Standing beside the towering Icarus Cannon, Captain Caius Velaz watched his command squad as it hurriedly connected power cables and adjusted the auspices that would allow his command squad to target the xeno aircraft reportedly inbound.
“Do we really need the mutant?” whispered the gray-haired sergeant at the officer’s shoulder. “He’s giving me the creeps.”
Velaz turned and looked at the skinny, pale-faced young man sitting on a cargo crate about ten meters away. Dressed in the long robes of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the Imperial-sanctioned psyker muttered to himself, preparing his mind for the demands of battle.
“I know many view such men as abhorrent, but they’re useful,” Velaz answered. “His powers will enhance our targeting auspice and hopefully take away the orks’ advantage in airpower.”
“Maybe so,” the sergeant admitted. “But I’d much rather depend on good, old-fashioned air support from the Navy. Why aren’t there more fighters in the sky?”
Velaz sighed wearily. “Why don’t you go ask the major? I’m sure he’d love to take time out of his preparations to discuss the proper deployment of our military resources.”
The sergeant snorted, as close to a laugh as Velaz had ever heard the sergeant utter.
For Imperial citizens and ork invaders, the war on Hegira recently had settled into a stalemate.
While dozens of massive battles had been fought in the first two years of the war, 737.M41 had been relatively quiet—largely punctuated by skirmishes and small conflicts testing the defenses of both opponents.
The opportunity to change the strategic balance came on 3 600 737.M41, when the orks launched a major attack on the Barad Mine. Leading the attack was yet a new xeno weapon—giant armored Trukks that guardsmen quickly dubbed “Battlewagons”—that the ork invaders clearly hoped would allow them to seize the major mining complex and reopen the invasion route to the moon’s capital city.
This was a critical battle. If the xenos seized the mine, they could threaten not only the capital but Palatine Space Port, which was essential to the Imperial defense of the moon. On the other hand, if the Imperial Guard held, the victory likely could cause sufficient casualties to the ork invaders that a counterattack—and a march south—would give the Imperium a chance to drive back the orks for good.
- Major Usiel Pask, warlord and tank commander (great-great-grandfather of the renown Knight Commander Pask who commanded Imperial armor in the last century of M41).
- Company Command Squad, under Captain Caius Velaz, possessing Kurov’s Aquilla (which confers Preferred Enemy to troops within range)
- Primaris Psyker
- 2 x Platoon Command Squads
- 5 x Infantry Squads (two with autocannons, a third deployed in Valkyrie)
- 2 x Veteran Squads in Chimeras
- Scout Sentinel Squadron (3 walkers)
- 2 x Lemon Russ Battle Tanks
- Lemon Russ Exterminator
- Hydra tracked anti-air gun
- Aegis Defense Line with Icarus Lascannon
- Battlewagon, with Zzap Gun, Rokkits, and Extra Armor (20 boyz)
- Battlewagon w/Kill Kannon, Zzap Gun, Rokkits (12 boyz)
- 3 x Grot Tanks
- Dakkajet with Suppa Shootas
- Looted Wagon with Rocket and Big Shoota
- Looted Wagon with Rokkit and Scorcha
- Gretchin (12) in Trukk
- Kommandos (6) in Trukk
- Boyz (12) in Trukk
- Gretchin in Looted Wagon
- Lootas (6)
- Tank Bustas (6)
- Stormboyz (5)
- Boyz (12) in Trukk
- 2 x DeffKoptas with Rokkits
- 3 x Warbuggies (2 with Rokkits, 1 with Big Shoota) and 12 Boyz
IMPERIAL TACTICAL THINKING
- The position would allow the deployment of an Icarus Lascannon, which accompanied by a Hydra anti-aircraft gun, would provide a strong counter to ork aircraft, perhaps the most threatening units in the ork military force.
- It would protect a strong firing line of infantry, backed up by autocannons, that would pose a strong central defense against ork attack.
- The firepower of this position would be supplemented by a company command squad with Kurov’s Aquilla, giving nearby units the Preferred Enemy bonus, and by the presence of a Psyker with Prescience, which would provide the all-important reroll of To-Hit dice.
- Deployed in the center of the table, the defensive position also would prove a useful defense to flanking enemy units.
While the defensive center threatened the orks with firepower, Imperial armor, supported by Veterans in Chimeras, would advance to threaten the ork flanks—or force the orks to divert troops from the Imperial center to respond to the flank threats. A squadron of Sentinel Scouts and infantry embarked on the Valkyrie also would threaten the ork rear from the reserves.
Infantry on foot would support each flank attack, spreading out troops behind the advancing Chimeras to prevent outflanking xenos from entering the battlefield.
ORK TACTICAL THINKING
It is unclear what—if any—sentient thought went into the ork battle plan. It was clear the orks intended to advance all across their battle line, using terrain as feasible to protect their sizable mechanized force. Clearly speed was intended to allow the xenos to cross the battlefield and seek a decision through hand-to-hand assault of the Imperial line.
Significant forces—DeffKoptas, Kommandos, Warbuggies, and Stormboyz—would seek to disrupt the Imperial line through Deep Strikes and Outflanking maneuvers.
The heavy terrain on the battlefield greatly influenced the battle. Desert mesas and ruins provided significant cover for the orks and severely hampered Imperial lines of fire, particularly to the front of the Imperial Guard’s Aegis Defense Lines.
NOTE: All references to flanks are based on the Imperial perspective. For example, when describing an ork unit on the “right flank,” the description refers to the right side of the tactical maps, which reflect the Imperial viewpoint.
Yet the terrain also hampered ork mobility, much to their Warlord’s dismay. On the right flank of the battlefield, there were choke points to limit the ork advance. This proved pivotal, as the orks chose to concentrate their heaviest concentration of armor on this flank.
Supporting the Aegis Defense Lines was Major Pask in a Battle Tank and the Exertminator. A second Battle Tank, supported by infantry and mechanized Veterans, were placed to advance up the right flank and block a choke point between two ruins.
The Hellhound, also supported by infantry and Veterans, were positioned on the left flank. The Valkyrie and Scout Sentinels were kept in reserve.
The majority of the ork mechanized force—2 x Battlewagons, a Trukk, and 2 Deff Dreads—were deployed on the right flank and center. The Lootas were deployed in the ruins to the rear of the ork deployment zone, with a Looted Wagon with Gretchin and Truck to the left of the central ruins. A second Looted Wagon was deployed alone on the left flank.
The remainder of the ork forces were deployed in reserve.
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