“Xenos on our tail! We’ve been outlflanked!”
The shrill warning shouted across the vox sent a shock through the armored column that was confidently advancing up the right flank.
A young lieutenant, looking as if he was barely old enough to shave, turned and saw the ork DeffKoptas diving down on his position, with several Warbuggies kicking up sand as they moved around behind him.
I screwed up, he thought to himself. So concerned about taking casualties, he’d hidden his men in the shadow of the Battle Tank as they’d advanced, forgetting his orders to secure the flank.
As the Deff Koptas opened fire, the young officer hoped he’d be the first to die. He didn’t want to live to see his men slaughtered by his mistake.
IMPERIAL TURN THREE
On the right flank, the Lemon Russ fires at the Battlewagon but the shot simply bounces off the thick xenophobic armor. The Chimea fires at the flank of the same Battlewagon, but a very lucky shot is needed to penetrate the vehicle’s thin armor—and there is no luck left for this flank.
The rear hatch of the Chimera drops to the ground, and its embarked squad of Veterans runs down the ramp and target the DeffKoptas, shooting down one. Screaming war cries, they charge the second xeno aircraft as it flies barely shoulder height above the ground, but they fail to bring it down.
On the far flank, another massive number of Sentinel and Chimera multi-laser shots target the Looted Wagon yet leave it unharmed, just as the Imperial infantry run across the xeno vehicle’s front firing arc. The infantry had assumed the Sentinels would destroy the armed vehicle. They were wrong, and now they are vulnerable.
The Hellhound continues to target the ork center. It advances and targets the Lootas lurking in the rear ruins and kills four. The Lootas’ morale breaks, and they flee.
Imperial air support finally arrives. Ignoring the Dakkajet, however, a sole Valkyrie turns on the threatened Imperial right flank. Despite firing two missile pods and its multi-laser, the aircraft manages to destroy only one Warbuggie and damage another.
Time to go in for the kill, the ork Warlord thought, bellowing at his Boyz to charge.
“Shoot and chop! Shoot and chop!” That was the extent of the Warlord’s tactical advice to his Boyz, as the three-meter-tall xeno ran forward.
To his front, the orks of his Battlewagon charged into the humies’ barricade. Surely the humie commander would be there, hiding in fear of his fighters behind some wall, he thought.
To his right, he could see in the distance that more Boyz were charging the barricades, while the remaining Deff Dread slashing at a humie tank.
“That’s the spirit, Boyz!” the Warlord bellowed. “Shoot and chop!”
ORK TURN THREE
The crisis of the battle was at hand as the orks finally began to bring their Boyz into charge range of the Imperial line.
On the right flank, a mob of Boyz leap out of a BattleWagon and charge the infantry squad adjacent to the Battle Tank. The fire of the Boyz, coupled with the WarBuggies, diminish the squad’s numbers, so that when the Boyz close into the assault, the entire squad is destroyed.
The DeffKopta hovers over the Veterans on the same flank, the pilot swinging with a chop and killing two homies.
In the center orks charge to the Aegis Line, wiping out an Imperial platoon command squad that had attempted to man the Icarus Lascannon and maintain anti-air fire. The command squad is annihilated.
Nearby, another ork squad disembarks from a Truck and charges an infantry squad on the left flank of the Aegis Line. Despite taking some casualties, the orks wipe out the homies and advance inside the Imperial defenses.
This attack is supported by a Deff Dread, which survives the fire of the Exterminator Tank and begins to slice off bits of armor with its power claws.
Deeper behind oak lines, a Truck moves forward toward the Hellhound and brazenly deploys its cargo of Boyz and Weird Boy in the dangerous vehicle’s path. The Weird Boy dances a strange jig, mutters in coherently, and a beam of Warp energy shoots out of his eyes and strikes the Hellhound, stunning its crew.
On the left flank, a Truck appears behind Imperial lines and disembarks its contingent of Kommandos. The Dakkajet turns and provides long-distance support fire to the orks charging the right side of the Aegis Line. Surprisingly, the fire manages to destroy the humie Autocannon.
The center of the Imperial line was close to collapse. Ordering his tank to spin about, Major Pask targeted the orks sweeping over the Aegis Line.
Nearby, he could see a Valykrie descend to drop off its cargo of troops. To fire his Battle Cannon close by would risk both the aircraft and its precious guardsmen, but if the line was to hold, Pask would have to risk it.
“Load high explosive round!” he bellowed, taking his time to adjust is targeting array. If he missed with this shot, the battle was as good as lost.
“HE round loaded” Pask heard. With a whispered prayer to the Emperor, he pulled the trigger, and the roar of the battle cannon deafened him.
IMPERIAL TURN FOUR
The center of the Imperial was breaking, and everything now depended on the ability of the Imperial Guard to hold the line.
Major Pask turns his Battle Tank and fires at the orks crossing the center of the Aegis Line. Alas, the tank commander misses despite his prayers, and the stray shot strikes the Hydra and stuns its crew, while the shockwave of the blast kills the Psyker nearby.
The Exterminator manages to back up a few meters and takes a point-blank shot at the Deff Dread, tearing off one arm but failing to stop the xenophobic walker.
The guardsmen who drop from the Valkyrie fire volley after volley at the orks to their front. They are joined by the infantry squad still standing behind the Aegis Line, and their combined fire wipe out the oak threat. It looks as if the right half of the Aegis Line is holding.
To the far right of the battlefield, the Battle Tank attempts to target the orks around it, but the shot only takes off a few xeno heads before burying itself in the desert sand without exploding.
The Veterans continue to strike at the hovering DeffKopta but fail to do much damage.
In the center, the Hellhound turns and targets a group of Grot Tanks. No damage is done.
On the left flank, the Sentinels finally take down the Looted Wagon, while Veterans disembark from a Chimera and wipe out the Kommandos with shotgun fire.
A sea of orks surrounded the few surviving Veteran guardsmen on the right flank.
“Shoulder to shoulder, men!” shouted a sergeant as the took the head off an ork with his chainsword. “Form a circle.”
A lot of good that’ll do, thought one private as he parried the choppa swing of a greenskin with his shotgun. The squad was surrounded and outnumbered three-to-one.
A scream to his left caused him to turn, just in time to see an ork rip the head from the shoulders of a comrade. The private felt like vomiting, but a moment later, a slugga round slammed into his chest and exited through his back, severing his spine and leaving his heart little more than mush.
No longer aware of the violence around him, the private fell to his knees then flopped over, soon to be crushed under the feet of the fearsome xenos that advanced to slaughter those guardsmen still standing.
ORK TURN FOUR
On the right flank, the combination of DeffKoptas, Warbuggies, and Boyz prove too much for the Veterans that remain on the field. Half a dozen are killed by a massive charge, with the few survivors quickly run down and slaughtered.
With his Boyz killed to his front, the Warlord stands alone … until the surprised teleportation of the Weirdboy puts the Psyker next to his leader. Together, they manage to kill a handful of guardsmen with Warp fire and slugga rounds.
In the center, with the Weird Boyz departure, the Boyz decide the Hellhound is best left alone. They turn and charge the infantry squad that’s advanced by the mesa to their left. Their charge wipes out the guardsmen.
Somewhat surprising, the Grot Tanks proved expert shots, these unreliable armored vehicles targeting the Scout Sentinels on the left flank. The surprise appearance of a lone Loota who did not flee adds firepower to the attack, and two of the three Sentinels fall to xeno fire that’s rather unbelievable.
“He’ll live,” the surgeon told the gray-haired sergeant at the aid station.
In the distance, the battle raged on, but as far as the grizzled NCO was concerned, the day had been saved. For two weary kilometers, he carried his severely injured commander across the desert sands in the hopes of saving his life.
“Will he be able to resume his duties at some point?” the sergeant asked, secretly afraid Capt. Velaz would be crippled and discharged.
“His recovery will take months—and he’ll have more than his share of scars—but he’s not done serving the Emperor quite yet,” the surgeon offered. He patted the sergeant on the shoulder reassuredly then turned to treat the next in a long line of patients.
Imperial guardsmen—particularly sergeants—don’t cry. But sometimes it takes a real effort to maintain one’s composure. The sergeant sighed, turned, and headed back to the battlefield. The war wasn’t won yet.
BATTLE RESULT: DRAW
TheGM: What an exciting battle! I had a plan, and I think it was a good one. I had a strong firing position in the middle of the battlefield, which played to the strength of Imperial firepower, but I didn’t just sit back and give the orks the initiative.
My two flanking advances forced the orks to respond, although I royally screwed up by forgetting to use my infantry to screen the table edges and prevent ork reserves from outflanking my positions. I allowed myself stupidly to be outflanked on both flanks!
(Get me a commissar and a firing squad. Someone forgot their orders!)
Technically, we didn’t get a formal decision, as we quit after Turn Four because of time constraints and the fact that, under Purge the Alien, we were nearly tied on destroyed units. But while the orks had done well so far, my armor was untouched, and I was going to rack up some victory points on Turn Five. So the Gaffer conceded.
I wouldn’t normally be comfortable calling it a victory under these conditions. It was looking like a draw to me. But, whether a draw or Imperial victory, the campaign rules say the initiative passes to the Imperium. So the early end didn’t seem to affect the “larger impact” of the battle.
So, next time around, the Imperium is on the attack … and I want the Tarak Mines back.
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