“If your battle plan’s working, it’s probably a trap.“—Kolton Phae, On Military Matters, 739.M41
* * *
The military doctrine known as the Kauyon requires a Tau commander to use terrain effectively—and have the patience to wait for the exact moment when to launch an ambush.
Shas’o Vi-Tasha was such a commander.
Once the Imperial tanks were in effective range of the Hammerheads, and the opposite flank of the Gue’ron’sha was in motion—yet still too far way to support the armor—she ordered her Crisis Suits to leap from the overhead Mantas and drop right behind the Imperial tanks.
Diving off the xeno aircraft, the battle suits fell swiftly through the cloud cover and finally cleared the clouds only 200 meters above the ground. They ignited their jetpacks, descending to the ground on pillars of fire. They landed hard—but less than 30 meters behind a pair of Vindicator tanks.
The shock of landing did not disrupt their attack for a moment. Almost instantaneously, the battle suits’ targeting arrays locked on their targets and fired twin-linked Fusion Blasters into the vehicle’s thin rear armor.
Incandescent beams of plasma—blindingly bright—slammed into each tank, melting away their outer Cereamite layers of armor and digging deep into the underlying plasteel hulls. An eyeblink later, both tanks exploded.
The Imperial attack faltered as the Marines attempted to respond to this new threat. Thanks spun, churning up dirt, as they sought to bring their weapons to bear against this new threat.
Yet even more challenges arose. To the east, a phalanx of Piranha skimmers suddenly appeared from behind a nearby forest and raced toward the smoking troop carriers on the road. The xeno craft also armed with Fusion Blasters, and Imperial vehicles and armored Marines vaporized as they were struck by plasma beams.
Disarray and Destruction
How, Duplantier wondered, had the xenos gotten behind him without warning? That thought briefly flashed through the Astartes sergeant’s mind before he ordered his tank to turn and target the Crisis Suits that had appeared—and now threatened to lay waste to his entire command.
Two squads of Marines at the burning Rhinos charged toward the Crisis Suits, so Duplantier turned his attention another threat: a xeno skimmer that was turning to bring its weapon to bear on one of his few surviving tanks. His genetically advanced brain quickly calculated the skimmer’s speed, and he fired both his turret and sponson lascannons where he estimated the craft would be a second later.
Skimmer and energy beams intersected at the same position at the same moment, and the sergeant had the satisfaction of watching the xeno craft transform from a sleek weapon of war into a spray of molten metal and ceramic that splattered the ground and set it afire.
It was his last thought. A moment later, a Railgun shell slammed into the side of the Carnage, bore through its armor, and filled the interior of the tank with molten plasteel and superheated gas that killed Duplantier and his driver.
Shame and Despair
It was taking too long for his flanking troops to reach position, Vivant realized. Unwilling to accept yet another defeat, he increased his pace as he led his troops forward toward the closest farmhouse held by the Tau.
The xenos opened fire, and Marines began to fall. The young captain cursed the Tau weaponry—so powerful that even their hand weapons could penetrate power armor. He cursed as he listened to reports from the beleaguered armor column—now fighting a battle on two fronts as the Tau infantry suddenly began to advance to support its Crisis Suits.
Incoming enemy fire suddenly slackened in front of him, and Vivant could hear a gun battle breaking out in the distance. His scouts, transported by a squadron of Land Speeders, finally had gotten behind the Tau lines and launched their attack.
Yet, as he crossed the distance to the fighting, his heart sank. The scouts had run into a more powerful force than estimated. Hundreds of elite Fire Warriors—known as Breachers—were pouring out of the farm houses, where they’d been hidden, and they laid down a deadly volley of pulse shotgun blasts. His scouts were getting slaughtered.
There was a huge explosion amidst the fighting. As he listened over his vox channel, someone reported that a xeno transport had opened up with a Burst Cannon, shooting down one Land Speeder that then crashed into a second. Both had been destroyed as they’d hit the ground, their wreckage intertwined in a deadly embrace of metal.
The scouts were withdrawing. His tank commander, Duplathier, was reportedly dead, and what was left of his armor was fighting to break out of the Tau trap. And now the xenos in front of him were turning their guns back on his approaching force. So close, Vivant thought.
He ordered a general retreat. The Tau had won the day.
Scenario: Eternal War
Imperial Victory Conditions: 0 v.p.
Tau Victory Conditions: 5 units destroyed (5 v.p.) and First Blood (1 v.p.) = 6 v.p.
Major Tau Victory
TheGM: Ouch. That was a disappointing defeat for the Knights of Altair. I blame the fiasco on Captain Vivant. Despite his stellar career up to now, perhaps he was prematurely promoted. His win-loss record is 0-3 so far in the Crusade, and I shudder to think what High Marshal Ioculus will say when he learns of this.
To be honest, this probably should not be a major narrative battle (but it was). I asked The Gaffer to command the Knights of Altair, and although a formidable foe, he has no real experience commanding Space Marines.
And the Tau are very tough. We still play 7th Edition, and when the Tau “Deep Strike,” they are deadly. I’ve played Space Marines for years, and if I don’t use what I call my “wimpy” strategy (circle the wagons until the Tau reserves are on the table), I tend to get slaughtered. So I’m not surprised at the Tau victory.
But, so what? It was a fun afternoon of rolling dice and pushing models. Clearly Vivant isn’t up to par, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. And it’s somewhat amusing—if disappointing—if the Knights don’t get to cross the Damocles Gulf with the rest of the Crusade.
I mean, I’ve only been waiting seven years for this campaign, and now Vivant has screwed over my hopes of using my Knights in the great battles of the Crusade. But I’ve still got an Imperial Guard regiment on the transport ships, so one of my armies will have a chance at glory.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
Categories: Damocles Campaign