Strategic Update

A Strategic Update (Events of 737.M41)

Strategic-Update-737The third year of our narrative campaign witnessed a slight calm in the myriad wars of the Corvus Cluster, yet the narrative of our Warhammer 40k campaign moved forward and expanded in new and exciting directions.

Each year of the campaign is linked to the “real” year. Thus, with the passing of 2017, we also say good-bye to the year 737.M41.

It was a year that saw the strategic situation on Hegira and Dar Sai largely unchanged, with Imperial forces successful in stemming the xeno invasions of orks and Tau.

But other developments threatened to stretch thin Imperial forces. The mysterious Necrons began to stir on Stigmata, and a new infestation was discovered on the world of Dryilian IV.

Perhaps most worrisome, the servants of Chaos—long dormant in the region—gathered their forces. The Warp Storm known as the Heart of Darkness expanded, and the dreaded sorcerer, Voloh Gudag, has returned to the Corvus Cluster, accompanied by no less than Typhus, the champion of the Chaos God Nurgle.

Here’s a summary of what occurred this year:

Imperial forces hold the line on Hegira

The year began on an ominous note, as a massive ork force surged from the Iron Spires on 3 003 757.M41 to attack the Imperial defense lines at the Tarak Mines.

The greenskin attack was spearheaded by a Stompa, a Titan-sized walker making its first appearance in the war. Although the Stompa’s firepower dominated the battlefield, an ork victory was ensured by a flank attack spearheaded by War Buggies and Deffkoptas. (Tarak Mines fall to massive greenskin attack)

Battle damage kept the Stompa out of the next battle, an ork attempt to advance north to Hegira’s largest industrial complex, the Barad Mine.

Setting up a massive firing line of heavy weaponry, Captain Cauis Velaz eliminated much of the greenskin mechanized force within the first minutes of the battle, leaving the ork warbands to cross a mile-wide killing zone. After suffering massive casualties, the orks withdrew. (Orks repulsed at Barad Mine)

Greatly weakened, the orks assumed a defensive position for much of the rest of the year. One exception was a small but bloody fight over tall ruins being used by ork artillery observers overlooking the Barad Mine.

On 3 362 737.M41, a battalion of Hegira PDF attempted to seize those ruins and were slaughtered, due to an indecisive commander and heavy terrain that limited the ability of Imperial troops to bring the xenos under fire before they were upon them. (Hegira PDF slaughtered at Barad Mine)

The last gasp of the ork offensive for the year was once again fought at the Barad Mine, when a “Speed Freaks” army of Battlewagons, Trukks, War Buggies, and Deff Dreads attacked the Imperial lines.

Fought on 3 600 737.M41, the orks were stopped by a combination of fortifications, armored vehicles, and mechanized veteran troops. (Orks stopped again at Barad Mine)

Speaking of fortifications, Imperial authorities reported that work was proceeding quickly on a line of fortifications to block the armor-friendly invasion route across the Sea of Dust. (Hegria trench lines expand against ork threat)

Nearly 736 kilometers across, this line of trenches, bastions, redoubts, and bunkers promised to make the flat, dusty open ground impossible to cross.

Indeed, after such a relatively limited offensive effort by the xeno invaders, Imperial intelligence officials are hopeful that, despite the orks’ capacity to replace their combat losses, the ever-increasing number of Imperial reinforcements are turning the strategic tide.

Strategic balance is unchanged on Dar Sai

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An Imperial warship in orbit over Dar Sai. The Tau would challenge the Imperial blockade of the war-torn moon but retreat in defeat.

Military action also settled into a stalemate on the moon of Dar Sai. where an Imperial naval blockade has cut the supply line of the Tau invaders—and forced the xenos to severely restrict their military efforts.

What fighting did occur centered around the Imperial defense lines surrounding the port city of Pradeep. For much of the summer, small Tau and Imperial  units engaged in a series of skirmish actions in what was known as “no man’s land.” (Fierce skirmish action outside Pradeep)

One singular feature of these small actions was the arrival of a small contingent of the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter. The Sons of Sanguinous were victorious in almost every military action they were engaged in, a sign of Imperial military superiority that greatly bolstered the morale of Pradeep’s defenders.

Another Space Marine Chapter, the Knights of Altair, also showed the power of a Space Marine Chapter when it countered an attack on Pradeep by the Tau, and despite heavy winds that left almost every aerial drop off target—and some armor that was bogged down by muddy soil—the Astartes managed to stop the Tau. (Space Marines stop Tau attack at Pradeep)

Perhaps the most strategically significant battle of the year occurred on 3 820 737.M41, when Fleet Corvus, under the command of Commodore Gadea Hennard, defeated a large Tau fleet that attempted to break the blockade surrounding the moon. The Tau suffered heavy losses in the hard-fought battle. (Tau fail to break Dar Sai blockade)

Typhus and Voloh Gudag spread the Kassig Plague

Voloh Gudag

A half-dozen worlds have been devastated by the Kassig Plague, a virulent, Warp-tainted disease that destroys the minds of its victims and turns them into hyper-violent, half-dead creatures that subsequently run amok across a planet.

The plague was first introduced to the word of Hedera by the Chaos sorcerer Voloh Gudag, who had fled the Corvus Cluster three decades earlier after his near-capture by the Knights of Altair. (Plague sorcerer returns to Corvus Cluster)

Imperial rule quickly collapsed on the planet after Chaos worshippers opened a rift into the Warp, allowing Daemons to enter the Material Universe and bring untold destruction to the world.

As alarming, Typhus, the champion of the Chaos God Nurgle, attacked the shrine world of Celestius, clearly in coordination with Gudag. The most recent atrocity was the arrival of the Kassig Plague on Dozaria. This Chaos attack currently is being challenged by the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter and is being called the Battle of Flies because of the swarm of plague-infected, insectoid-like Daemons that are attacking the planet’s major population centers.

Heart of Darkness expands

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The Heart of Darkness has become increasingly turbulent and dangerous in recent months.

One of the most significant developments of the year was the major expansion of the Heart of Darkness, a longstanding Warp Storm that now stains the skies of every planet in the Corvus Cluster with an eerie reddish glow. (Warp storm activity raises fears)

Particularly disturbing is that planets dozens of light years apart reported the Warp Storm’s expansion on the same date—6 135 737.M41—even though it should have taken years for the light of the storm’s change in appearance to reach those worlds.

The phenomenon suggests the Heart of Darkness may be entering a new period of instability. That is viewed as a serious threat by Imperial Authorities. Warp storms can obscure the signal of the Astronomican, increasing the danger that starships will be thrown off course—or even lost to the Warp.

Even worlds are threatened. On occasion, warp storms have been known to engulf a star system, dooming its planets as they are tainted by the mysterious and sentient energies of the Warp.

Tau confront new threat on Al’gel II


The strategic situation just before Greenclaw launched his massive assault on the 4th Hunter Cadre on Al’gel II.

The first year of the Tau invasion of Al’gel II was highly successful, with the forces of Commander Bloodsword seizing more than a third of the main continent of the ork-occupied planet.

Eventually, the Tau were forced to pause to consolidate their war-weary forces, and in their overconfidence, they failed to recognize that a new ork leader, known as Greenclaw, was marshaling forces for a major assault.

When the attack finally occurred on 6 321.737 M41, led by walkers and Trukks, the orks quickly broke through a lightly defended section of the Tau lines and threatened to force the Tau into a major retreat. (Greenclaw launches assault on Tau)

Fortunately, Bloodsword responded quickly with his reserves, and while the orks achieved a strategic surprise, they ultimately lost the tactical battle.

Two notable details of the fight: First, the commander of Hunter Cadre IV, Shas’El Ko’vash, was removed from command after his forces were mauled by the greenskins, despite the fact that Bloodsword had ignored Ko’vash’s warnings that his force was threatened.

Second, the tactical finesse shown by Greenclaw in launching his surprise attack raises the prospect that the orks have a cunning new commander on the field.

Inquisition discovers Necrons on Dryilian IV


A line of Necron warriors advance on the Inquisition Team on Dryilian IV.

The ramifications of the visit to Stigmata by Rogue Trader Adeon Drake and the Tech Priest known as Agnuightus made itself felt in 737.M41.

This visit awoke the sleeping Necrons of that world, and not long after, Imperial authorities picked up a distress call from outpost DY732, in orbit over nearby Dryilian IV. The space station indicated it was under attack by mysterious xenos, which subsequently destroyed an Imperial Navy force sent to the rescue.

This disaster sparked a reconnaissance mission by an Inquisition Team led by Approbator  Adonai Drusus. Supported by Squad Quintas of the Knights of Altair and Abnightus, Drusus initially found the outpost empty, with its crew mysteriously gone—then stumbled upon a Necron presence on the Imperial base.

After a running fight back to their ship, Drusus destroyed the outpost with his ship’s weapons batteries. But discovering a mysterious energy source on the planet’s surface, the Inquisitor-in-training decided to investigate and seek answers as to the outpost crew’s fate.

What Drusus found was a vast underground Necron base—possibly evidence that Dryilian IV is a tomb world—but he was forced to retreat before he could explore further. Out of 23 members of the Inquisition expedition, only Brother-Sergeant Quintas, Drusus, and Abnightus survived to escape. (Escape from Dryilian IV)

Mutant threat grows on Morkai

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A mutant of Morkai.

A mutant terrorist group calling themselves “The Twisted Helix” detonated a virus bomb on the 112th level of Golgenna, a hive city and planetary capital of the dying world of Morkai. Nearly 20,000 citizens were killed in the attack. (Rumors of the Underhive: 3 700 737,M41)

Later in the year, the mutants occupied a portion of the lone caravan route that links the hive city of Totallia with the rest of the planet’s major population centers. The mutants were strong enough to repulse a military attack launched by Imperial authorities, and Totallia remains a city isolated and threatened.

New names shape the Corvus Cluster

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A Balar Slaver.

Balar Slavers: Long a threat to the Corvus Cluster, the Balar Slavers, a dangerous confederation of pirates and brigands, became increasingly active over the year. One warband of Slavers attacked the desolate world of Kerebos. (Rumors of the Underhive 3 036 737.M41)

The Slavers suffered a bloody setback, however, when they raided the agri-world of Korbal. The Rogue Trader Adeon Drake, who for unknown reasons has actively opposed Slaver activity in the past, arrived on the backwater world and wiped out the Slaver raiding party and rescued scores of Imperial citizens who had been imprisoned. (Victims of Slaver attack rescued by Rogue Trader)

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Guidonis Bernard

Confessor Guidonis Bernard: A evangelical zealot who has sparked public unrest on dozens of worlds, this Imperial Priest has arrived in the Corvus Cluster to spread the Imperial Creed to the populace—whether they like it or not.

Although his presence is looked upon with dread by Imperial governors across the Sector, Bernard currently is proving useful—having joined the fighting on the plague-stricken world of Dozaria. (Confessor Bernard threatens holy war)

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Jason Scarn

Bounty Hunter Jason Scarn: Another individual who is likely to influence the fate of the Corvus Cluster is Jason Scarn. a brutish, cold-hearted, but talented bounty hunter who has lately come to the attention of the Inquisition.

It is likely that the Lady Serillian has personally recruited (ie. blackmailed) Scarn to serve the Imperium. (Bounty Hunter Jason Scarn)

TheGM: It’s been a great year for the Corvus Cluster, and it’s been a surprise to see how the narrative story of our campaign has gone in directions never anticipated at the beginning of 737.M41. Now, with a new calendar year, beginning, who knows what’s in store? I hope you’ll follow along with us.

With much appreciation, the Corvus Cluster acknowledges the artists who allowed us to use the artwork in this blog. Click on their names to visit their collection of art on the website. (Many artists on DeviantArt use an avatar-like moniker, so some artist names may appear unusual.)

Artwork, titled “Defcopta,” that appears in the top montage is courtesy of Comrade-Ogilvi.

Artwork, titled “Necron Battle Formation,” that appears in the montage is courtesy of Eduardo Rivera (KaneNash).

Artwork, titled “Tau Tropic Thunder,” that appears in the montage is courtesy of Eric Tan (thevampiredio).

The navel vessel artwork, titled “Warhammer 40K Battle-Barge Calderis,” is courtesy of Michael Arenander (Taumich).

The Voloh Gudag artwork, titled “Warlock,” is courtesy of Nuttavut Baiphowangse (Baizilla).

Photo of the nebula used for the Heart of Darkness is courtesy of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, La Palma.

The mutant artwork, titled “Desert Nomad,” is courtesy of Navroz Lai (Naznamy).

The artwork for the Balar Slavers, titled, “Hellhound,” is courtesy of Jason Heuser (SharpWriter).

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

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