The calendar of the Corvus Cluster is linked to the “real” year. So, with the passing of 2018, we bid farewell to the year 738.M41—the fourth full year of our narrative campaign.
It was a year that saw only a few major battles, as real-life demands limited our wargaming group’s ability to devote the hours necessary for large Warhammer 40K fights. But, thanks to a bit of solo gaming and a focus on smaller battles, skirmish games, and Battlefleet Gothic fights, the Corvus Cluster remained a militarily active and dangerous corner of the galaxy.
The two major centers of military action—the xeno-invaded moons of Dar Sai and Hegira—remain contested. The Imperium is holding onto both worlds, but there are cracks in the defenses that are cause for concern to Imperial authorities.
Of greater concern is the expanding arena of threats. From the Heart of Darkness to the Dryillian Quarantine Zone to the Burning Frontier, heretics, traitors, and xenos are attacking Imperial worlds, and it’s questionable whether the Imperium has the military resources to stem all these military challenges.
Although all these tales are documented in detail in the past year’s articles, it might be helpful to have the activities of 738.M41 summarized. It proved an active year, so this Strategic Update is the longest ever written. Of course, that’s a success for our gaming activities, isn’t it?
Here’s a summary of what occurred this past year:
Orks move closer to victory on Hegira
As Year 738 began, Imperial citizens on the war-torn moon are cheered by news of a victory over the ork invaders. The Knights of Altair launch a raid on Veris Island, easily defeating the greenskins in a small battle that suggests the Astartes could shift the balance of power on the war-torn moon. (Knights of Altair raid Veris Island)
Yet, only a few weeks later, the Imperial Guard are humbled by a devastating defeat on the Sea of Dust, a featureless region of desert where Imperial forces are shattered by mechanized ork forces known as “Speed Freaks.” (Imperial army defeated in Hegria’s Sea of Dust)
Despite the arrival of Tallarn reinforcements, Imperial authorities are dismayed by reports of Warp phenomenon near the strategic Barad Mine. An effort to investigate results in heavy casualties from unnaturally occurring witchfire, and the entire investigation team is as executed as a precaution. (Warp phenomenon reported at Barad Mine)
Huge dust storms deter military action for some months, but on 3 300 738,M41, the orks attempt to seize the Barad Mine, their attack spearheaded by a massive, Titan-sized war machine known as a “Stompa.” The Imperial defenses hold, but casualties are heavy. (Stompa nearly breaks Barad Mine defenses)
To bolster the defenses, the Knights of Altair take over the front lines and soon find themselves in a brutal fight led by Battlewagons and Trukks. The main focus of the ork attack is a Warp portal that opens just outside the mining complex, and the ork warlord Rumlar takes to the field for the first time since the invasion began.
What follows is a fierce battle for control of the portal, but the orks seem driven by a bloodlust never experienced before, and the Knights of Altair are forced to withdraw. When last seen, Rumlar is sitting near the portal, simply watching the “pretty” lights. (Knights of Altair driven from Barad Mine)
As ork forces advance to the outskirts of Hegira’s capital, Susa City, Imperial authorities make an unprecedented decision: They order the Imperial Navy to launch a massive orbital bombardment of key ork manufacturing centers and troop concentrations.
More than 250,000 orks and thousands of ork vehicles are annihilated by lance strikes, nuclear weapons, and magma bombs—an onslaught that leaves large areas of Hegira uninhabitable for millennia. (Imperial Navy bombards ork positions on Hegira)
Tau threaten southern Dar Sai
On the agricultural world of Dar Sai, the Tau invasion is stalled. So, the xeno commanders settle upon a new strategy: Take a risk and pull as many troops off the front lines where stalemate exists and aim all available forces in a new direction.
It takes months of preparation, hiding troop movements using the planet’s thick forest cover. But eventually the Tau manage to concentrate a sizable army in the Hanui Valley (their original landing site) and, on 3 454 738.M41, the xenos launch a massive attack southward. Over the next 10 weeks, the Tau push south, advancing nearly 1,000 kilometers and seizing more than 200,000 square kilometers of human-controlled territory. (Tau army advances south on Dar Sai)
It is during this campaign that Pvt. Tyesha Levers, Baker Co., 728th Cadian Regiment, documents her war experiences in a diary. Decades later, her observations will become the basis for a popular and well-read record of the Tau invasion. (A sniper’s work is never done)
By the end of this campaign, the Tau approach the strategically important port city of Aruna—only to be stopped by a counteroffensive spearheaded by the Knights of Altair. (Tau launch offense at Port Aruna)
After delaying their advance to resupply and rest their troops, the xenos make another major effort to seize the city, an attack that slams futilely against the defensive works built on the outskirts of the port. The Tau suffer heavy casualties—casualties they can ill afford. (Tau invaders repulsed by Aruna trench lines)
At this point, the Tau, their supply lines stretched to the limit, begin to face a resurgence of Imperial resistance. On 3 863 738.M31, a reconnaissance mission defeats Tau forces in a village north of Aruna, providing Imperial military leaders with their first indication that the xeno lines are vulnerable. (Recon platoon clashes with Tau north of Aruna)
That intelligence leads to a major Imperial offensive to push the Tau away from Aruna. (728th Regt. drives Tau from Omao Plantation)
This attack is so successful that the 728th Cadian Regiment organizes a second offensive to regain yet more ground. After three days of success, however, the Imperial attack stalls in the face of heavy xeno resistance, and, with both armies exhausted, military operations for the year come to a close. (Battle of Three Hills ends in Guard-Tau draw)
Over the course of the campaign, however, a newcomer to the war begins to earn a reputation—a dark reputation—among both Imperial and Tau troops. The warrior is named Tō’kra, a Riptide commander who shows no mercy toward those he faces in battle. (Commander Tō’kra: The Dark Tau)
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.