“To the shock and dismay of Imperial citizens across the Sculptor System, Imperial authorities announced today that the besieged city of Port Aruna on Dar Sai has fallen to the Tau scum. Imperial casualties are reported to be heavy, with the xenos bombarding the port’s harbor as Imperial troops struggled to evacuate by sea.“–Imperial Voxcast, 3 571 740.M41
TheGM: Port Aruna has fallen to the foul xeno invaders of Dar Sai. But I cannot say that I’m unhappy with this xeno victory. The idea of a short, mini-campaign of solo games was a lot of fun, and the narrative approach of the campaign made the final result seem all the more fitting.
I think mini-campaigns are the way to proceed until The Gaffer and I can find a way to organize a full-scale battle with appropriate social distancing. (We’ll need a nice day without a rain forecast, and sufficient advance notice for me to set up a full-sized table outside—and sufficient time to play a 1,500-point game in one go.)
What I particularly liked about the Port Aruna campaign was the narrative story it told. I picked scenarios that told a story of the Tau advancing on the city and attempting to seize it. So, every step along the way, I was advancing the desperate fighting as if it was history.
Each battle was a story of courage and cowardice, sacrifice and loss, and the results of each fight raised the stakes as it advanced the story. When the final battle came around, I felt the fate of Port Aruna was well-earned. I felt a story had come to its conclusion.
Now, you could argue that the plot of the story—the sequence of scenarios I chose—was designed to lead to the city’s fall. But not so: If the Imperials had won some the first few scenarios handily, I would have adjusted the narrative (the scenarios) to reflect that.
If the Imperials had won a minor victory—or achieved a rough draw—at campaign’s end, I would have ruled that the Imperials were still holding onto the city (just barely). As the Tau wouldn’t have “won,” Port Aruna would have turned into a urban nightmare, similar to the horrific fighting at Stalingrad in World War II.
As it was, the Tau not only squeaked by with a 4-victory point edge, but they won a major victory in Battle 5 vs. the minor Imperial victory in Battle 4. So, 4 v.p. and a major victory must be ruled a minor Tau victory.
So, I’m ruling that Port Aruna has fallen. I was kinda hoping that Pvt. Levers would be the source of numerous Shadow War: Armageddon skirmish fights in the urban nightmare of a contested city, but it’s not to be. That’s okay. The fighting will now turn a different direction, and there will infinite possibilities for future tabletop battles.
I’m not sure what’s going to come next. I’m thinking of switching settings. Perhaps I’ll do a mini-campaign to determine the fate of the Necron-invaded world of Tophet. Or perhaps I’ll see what my growing mutant army can do on the desert world of Morkai.
All I know is that mini-campaigns will allow me to continue the narrative of the Corvus Cluster in a relatively short, but exciting way—and create more of a “story feel” to what’s happening on the tabletop. I’m looking forward to a new campaign.
If you’re interested in a summary of the Port Aruna campaign, here’s a very brief rundown (and links to each battle report):
Battle 1: Break the line
Source of Scenario: Planetary Onslaught (2016-7th Edition 40K)
Scenario: Desperate Assault
Newly reinforced, Commander Swiftstrike was determined to smash the Imperial defenses to the north of Port Aruna and drive his forces toward the port city. It was a tough fight, with massive casualties on both sides.
Technically, the Imperials won a major victory, but the Tau did break through the trench lines, and the xenos had far more troops on the table at the end of the game. As a result, I declared it a Tau tactical victory, but an Imperial strategic victory.
Imperial Victory Points: 10
Tau Victory Points: 4
Battle Report: Tau break Imperial line north of Aruna
Battle 2: Exploiting the breakthrough
Source of Scenario: War Zone Damaocles: Mont’Ka: The Rules (2015-7th Edition 40K)
Scenario: Armored Onslaught
Having penetrated the Imperial lines, Swiftstrike pushed troops into the Imperial rear. Imperial troops attempted to retreat in good order, while the Tau sought to exploit their breakthrough, destroy the disorganized humans, and race toward the port city. This scenario appeared slightly biased in favor of the attacker (Tau), but the results were decisive. Imperial casualties were 95 percent.
Imperial Victory Points: 1
Tau Victory Points: 17
Battle Report: Tau encircle PDF company on Dar Sai
Battle 3: Counterattack
Source of Scenario: War Zone Damaocles: Mont’Ka: The Rules (2015-7th Edition 40K)
Scenario: The Eye of the Storm
Desperate to stem the Tau advance, Imperial forces pulled together what troops they could to strike at the advancing Tau vanguard. The goal: Blunt the Tau attack and give Imperial troops a chance to reorganize a solid defense. The Imperials had some advantages in this scenario, so it’s not a surprise they did well.
Imperial Victory Points: 12
Tau Victory Points: 6
Battle Report: Imperial armor slows Tau advance on Aruna
Battle 4: Storm the Lines
Source of the Scenario: Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant (2018-8th Edition 40K)
Scenario: Storm the Lines
The Tau have reached the outskirts of Port Aruna. The defenders were shaken from their retreat, but the city was well fortified. After a desperate fight, the Imperials held the line. (Alas, for narrative purposes, the xenos broke through elsewhere on the front.)
Imperial Minor Victory (The Tau were stopped at the forward Imperial deployment zone, with Imperial forces slightly outnumbering the xenos still on the table.)
Battle Report: Tau crack Port Aruna’s defenses on Dar Sai
Battle 5: To the Docks!
The city has fallen! Pvt. Tyesha Levers—a female sniper who has documented the Dar Sai campaign in her private journal—attempted to escape from pursuing xenos.
Source of the Scenario: Chapter Approved: 2018 Edition (2018-8th Edition 40K)
Scenario: The Gauntlet
Having shattered the outer defenses of Port Aruna, the Tau advanced into the city. Fierce urban fighting broke out, and a company of the 728th Cadian Regiment was forced to withdraw under heavy enemy pressure. Things didn’t turn out well for that effort: Only 38 out of 300 guardsmen made it to safety.
Major Tau Victory
Battle Report: The Aruna Gauntlet – Journal of Pvt. Levers
Campaign Result: Tau Minor Victory
Imperial Victory Points: 23 and one minor victory
Tau Victory Points: 27 and one major victory
(There was another battle of the campaign, but it had no impact on the victory results. That battle, Knights of Altair defeat Tau on Dar Sai, involved a spoiling attack at a logistical center far to the north of Port Aruna, its purpose to slow the Tau advance (and explain why it took me so many weeks to fight the final battles).
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, FromtheGM
The Necrons appeal to me a bit more personally, because I feel we know so little about the Necron empire here while we know a lot more about the mutants.
Plus wasn’t a named mechanicus character there? Some more stakes, some increasing tension in the sector, fray the Imperium by potentially having another factor begin to actually enter the fray.
Though I do really like the mutants, always think they are criminally underused and it’s fun when they don’t seem to be entirely chaos and are just what happens when you…..well, when you rule like the Imperium.
But, Aruna falls!
Great ending to the campaign. My vote is for mutants….but as Abstract Traitor Hero notes it’d be good to get away from Chaos a bit. Perhaps a heretical sect of the imperial creed that looks beyond physical deformations to the true spirit of worshippers? (GASP!) A planetary uprising of mutated workers caused by industrial/planetary waste/toxins/whatever…….trying to overthrow a repressive production oriented government to replace with emancipation, and more focus on a better quality of living environment. An enclave of squats who have been declared ‘mutants’ by local authorities that arm and equip ‘real mutants’ to help them fight the imperium. So much good stuff available….
You could try doing a distance game with skype/discord/twitch/whatever and use a camera to show the table and have your opponent tell you, roughly, where he wants to move various things?
I am leaning toward the mutants of Morkai. I’ve just completed five new mutant units and four new Tallarn and Mechanicus units in response. So I can just squeeze out a 1,300-point-per-side battle. (I think I’ll treat the mutants as genestealer cultists, which really just means their industrial capability isn’t that good and their Cult Ambush ability will reflect that they are very good desert fighters and can hide troops under the sand, use the terrain well to ambush, etc. It’ll give the mutants some character.
But I will get a Necron battle report at some point. Just finished up a Monolith, and I want to see what I can do with it. Perhaps two parallel mini-campaigns, 3-5 battles each, alternating between the two. We’ll see.
Sounds pretty good!