“If you aren’t sure what to do, attack. It may not be the best tactic for the situation, but you might get lucky. And, if you lose, at least you won’t live long enough to face a court martial.“—Admiral Arleigh Smythe, instructor, Imperial Navy Academy, Belliose III, speaking to the academy’s 733.M41 graduating class.
Outmaneuvered and outgunned
“If so, it didn’t work,” one source said. “The first wave of Tau ships were a newer model, and they were fast and well armed. Although the flotilla was in motion, it was not facing the Tau. It had to turn, and this allowed the xenos to get dangerously close.”
The Tau then fired a massive wave of torpedoes at the Captain Cassia’s flagship, the grandcruiser Inflexible, and despite anti-ordinance fire by Imperial torpedoes, the launching of 10 squadrons of fighters, and the turret fire of the three capital ships, the Inflexible was savaged by the xeno attack.”
In fact, once the Tau torpedoes hit home, the Inflexible was crippled, with the massive ship’s acceleration reduced by half and some gun batteries damaged, military authorities say.
“The fight was over before it really began,” one officer said. “The Tau were closing. With the flotilla’s smaller ships too far away to support, the capital ships could not hope to turn and face the entire Tau fleet without being overwhelmed. And with the Inflexible at half speed, Captain Cassia’s plan to stay ahead of the Tau was in shatters.”
No one knows what the flotilla commander was thinking at this moment. But any tactical response became moot when the Tau’s lead ships closed and singled out the Inflexible for fire from their gun batteries. Within 30 minutes, the massive grand cruiser was a hulk in space.
Captain Cassius is presumed dead.
“At that point, the other capital ships were outgunned, and the entire fleet was so poorly deployed that continuing the battle was a disaster in the making,” Speakeman said. “A general retreat was ordered.”
It is rumored that, upon learning of the defeat, the reaction of Commodore Gadea Hennard, commander of Fleet Corvus, was apoplectic. Although it is said that the commodore privately has been disparaging Captain Cassius’ tactical decisions, the senior officer released a public statement praising the fallen naval officer.
“Although the Tau won the day, Captain Cassius gave his life for the Emperor—and in defense of the citizens of Dar Sai,” Commodore Hennard said in his statement. “There is no more noble end for a naval officer who has devoted his life to his duty. We are all eternally grateful for his sacrifice, and Fleet Corvus already is preparing to avenge the death of this fine officer and the men who served beneath him.”
What can I say? My handling of the Imperial force was abysmal. This was a solo game, and I may have started the game with the Tau a little two close to the Imperials. It left my Imperials with only two choices: They could turn into the Tau and duke it out, or they could try to use maneuver—relying on a mix of long-range fire and a flanking maneuver to the rear of the Tau.
Actually, I tried both strategies. In the first (official) game, the Imperial cruisers failed their All Ahead Full! roll and got caught by torpedoes. In a replay, going directly into the Tau didn’t change a thing. The Tau torpedoes slaughtered me, although I some damage in return.
Let’s face it. My collection of Forge World Tau ships can dish out a lot of firepower, and their torpedo waves are awesome—not only large in number but, as they are controlled by AI, very accurate. I’m not really sure how to beat the Tau . . . yet.
This scenario was conceived because it seemed time for the Tau to have licked their wounds from their earlier defeat—and make another attempt to break the blockade of their forces on Dar Sai.
This was an important battle. Fighting on Dar Sai has degenerated largely into small fights for small, unimportant towns and villages. The Imperials are pouring most of their resources to saving Hegira, and the Tau simply have had no way to build up their strength with the blockade in force. Indeed, it was tough for the Tau to even maintain the forces they had.
So, now what? Well, I suppose Commodore Hennard is going to have to try to retake the space over Dar Sai. Either that, or Commander Swiftstrike on Dar Sai is going to bolster his forces, and the fight for Dar Sai will heat up.
That seems fitting. The Dar Sai campaign is my personal, mostly solo mini-campaign and, trapped at home without my regular club meetings keeping my game table covered in historical miniatures, I have the opportunity to fight a whole bunch of solo games in the weeks ahead.
I have no idea how the strategic situation will play out. I think I’ll fight a battle or two, with Swiftstrike aggressively pushing the Imperials, and then let Hennard try to rebalance the strategic situation. Could Dar Sai fall to the Tau? Or will the Imperials survive this reversal and eventually push the xenos off the agri-moon?
I can’t say yet. And that’s really fun.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.