“The mutants of Ungolath must not be underestimated. They are masters of desert warfare. To defeat them, we must fight with analytical precision—in other words, we must expend ammunition without abandon.“—Kazzim-Aleph-1, magos dominus, Charcharoth Home Guard
IMPERIAL VOXCAST, 3 837 740.M41—The Charcharoth Home Guard, sent to the Thar Desert Basin to suppress mutant rebels, was repulsed from the Azari Oasis yesterday.
The defeat leaves Imperial forces now holding only a tiny sliver of the highly strategic region.
“Upon advancing on the Azari Oasis, the 4th Cohort of the Home Guard was attacked on 3 834 740.M41 by a sizable mutant force that included significant armored assets,” announced the Council of Electors in Golgenna. “After a day-long battle, Imperial forces were forced to withdraw to the Bazaha Wadi, the most southern section of the Thar Desert Basin.”
Despite the reversal, Imperial officials assured the citizenry that casualties among the mutants were significant—and the Home Guard withdrew only to ensure its lines of communications.
“Although the Home Guard failed to hold the oasis, Imperial troops were steadfast in battle, withdrawing only because the terrain favored the mutant scum and further fighting would lead to unnecessary friendly casualties.”
According to Imperial officials, the punitive expedition into the Thar Desert Basin consists of the 4th Cohort of the Charcharoth Home Guard, the 15th PDF Regiment, and various Mechanicus and PDF support troops. It is led by Dominus Kazzim-Aleph-1, an experienced Skitarii commander who is described as “having excellent cognitive analytical abilities in combat situations.”
It is said that, before beginning the campaign, Dominos Aleph-1 carefully analyzed the tactical reports submitted by the Lt. Col. Murad Hamzah of the now-destroyed 17th Battalion.
As the Dominus approached the oasis, long-range scanners identified the presence of mutant forces ahead, and he decided to deploy with his left flank anchored on extremely rough terrain, officials said.
[TheGM: The Imperials deployed in the left corner of their deployment zone, anchoring their left flank with the table’s edge.]
“The goal was to prevent mutants from ambushing Imperial troops from the left,” one official explained. “This would force the mutants to approach from the front or east flank, which allowed troops to focus their firepower in those directions. Troops were told to hold in place until the mutants revealed themselves—and only then commit to battle.”
For the mutants’ part, it appears that their warlord, Chakir Suleiman, had gathered significant armored assets in the weeks since his defeat of the 17th PDF Battalion, and he did, indeed, deploy his troops to the north and east of the Imperial force.
His goal, military officials theorize, was to use the local terrain (dotted with sand dunes and limestone mesas) to screen the movement of his infantry as they took up a position to challenge any Imperial advance, but otherwise they would avoid battle until the Imperials exposed a flank.
[TheGM: A boldfaced number follows the description of key events in this battle report. They correspond to the numbers on the battle maps. This, hopefully, will allow readers to more easily understand where—and how—these events fit into the overall battle.]
The first hour of the battle focused more on maneuver than firepower, officials said.
“With Skitarii forces still marching to the scene, Dominus Aleph-1 was uncertain how much he could trust his non-augmented PDF troops. Imperial forces moved slowly forward along the western side of the battlefield, careful to guard the flanks and avoid mutant ambushes.”
Meanwhile, officials added, the mutants also were hesitant, careful not to expose themselves to superior Imperial fire.
“”We saw a squadron of ramshackle walkers moving towards the cover of an outcropping of limestone mesas in the middle of the battlefield,” one senior officer said. ” (1) To the east, out of range of our guns, some enemy transports advanced toward a key position that we’d deemed too dangerous to try to hold.” (2)
Fighting began in earnest after a PDF platoon climbed a tall sand dune that dominated the east flank of the army.
This maneuver apparently threatened two mobs of mutants that were hiding under the sands of the dune. Throwing aside the camouflaged tarps that had hidden them, they opened fire on the PDF troops and drove them off the dune. (3)
More mutants arose from the sands near an advancing Imperial tank on the opposite end of the battlefield, but autocannon fire from two nearby Armiger Helverins sent the band of traitor scum running. (4)
Two Ridgerunners (militarized civilian desert transports) briefly came into view on the eastern flank, and one was destroyed by an alert Onager crew that blew it up with a shot of their walker’s neutron laser. (5)
According to tactical algorithms run by Dominus Aleph-1, the cautious advance of his force was threatening his army’s chances of destroying the mutant army. But, he decided, it was a more tolerable risk to maintain a slow advance rather than see his army face the fate of the recently destroyed 17th Battalion.
Yet, the mutants also were having problems. The Imperial deployment made it difficult to fight without confronting the Imperials’ significant edge in firepower. Skitarii and PDF troops were deployed in multiple lines, supported by more heavy guns than that of the ill-fated 17th Battalion.
Also, a screen of skirmishers ensured that any hidden mutants would be forced to reveal themselves before they were ready to launch an ambush. Neither side appeared to have the ability to gain the upper hand.
Click here to read Part 2 of the battle.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Morkai Campaign
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