“A xeno attack on the port city of Aruna was defeated today. Military authorities say the Tau invaders suffered heavy casualties after attacking a portion of the Aruna trench system, which was built by serfs under the direction of the 728th Cadian Regiment. The xenos reportedly have fallen back 10 kilometers to reorganize after their significant defeat.”— IMPERIAL VOXCAST, 3 665 738.M41.
NEWS REPORT, Imperial Daily Bulletin to Citizens
Imperial defenses hold firm against Tau assault
By Amicia Gellena
Bulletin Staff Writer
ARUNA, DAR SAI—Standing in the plasteel-lined trenches defending Aruna, soldiers of the 728th Cadian Regiment at one point found themselves firing to their front and rear—at Tau advancing toward the trenches and at xeno battle suits that had air-dropped behind Imperial lines.
Yet, despite being surrounded, these brave Imperial Guard troopers managed not only to survive but to defeat the xeno invaders.
“The Tau were totally defeated, driven back with heavy casualties, and the city of Aruna now stands defiant,” Captain Stravos Stark, local commander of 728th troops, announced at the end of the day. “The citizens of Aruna can rest easy. The Emperor stands with us.”
Military authorities say that Tau losses were significant, perhaps as high as 50 percent of their total attacking force. Imperial losses were minimal, with the exception of one section of the trench lines that was the target of the Tau’s main assault. There, nearly two-thirds of Imperial troops were killed or wounded.
The defensive line surrounding Aruna was a key factor in the successful repulse of the Tau invaders, Stark acknowledged in a post-battle briefing.
“Over the past few months, we established a line of trenches, bastions, bunkers, and redoubts that were neigh-on insurmountable,” he said. “What’s more, as much as possible, we stripped all vegetation from in front of our lines for nearly a full kilometer.”
The “killing zone,” as military authorities described it, proved its value quickly as Tau forces crossed the open ground and came under fire from battle cannons, auto cannons, and mortar shells. Many xeno units suffered heavy casualties even before coming within range of lasguns wielded by guardsmen in the trenches.
The heavy cover provided by the defense lines proved critical at the center of the Tau attack, which came under the fire of Hammerhead tanks and Riptides—and then came under assault from the front by advancing Fire Warriors and from the rear by Crisis Suits that dropped inside the defensive works.
“At one point, our only hope of survival was to get on our bellies inside the trenches and let the xenos waste their fire,” one guardsmen said. “The plasteel barriers were pockmarked by the xenos’ high-velocity plasma charges.”
Supported by a Lemon Russ tank and two Armored Sentinels, this section of the defenses managed to hold—but casualties were heavy. At battle’s end, the bodies of guardsmen carpeted the floor of the trenches, and hundreds of Kroot and Tau corpses littered the ground on both sides of the trenches.
“The Tau rely heavily on using jetpack-equipped battle suits to drop behind our lines, and we were expecting such an attack,” Stark said. “We had a reserve of veteran troops in a nearby redoubt, along with a special weapons squad armed with meltaguns. The timely intervention of these specialized troops proved critical to preventing deep-striking Crisis Suits from breaking our defensive lines.”
Having suffered heavy casualties in repeated clashes with the Knights of Altair in recent weeks, it appeared that the Tau had sufficient troops for only a single attempt at seizing Aruna, some military personnel suggested.
“They came in hard and fast but lost,” said one officer who insisted on anonymity. “But there was no second wave. That suggests to me that they found the defenses too strong. They may not have sufficient troops for a second attempt. I hope so.”
By the end of the day, a penal battalion had arrived to dig mass graves and move the wounded to emergency medical facilities. The Tau invaders reportedly were withdrawing north toward the Tau-held Omao Plantation, which authorities suggest is the xeno’s current staging area.
TheGM: I haven’t used my fortifications very much, partly because I’ve taken an obscene amount of time getting around to painting them. But I had about four feet of trenches finished, as well as a Firestorm Redoubt..
I set the entrenchments up, put in about 1,700 points of troops, and set up the Tau and Kroot on the far side of the table. Except for two hills, I left the ground bare so there’d be a killing zone for the defenders.
I suspected the fight would be one-sided, but as it was a solo game, I just wanted to see how things would work out. I didn’t give the Tau a preliminary bombardment (a mistake), but I did allow destroyed Tau units to return to the game as reserves.
On one flank, it was clear that infantry alone had no opportunity to break through the Imperial lines, so I gave that up that flank pretty early. On the far flank, where I dropped Crisis Suits and drones behind the lines, a combination of Fire Warriors and armor pretty much wiped out the Imperial Guard in the trenches.
But the cost was high: Veterans and a special weapons team came out of a nearby redoubt to hit the attacking Crisis Suits and gun drones in the rear, while Armored Sentinels hit them from the front. When it was all over, there was hardly any troops left on that half of the game table.
In the end, it was an unfair fight . . . but that’s war, isn’t it? As The Gaffer puts it, I got to “see how the monster works.” Well, fortifications are a tough nut to crack. Lesson learned.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.