Saturday, December 29, 2007

Winter on Melberg

Both sides dug in over the Mellberg winter. The continent, lying across the planet’s northern hemisphere, cooled, bringing snow and storms to the northern countries, while the south enjoyed more tropical conditions. The weather, north of the mountainous central states, prevented strategic battles of manoeuvre, while snow in Terris kingdom brought the fighting to a complete halt.

Digging in meant different things for the Tau and Imperium. Lenord’s troops built elaborate entrenchments with the armour held to the rear. The Tau on the other hand withdrew from the front lines entirely, with sensor spines and drones alerting the alien forces to any movement on the Imperial side. For two weeks very little moved as snow and rain swept across the western half of the continent.

Apart from the odd raid on both sides the war entered a stagnant period. Neither side was strong enough to launch airborne operations, even when the inclement weather permitted. Lenord took time to redeploy his forces. Cunningham’s army, including the Librian 101st and 57th, held the line up to the river Stridius, while Alexander commanded Army Group Centre, which included the armies of Narmala and Whettis, and the remnants of the Terris Kingdom forces.

General O’Connor, nominally in charge of the Veraconia defence force, deferred to the Dark Angels who wintered on the Island. Meanwhile, General Auchinleck found himself without a command and was quietly moved to other duties. On the other side of No-man’s-land the Tau did similar.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Swiftstar annihilates Grand Admiral Thok

On 0212.007M42 Grand Admiral Thok led his fleet on a raiding mission against the Tau Empire, targetting the weakly defended Manir system, hoping presumably for an easy plunder. However his fleet, once again without any escort, soon found itself in trouble as Admiral Swiftstar's ships were in the vicinity. Tracking the Chaos ships to the Manir system neither side hesitated to engage after exiting the warp, but it was Swiftstar, with his experience of the Aurelis crossing, who kept his fleet together and soon made the first telling blow.

Thok's ships were spread wide with their Grand cruiser in the middle. Seeing this the Tau closed in on two of the Grand Admiral's vessels, Fafnir and Hati, a hades and slaughter class. As soon as they were in range all three of the Protector class vessels opened fire at the same point, immediately hulking both vessels to the absolute dismay of the Chaos Admiral. The firepower was immense and delivered seconds before a wave of seeker missiles and Manta attack craft finished off the blazing Chais ships. Hati skewed out of line while Fafnir drfited dead in space. hati exploded seconds later.

Following the early loss Admiral Thok barely managed to get a broadside at the Tau ships before they started a wide arc to starboard, away from the remaining three Chaos cruisers. Without escorts to worry them the Tau vessels knew they would be safe as they extended the range. As the Chaos fleet attempted to catch up, Swiftstar calculated, correctly, that before the enemy ships got into range he would have completed his turn. Only the other slaughter class, Skoll, provided any real threat.

Again Thok made an error, sending Skoll to close with the Tau fleet. She got one full volley off, doing some minor damage before the entire Tau fleet turned on her, destroying her utterly. Fenrirsulfr was next, leaving the Jormungandr at the mercy of Admiral swiftstar. She too was badly damaged before the Tau Admiral disengaged and headed back to the Manir base. The fleet of the Chaos renegade from Mordecai had been utterly destroyed and would not threaten Tau possessions in the Perseus Deeps for some time. This action in turn allowed Commander Sunstrike to consider diverting forces to Melberg to assist there.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

C.H.E.E.S.E Update

Melberg update

Having recieved reports of the imminent Dark Angels attack commander Shadowstrike decided that he could no longer wait to starve out the defenders in Terracon. As the temperatures in the north fell and the snow began to fall the Tau commander offered terms of surrender to the remnants of Army Group North under Colonel Jeffries. They refused.

The battle developed predictably as the varied forces under Shadowstrike's command gradually fought for each street and building of the city. After taking out the remaining armoured units the Tau were quite happy to bombard each defended construct with massed fire rather than risk Tau lives. Even so the defence remained dogged until 0312.07M42 when the defenders, having heard the Dark Angels were not coming to their rescue, surrendered.

Meanwhile in the South General Cunningham continues the advance south started by the Dark Angels. However commander Longstride ordered his sub-commander Eclipse to stall the Imperial advance. Using hit and run tactics the Tau were able to slow the Imperial Guard troops down.

A large battle developed around the oil depots in south Corona, as each side threw more and more troops into the escalating engagement, neither side willing to withdraw and leave the valuable resource to the enemy. Cunningham was patient, even when Lenord urged him to "get a move on". Ultimately this paid off as the Tau were forced to withdraw having lost the majority of their skimmer tanks to Imperial fire.

One notable change to the Librian Guard was the use of Hunter-killer missiles on their Sentinels, which proved very effective, particularly against devilfish using ambush tactics. Additionally the Librians now went into combat without their Chimeras, fearing the Tau would turn them into burning coffins.

The tactical changes and Cunningham's orders did delay the Imperial advance and Army Group South only managed to advance a hundred miles before the offensive hit the Tau second line. However, Cunningham had delivered a much needed victory for the beleagured Guard forces, proving that the Space Marines were not the only troops able to beat the Tau on Melberg...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bloodbath in space!

On 0112.007M42 the Dark Angels engaged the Tau in one of the most bloody space battles in Tau history. At the end of the battle three new cruisers and two battleships had been destroyed, while the Dark Angels themselves were reduced to two light cruisers and an escort.
The Tau fleet, made up largely of Coldsight's newer vessels, was well aware that the Dark Angels had entered Melberg space and attempted to form up into their most formidable "box" formation. However the Dark Angels were not falling for this. The chapter master had sent five strike cruisers and some fifteen escort vessels, knowing that manoeuvrability would pay dividends in a clash against the Tau.

As the Tau formed into their protective box, the Dark Angels split their fleet into three divisions, the largest of the three working their way around to the rear of Coldsight's ships.The first shots came as the Tau fleet began a lazy turn to the left, heading towards the second cluster of space marine vessels. The Tau poured all their firepower into this squadron, forcing the escorts to flee and the light cruisers to disengage, one limping out of the battle badly damaged.This was to be the high water mark for the Tau.

Coldsight had hoped, rather than truly believed, that the asteroid field on his right flank would be an obstacle for the space marines, but the remaining three cruisers and host of attendant escorts navigated through them with ease, catching the Tau fleet from behind. Swarms of mantas and barracudas duelled with thunderhawk gunships as the Marine fleet fended off Tau ordnance attacks. However in the end the slow and ponderous vessels of the Tau began to succumb to the firepower of the space marine fleet.

Pinafore, the Custodian class which had withstood so much and gained such a reputation steered violently to the left as it burned, before vaporising everything within 5 miles in a huge plasma drive overload. As the Dark Angels closed in for the kill, this would be a taste of things to come.The details of the next few minutes of the battle remain unclear, but the Dark Angels fleet suddenly realised, too late, that the Tau had slowed and they were within just a few tens of miles of the badly mauled fleet. Rather than overshoot and risk being annihilated themselves the space marines closed to point blank range before opening fire with all their weaponry.Then the Tau logic became evident.

One by one the Tau vessels detonated as their plasma drives went critical.Bright Hope and Diligence exploded spectacularly, destroying most of the Dark Angels' escorts. The region of space around the crippled Tau fleet then disappeared in a flash of light as a Tau warp drive detonated... As the fireball expanded and cooled all that was left was one lone Dark Angels escort, speeding away from the carnage!

Later the debris field was searched and the Explorer class battleship found out of action but intact. She was boarded and all the remaining Tau crew killed by the returning Dark Angels strike cruisers. However, the Imperial Vessels soon found that Commander Shadowstrikes fleet had not been engage din the battle and the balance of power had still not been tipped totally in favour of the Imperium. The losses the Tau had suffered ensured that for now the Dark Angels had secured a bloody and costly victory over the aliens.