IMPERIAL NEWS SERVICE (3 820 737.M41)—Naval authorities report that the battle against the Tau navy continues to rage above Dar Sai. Several Imperial vessels have been damaged, but recent reports suggest Fleet Corvus is holding the xenos at bay …
10:15 (Imperial Turn Two)
Port weapons batteries on each cruiser open fire on Squadron Or’es. The Sword of Retribution was awarded credit for destroying a Castallan-class Escort.
The surviving Imperial ordinance launched an hour earlier finally strikes home against the two large Tau cruisers. Torpedoes cause significant and critical damage to the Io’Pak, disabling its thrusters, while six bombers target the Io’Tor but are destroyed or driven off by the ship’s small weapons turrets.
On the Imperial right flank, the 35th and 22nd squadrons reach the edge of the asteroid field and begin to turn toward the battle.
On the left flank, the 117th Squadron—now behind the Tau—turns sharply and opens fire on the stern of the xeno ships. Given the speed of the Tau, as well as their orientation away from the squadron, the Imperial fire has no discernible effect.
10:45 (Tau Turn Two)
With enemy ships in range, the Tau open fire. Both the Sword of Retribution and Incendrius are hit repeatedly, but while damage is done, the full fury of the xeno weapon strikes are deflected by the Imperial ships’ shields.
On the Tau right flank, the sizable force under the command of the Vashya turns to port, seeking to circle behind the advancing Imperial main force. Alas, the Imperial ships are out of range of Tau weapons.
11:15 (Imperial Turn Three)
Torpedoes are fired by The Emperor’s Fist, as well as the still-distant but approaching 35th and 22nd squadrons on the Imperial right flank. All are targeted at the Io’Pak, and the Tau capital vessel is severely damaged, despite an effective defense by the ship’s small-weapons turrets.
The Sword of Retribution again reveals its superior fire control with a direct hit on a second frigate-sized ship belonging to Squadron Or’es.
On the Imperial left flank, the 117th Frigate Squadron turns away from the Tau flotilla commanded by the Vashya—and instead turns toward the center of the battle to support the Imperial capital ships.
11:45 (Tau Turn Three)
The Io’Pak and Io’Tor, along with Squadron Mor’la, target the Sword of Retribution and Incendrius yet again. Torpedoes and railgun batteries eventually wear down the vessels’ shields and rip into the starboard side of both ships.
The Incendrius is critically damaged, with its bridge destroyed and its captain killed. The Sword of Retribution takes critical damage to its engine room.
11:45 (Imperial Turn Four)
The vessel eventually is consumed in fire as the nova cannon of The Emperor’s Fist strikes the vessel in the vicinity of its engine room.
The last surviving ship of Squadron Or’es finally succumbs to the combined volley of the Sword of Retribution and the 99th Destroyer Squadron. The Incendrious and Minataur, along with the 117th Frigate squadron, target Squadron Mor’la and destroy a second Tau frigate-sized vessel.
12:15 (Tau Turn Four)
With the loss of a cruiser-class ship, the Io’Pak, and five smaller ships in squadrons Mor’la and Or’es, the Tau center is largely gone and its remaining vessels threatened with encirclement and destruction.
The wing of the Tau fleet commanded by the Vashya finally reaches a position where it can join the fight, but the Tau commander recognizes that the fight is lost.
The order is given to withdraw. The Imperial fleet, with two capital ships critically damaged, are happy to let the xenos go.
TheGM: This battle was fought at the FALL IN! wargaming convention in Lancaster, PA, in November. My thanks to John, William, Richard, and Michael for playing, and to Andy for helping GM.
Both sides attempted a flanking maneuver, but only the most experienced players could have foreseen how that would play out. The firepower in the center of the battlefield was intense, and the fight was decided before flanking forces could get into the fray.
To those who played, it’s obvious my reporting of the battle is not 100% accurate. In helping to GM, my ability to take notes declined as the battle grew more intense, so the above is a bit of creative license, although it follows my notes and photos of the battle as best as I achieve.
As to the campaign, the Imperial victory means that Commander Swiftstrike on Dar Sai remains isolated, and as Imperial forces grow, the Tau Navy is under pressure to try again to break the blockade of the war-torn moon.
The victory also raises the reputation of Commander Hennard, who was largely considered a pompous ass who needed to be retired. While still rather miserable as a commanding officer, it appears the aging commodore still knows how to fight a battle.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our wargaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.