the previously pristine forests and farms of the valley.
The initial assault was let by a dozen Chimeras on the Imperial Guard’s right flank—but a sizable force of Tau in jetpack-equipped armored battleware (Crisis Suits) soared out of the forest and opened fire with powerful fusion-type anti-armor weapons.
Tragically, a scene of exploding vehicles and troops fleeing their transports in flames soon ensued, the few Imperial Guard survivors shot down by primitive xeno allies of the Tau—known as “Kroots.”
Rumors of atrocities were reported by retreating troops, who describe seeing these avian-like Kroot stop to feed on the wounded and corpses.
[Imperial authorities firmly deny such reports, warning against spreading rumors that may cause panic among the civilian population.]
As the Tau counterattack threatened to blunt the Imperial advance, Captain Stark ordered an armored thrust up the center—with the goal of turning the flank of this xeno advance.
A highly mobile battle subsequently ensued, with Lemon Russ tanks attempting to target the fast-moving Tau Crisis Suit teams, which adopted a hit-and-run tactic of firing at the Imperial tanks then withdrawing back into the woods before Imperial targeting arrays could lock onto the fast-moving infantry.
At the same time, Imperial armor also traded long-range fire with Tau armor—known as Hammerheads—but this fire proved ineffective.
Several Imperial tanks were destroyed or immobilized until the Tau commander–ostentatiously outfitted in bright-white armor–received a direct hit from a Lemon Russ battle cannon and was instantly vaporized. At this point, the Tau counterattack on the Imperial right flank ended.
The battle soon degenerated into a series of long-range firefights. But the Imperial Guard managed to claw its way forward in the center and threaten the xeno tower–giving the Imperium the hope of victory.
At that point, the battle took a sudden, baneful turn. Recognizing that desperate action was necessary to avoid defeat, the Tau command ordered an attack on the Imperial center and left flank. While Kroot distracted Imperial infantry on the ground, fast-moving skimmers (Piranhas) and Crisis Suits slammed into a unit of Sentinels, destroying one, then leaped past them to wipe out scores of infantry with twin-linked burst cannons with high rates of plasma fire.
At this point, the center and left of the Imperial line was a scene of confusion, with Imperial and xeno troops intermixed along the line. The high-speed Piranhas roared past the front lines to wreck havoc among support units to the rear, while the Sentinel squadron engaged the Crisis Suits in a running battle through the forest that dominated the left flank.
As night began to fall, and with the Imperial support troops in the rear threatened, Captain Stark reluctantly ordered a withdrawal.
“The xeno scum did not beat us,” Captain Stark told Imperial news services. “But with our center pierced and night falling, the risk of holding our ground was too high. So we have regrouped at the base of the valley to rearm and prepare for a new offensive. We shall not rest until the xeno threat is destroyed.”
TheGM: Imperial propaganda may declare a draw on this battle, but the Tau actually squeaked out a minor victory. It was a close-run thing. Our club is still struggling to grasp the nuances of Warhammer 40K, and until the last turn, the Imperium actually had more victory points than the Tau. (Killing the Tau warlord and seizing the xeno tower were key Imperial achievements.)
What saved the Tau was desperation. Recognizing defeat was almost inevitable, what appeared to be a suicidal charge at the end actually revealed to our novice players the strength of a Crisis Suit team. With twin-linked burst cannon, the Crisis Suits destroyed a Scout Sentinel by hitting it in the rear–and wiped out an Imperial infantry squad. The destruction of that squad (which denied the Imperium the white tower as an objective), along with a Piranha reaching the Imperial deployment zone, put the Tau ahead by one point.
Then it all came to ending the turn. The Crisis Suits advanced (fled?) into the woods to try to survive until the game’s end, and the Sentinels charged in and caused significant damage. But a timely die roll on Turn 7 ended the game–giving the Tau a squeaker win.