“In hindsight, the decision of Captain Stark to launch a counterattack against a superior xeno force was brilliant. At the time, however, with Imperial forces in full retreat, there were subordinates—and superiors—who thought it utter madness.”—Chronicle of the Tau Invasion of Dar Sai, published 753.M41
NEWS REPORT, Imperial Daily Bulletin to Citizens
Desperate attack against Tau buys time for retreating Imperial troops
By Amicia Gellena
Bulletin Staff Writer
A hastily organized armored group yesterday attacked Tau forces advancing on Port Aruna, a desperate effort to slow the xeno threat descending on the strategically important city.
The attack was successful, say Imperial authorities, although they admit it will not stop the Tau from reaching the city’s final defensive line.
“I’ll be honest, our goal was to slow the xeno advance so our retreating forces could reach the entrenchments at the edge of the city,” said Captain Stevrous Stark, commander of elements of the 178th Cadian Regiment and the officer who led the Imperial counterattack.
“We wanted to ensure that all available troops, armor, and support elements made it back safely to the city—in sufficient numbers to throw back the final, life-or-death xeno attack that will determine the city’s fate.”
The attack began at dawn on 3 396 740.M41 when the vanguard of the Tau advance was within 50 kilometers of the port city, Stark explained in a press conference after the battle.
“The vanguard was the tip of an arrow-shaped xeno force, a tip that was rushing forward through the gaps in our collapsing lines,” he said. “We rushed elements of the 30th Armored Company, supported by the reserve 15th Dar Sai PDF Regiment, in front of that tip, and when it approached, we charged it from three sides.”
The result was that the Tau vanguard was forced to redeploy and defend itself from attacks from multiple directions, making it difficult for the xenos to concentrate their firepower, he added.
“The main force of the 30th Armored Company was directly in front of the xenos, and it used its heavy guns to target Tau armor and a basilisk battery to drop ordinance on dense concentrations of xeno infantry,” Stark said.
“A secondary force, consisting of an squadron of Exterminator-class Lemon Russ tanks, armored sentinels, and motorized veteran infantry charged the xenos’ west flank, while a third, weaker force of infantry and scout sentinels demonstrated on the east flank.”
First blood was claimed by a platoon of the 15th PDF Regiment, which destroyed a Devilfish and caused such severe casualties to a squad of Tau Fire Warriors and a squadron of gun drones that they fled the battlefield.
The xenos countered by killing scores of infantry on both flanks, as well as destroying a Chimera that advanced on the xeno front. Disembarking from the burning vehicle was a team of three Bullgryns, unharmed and eager for battle.
A team of fusion blaster-equipped Crisis Suits charged the Bullgryns, but before they struck, an armored Sentinel caught one Crisis Suit with a blast of his lascannon and vaporized him. It later turned out that the xeno was the lead officer of the vanguard.
The Bullgryns and surviving Crisis Suits traded fire and then charged. The resulting melee lasted several minutes, but finally the xenos were wiped out.
On the east flank, the Imperial attack began to falter. Most of the infantry was destroyed, and gun drones took out the Scout Sentinels. On the west flank, a Veteran squad, supported by a Chimera equipped with heavy flamers, wiped out a Tau Breacher Team, and the Exterminators destroyed a Piranha squadron.
By mid-morning, much of the xeno infantry was dead, leaving the Tau armor vulnerable to attack. One Hammerhead tank blew up in a fiery explosion, and a Broadside Combat Suit fell to a direct hit fired by a Vanquisher-class tank.
As this point, the xeno vanguard began to retreat, but with following xeno forces moving forward and forming a defensive line, the Imperial attacks also fell back to a defensive position, Stark said.
“Bloodied, the xeno advance halted,” he said. “Our forces held their ground, eyeball to eyeball with the enemy, buying time for our retreating forces to make their way south. At that point, the flanks of our force were exposed, and it withdrew back to the city.”
In tactical sense, Stak said, the battle was a draw. “Strategically, however, the attack prevented the xenos from overrunning our withdrawing forces. The xenos are approaching the city, but we have time to rest and re-equip our troops, and we have saved sufficient troops to defend the city.”
“I am convinced we can hold the line and deny the xenos control of Port Aruna.”
TheGM: The scenario was “The Eye of the Storm,” from the codex, Mont’Ka: The Rules (Games Workshop, 2015). The so-called vanguard may deploy as deep as 30″ onto the table but also must stay 18″ from the narrow ends of the table. The counterattacking force may deploy within 9″ of three sides of the table.
As the Tau player, I wasn’t sure how to deploy. Do I spread my forces out, so that all can fire? Or do I keep them close and tight, so the Imperials don’t set up to concentrate on any portion of my force?
I chose to pack them up near my table’s edge, using Piranhas and Devilfish to screen my more important armor and combat suits.
The scenario clearly gives the counterattacking force the advantage, as I could deploy my attacking Imperial troops to do maximum damage on the first time. Indeed, I did a lot of damage to infantry, transports, and skimmers, but they served their purpose in protecting the Hammerheads, Crisis Suits, and Riptide.
Deployment was key. After that, it was pretty much dice rolling and killing things. As the advantage belonged to the Imperials, their victory conditions required them to end the game with twice as many victory points as their opponent. (Points were earned for destroying units and achieving secondary objectives.
In the end, the Imperials destroyed nine units, while the Tau destroyed six. Once the secondary objectives were counted, the Imperials doubled the Tau victory points (12-6), which meant an Imperial victory.
(A small thing: This battle is being reported out of chronological order with more recent events listed on the main page. It just took me time to write this up. In the campaign timeline, the battle is listed in the proper chronological order.)
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Dar Sai Campaign
Very much enjoying this story. What is happening with the civilian population of Port Aruna?
Thanks for asking. I think such a request deserves a proper answer. A “historical” document for Imperial scholars is now in the works.
Oh, so that’s how the mini-campaign works! For a moment I thought the VP totals you mentioned would decide the fate of the entire moon. I was confused as to why you had previously implied that the moon’s fate would be settled through territory control.
The outline of the campaign was described in the blog, “A mini-campaign for the coronovirus era.”
It was limited to deciding the fate of the entire moon, as I’m not sure (after all these years), how fast I want planets to fall. I wanted, however, a nice narrative story, and I thought the mini-campaign could do that.
Now, the fate of Hegira hangs in the balance (as of mid-741.M41 — or 2020 to those living in M2). An upcoming battle report is going to describe a massive attack on the Susa City fortifications, and the implications for this war-torn moon are grave.
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