Al'gel Campaign

Al’gel I falls to Tau Empire

With control of the largest continent on Al’gel II, Commander Broadword saw an opportunity to expand military operations beyond the planet. Thus he turned his eye to the desert world of Al’gel I.—“The Complete History of the Al’gel Campaign” by Aun’el Mor’kan Tal’is’ta, Ethereal caste, Dal’yth Sept, (689-776.M41).

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Excerpt of “The Complete History of the Al’gel Campaign,” the conquest of Al’gel I (742-743.M41)

By mid-742.M41, the Tau High Command was optimistic that the strategic situation in the Al’gel System had swung significantly in its favor.

After eight years of fighting, the Tau finally had wrested control of the main continent of Al’gel II from the orks and, with the greenskin population devastated by the latest Tau offensive, it was expected that the planet would fall within the year.

Yet time was working against the Tau.  Admiral Lightning, senior naval commander for the campaign, reported increasing clashes with ork warships in the icy debris cloud that encircled the Al’gel System. To the experienced naval officer, it was likely that these vessels were not native to the Al’gel System. As feared, he said, word of the war on Al’gel II was spreading to other ork-held systems, and greenskins were gathering at the edge of the system to join the fighting.

Thus, Lightning urged a bold new plan: While the majority of the Tau army completed the conquest of Al’gel II—with the greatest possible speed—a secondary force should strike at Al’gel I, a lightly populated desert world.   By consolidating Tau control of the inner planets, he argued, all military resources could be turned outward to what might prove the greater threat.

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On Al’gel I, the ork population was relatively small. Thus the Tau strategy was not to hold territory but seek battle. Each cadre advanced on an ork settlement, knowing all nearby orks would rush to its defense. The campaign was one of genocide.

Overwhelming force

The senior ground commander, Commander Broadsword, was enthusiastic about the proposal. He immediately divided the Tau expeditionary force into three armies: Two armies remained on Al’gel II to complete its conquest, while the 3rd Cadre and forces stripped from the 1st and 4th Cadres (and organized into a new 6th Cadre) would invade Al’gel I.

Nine warships, including three Kir’la (Warden)-class Carrier Escorts, two Kir-Qath (Defender)-class Escorts, and four x Kass’L (Orca)-class Gunships, would support this new invasion force. At dawn of 6 531 742.M41, a vast industrial center in the southern hemisphere of Al’gel I (known to the orks as “Iron Town”) was subjected to an orbital bombard that lasted one hour.

At the same time, elements of the 3rd Cadre descended 40 kilometers to the north. Within two hours of the bombardment’s end, the 3rd Cadre entered the ruins of Iron Town and began a systematic culling of the stunned greenskin survivors.

Although the xenos fought with their normal ferocity, their depleted numbers were quickly annihilated. The lessons of seven years of warfare against the greenskins were well-used in this campaign: Outmaneuver your opponent. Maximize firepower. Avoid battles of attrition.

What’s more, as the arid planet was of little strategic worth, it would be decades before any serious attempt at colonization would occur, Command Broadsword was not concerned about preserving the planet’s ecosystem.  Thus, Tau forces relied heavily on orbital bombardments—to a degree that would have been unacceptable on Al’gel II.

After the fall of Iron Town, the 1st Cadre advanced on the ork city of “Crushbone,” while the 6th Cadre advanced on ‘Grot Pile.” Just before the Tau reached those communities, both were  leveled by the Tau Navy, leaving the cadres to deal with the stunned survivors.

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One of thousands of small ork towns dotting the arid world of Al’gel I. All were put to the torch or turned into a crater by orbital bombardment.

A quick slaughter

By the second week of the invasion, orks across the planet were racing to challenge the Tau invasion. But, by the time the greenskins could consolidate sufficient strength to pose a threat, two more ork centers—another industrial area and a sizable city—fell to the Tau.

Over the next month, growing ork resistance slowed the Tau advance—but it did not stop it. With the exception of some successful flanking attacks by ork mechanized forces (known as “Speed Freaks”), the orks relied mainly on traditional frontal assaults. This allowed the Tau to use their mobility to best advantage.

The orks constantly were beset by attacks to their flanks , feigned retreats by Tau troops were followed by savage counterattacks, and devastating long-range fire led to immense ork casualties. Many orks never made it into battle.

With almost gleeful abandon after being constrained in the war on Al’gel II, the Tau Navy rained orbital strikes down on more than a thousand population centers on the planet, as well as smashed any sizable concentration of troops moving toward Tau forces.

After six months of fighting, every sizable settlement and industrial complex on the planet was destroyed, and it was believed that 95 percent of the ork population was dead.


Although fighting would continue for several more months, Tau forces were simply culling the last of the greenskins.

Major military operations were completed by 6 142 743.M41. This success came not a second too soon for the Tau. Months of orbital bombardments had left the planet’s atmosphere in turmoil. Millions of tons of ash and smoke had been injected into the stratosphere, and the skies grew dark as high-altitude clouds blocked out the sunlight.

What’s more, the widespread use of energy weapons in the orbital bombardments had ionized the atmosphere, fueling fierce electrical storms whose passage could turn kilometers of desert sand into fused glass—and spell the doom of any living creature left unexposed to the storm.

These treacherous conditions would prevent the total extermination of the orks on the planet, but those who survived were expected to be driven into barbarism and become a minor threat in the years ahead. 

From this point forward, the Tau were firmly established in the inner-system worlds and, once ork resistance was eliminated on Al’gel II, Commander Broadsword intended to turn his attention to the outer planets—and, he hoped, wrest control of the Al’gel System from the orks and establish a new Sept World for the Tau Empire,

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

Categories: Al'gel Campaign

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