Al'gel Campaign

Greenclaw launches assault on Tau (Part 1)

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Strategic situation prior to ork assault by Greenclaw’s Mega Mob.

The breakout from the initial invasion beachhead was an exhilarating time for every fire warrior in the Al’gel invasion force. It seemed, for a time, as if the ork threat finally was broken, and that victory was inevitable.

Yet, such optimism was ill-founded. One of the sad truths of the Al’gel Campaign was that every victory was balanced by a reverse, every hope matched by equal disappointment.

It is one of the tragic ironies of the campaign that Commander Bloodsword, for all his towering strategic intellect, would find himself matched against an extraordinarily cunning opponent, an immense and ferocious ork warlord who called himself simply ‘Greenclaw.’  — “The Complete History of the Al’gel Campaign” by Aun’el Mor’kan Tal’is’ta, ethereal caste, Dal’yth Sept, (689-776.M41).

Strategic Background

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The Tau faced fierce ork resistance when it invaded Al’gel II.

On 6 687 735.M41, a large Tau invasion force landed in the southeast region of the main continent of Al’gel II. The invasion was aggressively opposed by the planet’s inhabitants, the be’gel (orks), who managed to confine the invasion-day beachhead to an area approximately 20 kilometers in diameter.

As anticipated, the Tau presence provoked a massive military response from the orks, and the Tau army immediately found itself assailed by constant ork attacks that stymied attempts to “break out” of the initial beachhead.

Well aware that he was being dragged into a war of attrition that could only end in defeat, the Tau commander, Commander Bloodsword, prepared a multi-prong “Deep Strike” behind enemy lines to break the deadlock.

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Tau breakout from invasion beachhead in 736.M41.

This operation began on 6 201 736.M41 and was a great success. Attacked from front and rear, the ork lines were overwhelmed, and the Tau were able to use their maneuverability and superior command control to exploit their breakthrough and maul ork forces.

Within 30 hours, the Tau expanded their perimeter by nearly 4,000 square kilometers and killed an estimated 120,000 orks.

Having achieved his breakthrough, Bloodsword maintained a grueling pace for his fire warriors, pressing the Tau advance for nearly three months. The entire southeast corner of the continent came under Tau control, at a cost of nearly 80,000 Tau casualties. Ork casualties were estimated at 1 million.

Despite such success, ultimately, the campaign ground to a halt. By 6 475 736.M41, nearly half of all Devilfish transports and a third of the army’s Hammerhead tanks were out of action, disabled by battle damage or simply worn out by constant use.

Bowing to the inevitable, Bloodsword ordered his forces to take up defensive positions to regroup, even though it was recognized that this would give the orks time to gather their strength, as well.

Second Naval Battle of Al’gel II

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Ork naval forces challenged Tau control of space in a skirmish near Al’gel V.

The surprise attack on the ork fleet above Al’gel III (Tau crush ork fleet in Al’gel System) destroyed all but a handful of greenskin ships that managed to escape to the outer planets. The need to support the ground invasion precluded pursuit.

On 6 702 736.M41, these ships—accompanied by a handful of ork Freebooterz vessels recruited from the outer planets—made an attack on a Tau patrol.

The ork commander,  a self-styled “Kaptin” Doomacka, ambushed the six-ship patrol as it entered the orbit of Al’gel V. In the subsequent fight, several Tau vessels were destroyed or ultimately scuttled, with the ork’s surviving ships fleeing the system. (Tau and ork ships clash at asteroid KV-9)

Ork Buildup

algel-counterattack-start_edited2

Troop deployment prior to Greenclaw’s assault on Hunter Cadre IV.

On Al’gel II, well aware that he had surrendered the initiative with his army’s regrouping, Bloodsword did not fall victim to complacency. As his Earth Caste cadres worked to refurbish his ground forces, the Tau commander demanded aggressive orbital and aerial surveillance of ork movements.

Military clashes, of course, continued throughout the Tau regrouping. Orks are extremely aggressive, and as individual warlords streamed to the front, they invariably threw their warriors at the Tau lines. But these assaults were launched piecemeal, allowing the Tau to meet each threat without severely straining the Tau fire line. The Tau buildup for the next advance proceeded unhindered, with Broadsword planning operations to begin on 6 700 736.M41.

Yet it was not to be. Preparations for the next stage of the invasion were delayed, and as Al’gel II’s orbit moved slightly closer to the sun, the Tau discovered that the planet’s atmosphere was extremely sensitive to solar radiation. On 6 673 736.M41, rising solar radiation levels caused significant ionization of the upper atmosphere, setting off fierce atmospheric storms characterized by extensive lightning and high-elevation electrical fields that interfered with Tau sensors and grounded Tau aircraft.

Taking advantage of these storms, one ork warlord, Skutax Greenclaw, gathered a sizable force of what the gue’vesa [Tau human allies] call “Speed Freaks”—orks partial to the use of high-speed vehicles in battle. This force was hidden in a forest to the north of Tau Hunter Cadre IV, under the command of Shas’El Ko’vash, a veteran commander of many campaigns.

This enemy troop concentration was suspected by Tau intelligence officers, but the scope of the threat was underestimated. Thus Tau preparations were simply to keep front-line troops on alert.

The upper atmospheric disturbances soon led to wind and rain storms of great severity, making even ground combat all but impossible. Even the orks settled into cover as hurricane-strength winds swept the planet for months, and the battlefront fell quiet across the continent.

Finally, Al’gel II’s orbit began to move away from its sun, and while strong electrical fields kept Tau aircraft grounded, the heavy rains and winds abated. It was clear that a new season of military operations would soon begin. The uncertainty surrounding Greenclaw’s intentions ended on 6 321.737 M41, when a “Mega Mob” of ork mechanized troops launched its assault on Tau Cadre IV.

Click here to read Part 2 of the battle.

Click here to jump to the battle’s conclusion.

Featured Tau artwork (“Communications Array”) courtesy of Ameen Naksewee of the DeviantArt webside. Click here to see more of Ameen’s great art.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our wargaming adventures in the sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

 

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Categories: Al'gel Campaign, History

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2 replies »

  1. The Tau have much larger forces available than I thought taking 80,000 casualties. That sounds bad for a commander to me. I was unaware that the earthlings allied with the Tau. What about the Kroot are they not Mercs for the Tau. Could you not just bring in more Kroot.

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  2. The forces on Al’gel II are immense–along the lines of World War II. It’s an all-out invasion of a world filled with beastial war-loving orks.

    That compares to Dar Sai. The Tau were just testing the waters, to see what the Imperium would do. Maybe 10,000 fire warriors got cut off by the Imperial Navy, so they just decided to be a pest.

    Thankfully for them, the Imperium is putting its resources into dealing with the orks on the important industrial world of Hegira, and leaving the backwater agricultural world of Dar Sai to hold out as best it can. So you could liken the Dar Sai campaign to Rommel’s North Africa campaign–it gets a lot of press, but the number of troops involved pales in comparison to a “real” campaign.

    And the Al’gel Campaign has nothing to do with the Imperium. The Tau simply realized that Al’gel is reaching the point where it may launch a WAAAG! at some point and threaten Tau space, and the Tau wanted to strike first. The invasion, however, is proving a more formidable task than they realized. If the Imperium had its way, both the Tau and orks will do the universe a favor and kill each other off.

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