“Striking north from the port city of Aruna, Imperial forces have driven the Tau invaders from the nearby Omao Plantation—and are currently driving the xenos north through the Aruna River Valley.”—Imperial Voxcast, 3 738 738.M41.
Imperial Voxcast: On the moon of Dar Sai, the 738th Cadian Regiment, supported by the 4th Regiment of the Planetary Defense Force and two squads of Astartes, launched a massive attack on Tau forces centered around the Omao Plantation north of the port city of Aruna. Tau forces were defeated after a savage battle.
The Imperial attack began at dawn with a long-range duel by artillery and armored forces. It’s reported that at least one Lemon Russ tank managed to hit a Tau Hammerhead tank with its battle cannon but failed to do any damage, while another Lemon Russ was hit by the weaponry of a Hammerhead tank and Riptide battle suit but also left unharmed.
This exchange of fire continued for some hours. Well aware that Tau tactics called for aerial drops behind Imperial lines, Imperial armor refused to advance until the Tau reserves were committed. As a result, Tau battlesuits and drones eventually deployed to the front of Imperial forces—and only then did Imperial forces move forward.
With confirmation that Tau Crisis Suits had landed in the cornfield to their front, the Imperial left flank finally advanced. Imperial armor and infantry targeted these Crisis Suits and quickly destroyed a squad of three and claimed “First Blood” against the enemy.
In the center of the battlefield, a contingent of Imperial Guard tested the Tau defenses but quickly were bloodied by Crisis Suits and Fire Warriors deployed on a hill that dominated the center. The guardsmen quickly withdrew after suffering significant casualties.
After reorganizing, the Imperial Guard again attempted to advance on the center and almost reached the base of the hill. But a counterattack spearheaded by a Tau Broadside Suit devastated the guardsmen, who once again retreated back to the safety of a forest in their deployment zone.
On the Imperial right flank, any attempt to advance was quickly discouraged by an aggressive advance by Tau transports (Classification: Devilfish) and squadrons of heretical AI-controlled gun drones.
Using an Exterminator-class Lemon Russ as the bulwark of their defense, Imperial troops deployed along the forest’s edge for cover and hammered the advancing Tau. Despite a fierce attack that saw the Tau come within meters of the Imperial lines, the right flank held. Tau losses were severe and the Tau warlord (in a Crisis Suit) was slain.
For a time, it appeared that the battle would end in stalemate. But the Imperial advance on the right flank, stymied by the accurate fire of a Hammerhead tank (which destroyed the leading Lemon Russ tank and a Hellhound) managed to break through the Tau line.
The loss of the Lemon Russ tank, just as it seized an objective deep in Tau territory, seemed to put an Imperial victory out of reach. But in a stunning case of courageous fortitude, a Platoon Command Squad of the 14th Company had the honor of seizing the objective at the last moment and forcing the xenos to withdraw northward.
Imperial Victory Points: 3 objectives (9 v.p.) + First Blood (1 v.p.) + Slay the Warlord (1 v.p.) + Linebreaker (1 v.p.) = 12 v.p.
Tau Victory Points: 2 objectives (6 v.p)
TheGM: After having been slaughtered by the Tau time after time, I’ve learned two things about fighting them while still using 7th Edition: (1) have lots of high-strength, low-AP weapons, and (2) stay close to your edge of the table until the Tau’s mobile forces (Crisis Suits, Stealth Suits, and Drones) in reserve are committed.
That sounds so easy, but there’s a danger to skulking in your corner. Some reserves don’t arrive until Turn 3 or 4, and if you wait too long, you don’t have enough time to advance and seize objectives.
That almost happened in this battle. I was fortunate in positioning two of five objectives in my deployment zone. But I needed a third to cement victory. Two objectives were deep in Tau territory. Another was evenly placed between our deployment zones, but because of terrain and my deployment, I couldn’t bring enough force to bear to take it. The Tau on the central hill just shot me to pieces.
My only hope was an objective on the left flank—deep in Tau territory. Fortunately, the Tau were lightly deployed on that flank, and I had a concentration of force. Some aggressive shooting early on weakened the Tau flank, and in the latter turns, I pushed forward aggressively.
I almost didn’t make it. My command Chimera was bogged down in a cornfield, and a Lemon Russ tank that Flat Out! managed to reach a key objective but was destroyed by the combined fire of a Hammerhead and Riptide.
Victory only was ensured when my Platoon Command Squad rolled well for running and barely made it within range of the objective on the last turn. As it turned out, I already had a tie ensured with First Blood, Linebreaker, and Slay the Warlord results. But I only realized that after the battle ended. Having the command squad secure the objective on the last turn—and guarantee victory—was an exciting, desperate. and last-minute seizure of victory.
Great fun . . . and Aruna appears saved.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.