Hegira Campaign

Orks break through Susa City defenses (Part 1)

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Bastion 19A-6 and its surrounding trench lines. Note the archaic design of the second trench line. It was upgraded by The Gaffer during the course of the battle.

Forward observers report thousands of enemy vehicles and tens of thousands of orks on foot advancing on Sector 19.  Xeno artillery is targeting trench lines, and sensors identify at least 1,000 enemy aircraft heading our way. This is a major attack. All positions should fire as soon as the enemy is in range.“—General Tiberius Vectrix, supreme commander of the Hegira Planetary Defense Force.

* * *

TheGM: Although Nurgle managed to stymie in-person gaming for more than a year, The Gaffer and I finally are getting together again for face-to-face battles across the tabletop.

To celebrate, we recently played an Armageddon-scale game to determine whether the orks could seize Hegira’s capital, Susa City. We settled on 3,000 points a side, with one Lord of War each.

Due to the epic scale of this event, a blow-by-blow account of the tabletop action was required— so this battle report is hideously long. But I want a good record of this fight, along with some personal observations. As I enter my advancing years,  I want to look back fondly on this batle—one of the most important ever fought on Hegira.

The Scenario

The scenario was inspired by stealing good ideas from a bunch of Games Workshop scenarios. Essentially, the orks have to charge. If they break through the second line of entrenchments, and do enough damage in the process, they win.

Victory points are awarded as follows:

  • Each enemy unit destroyed = 1 v.p. each
  • Slay the Warlord and First Blood = 1 v.p. each
  • Two primary objectives behind the first trench line = 5 v.p. each for the Imperials, 3 v.p. each for the orks
  • One primary objective behind the second trench line = 3 v.p . for the Imperials, 5 v.p. for the orks.

As the Imperium has a LOT of entrenchments, I balanced things a bit by giving the orks unlimited numbers. They start with 3,000 points, but when a unit dies, it is put right back on the table as a reserve unit.

The tricky part was deciding how to end the game. Without a time limit, weight of numbers would give the orks certain victory. On the other hand, the orks had to cross a lot of table (the second trench line was nearly four feet from the ork deployment zone), so if the game ended too quickly, their recycled units wouldn’t arrive in time to make any difference.

So, I added two turns to the basic game (7th Edition rules). Instead of rolling to end the game on Turn 5, the orks would roll to end the game on Turn 7, and it would definitely end on Turn 9.

If the scenario proved to be skewed, well . . . whoever said war was fair?

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The first wave of the ork attack was more impressive than it looks, as each vehicle was packed with mobs of orks. The blue gunship in the background is a looted Space Marine vehicle converted into a Warkopta (so The Gaffer says).


The tabletop scenery was determined by the narrative: Hegira is a desert planet, and the Imperium has heavily fortified Susa City. Needless to say, you would expect a massive 2- or 3-kilometer-deep “killing zone” in front of the trenches.

So, the battlefield was largely devoid of scenery. There were a few mesas along one table edge, and a ruined building was still standing about 18″ from the outer trench line. But, beyond that, the only terrain were lines of tank traps and snagwire.

The Imperial defenses, however, were fairly impressive. The first line of trenches consisted of a Wall of Martyrs, an Imperial Bastion, a Firestorm Redoubt, and some Aegis Lines. The second wall was a an old dirt-and-log palisade that was quickly replaced by home-made trenches built by the Gaffer (read about that here).

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By mid-741.M41, the ork invaders had seized more than 70 percent of the desert moon of Hegira.

The Armies

I wasn’t going to win this on firepower alone. The Gaffer just had too many orks. So, my plan was to throw troops and armor in front of the trenches, sacrifice them as road blocks, and delay the inevitable assault on my outer line of fortifications.

To that end, I deployed three large blobs of conscripts. Two would start in the outer trenches, survive the orks’ first turn of fire, then rush out to meet their God-Emperor. To give them a chance of lasting another turn, I gave each a Commissar and a Ministorum Priest. (The third conscripts deployed behind the inner trenches, so they could rush forward if the orks broke through the outer trenches.)

In the Redoubt, Bastion, and Aegis Line, I deployed regular guardsmen—well equipped with heavy weapons—to man the trenches as needed and serve as a reserve.

I had to have some big guns.  My first choice was a Baneblade—a powerful Lord of War—to duel with the orks’ Stompa. I also acquired three Lemon Russ Tanks (one a Vanquisher). Supported by  a Hellhound and two squads of veteran guardsmen in Chimeras, these vehicles would advance and create a solid wall of armor to keep the trench line ork-free.

“Hold until relieved” was the order.

The Gaffer did the only logical thing he could do. He took a lot of boyz—put them in Trukks, Battlewagons, and a Warkopta—and ordered them to close with the enemy. The faster he crossed the battlefield, the more orks that would make it to the trenches.

To make my life difficult, of course, he took a Stompa. Oh, and he’d studied his Armageddon formations and pulled a doozy of a trick: by putting five aircraft into the same formation, he boosted his aircrafts’ BS to 4.

That’s all I needed: orks that could shoot.

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This map shows the “historical” deployment of troops as the ork attack began. The vastly more numerous orks were fighting a battle of attrition; the outnumbered Imperials were seeking to hold until reinforcements arrived.

Strategic Situation

So, let’s put this battle into perspective. At this point in our narrative campaign, Imperial forces on the desert moon of Hegira are in the midst of an seven-year-old, world-wide war against the ork invaders.

(The campaign years mirror real years, so The Gaffer and I have been fighting over Hegira since 2014.)

Over the years, the Imperials have enjoyed some success in containing the ork infestation. But the orks’ bizarre but highly prolific fungi-based reproductive cycle allowed the xenos to build their military forces faster than the overstretched Imperium could reinforce the armies of Hegira.

(Others might say it was The Gaffer’s tactical acumen that provided the orks their military victories, but no right-minded person would believe that.)

In any case, by 3 738.M41 (three years ago), the orks had conquered most of the desert moon and had advanced on the Imperial capital,. Susa City. In desperation, Imperial forces began encircling the city in fortifications, while slowing the orks with an insane orbital bombardment that devastated vast areas of the moon (and, thankfully, killed millions of advancing orks).

It took time for the orks to recover from being nuked. But they did manage to surround Susa City. What followed were several years of stalemate. The orks would launch a major assault on the city, lose hundreds of thousands of orks, and then the war would settle into a series of skirmishes and raids . . . until the orks built up their numbers again and launched yet another assault that would be thrown back with heavy losses.

In the past year, there was some hope in High command that the Imperium could hold Hegira indefinitely. But the ork warlord, Rumlar, had simply been sending his rivals into battle with the intent of them dying—and with an eye to testing the city’s defenses for weaknesses.

On 3 801 741,M41, Rumlar decided the time was ripe. More than 5 million orks launched an attack of unprecedented scale, involving thousands of tanks and artillery batteries, hundreds of Titan-sized walkers, and a wave of aircraft that overwhelmed the Imperial air defenses in the first hour of fighting.

The center of this attack, involving nearly 1 million xenos, fell squarely on Sector 19 of the western trench line.

Click here to read about the early hours of the battle.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our hobby adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

2 replies »

  1. What a delightful read! I just finished the last section. Susa City appears to be doomed! Do you feel that the scenario could have benefited from some minor adjustments, or was it pretty well balanced?


    • It’s hard to guarantee it’s balanced with only one game (I like to playtest a scenario at least three times before I take to a convention).

      Still, the game was close. Even after I failed to use my “speed bump” tactics correctly, it could have gone my way with a bit more luck.

      So I’m happy with my “best guess” scenario design. Cheers!


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