Little news has been heard from the moon of Dar Sai (Sculptor System) since the fall of the port city of Aruna to Tau invaders on 3 571 740.M41.
But, over the past two years, the xenos have been making a modest but methodical advance through the dense forests of the moon’s Great Continent. The most significant threat has been seen in the southeastern corner of the continent, where the Tau obviously have their sights on the port city of Malifax, one of the moon’s largest and most industrialized cities.
On 3 427 742.M41, the Tau launched a major attack in the direction of Malifax. The attack attempted to take advantage of the fertile Dy’nar Valley, a bountiful agricultural region where the forest has been cleared for agriculture. Such open terrain is highly advantageous for the extremely mobile military tactics of the Tau.
Excerpt: Chronicle of the Tau Invasion of Dar Sai,
With a widespread network of observation posts deployed deep within xeno-held territory, the Imperial High Command had ample warning that the perfidious Tau were concentrating for a powerful attack force at the western edge of the Dy’nar Valley.
Their response was to gather elements of the 728th Cadian Regiment, 3rd and 4th Dar Sai Militia Regiments, and 8th Armored PDF Company on the outskirts of the Cayenne Plantation, approximately 130 kilometers east of Tau’s staging area. All were put under the command of the newly promoted Major Stevrous Stark.
The Tau began their advance on 3 427.742.M41. A column of Hammerhead tanks led the advance, supported by mechanized infantry and protected by a screen of xeno aircraft overhead.
The imperials did not resist this initial xeno attack.
“Imperial forces were organized for a counterattack. A quick advance by the Tau would, it was hoped, make the xenos overly confident and also leave their forces slightly disordered as they raced forward,” Stark said in a later interview. “That disorder, we hoped, would give us a slight advantage.”
TheTau advanced more than 100 kilometers over the next two days, as only a modest Imperial force had been deployed on the front line. These troops put up a valiant defense, but their purpose was not so much to slow the xeno advance but direct it. Stiff resistance was offered everywhere but along Byway 7, a major road that led east through the valley.
By allowing a quick breakthrough there, the Tau would exploit it. A narrow column of xenos would rush eastward and directly into the still-unseen Imperial forces under Major Stark. And that’s exactly what happened.
By 3 433 742.M41, 5,000-xeno vanguard of the Tau reached the outskirts of the Cayenne Plantation in the pre-dawn hours—and suddenly found themselves under attack by a sizable Imperial force spearheaded by the 8th Armored Co.
The Imperials caught the Tau by surprise. In the center, the advance of the 1st Platoon, 8th Armored Co., sent the xenos scurrying for cover, as the Tau contingent of tanks were farther to the north and south, and the xenos only response to the Imperial armor was a single Broadside Combat Suit armed with heavy rail guns.
Meanwhile, to the south, the Imperial attack went well. Elite infantry (Beta Company, 16th Scions Battalion, advanced with support of a Squadron of Exterminator tanks.
But to the north, the Imperial advance stumbled into a position held by Hammerhead tanks and a Riptide, a huge combat walker armed with a dreaded Ion Accelerator Cannon. Heavy fire quickly destroyed or immobilized the Scions’ armored transports and forced this elite infantry to take up a defensive position.
Battle of the Big Guns
The next hour saw the battle degenerate into a battle of attrition using high-caliber firepower. To the south, Tau Hammerhead tanks traded fire with Imperial Exterminator tanks, but the xenos’ usually superior targeting systems appeared remarkably inaccurate. Despite repeated efforts, the Tau simply could do no serious damage.
This firefight ended when the 8th Armored Company sent two Lemon Russ battle tanks, supported by a Vanquisher Tank, to join the fighting. Several Tau tanks were destroyed and, despite a forceful counterattack by Kroot auxiliary troops against the Scions, Imperial troops, supported by a psyker, eventually routed the entire xeno flank.
The Imperial center continued its advance, as well, although the Tau armor shifted its position to target the Imperial tanks—and one Lemon Russ tank was destroyed.
To the north, the Imperial attack remained paralyzed, as strong Tau fire increased with the arrival of a Broadside Combat suit equipped with anti-infantry missiles, which rained down upon Imperial infantry positions and routed one infantry unit after it suffered 50-percent casualties.
Fall of a Giant
By mid-morning, Tau aircraft joined the fight. Strafing runs caused significant infantry casualties, and one Exterminator tank was immobilized
But Imperial armor continued to advance, slicing up the Tau’s left flank and heading north, putting great pressure on the xeno center.
To the north, the xenos attempted to exploit their advantage and destroy the Imperial’s left flank. A Hammerhead tank and Riptide Battle Suit, witnessing the retreat of some Imperial troops, gave chase. The combination of the fire from these two powerful xeno weapons systems caused significant casualties and threatened to rout the Imperial line.
But the xenos were too eager in their advance, failing to provide infantry cover for their mighty war machines. The Riptide came under fire from an Imperial mortar battery, and a burning Chimera transport—seemingly destroyed—was still manned by its crew and managed to turn its heavy flamer on the giant walker.
Engulfed in burning promethium, and struck repeatedly by hundreds of lasgun shots from still-resisting Imperial infantry, the Riptide finally slowed, stumbled, and fell to the ground.
With the loss of the Riptide, the morale of the Tau appeared to collapse—and xeno forces began to withdraw.
The presence of Tau aircraft prevented an Imperial pursuit of the defeated xenos. In hindsight, that was probably for the best. Major Stark’s forces had defeated the vanguard, but there were thousands more Tau only a day’s march from the battlefield.
Stark had blunted the advance of the Tau—a strategic victory—but xeno losses were not so significant that their threat was any less.
The Tau vanguard withdrew approximately 20 kilometers to the River Moe, an easy-to-defend position. With Tau air superiority in the region, Imperial generals say they have been unable to gather intelligence about Tau movements.
A contingent of the Adeptus Mechanicus arrived at the battle site before nightfall, apparently with the intent to remove the wrecked Tau vehicles and Riptide (perhaps for illicit study) but that efforts were stopped by the commissar on the spot. After a heated debate, during which the commissar unholstered his bolt pistol, the Tech Priests withdrew and the xeno artifacts were set afire.
TheGM: Something new! For once, I was not in command of the Imperial Guard. The Gaffer took on that command and, although he knew little of the Tau’s abilities, he dominated the fighting with good tactics.
• The Imperial’s northern advance was stymied early on when the Riptide immobilized a Chimera that was key to the Guard infantry crossing “no man’s land.” That, plus lots of firepower, pretty much stopped the advance.
• To the south, a Kroot unit launched a glorious attack against the Scions. But these elite troops are tough, and they had a powerful psyker who cast both Enfeeble and Endurance, two spells that meant the fighting was quite one-sided in favor of the Imperials.
• As the game came to a close, The Riptide and Imperial infantry fought over control of an objective to the north. I was confident the Riptide could contest the position, but the Imperials fired everything they could at the giant walker and, to my horror, I kept failing saving throws. The giant walker fell, the game ended, and only the tip of an advancing Hammerhead tank within 3 inches of the objective denied the Imperials a victory.
Scenario: Big Guns Never Tire
Army Points: 1,100
Imperial Victory Points: 1 heavy support destroyed and First Blood = 2 v.p.
Tau Victory Points: 1 heavy support destroyed and Linebreaker = 2 v.p.
One objective was not seized; the other was contested.
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Categories: Dar Sai Campaign