“The shriek of a Tau railgun is unlike any weapon I’ve ever heard. The thump-thump of a heavy bolter has a steady, reassuring predictability to it. The roar of a battle cannon echoes the power of thunder. The crack of a Baneblade’s mega battle cannon has the voice of a god announcing its domination over the battlefield. But a Tau railgun . . . it has an ugly, loud whine to it, one you learn to hate. The shriek means something is reaching out to rip you in half.“—Buchard Godeke, captain, 8th Armored Co., Dar Sai Militia.
The Tau response to the Imperial armor was to ignore it. The focus was on breaking through the Imperial east flank. Every gun in the advancing armored column targeted the trenches, sending pillars of dirt and sod high into the air.
But this storm of shells, missiles, and energy beams was to little avail. The Tau’s ace tank fired, only to see his submunitions shell veer off target and land in the sole empty area of the otherwise crowded Imperial position. It was if the Emperor himself was shielding his troops from xeno fire.
That’s not to say everything went well for the Imperials. On the east flank, a Crisis Team decided to deal with growing fire from guardsmen by jumping into the trenches, providing them both cover and a clear line of fire on an infantry squad. On the west flan, a lucky shot by a Broadside battle suit took out seven guardsmen.
Tabletop Notes: Imperial casualties should have been horrific with all the vehicle fire slamming into the Imperial line, but bad dice and the trench’s 4+ cover save led to a disappointing kill tally.
Battle for the Trenches
Having Crisis Suits inside the trenches was a serious threat to the Imperial defenses. Every available guardsmen turned his gun away from the advancing armor and targeted the battle suits.
The Sentinels fired their multi-lasers, and lasguns slammed into the xenos like a a rain storm. For a time, the fire had no impact. But, finally, the shield drone protecting the xenos was shot down. Without its energy shields as a defense, the heavy Imperial fire began to have an effect. No battle suits fell, but all took some damage.
On the west flank, Imperial tanks continued to target the Tau armor. Several shots struck home, but with the exception of destroying a Riptide’s shield drone, no damage was done.
Tabletop Notes: The Tau’s miserable firing can be attributed to the 4+ cover save of the trenches. There was no excuse for the Imperial fire’s ineffectiveness. Clearly, the commissars will need to make an example of a few tank gunners . . . and order some more training.
A Hero Falls
By now, it was late afternoon, and the Tau armor finally came into arm’s reach of the Imperial trenches. One Devilfish flew over the trenches, sending guardsmen scrambling as the vehicle’s anti-grav repulsion fields pressed the men to the ground.
Working their way up the trench line, the Crisis Suits slaughtered a platoon command squad and killed the few surviving guardsmen of an infantry squad.
With the Tau armor firing at point-blank range, the Tau finally began to see Imperial casualties mount. One Hammerhead gunner spotted a command banner bravely, if foolishly, waving in the trenches, and used that as the focal point of his next railgun fire. The shot hit home, evaporating the company command squad and leaving the Imperials leaderless.
On the west flank, a Crisis Team that had landed far short of the trenches—and spent most of the battle racing forward—finally got into firing range of the Imperials. They opened up with six burst cannon which, with the help of Pathfinder marker lights, killed four infantry. A nearby Broadside also targeted this portion of the trench line and took out another platoon command squad.
Tabletop Notes: Even fortifications can’t keep Imperial troops from dying. The trench line is thinning out, and every senior commander on the field is dead. You can feel the sand slipping out from under the Imperials. The battle is shifting heavily in favor of the xenos.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.