“We will destroy the hated xenos to reconquer the galaxy in his name. The Emperor’s will is our will, and His will is to see the xeno taint eradicated. So, forward my Brothers. No mercy for the Tau—only death and oblivion.“—High Marshal Adrias Ioculus, speaking to the Knights of Altair just before they launch their attack on Dar Sai
Tau Turn Four
Whoops. It’s Turn Four. It’s past time to pay attention to objectives.
What’s the victory point total? Well, the Tau have First Blood, and their left flank has entered the Imperial deployment zone, so they’ll score for Linebreaker. The Imperial center can score Linebreaker (if they stay alive), but they’re still far from the Tau objective, and the Tau Warlord is still alive.
Score is 5 for the Tau; 4 for the Imperials.
The Fire Warriors at the pond move to target the Honor Guard, as does the Hammerhead. A second squad of Fire Warriors advances out of a vineyard and adds its fire.
The nice thing about artificer armor is its 2+ armor save. Despite all the powerful shots fired, only one Honor Guard falls to Tau volleys. I think I’m subconsciously beginning to favor the Space Marines. Not a good thing when I’m supposed to thinking Tau-like.
The Riptide and Warlord target the Land Raider and score another glancing hit.
On the east flank, the Sternguard are destroyed by the Crisis Suits and Fire Warriors in the woods.
Nearby, the gun drones target the Crusader Squad in the woods lining the crop field (not far from the Imperial objective) and kill two Marines. The squad holds its ground.
Imperial Turn Four
On the west flank, the bikers advance on the Tau objective, but the Hammerhead on the road blocks their path. They’re stuck.
The advancing Crusader Squad (in the crop field) targets the Fire Warriors and whittlse them down to size.
On the road, the Honor Guard rushes past the destroyed Rhino and targets the Tau Warlord and his sole bodyguard. After firing their pistols, they charge. The Warlord and his bodyguard are killed, and the Imperials have tied the game. (Slay the Warlord)
On the east flank, the Tau forces in the woods are still far away. There is time to bring up the other squad (the one that had retaken the Imperial objective) and present a solid defensive line. In the meantime, the squad at the edge of the crop field targets the gun drones in the field. They kill three! The Predator, with no other target right now, takes out another.
The very real threat of the drones is gone.
The Stormtalon has a choice. It can slow down and target the Hammerhead. But assault cannons aren’t likely to kill it. And slowing down makes it vulnerable to the Fire Warriors below. It opts to leave the battlefield and swing around for another strafing run.
Tau Turn Five
On the west flank, the Fire Warriors near the orchard, greatly reduced, target the Crusader Squad and kills one.
The Hammerhead on the road releases its gun drones, which turn on the Marine bikers. One biker is killed and, yet again, the bikers flee. Cowards. I had such high hopes for this fast squad. The shame is too much to bear. The squad will be disbanded with dishonor.
The Riptide gives up its advance on the Imperial line and turns back to deal with the rampaging honor Guard. It cannot get a clear shot on the unit, though, so it targets the Crusader Squad advancing on the pond. The target is halfway across the table, but the Riptide hits home and kills five Marines. The squad breaks, and the Imperial left flank is no longer a threat to the Tau.
To the east, the loss of the gun drones leaves only a squad of Fire Warriors and three Crisis Suits to take on two Crusader Squads, supported by a Predator tank. Well, what had been a powerful attack certainly was looking a lot weaker. Perhaps advancing isn’t an option. If wiped out, the Tau will lose Linebreaker and the game. So, the Tau stop to hold their position. The xenos are going to settle for a tie.
Imperial Turn Five
If the game ends this turn, the Imperials will have clawed back to a tie. But what if the game goes a bit longer? A Space Marine would “go for the win,” and that’s what I decide to do.
The Land Raider targets the Hammerhead, causing a glancing hit.
High Marshal Ioculus sees his flank falling back but senses that the Tau center is fragile. He pushes forward with his three remaining Honor Guard, their artificer armor protecting them from the overwatch of the squad of Fire Warriors in front of them. All the xenos are slaughtered.
It wasn’t just the desire to attack that led to Ioculus’ decision. By advancing on the Fire Warriors,and destroying them, his squad can consolidate even closer to the Tau objective. There’s a chance . . . if the sun will just stay above the horizon.
Tau Turn Six
A 4+ on the die roll, and another turn is played. Most of the battlefield is silent, the troops either dead or exhausted. All eyes turn to the desperate fight for the Tau objective.
With the loss of the Warlord and the Fire Warriors, the Hammerhead is the only Tau unit that can defend the xeno’s objective. It could fire at the Honor Guard, but, given the Space Marines’ artificer armor, there’s little chance of stopping the elite Astartes. There’s only one choice. Move Flat Out! and try to block the Honor Guard’s approach to the objective.
Wait! Halfway across the field, a Broadside armed with missiles discovers it has a line of fire, and it unleashes hell on the Knights’ chapter master. One of the Honor Guard is killed, and now Ioculus is advancing with only two surviving Space Marines. I can only hope the Space Marines roll poorly in their Run move.
Imperial Turn Six
The Stormtalon returns to the battlefield and targets the Hammerhead. The odds of a kill are extremely unlikely, but nothing else is likely to affect the game’s outcome. In a surprisingly effective strafing run, it takes down the xeno tank. A pleasant surprise.
At this point, Helbrecht is making his final to run to the objective, rolls a 6 for distance, and just gets within range to seize the objective. Talk about luck. Given the scatter terrain around the objective, a natural 6 was the only way to win the day.
As the sun sets, there is only a scattering of Tau forces on the field. The Space Marines are bloodied, but the majority of their forces still are intact. Victory goes to the Knights of Altair.
Tau: First Blood (1 v.p.)+ Linebrreaker (1 v.p.)
Imperial: Two primary objectives (6 v.p.)+Linebreaker (1 v.p.)+ Slay the Warlord (1 v.p.) = 8 v.p.
MAJOR IMPERIAL VICTORY!
A Few Thoughts: This battle was noteworthy (to me) for two reasons. One was the lush and, if I say so myself, incredible terrain on the table. I’m glad I made all the terrain “count,” as it really added a huge flavor to the game and the tactical decisions I had to make. It was enough to make this fight a joy.
The other reason was that I played against my basic instincts. I decided to go for an aggressive army. Although I did end up shooting a lot (the terrain influenced my choices), the decision to go right up the middle with mechanized (and very elite) infantry, supported on the east flank by bikers and Crusader Squads worked surprisingly well.
Yes, my support elements to the east ultimately failed to land a solid blow, but they killed enough xenos that my Honor Guard was able to rip apart every opponent to its front and, in a conclusion that ranks up there with the ending of any action film, won the day at the last minute—just as victory appears to be slipping through its fingers.
Although I’d rather be facing The Gaffer, this was one of my favorite battles of all time. I’m learning that solo gaming with 40K is actually a pretty good option in the Coronavirus era.
So, how does this affect the min-campaign? It doesn’t, really. Oh, the history books will say the Knights’ attack on the Tau logistical base cut off supplies, forcing the xenos to delay their attack on Port Aruna. In reality, that’s just an excuse. As I explained earlier, I took several weeks away from gaming . I record the actual dates when I play a game (converting them to the Imperial calendar), so I need a rationale for why, when the Tau are driving the Imperials back, they paused for several weeks before trying to seize the city.
But, the mini-campaign is decided by the victory points of the scenarios played, so the delay actually isn’t relevant. It’s just “part of the story.”
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.