Strategic Update

A Strategic Update (Events of 741.M41) – Part 3

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After the orks gained air superiority over Imperial troops on Hegira, the greenskins launched a massive attack to break the defenses of Susa City. Here, a number of ramshackle but effective ork aircraft flies over Imperial lines.

The Emperor protects. The Emperor protects. The Emperor . . . No! Ahhhhhhhh!“—a common Imperial prayer that, sadly, often is uninterrupted by violence

* * *

Orks edge closer to victory on Hegira

The war on the desert moon of Hegira had fallen into stalemate by the beginning of  741.M41.

The most notable military action in the early months of the year was a secret mission to the ork-occupied Barad mine, Mouth of the capital of Susa City.  One thousand men—an entire Imperial Guard battalion—was transported by Valkyries to  seize a valley that reportedly is the site of mysterious lightning storms and a strange glow that Imperial psykers warn is a sign of Warp energies.

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Orks and Imperial Guard struggle for control of the massive defensive works surrounding Susa City on Hegira.

Almost nothing is known of the mission’s outcome, except that the battalion was withdrawn after a day on site. (Rumors of the Underhive (3 060 741.M41)

Another minor incident occurred on 3 405 741.M41, when a squad of PDF troops ran into a small raiding party of orks on Morthrai, one of Hegira’s sister moons (also designated as Sculptor IIb). This small body of about a dozen orks were repulsed by the patrol, and their presence on the moon was explained away as a small raiding party from Hegira. (Troops discover ork raiders on Sculptor IIb)

The vast majority of ork warriors on Hegira itself was concentrated around the fortifications defending the half-surrounded Susa City.  Although a number of half-hearted attempts were made to seize the city, much of the fighting in the first half of the year involved skirmishers where orks tested the city’s defenses—or Imperial patrols roamed “no man’s land” to discern ork intentions.

On 3 433 741.M41, for example, a few hundred guardsmen and orks clashed outside the city during an Imperial patrol, with the orks repulsed by disciplined volley fire. (Patrol clashes with orks near Susa City)

Another incident on 3 592 741.M41 followed a crash of an Imperial shuttle just outside the city’s defenses. A squad of Imperial Guard were sent to destroy the shuttle. Finding the orks already there in force, the squad wisely did not seek to recapture the aircraft—they simply detonated its fuel tanks a the shot of a plasma gun and withdrew. (Imperial patrol stops ork pilfering)

As the year wore on, however, ork activity around Susa City picked up. On 3 699 741.M41, more than 20,000 orks launched a night attack and surprised the fortifications surrounding the city. The greenskins breached the first line of trenches at three points before a small force of Knights of Altair arrived to drive them back. (Dreadnought stops ork attack)

The success of this relatively small attack raised serious concerns about the viability of the city’s defenses, and that concern proved prescient. On 3 801 741.M41, the largest ork offensive of the war—involving 5 million xenos—slammed into the western defenses of the city.

This was the most immense and bloody battle of the decade-long war, with nearly 2 million casualties on both sides. Thousands of artillery pieces, tanks, armored transports joined the fighting, and both sides committed their most powerful assets: Stompas and Bandblades.

After a week of fighting, the orks managed to penetrate both defensive lines of the city, but the xenos were finally stopped by the Imperials throwing every last reserve into the fight. Still, the kilometers-deep defenses of the city had been broken, and the entire moon’s population faced the prospect of total defeat. (Orks break through Susa City defenses)

The Imperials faced yet another defeat soon afterward, when on 3 825 741.M41, a xeno mechanized force estimated at 30,000 stormed the defenses of the 77th Hegira PDF Regiment in the Sea of Dust, halfway around the moon.

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Orks and Imperial Guard troops clash in the “no man’s land” outside the besieged Susa City.

The greenskins advanced nearly 50 kilometers before Imperial reserves could stop them. Soon after, other attacks also made gains against Imperial lines, and Imperial strategists began to worry that the stalemate of recent years was coming to an end. (Orks advance in Sea of Dust)

Still, the cost of breaking through Susa City’s defensive lines was heavy for the ork invaders and, despite their love of battle, even they needed to regroup after such intense fighting.

Thus, for the remainder of the year, the fighting in Susa City eased. Of course, the orks continued to storm the city, but these engagements usually were small and of little tactical significance.

A good example of these small actions was an incident at Generatorum B39 [Grid 629-A25], where a four-man observation team was attacked by approximately a dozen orks wandering the ruins in search of loot or a fight. (Too many orks, not enough men)

Another was a company-level action in which a few hundred orks, supported by walkers, attempted to seize the Achaeon Suburbs—a small residential complex evacuated of civilians just before the battle.

Facing the orks was  Alpha Company, 19th Barad Mine Volunteers,a militia unit that did an outstanding job of rebuffing the greenskins. (Orks stopped at Achaeon Suburbs)

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The latest in Tau technology—and still unknown to Imperial military leaders—arrive in the Al’gel System, where the Tau intend to field test their prototype ships. To the xenos’ dismay, these ships were ambushed by a superior ork force and two of these priceless ships were lost to ork boarding actions.

Imperial Navy hard-pressed by xeno threats

Although the Imperial Navy is constantly at war, only a handful of naval actions  garnered much publicity during the year (other than the Necron attack on the Melinoe Naval Base).

To the joy of Imperial citizens throughout the Sculptor System, the Knights of Altair launched an attack on the Tau-occupied Decora Mining Base on 3 127 741.M41,

Led by the Imperial Creed, a strike cruiser with an illustrious history, the Astates naval force easily defeated the station’s defenses and supporting Tau war vessels. (Astartes defeat Tau warships near Decora Mining Base)

At the same time, a number of Knights of Altair boarded the mining base, which orbits near the system’s Great Asteroid Belt, and, after a series of small firefights in the narrow corridor of the space stations, seized control of the base. (Astartes retake mining base in Sculptor System)

Some months later, a reminder that there is a significant ork naval presence in the system  occurred on 3 833 741.M41, when the greenskins attempted a brazen raid against commercial vessels orbiting Hegira.

A small flotilla of nine Imperial warships clashed with the orks. Two orks gunships were destroyed, but four Imperial escort ships were boarded and gutted  by the xenos.

The ork raid had no chance of success, as sizable number of Imperial warships were patrolling the area and rushed to the scene. But the orks succeeded in causing mayhem and managed to withdraw without difficulty, disappearing into the Great Asteroid Belt. (Ork fleet attempts to blockade Hegira)

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Although most Imperial citizens re aware of the ork threat on Hegira, the greenskins are threatening Imperial worlds in at least three sectors. Only this year did news reach the populace that the Nemea System was invaded.

Multiple worlds suffer attack this year

The industrial planet of Satorus was victim to a horrifying raid by traitor Astartes calling themselves the “Night Lords.” Descending on the city of Excalbia, the Night Lords and thousands of heretical cultists swept away resistance by local Arbites and PDF troops, and the traitors captured more than 1.2 million Imperial citizens. A fleet of orbital landers shuttled these wretched souls to massive transport ships in orbit The fate of these poor souls can only be imagined. (Rumors of the Underhive – 3 183 741.M41)

A far more serious threat to the security of the Corvus Cluster was the fall of the Armory World of Vanamon to the Emperor’s Children, a shockingly blasphemous name for a warband of traitor Astartes. (Rumors of the Underhive – 3 183 741.M41)

An Imperial Navy destroyer was forced to fire upon a merchant vessel after responding to a distress signal and discovering the civilian ship infested with a deadly xeno species known as Genestealers. (Rumors of the Underhive – 6 430 741.M41)

In mid-741.M41, Imperial authorities shared news of a massive ork invasion of the Nemea System. Although the actual invasion began in late 740.M41, it was only in mid-741.M41 that it was announced that Nemea Secundus—an agri-world that feeds the massive hive cities of Nemea Primus—already had fallen to the greenskins. (Orks invade Nemea System)

* * *

TheGM: What does the future hold for the Corvus Cluster? I can only guess, but here are my predictions:

• The fate of Hegira may be decided this year. The Gaffer has greatly bolstered his ork army with all kind of nasty new units, and he is always discovering some new trick or rule to bolster the orks’ effectiveness.

• There will be a lot of battles fought on Morkai, Dozaria, and the Dryillian Quarantine Zone, as I do a lot of solo gaming when The Gaffer and I can’t get together. I’ve got some new troops, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do on the tabletop.

• The Blood Wolves will become a greater threat (as The Gaffer bolsters his latest army).

• Finally, with the start of the Damocles Gulf Crusade, I’m hoping to bolster my Tau army with giant walkers and give Imperial forces a tough fight.

Thanks for following our adventures!

Click here to return to the beginning of the Strategic Update.

Click here to return to Part 2 of this update.

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

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