“Victory is not taking the battlefield. Victory is destroying the enemy. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool.“—Commissar Bernard Mantel, speaking as the prosecutor at the trial of regimental officers after the disaster at Arnac-la-Poste
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Tau Turn Five
The battle is winding down as darkness falls. The Fire Warriors continue their retreat from the rampaging dreadnought, and the Barricuda circles for another strafing run over the Imperials.
Yet the Hammerhead tank and Riptide suddenly find themselves with a delicious target: Ancient Brother Quillicus has allowed his bloodlust to overpower his centuries of tactical acumen. He breaks out of the cover of the woods without thought, putting himself squarely in front of both powerful xeno weapon systems.
They open fire, and take a leg off the dreadnought. Quillicus falls, giving the Tau a 5th victory point versus the Imperials’ 7.
Imperial Turn Six
With their forces exposed to heavy xeno ordinance, the Imperial assault is facing checkmate. The Vanquisher targets one of the Piranhas, but the shot scatters.
Captain Vivant and Chaplain Numa charge another Piranha, and Captain Vivant, jealous that the chaplain had taken down the first skimmer, takes the opportunity to ram his power sword deep into the xeno vehicle’s hull. The skimmer slams to the ground, and the crew is quickly killed.
There remains, however, one surviving Piranha, denying the Astartes another victory point.
The rest of the Space Marines race forward to salvage what’s left of Ancient Brother Quillus and drag the heavy dreadnought back into the safety of the woods.
The score remains unchanged: 7 v.p. for the Imperials, 5 v.p. for the Tau.
Tau Turn Six
Darkness is only minutes away, but the fighting continues. The Barricuda strafes the crossroads. Captain Vivant and Chaplain Numa are helpless against the rain of plasma that engulfs them, and the two heroes fall, wounded but still alive.
With their two leaders down, the Knights of Altair realize their efforts to punish the xeno scum will not be rewarded. Frustrated and shamed by their failure, they carry their officers off the field of battle and withdraw.
The fall of Vivant and Numa is devastating. The Tau gain two victory points for taking down two characters, as well as earn a point for Slay the Warlord! Both sides claim Linebreaker.
The final tally: Imperials is Imperials: 8 victory points; Tau: 9 victory points.
Result: Minor Tau Victory
TheGM: Several big mistakes were made by the commanding officers (ie. me). The Tau deployment was designed so that, if the Imperials went straight up the middle, they would face a lot of xeno fire.
If the Imperials took the northern road, the Tau would withdraw their west flank, while the Hammerhead tank and Riptide would fire from the safety of the woods and stream.
But there were problems with that plan. When the Imperials did take the road, the Tau realized that refusing the flank did not allow them to bring their firepower to bear at the start of the game. What’s more, given terrible rolls for moving through difficult terrain, the Riptide also was out of action for several turns.
(It didn’t help that the Astartes managed some real damage with their token attacking force up the river. If the Storm Talon hadn’t crashed on the Land Speeder, those two skimmers might have done even more damage.)
Anyway, there’s no doubt about it: the Tau deployment really underutilized the Tau’s great advantage in firepower.
The Imperials did little better in their planning. They ignored standard battle protocols that I put in place years ago. When there are Crisis Suits sitting in reserve, don’t advance. Put infantry behind and on each side of the tanks, so the xenos cannot Deep Strike and shoot you in the butt.
Only once they land do you rush forward.
By allowing the Crisis Suits to land behind the armored column, the Astartes lost a precious tank—and rightfully should have lost a second. Poor target choice by the Tau allowed the Vanquisher to survive the initial attack, and even though it had only a single hull point left, it managed to slaughter a significant part of the Crisis Suit threat all by itself.
That said, the Space Marines largely dominated the fighting, and they slaughtered the Tau’s counterattack. So, in a sense, they were in a better position to win the day.
But the reality is that, with the Hammerhead and Riptide finally in position, there was no way for the Astartes to advance without getting a bloody nose. The Tau held.
The failure to destroy the xenos means that the Knights will fall behind the Crusade’s schedule. They must stay on Namatos until the xenos are destroyed, while the larger crusade advances forward. There’s a chance that the Knights of Altair will not play a significant part in the overall campaign—and that would be a source of great shame for the proud Space Marine chapter.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Damocles Campaign