Damocles Campaign

Knights of Altair suffer new defeat on Namatos – Part 2

Warhammer 40K blog

Although an air superiority fighter, this Barracuda conducted a number of strafing runs that cost the Space Marines dearly.

I have taken great pains not to laugh at the actions of aliens, nor to weep at them or to hate them, but to understand them.”—Ethereal Aun’shi

* * *

Tau Turn Two

Three Fire Warrior teams, the Riptide, and a Devilfish carrying a Breacher Team arrive from reserve. Two Fire Warrior teams move into shanties on the west side of the road to provide fire support for the Pathfinders.

The plan is simple: the shanties will provide the Fire Warriors with solid cover and force the Space Marines to spend precious time storming their positions. That will keep the Imperial infantry out in the open and subject to fire.

One of the most deadly units in the Tau arsenal soars overhead. Diving from the clouds above, a Barricuda fighter targets one of the Rhinos, and its ion cannon tears the vehicle apart.  ( 1 v.p.) Its passengers are forced to disembark the smoking wreck.

The Hammerhead with tank ace decides not to press its luck. Pulling back behind the trees, it focuses its railgun at the shanties. If the Space Marines advance to threaten the Fire Warriors, they will be met with heavy submunitions fire.

The third Fire Warrior team, Riptide, and the Devilfish advance far to the east of the road, shielded by trees, in the hopes of turning the Space Marines’ right flank.

One Rhino destroyed. Imperial v.p. = 2    Tau v.p. = 1

Imperial Turn Two

An Assault Squad “deep strikes” from reserves, but it faces a dilemma as it drops from the sky. The Tau are packed together, with lots of supporting crossfire, and to land near the xenos invites certain annihilation.

The aerial assault is stymied. The squad is forced to use its jetpacks to shift their descent to the southeast corner of the battlefield, where they will be screened by woods but in a position to meet the Tau flank attack.

Captain Vivant asks about the whereabouts of his remaining reserves: a Vanguard Squad and a supporting Stormtalon gunship. He learns that Tau fighters are attacking all Imperial aircraft in the skies, and the reserves are having a tough time reaching the battlefield. Help will arrive when it arrives.

Still, a flaming comet drops from the sky, falling too fast for the xeno aircraft to intercept. It’s a drop pod, and it lands directly behind the Hammerhead with tank ace. Its outer hatches open, and out stomps  a mighty dreadnought: Ancient Kanoss.

The dreadnought stops only meters from the Hammerhead’s vulnerable rear armor, raises its multi-melta, and fires. Nothing happens. Error messages blink inside the visor of Kanoss, and the speakers in his helm roar out his fury at the weapon’s malfunction.

At the road, the Imperial armor is largely impotent. None of theTau heavy guns are in line of sight. Frustrated by the xenos’ cowardice, the Space Marines’ Imperial Predator fires multiple lascannon at shanty with the Pathfinders, punching holes in the structure until it collapses. One Pathfighter is killed, and the lone survivor scurries away.

Also lacking a worthy target, the Sicaran tank targets another shanty. This building is shredded by the tank’s Accelerator Autocannons, and three Fire Warriors disappear in a miasma of blood and gore. This building also collapses.

Only one Rhino transport remains operational, and it finds itself blocked by the destroyed Rhino to its front, as well as by the Space Marines disembarking from the wreck. Stymied, the transport is essentially immobilized this turn.

Also frustrated are the Land Speeders. They are only meters away from a shanty filled with Fire Warriors, but the thin metal walls of the shanties are sufficient to render useless the vehicles’ heavy flamers.

No units destroyed. Imperial v.p. =  2    Tau v.p. = 1

Observations: I still use 7th edition rules and, it became very clear this turn that the rules on intact buildings greatly enhance the defense.

You see, unlike ruins, intact buildings are treated as transports. That means the Space Marines cannot target the Fire Warriors inside—they can only target the buildings themselves. So, while these are ramshackle structures, an attacker must devote at least one turn to destroying the buildings before they can get to the enemy within.

I suspect most players weren’t aware of these rules. (It took seven years for me to read them carefully.) But, depending on the armor class you put on an intact structure, intact buildings can be quite a speed bump.

We gave the shanties an AC of10. That mean the Land Speeders need a 5 or to do damage, and a bolt gun need a 6. So, the Imperial advance is going to be slowed for at least one more turn.

I like this rule.  Now “dug in” troops are a tough nut to crack, and that makes terrain much more interesting for the tactically minded.

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Sensing the hesitation of the Space Marines, this Hammerhead opted to stay behind the cover of trees and wait for the humans to come to it. Its presence—along with its powerful railgun—proved a powerful psychological deterrent.

Tau Turn Three

The Tau pull their signature stratagem: they drop Crisis Suits to the Knights’ rear flank.

Actually, they do far worse. Falling on columns of fire, the Tau Warlord—equipped in a XV 22 Stealth Suit—and two Crisis Suits, each armed with two fusion blasters, makes an incredibly risky drop into the narrow gap between the Space Marines’ Sicaran Relic Tank and the Predator.

The xenos land right on target and, with no infantry support, the Imperial tanks are virtually defenseless. The Tau make the most of it. The warlord targets the Sicaran tank and, despite the vehicle being protected by a ceramite ablative layer, the two plasma beams of her fusion blasters penetrate deep into the vehicle. It promptly explodes. (1 v.p.).

At the same time, the two bodyguards in Crisis Suits turn their fusion blasters on the Predator talk and leave it into a smoking hulk. (1 v.p.)

The majority of the Tay army is forced to deal with the rampaging Ancient Kanoss in their midst. The Hammer desperately fires at point blank range with its rail gun, but the fast-moving dreadnought sidesteps the shot at the last moment. One of the Broadside combat suits fires a flurry of missiles at the walker, but the explosives fail to do any significant damage.

It falls upon a flurry of light-arms fire to save the day. The advancing Devilfish turns around, disembarks is Breacher Team, and empties its burst cannon at the dreadnought. The Breacher team does the same.  So does a nearby squadron of gun drones. Although technically small-arms fire, The Tau weapons are powerful and all their fire is directed at the dreadnought’s weaker, rear armor, and the mighty Kanoss finally is brought down.  (1 v.p.)

To the west, the lone Pathfinders makes his way eastward to the safety of the main army. So, too, flees the Fire Warriors abandoning their collapsed shanty. One stubborn fire team, defending a still-undamaged shanty, decides to stand its ground and targets a nearby Land Speeder. They do no damage.

Meanwhile, the Tau puss forward on the Imperial right flank—now supported by a new Crisis Suit team that “deep strikes” to the east of the Sicaran wreck.

The Sicaran Relic Tank, Predator Tank, and Ancient Kanoss are destroyed. Imperial v.p. = 2    Tau v.p. = 4

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With the Space Marine armor taken out of action, the Tau realize the initiative is turning in their favor. Tau infantry advance to create a firing line to meet the now-unsupported advance of the two Space Marine infantry squads.

Imperial Turn Three

Tau air superiority remains strong, and Vivant’s urgent request for air support goes largely unanswered. Still, a particularly skilled Thunderhawk pilot manages to break through the xeno air cover and drops Chaplain Numa and a squad of Vanguard Veterans.

As he falls, Numa realizes that the only viable target for his squad is the advancing riptide. He guides his men to a drop point only 20 meters from the giant xeno walker, and they open fire. The walker is protected by a shield generator and ignores the bolt rounds as it they were falling rain.

To the southeast of the Riptide, the Assault Squad advances on the recently arrived Crisis Suits. Boltgun fire takes down one of the battle suits. 

To the west of the road, the Space Marines find themselves struggling. The one Rhino still operational advances through the corn field, while the Space Marines that disembarked from the immobilized transport advance on foot. Their boltguns prove useless, however, against the Tau entrenched in the shanty. The Land Speeders’ heavy flamers also accomplish nothing.

Captain Vivant begins to realize that the tide of battle is turning against him.

No losses. Imperial v.p. = 2   Tau v.p. = 4

Observations: For some reason, Vivant fails to remember a lesson I learned long ago (yet keep forgetting): Tanks require infantry support.

I mean, the last battle saw 11 Tau combat suits drop next to the Imperial armor—and only bad die rolling by the xenos kept the  tanks from being destroyed. This time, three Tau combat suits—just three tiny miniatures—wiped out two of my best tanks (and the third is immobilized and has no defense for the coming turn).

This is just embarrassing.

The Tau, meanwhile, are doing splendidly. They have mutual supporting lines of fire, they’re turning the Space Marines’ flank, and their use of the shanties is holding up what’s left of the Knights’ offensive efforts. 

Click here to read the conclusion of this battle report.

Click here to return to the beginning of the battle.

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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