“All units! The right flank has collapsed. Withdrawal procedure Alpha-Beta-Five-Two is in effect. Do not panic. If you expect to survive, you’ll fight your way out. Anyone who breaks ranks will be shot without mercy.”—Final broadcast of Captain Donian Tellis, acting commander at the Third Battle of the Tarak Mines
The Bullgryns arrive
It was a hastily contrived mission. With no serious tactical solution to the Stompa’s presence, Klein—before he was incapacitated—had ordered a surgical strike by a rarely used asset on the front line. He ordered a small number of Valkyries to carry a squad of Bullgryns behind enemy lines to strike at the Stompa with demolition charges.
It was almost certainly a suicide mission for the giant, cognitively impaired abhumans. Towering a meter above other guardsmen, the Bullgryns each were armed with grenade launchers and demolition charges.
After the Valkyries had flown past the worst of the dogfighting, they dropped quickly and unloaded their massive troopers—then took off again to add their weapons fire to the assault against the Stompa.
Several units of orks targeted the Bullgryns, who raised giant slab shields and plowed into the orks. For once, the greenskins discovered that their muscular build—normally so effective against mere guardsmen—were no match for the giant abhumans. Within minutes, the ork defensive line had disappeared, and the attack on the Stompa began.
It did not work out as planned. Although the Stompa was distracted by the Valkyries, a support group of Imperial Guards—who had worked their way forward on the eastern flank—were discovered by the ork reserve and wiped out.
The Valkyries, meanwhile, discovered their weapons were no better than Tellis’ battle cannon in penetrating the Stompa’s armor. When the Bullgryns began their assault, their last sight was the large leg of the mega-walker rising up, casting a large shadow, and then a metallic foot dropping on their heads.
Bullgryns are known for their hard heads. But even their thick skulls could not bear the weight of three hundred tons of ork steel.
The western flank collapses
The fate of the Tarak Mines hung by a thread when disaster struck. Although its right flank was well guarded, the Imperial Guard was unprepared for the large contingent of Warbuggies, Deffkoptas, and looted Guard vehicles that swept over the sand dunes and struck hard at the Imperial line.
At the same moment, ork Stormboyz dropped from the skies onto the damaged command bunker. Thankfully, Col. Klein had been evacuated, but the surviving members of the command squad had managed to keep the bunker’s Icarus Pattern Lascannon firing—and they took the full force of the Stormboyz’s attack.
The fight was bloody and hand to hand. Each of the Stormboyz was the equal of any five guardsmen, and it was only when reinforcements arrived with flamethrowers that the Stormboyz were stopped.
But this attack was all the distraction needed. With so many of the regiment’s reserves drawn to the fighting at the heart of the Imperial defenses, too few arrived to bolster the orks’ flank attack.
It was an attack that was as deadly as a bayonet plunged into a man’s belly. The outer screen of guardsmen were swept aside, as they lacked the anti-armor weaponry to deal with such a large number of vehicles. Flamethrowers on looted wagons swept aside the infantry ranks and opened a gap quickly exploited by ork Kommandos.
Soon, the Imperial flank began to cave inward. Pressed to the front by constant ork attacks, and pressured on the flank by the mechanized assault, the Imperial line collapsed. As if by signal, the surviving guardsmen fled for their lives, harassed for kilometers by chasing Warbuggies, strafing runs from Dakkajets, and long-range fire from the Stompa. Casualties were immense.
The Imperial Guard had not just lost the Tarak Mines—they had suffered a crushing defeat.
TheGM—Ouch. The final score was 7-1. The scenario was The Emperor’s Will, with a single objective in each deployment zone. The Gaffer managed to capture both objectives (3 v.p each) and Linebreaker (1 v.p.) All I managed was First Blood for an early shot on a Killa Kan.
The Stompa was a dominating force on the battlefield, but the battle remained competitive until the ork flank attack was launched. It was devastating.
Over the past two years, the Gaffer has been at a disadvantage (although frighteningly effective) because he lacked the troops for an effective flank attack. (His frontal assaults, while well played, were more vulnerable to my firepower.)
We both knew that once he added Stormboyz, Kommandos, Warbuggies, and Deffkoptas to the mix, things were going to get tougher for the Imperium. And it has. I’m going to need more anti-vehicle firepower to equal the balance.
And I need to do something about that Stompa. While this was our first Apocalypse game, it is possible for the Stompa to include a Lord of War in any battle—so I need to get my Baneblade painted (or should I convert it to a Shadowsword?).
TheGaffer–The tide was definitely turning against orks most recently. TheGM (who is a prolific painter) had over a year to learn to use his forces and hone his defensive tactics. That’s starting to change as I paint up the specialist units, especially flankers. He is going to have a tough time sitting in the defense and leaving me the initiative.
I had put about half my army in reserve to use my flankers at their full potential. Ironically, I had been cursing the dice because they simply refused to come onto the table. On the other hand, I was worried they would come on in dribs and drabs and get destroyed piece meal by the Imperial firepower. But when turn four came, everyone piled into the Imperial flanks all at once. A devastating turn of events.
I must also thank the GM for encouraging me to buy the stompa at a convention last summer. It was a steal at about %50 off. I’m in the process of magnetizing the arms so I can change out the weapons.
At the moment, my painting is on hold, but is due to start up again soon. What other deviltry does Shmitty the Mek have in store for the Imperials? Time will soon tell!
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our wargaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.