Damocles Campaign

Knights of Altair suffer new defeat on Namatos – Part 1

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A Riptide, supported by infantry, advances on the Knights of Altair on Namatos.

“To admit defeat is to blaspheme against the Emperor.”—Primarch Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines

* * *

Strategic Background

It is 6 247 742.M41. The Damocles Gulf Crusade is under way. The main Crusade Fleet has moved against the rebellious Garrus Colony, but the 5th Company of the Knights of Altair Space Marine Chapter has separated from the fleet to deal with the nearby Tau-occupied Namatos Colony.

A few weeks ago, the Knights reached the rebellious world and found a significant Tau military presence. The 5th Company’s commander, Captain Martel Vivant, immediately ordered an attack.

For much of the battle, the Space Marines crushed all resistance before them, but the xenos dropped Crisis Suits behind the Imperial advance and forced the Knights to turn and deal with this threat. This allowed the Tau withdrew in good order.

The failure to destroy the xenos was an embarrassment for Vivant. What’s more, it threatened the 5th Company’s involvement in the crusade. His orders were to retake Namatos quickly, so his troops could return to the main fleet before the long and dangerous journey across the Damocles Gulf.  

If he fails to return to the fleet in time, he will be left behind—a failure that will tarnish the reputation of the entire chapter.

Thus Vivant has ordered a new attack. He must crush the xenos quickly, so he can leave the restoration of Imperial rule to officials of the Administratum and the Imperial Guard regiments reserved for their use. The Knights of Altair are needed elsewhere.


This is a solo game. As I still play 7th Edition, the scenario selected was “Purge the Alien.” Victory points will be awarded for every enemy unit destroyed. So, victory depends on the slaughter that Vivant needs to win the campaign.

The Knights of Altair are played using the rules for Black Templars.


Each army totals 2,000 points. For a full OB of the combatants, click here.



Setting up first, the Tau do not want to commit themselves until they have a better sense of the Imperial plan. For this reason, most of the army is placed in reserve.

The Hammerhead tank with tank ace deploys behind some woods in the northwest quarter of the battlefield.. The second tank deploys to its left, ready to move east or west depending on the Space Marine initial moves.

To the west is a road, and two Pathfinder teams are deployed to target anything that moves along it. One team hides in the wood to the east of the roads; the other is sheltered in a shanty to the west.

Two Broadside battlesuits also are on the table. The one with the heavy rail rifle stands behind the shanty occupied by the Pathfinder team. The second, with several missile arrays, deploys behind the Hammerhead with tank ace.

The Riptide, Devilfish with Breacher Team, gun drones, Barricuda fighter, and three Fire Warrior teams are in reserve. 

The Tau goal is to use the Pathfinder teams to significant boost their accuracy of fire. It’s not certain if the humans will advance up the road, but the reserves are prepared to block the Space Marines if they opt to attack farther to the east.


The Space Marines do, indeed, decide to push up the road. As the Tau have little in the way of artillery, there is no reason to spread out; the Imperial armor deploys in a dense formation. The goal is to rush forward and overwhelm the Tau vanguard before reinforcements arrive. The tanks will take the road; the Rhino transports will use a nearby corn field for cover as they advance.

Vivant believes there are two possible xeno responses:

One, the Tau reserves will arrive directly in front of the Tau, in which the Space Marines will seek to get their Crusader squads into close combat while the tanks keep the Tau armor busy. Meanwhile, the Vanguard and Assault squads will slam into the Tau flank.

Two, the Tau reserves will arrive behind or to the east of the on-board xenos. If behind, the reserves won’t have any room for maneuver; if to the east, their line of fire will be blocked by the woods, and they’ll need time to advance to hit the Space Marines’ flank.

Either way, the fight will be over quickly.

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As the Tau rarely use blast weapons, the Knights of Altair deploy as an armor fist—ready to slam directly into the xenos.

Tau Turn One

With the Knights’ armor in plain view, the Tau Hammerhead with tank ace and the two Broadside Suits  move out from behind cover and blast away at the Imperial tank column driving up the road.

Their accuracy is improved by two Pathfinder teams, which gain a bead on the Vanquisher tank and the screening Land Speeders.

A shell from one Broadside’s twin-linked heavy rail rifle strikes the Vanquisher, but the deadly shot is deflected by the tank’s heavy frontal armor. But a projectile of the Hammerhead’s railgun is another matter: It cuts through the tank’s armor, kills the driver, and comes to rest deep within the tank’s engine.

The Vanquisher is immobilized.

Meanwhile, the second Broadside launches a volley of missiles at the Land Speeders, one of which skews sideways at explosions tear into its hull. The skimmer slams into the ground and leaves a 20-meter scar in the road.

No units destroyed. Imperial v.p. = 0     Tau v.p. = 0

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The initial fire of the xenos immobilizes the Vindicator and takes out a Land Speeder. Inexplicably, Captain Vivant tells his armor to stand and fire—but the xenos slip back in cover and there’s nothing to shoot at!

Imperial Turn One

The ferocity of Tau fire unnerves Captain Vivant, and he inexplicably abandons his original plan. He orders his Predator tank to go “hull down” behind some low-lying rocks, while the Sicaran Relic Tank—already well positioned between rocks and woods—holds its position.

But there are targets in view. The Sicaran tank shreds the Broadside armed with heavy rail rifles. ( 1 v.p. )

The Predator cannot target the Hammerhead, so it puts a lascannon round through the shanty where the Pathfinders hide. Two Pathfinders are killed, and the shed is severely damaged and close to collapse.

Captain Vivant orders the infantry forward. The two Rhinos leave the blocked road and race flat out through a large corn field, using the tall crop to mask them from xeno fire. The two surviving Land Speeders race ahead, hoping to put their heavy flamerthrowers to work on the Pathfinders.

One Broadside killed. Space Marines achieve First Blood secondary objective. Imperials v.p. = 2    Tau v.p. = 0

Observations: With both Pathfinder teams at work, most Tau units are hitting on 3+. The marker lights also boost the deadliness of the tank ace to insane levels. The Space Marines finds themselves outgunned, and Captain Vivant rethinks his original plan of assault. Whether stopping the armors’ advance is the right countermeasure only time will tell.

Click here to read Part 2 of this battle report.

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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