Sunday, May 31, 2015

Libria III: Alliance retake West Cartasia

The loss of the Dark Eldar from the alliance didn't seem to make much difference to the ongoing ground campaign on Libria III as 06.015M42 began. Although the loyalists were now in control of the space around the planet they were unable to turn that to their advantage, as the alliance still had a huge advantage in terms of atmospheric craft. With only one carrier following the destruction of Sir Bedeviere, the imperial navy simply couldn't compete. Orbital bombardments were helpful, but the imperial fleet had to both conserve ammunition in case they were attacked from space, and bombardments tended to lead to the ultimate destruction of settlements rather than their liberation, so were used only in the direst of situations. For the most part the imperial navies resources were spent ensuring supplies reached the beleagured General Launceston. They were no help whatsoever to the crusade, who Pendragon's fleet largely ignored.

The alliance launched their next offensive on 0105.015M42, moving a powerful tau force, led by commander Skyfall and his experimental riptide wing into the plains of West Cartasia. Here the land was generally flat, and the defending crusade forces were unable to match the alliance in raw firepower. The initial; assault quickly took the urban area of Krichten and swept the small inquisition indentured guard forces out of the area.

True to the crusade tactical doctrine, once the tau had committed their troops the elite counter attack followed. The Sky Lords mounted an armoured spearhead into the centre of the tau defence, supported by an Adeptus Mechanicus Knight. Initially the tau had severe problems countering the mechanicus war engine, and several precious riptides were simply ripped apart by the mechanicus leviathan. the sky lords too had initial success, their armour largely protecting them from the withering fire. However the battle turned in the city of Krichten itself, as the core of Skyfall's troops desperately tried to defend key positions from the onrushing astartes.

In the middle of the thickest fighting, a riptide finally managed to wreck the Sky Lord's command land raider, forcing the terminators inside to advance on foot. Not only did this slow the marines down, but the entire tau line was now able to open up on the infantry. Despite their advanced ancient armour the terminators were cut down by sheer weight of fire and prevented from reaching the tau lines. This was a significant setback for the astartes force, who now found their flanks beginning to buckle under tau pressure. The Knight continued to wreak havoc, but there was only one. Eventually the remaining Sky Lords, accompanied by the Knight, were forced to turn back to the coast, leaving Krichten and West Cartasia in the hands of the tau. A weakness in the riptide wing had been identified, but more territory had been lost to the xenos invaders.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Libria III Current

Libria III: Dark eldar mercenaries show their hand

While Pendragon's fleet was conducting its surprise attack on the federacy at Libria III, Admiral Somerville was left behind to patrol the jump point and protect the rest of the imperial fleet from being ambushed itself. His force was centred around the fast battleship Lion, sister to the experimental Tiger which had blown up so spectacularly against admiral Thok.

Tiger led a battlegroup which included an apocalypse class cruiser and a dictator, as well as escort support. While on patrol, Somerville encountered anomalous sensor readings on a number of occasions, and on 3005.015M42 moved to investigate. Proceeding with caution the rear admiral was not surprised to find the strange readings materialise into four dark eldar cruisers, which closed with the imperial battlegroup at speed.

The ensuing engagement was indecisive. The dark eldar vessels found it difficult to penetrate the imperial armour and shielding, and Lion's speed and long range gunnery quickly crippled three of the xenos cruisers. At the same time the aliens found that while the imperial cruisers were almost immune to their attacks, the sword class frigates appeared vulnerable. Somerville lost all five of his escorts in the battle, but was able to group his cruisers together for mutual protection. The dark eldar declined the offer of battle and withdrew to lick their wounds.

Meanwhile on the ground with the federal fleet driven off, the alliance looked to their mobile eldar allies to carry the fight to the enemy, using the webway to quickly deploy overwhleming force. A previously unutilised dark eldar kabal were seen in the vanguard of the new alliance offensive in the Cartal mountains. This extra force proved decisive and once again the crusade armies were driven out of the highlands and back to their narrow coastal strip, with the adeptus sororitas taking the brunt of the casualties.

In Comorragh meanwhile, the archon of the Shattered Silence, which had provided much of the dark eldar support to the alliance was beginning to consider his position in the venture. His kabal had gained much wealth and power from the arrangement, but now increasing demands were being made of his mercenary force, and with other kabals now competing for alliance "contracts", the ability of the Shattered Silence to negotiate high prices for their services was being undermined. With immediate effect the Shattered Silence declared they would no longer provide forces for alliance needs, depriving the alliance of one of their most flexible formations.

Libria III: Pendragon ambushes the federal fleet

For months the federal fleet had been carrying out an effective blockade of the Libria system. Since the defeat of the imperial fleet in the outer reaches, the federacy had kept up a significant presence in the Libria system Initially their goals were far reaching, including supporting troops on the ground, keeping supply lines open and preventing enemy forces from reaching the theatre on Libria III.

This remit was almost impossible to fulfil. The federal fleet had been largely succesful in keeping supply lines open, but without tau support their force wasn't large enough to be everywhere at once, and the crusade in particular were able to continuously resupply their own forces using their fast moving astartes warships and conduct orbital strikes.

To counter the crusade specifically in 05.015M42 the federal admiral moved his ships much closer to Libria III itself. His force consisted of the battleship Haskell, heavt cruisers Pride of Tallax, Peacemaker and Liberator, as well as the dauntless class cruisers Romulus and Remus, with support from four firestorm frigates.

This new deployment prevented the crusade orbital strike capability and enabled the crusade to move forward with their ground campaign, but the close blockade of Libria III put the federal fleet at risk. The battlegroup was now stationary around the planet, and deprived of its scouts which would warn against attack. To mitigate against this the federacy began to build defences around Libria III, converting two vessels into defence monitors and laying minefields.

These defences were far from complete when the loyalist fleet, led by Admiral Pendragon, launched an attack against the federacy. Admiral Jellicoe approved the plan submitted by his junior admiral, and detached an additional force to supplement Pendragon's fleet.

The imperial force arrived in the Libria system in late 05.015M42 and remained undetected as it moved in system. Rear admiral Somerville's supplementary force led by Lion was detatched to patrol the area of the jump point, while Pendragon's fleet, led by the battleship Sir Gallahad and the grand cruiser Sir Bors, moved towards Libria III itself.

As the imperial flotilla approached the planet, Pendragon ordered silent running, and the imperial battlegroup was able to close to deadly range before being detected by the federal warships, which were mostly in orbit around the world. This ran significant risks as the imperial ships were running on 30% shield power, and an ambush would have been catastrophic. Fortunately the federal force remained in orbit, unaware and unprepared for what was about to happen.

The initial salvo from Pendragon's ships was the first the Federacy knew of the loyalist presence in the system. This could have been devastating, but poor fire discipline from the loyalist ships meant that the defence monitor Emancipation took much of the intial fire, reducing her quickly to a wreck. In reply the federal fleet scored immediate hits, with the vast majority of the alliance vessels reacting quickly to the appearance of an enemy battlegroup in their midst. The exception was Peacemaker, and the dominator class vessel failed to move, her guns staying silent and she soon became an easy target for the imperial vessels.

The federal admiral was immediately able to cross the imperial "T" with his fast moving firestorms supported by Romulus and Remus manoeuvring into position broadside on to the advancing enemy vessels. To counter this, Pendragon ordered his dictators to rush ahead, launching a devastating torpedo and bomber attack which saw two firestorms wrecked, Remus hulked and Romulus crippled.

The initial action had been a success for the imperium, but the dictator class vessels Sir Percival and Sir Bedeviere now took the full firepower of the federal battlegroup, with Sir Bedeviere destroyed in minutes, her plasma reactor detonating showering the immediate area with debris. Sir Percival managed to escape the fusilade, but the grand cruiser Sir Bors was badly damaged by nova cannon fire.

In retaliation the imperial dominator class cruisers switched their fire to the enemy flagship Haskell, and accurate nova cannon fire caused crippling damage to the federal battleship, while Peacemaker, still inactive, became a sitting target for the loyalist fleet as they passed her by. Twenty minutes into the engagement Peacemaker was put out of action, her power generators knocked out, and she took no part in the battle.

The advantage was now strongly with the imperial admiral, and the federal battlegroup began to turn to port, forming a line parallel to the imperial vessels but travelling in the opposite direction. As they passed down the starboard side of the approaching imperial battle line, a bombing wave from Pride of Tallax wrecked Sir Bors, who had failed to get herself out of the battle line following heavy damage. Even with this success, with Peacemaker lost, Haskell badly damaged and his fast squadron eliminated, the federal admiral knew he was in an impossible tactical position. After a few more exchanges, during which Liberator was crippled, the federal fleet disengaged en masse, leaving the imperial fleet in control of the planet.

Pendragon realised too late that his enemy had disappeared, and lacking escorts, he was unable to relocated the enemy vessels. Peacemaker was captured, but the hulk of Romulus was taken in tow by the federal fleet, and the rest of the battered battlegroup was able to escape. The victory was widely hailed in loyalist circles, and provided a much needed morale boost to General Launceston's beleagured forces on Libria III, but given the tactical situation and the risks taken, Admiral Pendragon was left with the question "why didn't you get the lot?"

LOSSES Loyalists: Grand cruiser & cruiser destroyed
Federacy: cruiser & light cruiser destroyed, 3 escorts. Battleship & 2 cruisers crippled

Order of Battle:
Federal Fleet
Haskell (crippled)
Pride of Tallax
Liberator (crippled)
Peacemaker (hulked - captured)
Romulus (crippled)
Remus (hulked - escaped)
4 Firestorms (2 destroyed)

Imperial Fleet
Sir Gallahad
Sir Bors (Hulked)
Sir Bedeviere (hulked)
Sir Percival
Sir Tristran
Sir Robin

Libria III: Alliance push ahead

As 05.015M42 drew to a close the alliance continued to make gains on Libria III. In the south of Cartasia the Iron Warriors reversed the crusade's recent successes, taking the ruined city of Cartal back from VOrushko's army before she had even had time to reclaim her former seat of power. By now the Federal fleet had been recalled to close orbit, preventing further crusade intervention from space, and the alliance's domination of space and the air sooned reaped dividends.

Further north the offensive up the Varras isthmus continued, with the Shattered SIlence kabal emerging from a previously unknown webway portal in the flank of Launceston's loyalist army. The Space WOlves responded supported by loyalist mechanicum skitarii, but the dark eldar pulverised them as they moved into position. By 2605.015M42 Launceston's capital had fallen, and the alliance continued to push forward.

Minos: Imperium holds on

On Minos the brutal fighting had taken its toll on both sides by the end of 05.015M42. However it was the imperial army which was better able to absorb these kinds of losses, as the iron warriors were an elite force of ancient super humans . The simply couldn't afford to suffer the attritional losses the same way the Novgorod could. With no hope of immediate re supply the imperial commanders simply had to dig in and await what was coming for them.

The next assault on the imperial lines came on 2205.015M42. Rather than expend his precious elite forces or even his limited mortal human units, Warsmith Stahl consented to a plan put forward to him by one of his allies, a tzeentch sorcerer who Stahl despised. The sorcerer proposed utilising the power of the warp to defeat the common foe, and while the Iron Warriors' leader detested the denizens of the empyrean, he was not above using them as tools to meet an end. In fact many of his war engines were powered by the shackled spirits of warp entities, so the plan was approved.

The daemonic hordes were duly summoned in front of the lines of Novgorod soldiers, and they threw themselves wholeheartedly into the fight, capreing gleefully at the opportunity to wreak havoc in the mortal realm. Once again the imperial forces took heavy casualties and were inexorably forced to give ground, but despite the ferocity of the daemonic onslaught, the lines held long enough for the imperium to weather the storm, and before very long the unnatural army began crumbling, its tether to the physical plane slowly dissolving.

The operation had caused carnage, but the line had not been broken. Stahl made his displeasure clear to the tzeetch sorcerer, who was summarily dismembered in front of the ranks of his loyal followers, but the warsmith knew the casualties inflicted had been useful and his own forces had not been diminished. The fall of Minos was only a matter of time so long as the corpse god's followers failed to send any reinforcements to the beleagured Novgorod defenders.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Libria: Loyalist collapse

By late 05.015M42 General Launceston's loyalist forces were in disarray. In the north they had lost Berdysian Point and the crusade were pushing west into Pardle. By 2005.015M42 the crusade had landed thousands of troops to support this front, and fresh units were joining the front line every day, while the loyalists struggled to redeploy.

On 2105.015M42 a sustained offensive was launched by the crusade to capture the mountains to the west of Pardle, then to swing north, cutting of the loyalists in Pardle Bay. The operation was a success as the Mechanicum led the assault. The mountainous region, defended by the Novogorod Guard, proved a difficult nut to crack however, as the loyalists were as ever willing to accept casualties in order to slow down the crusade offensive.

At one point it looked as if the loyalists might hold off the Mechanicum long enough to keep the road to Pardle Bay open, but in the end the superior firepower of the crusade force just managed to force a passage to the sea. Now Pardle Bay was surrounded, with no way to resupply it.

In the south, the weakening of the loyalist defence lines against the alliance had predictable consequences. On 2205.015M42 the alliance, led by the Iron Warriors, launched a new offensive against the depleted Lycaon Guard units on the Varras isthmus. The offensive lasted three days, and in that time the alliance closed to within shelling distance of the loyalist capital Newhall, where a general panic set in. Launceston was forced to move his command to a mobile leviathan further north.

Libria III: Crusade make gains

Having secured a new bridgehead in the north and taken the pressure on the crusade held terriroty in Cartasia, the crusade immediately capitalised on their victories. In the north the loyalists were still struggling to respond to the new front, and Vorushko's army were taking advantage of the lack of alliance presence in orbit by shuttling troops from one area to the other by astqartes and mechanicum vessels in low orbit. The alliance, though posessing air superiority over the loyalists, were unwilling to throw their air force into the assault against the crusade, particularly where the troop movements were from Cartasia to the loyalist front. In hindsight this may have been a mistake.

The Apocalypse Riders delivered the next savage blow to General Launceston's cause when they ambushed a force of Lunar guard near Grable. The loyalists hadn't expected the crusade to be able to cross the Pardle Bay so quickly, and were taken by surprise. In the battle the astartes were able to delay the Lunar Guard's armoured forces long enough to drive a mobile force into the loyalist artillery, neutralising their firepower. The Lunar Guard commander was killed, crushed under the weight of a Rhino's tracks, which further disrupted the loyalists ability to respond, Defeated, the loyalists pulled back. Now the crusade had two cities in the north and the loyalists were in serious difficulties.

In the south the Sisters of Battle and their indentured Librian, Vannaheim and now Lycaon Guard units continued their drive against the alliance. The crusade army had swelled to include a number of ex-imperial guard and PDF forces, but unlike the loyalists, these guard forces were never allowed to act independently, and always had astartes or sororitas leadership. Vorushko (and her forces) did not trust guard forces from bitter experience of defeat.

The crusade met stiff resistance from the alliance as they pushed north. Bitter fighting in the Cartal mountains raged for days around between the crusade army and a force of Iron Warriors supported by the Shattered Silence. A confused and at times violent engagement, eventually the crusade secured the higher peaks in the Cartal mountains and were able to shell the city of Cartal, Vorushko's previous capital. Realising this wasn't the place to make a stand, the alliance withdrew, allowing Inquisitor Vorushko to reclaim her now ruined capital.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Libria III: Crusade comeback

With the alliance and loyalist forces having failed to finish off the crusade on Libria III and with their access to highly mobile elite formations, it wasn't long before Inquisitor Vorushko's forces re-established themselves on the most important world of the Libria system. First, the Sisters of Battle loyal to Vorushko launched a new offensive at the head of a substantial imperial army against the alliance in Cartasia. With their main forces tied up in Varras fighting the loyalists, the alliance could only call upon a handful of non-Librian units, although these were quickly reinforced by the eldar and dark eldar. The Shattered Silence put up a surprisingly hard fight for alien mercenaries, but eventually the numbers and equipment available to the crusade began to tell, and West Cartasia and the city of Quattria were retaken.

Her base secrure, Vorushko now launched a new offensive against the loyalists, reasoning that although the alliance were the main enemy, she needed to break the loyalist cause. Only then could the imperium be united in its purpose. With this in mind the Minotaurs were called in to launch an assault from orbit. Using their fast escorts and strike cruisers to evade the patrolling federal fleet, the astartes delivered a strike from the skies with unparalleled violence. The defenders were totally unprepared for this opening of a new front, as the blow had come at the settlement of Berdysian Point in the north of Libria III.

General Launceston quickly deployed two regiments of Lycaon Guard to the area, aware that if the Minotaurs were even just delayed in establishing a defensible perimeter, the crusade would not be able to establish a beachhead on the new front. The result was a massacre. The Lycaon guard regiments were systematically annihilated by the Minotaurs and Berdysian Point became the new base of operations for the crusade in the north.

Ork counter attack on Hylas

By mid 05.015M42 the imperial army under general Van Dorn had made sweeping gains on Hylas, and some even allowed themselves to believe that the war, which had already been raging for years, would be over soon, perhaps within months. Van Dorn and imperial command however never believed the orks were finished. Time and time again the greenskins had come back from defeats and retaken all their losses. In the west, Von Bismork was planning just such an attack.

The objective for the greenskin warlord was simple. Inflict a crushing defeat on the imperium, take back as much land as possible and kill as many humans as he could. It was hardly surprising therefore when the attack came against the imperial left flank, close to the Hylas plateau. This section of the imperial line was held by the Novgorod guard, and this gave Von Bismork the opportunity he needed. The guard forces were the least well equipped of Van Dorn's army, and the mainly infantry based force presented the orks with the chance of slaughter they craved.

The ork attack was well organised and brutal, proving VOn Bismork had lost none of his control over the greenskin forces on Hylas. Gradually, despite characteristic stubborn resistance, the Novgorod forces were worn down and forced to give ground. Within a week this forced Van Dorn to retreat into West Coast, yielding ground to the greenskins and bringing an end to the string of imperial victories on Hylas.

Arch Cleric emerges in the Vastrid subsector

Many months after the Arch Cleric's apparent disappearance from the sector, the former leader of all chaos in the Aleph sector re-emerged once more, this time in the Enceladus subsector. Apparently having given up on his conquest of Zadoc, the Arch Cleric now led a significant attack on the orks on the minor world of Gorlag. The greenskins, nominally loyal to the now pre-eminent ork warboss in the sector, were taken by surprise and after a bloody battle resoundingly defeated. Few orks were left alive on Gorlag and the world passed into chaos control, while the imperium and others tried to make sense of the Arch Cleric's motives.

Minos: Carnage on the front lines

The seemingly unstoppable Iron Warriors had now taken overall control of Minos and the Novgorod Guard were in rout. In early 05.15M42 Imperial Command, desperate to save the Minos spaceport, created a desolate no mans land in front of them to stall the rapidly advancing enemy. As before the Iron Warriors advanced through the night, which by this point the Novgorod were expecting. Stahl wanted war on Minos done with, and the lackeys of the corpse god dead. The Novgorod intended to delay the Iron Warriors long enough until Minos could be reinforced. The result was the bloodiest battle for Minos yet.

The Imperial defenders, comprised of survivors and now veterans of the war of Minos were well aware of the threats they faced. The Medusa artillery crews opened the firing on the forces of chaos and, equipped with night vision equipment, executed the cursed Daemon Prince in a single shot. The Iron Warriors meanwhile advanced on regardless once again into the teeth of the Novgorod guns. With every step the withering firepower and artillery of the Novgorod took their toll, first Rhinos, then spawn, and finally the Maulerfiends. The traitor astartes themselves simply continued advancing through the bombardment, butchering any guardsmen in reach, a score dying for each Legionaire.

By midday the ground was no longer visible beneath wrecked daemon engines, tanks, corpses and blood. The Iron Warriors had suffered greatly for their part, but just after 14:00 Imperial Command lost contact with the Novogord Commander in the field, his last vox message simply incoherent screaming before being cut. The death of the Novgorod Commander brought the opportunity that the traitor forces had been waiting for, as one after another the Novgorod started to break against the implacable Iron Warriors. A little after 15:37 reports came across the supply lines that the Iron Warriors forces had broken.

The Novgorod guard had succeeded in bloodying the Iron Warriors, fighting them to near exhaustion, but failing to stop them. This hard battle had enraged the traitors, who had taken to butchering any and all that supported the Novgorod in any form, and many who had not. Stahl in the coming days further reinforced the Iron Warriors and prepared for the final push in the war of Minos. Imperial command fell into complete panic, sending out desperate distress signals for help, but with the Imperium so thinly stretched, there was little hope of any response to their pleas for aid.

Libria III: Loyalist invasion fails

One week after their attempted invasion of Quattria on the south coast of Cartasia, general Launceston's loyalist forces tried again to remove the last of the crusade forces from Libria III. This time the Novgorod regiments were backed up by several regiments of Lycaon Guard, and the whole force was landed successfuly on Farran Isle with no opposition from either the alliance or the crusade. However it was the invasion of the mainland which would face significant opposition.

The attack proper saw the Novgorod guard landed to the west of Quattria while the Lycaon guard moved in from the east. Here the loyalist met a significant force of mechanicum troops loyal to Vorushko, but after a bloody encounter the Lycaon forces made progress, achieving their objectives by the end of the first day.

To the west, the Novgorod guard had a tougher challenge, facing the elite forces of the Apocalypse Riders. These astartes forces quickly decimated the vanguard of the imperial force, and before long the loyalist left flank had collapsed into a general rout. Frustrated general Launceston was once again left with no option other to withdraw Farran, despite the Lycaon suggestion to dig in and make another assault on Quattria later. The crusade had held on once again, and dislodging them from LIbria III by the loyalists seemed further away than ever.

Zadoc: Calogne retaken by chaos

Following the success of Rahvan Malkaor in the north of Zadoc, the forces of chaos were quick to strike back against the tau. Probing for weaknesses the loose chaos alliance found that in the south only Skyfall's experimental cadres stood between them and the city of Calogne. Skyfall's troops were extremely well equipped, sporting the latest in Riptide technology, but in terms of numbers, the tau were outnumbered at least five to one by the chaos army. And these numbers were about to dramatically increase.

The chaos attack started with the human cultists. Ill equipped and lacking much in the way of tactical cohesion the cultists were easily dealt with by the tau, but soon after the engagement started a host of daemons suddenly materialised, transforming the battlefield into a seething mass of daemonic energy. Quickly the Riptides of Skyfall were deployed to meet this threat, but although the larger entities proved no match for the tau weaponry, Skyfall's army was soon overwhelmed by the smaller daemons. Taking heavy casualties the tau commander ordered an organised withdrawal before the precious Riptides were damaged. Calogne was surrendered to the chaos to prevent a rout.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Hylas: Mechanicum forge ahead

Following successful interventians by the Minotaurs and others, much of the north of Hylas had been returned to imperial control by the beginning of 05.015M42. However in the east Von Bismork still held territory which was uncomfortable close to Brockley and Collingwood.

Having taken the pressure off the north, and with significant reinforcement from the Adeptus Mechanicus, the army under Van Dorn now planned a modest mission to reduce the threat to these two key imperial cities. Attacking swiftyl, the Mechanicum were in the vanguard of the attack, and their weaponry devastated the greenskin lines. With the Imperial Guard following up, the greenskins were rolled back along the length of the front, and by 0505.015M42 the danger to the imperial cities had been lifted and Desmond was in extreme artillery range for the first time in years. The imperium now hoped to defeat the orks on Hylas within the terran year.

Libria III current

Libria III: Crusade cling on to toehold

Novgorod Guards vs Sisters (No vanaheim) 5-5 draw. Novgorod artillery inflicted heavy casualties on the sisters, forcing them to abort their attempt at a mechanised counter attack. Novgorod guardsmen also took heavy casualties when trying to press their advantage, and were only driven off when the Crusade gained aerial superiority and started to strafe the massed ranks of Guardsmen. Resulted in an inconclusive stalemate.

By early 05.015M42 the situation in southern Cartasia was dire for the crusade. Many of Inquisitor Vorushko's aides were counselling withdrawal. However the inquisitor lord was resolute. Withdrawal was not to be considered while the crusade still had adequate forces to pursue the campaign. And resources she had. It was the loyalists however who attacked from the sea and attempted to remove the crusade. Attacking Aegon from the sea the Novgorod guard launched a massive assault supported by a devastating artillery barrage. This inflicted heavy casualties but the Sisters of Battle defending the coast held firm.

Unable to counter attack with their mechanised forces the crusade called for air support. Waves of avenger strike craft appeared overhead and bombed the loyalists positions mercilessly. Unable to respond to the aerial threat, the Novgorod forces found it impossible to breakout of their beachhead, and on 0605.015M42 General Launceston called off the assault. The crusade held on for now.

Hylas: Minotaurs build on Imperial gains

The recent imperial gains in the long war for Hylas received a boost in early 05.015M42 when company of Minotaurs arrived in the system, reporting that the "Bork" fleet previously known to be in orbit around the planet was nowhere in sight. This fact allowed the Minotaurs to co-ordinate their efforts with General Van Dorn on a new assault. While the imperial guard lumbered slowly forward, the Minotaurs prepared a devastating orbital assault which the orks under Von Bismork appeared to be oblivious to.

The greenskins advanced confidently towards the imperial offensive, only to be brutally savaged by the Minotaurs precision strike. Drop pods and Caestus assault rams poured from the sky, breaking up the ork formations and annihilating the ork equipment. Lacking cohesion the greenskins were mercilessly cut up by the astartes and guard forces. With a gaping hole in the front line the whole of West Coast fell quickly, and soon Van Dorn's army once again had the city of Berkeley in sight.

Libria III: Alliance close in on victory

The end of 04.015M42 brought more success for the forces of the alliance, with victories on two fronts. In South Vale the Iron Warriors under Apollo led the attack into the Varras isthmus, as their armour and equipment were the more capable of withstanding the heavy artillery which had been deployed by Launceston and the Lunar Guard to defend Lazarus from the advancing alliance. The Iron Warriors moved into the isthmus, and the Lunar Guard opened up with devastating firepower. However the astartes ancient armour withstood explosions which would have decimated lesser forces, and were able to close with the imperial guard lines.

In close proximity the Iron Warriors heavily mauled the imperial defenders, inflicting crippling attrition on both men and machinery. Thus compromised the imperial line crumbled, and soon the Iron Warriors were followed up by regiments of Librian rebels. The defence of Lazarus quickly became untenable and Launceston reluctantly ordered a retreat. After months of seige, Lazarus had been taken by the loyalists from the rebels. Now with the aid of the ancient astartes the city had fallen in just hours.

In the south of Cartasia the alliance made more gains, with the Iron Warriors defeating the Sky Lords and forcing them to retreat from the Cartal mountains after a closely fought battle. At one point the Iron Warriors were struggling against the heavy armour of the crusade force, and the elite terminator armoured battle brothers. However in the end superior discipline and the heavy armoured infantry of the breecher seige squads turned the Sky Lords' flank, forcing the withdrawal.

By 0105.015M42 the alliance were within touching distance of removing the crusade, and had all but taken the south.

Vastrid Subsector: Dark Angels raid Shattered Silence bases

In mid 04.015M42 the Dark Angels received intelligence that the dark eldar were building a base over their world of drift. This they concluded would allow them to raid further and with larger forces, destabilising the imperial rule over the sector. This was accurate intelligence, but the imperial astartes woefully underestimated the force the aliens had concentrated in the Drift system, and completely underestimated the xenos intentions regarding the subsector. The Archon of the Shattered silence Kurokenshi and his allies, intended on total domination of the Radeon Cluster, far more than mere raiding of worlds.

The Dark Angels quickly realised the strength of the enemy force, but attacked none-the-less. They found their opponents a tough nut to crack, and spent far more time trying to eliminate enemy units than they would have wanted. The Shattered Silence were able to whether the storm of astartes fire, and wraithguard units were successfully deployed around vital objectives the Dark Angels were hoping to take. In the end the xenos defence proved unassailable, and the imperial forces withdrew from Drift, fleeing from the Dark Eldar fleet in the nick of time. The raid had been a failure, but now the imperium were aware of the threat from the aliens in the Radeon Cluster.

Stahl makes further gains on Minos

Warsmith Stahl sought to rapidly capiltalise on his previous victories hoping to acheive a break through, cutting the Imperial lines into the Minos hearlands. The few Novgorod survivors from previous engagements had briefed their Colonel of the Iron Warriors tactics and composition, which allowed them to form a battle-plan that would turn Stahl's own tactics against him. The Novgorod Colonel days prior to the engagement requisitioned rare techno-arcana utterly negating Stahl's time time raids, and the Colonel left conscripts out of position to tempt the Iron Warriors into attack, an invitation which on 0205.15M42 was accepted.

Expecting to close the gap quickly the Iron Warriors were shocked to come under immediate fire in the early gloom. Despite the element of surprise the initial artillery bombardment was not particularly effective, due to the crews still finding the range of the Iron Warrior position. In return the Iron Warriors stuck to their initial calculations and assaulted through the conscripts.

Initially the conscripts listened to the frenzied sermons of their Ecclesiacal Priests, holding against the entire assault sections of the Iron Warriors. This didn't help a great deal however, as they were all butchered within minutes, with a savagery that was beyond anything even the Novgorod had witnessed. The Iron Warriors attempted once again to flank the guard positions, but their colonel was expecting this and launched his air support and reserves catching the Iron Warriors off guard once again, destroying both their vindicator and bikes, including the commander.

With the Iron Warriors right flank collapsing the Novgorod forces might have gained the upper-hand, but the the local commander received repeated demands through vox and then a direct order to take the center ground which, as a good imperial officer, he obeyed costing him and his soldiers their lives. The Iron Warriors fell upon the remaining Novgorod infantry and artillery sections, repeating the butchery meted out upon the conscripts. After the insane orders from command only a handful of Novgorod soldiers survived the battle, wasting precious defensive resources for the battles to come. Now Stahl was in sight of the main Minos stonghold itself.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Stahl breaks out of his Bridgehead

The next move by the forces of chaos came just a few days later. In the early morning of 2803.015.M the Lycaon Guard intercepted an Iron Warrior force attempting advance out of their bridgehead into Imperial positions under cover of darkness. The Lycaon Guard Commander, having familiarised himself with Stahl's battle tactics, had briefed his men to eliminate the daemonic machines first which in the gloom was rewarded with fireballs erupting from the industrial complex indicating success.

Stahl had relayed orders to take the imperial positions no matter the cost so the summoned daemon prince abandoned his own attempt to secure the complex, leaving his forces to face the teeth of the Lycaon Guard's guns. Rhino's, Spawn and even some legionaries suffered casualties reaching the imperial positions, but despite this, the Iron Warriors fortified the forward ground as ordered, and then vented their anger upon the lackeys of the emperor. The Lycaon line momentarily buckled as several companies retreated against this renewed counter attack, putting the entire defencive line in jepoardy. However with orders barked at them from their Commander order was restored and the line held. For a moment the Iron Warriors looked like they might be rebuffed, but the chaos bikers proved this false, being able to flank the command tanks and destroy his support. The armoured forces commander, knowing the position lost, called a retreat, leaving the Iron Warriors with yet another victory in the invasion of Minos.

Stahl invades Minos

For more than a year the forces of chaos had failed to make much headway against the Imperium. Their attempt to invade Bastien had ended in defeat, and although they had managed to rid Zadoc of the worshippers of the corpse god, the alliance had intervened and now the Arch Cleric was firmly on the back foot. Worse still the Iron Warriors now had to contend with their ancient brethren in the Zadoc subsector, as the warp rift which had seen Admiral Haskell create the Federacy had once again brought forth ancient foes from the dark past.

Warsmith Stahl had been luke warm at best about the invasion of the Zadoc subsector. He yearned for the retaking of the Perseus Deeps, long a stronghold of the traitor legions and a base from which the Iron Warriors sought to eventually reclaim their destiny. The Harakhty Dynasty, which had swept all before it in previous years, now appeared dormant, and following General Veers abortive efforts to gain a foothold on Mordecai, and the defeat of Jellicoe by Admiral Thok, Stahl knew it was the right time to go on the offensive once more.

Stahl chose his original target, Minos, to launch his new crusade. He reasonedas before, that taking a base so close to the Imperium's vital bases in the Vastrid sector, would render them impotent against a later reconquest of Bastien. His forces set off in late 04.015M42, and on 0105.015M42 war came to Minos.

The invasion took place in the dead of night, and Stahl's arrival caught the Imperium off guard. throwing the Imperial defence plan into tatters. Stahl's enemy comprised of the Novgorod Guard and a force of Space Wolves, deployed to Minos on intelligence that suggested an imminent attack. Moving his Iron Warriors into the open, Stahl presented an apparent opportunity for the imperial forces to counter attack, and the followers of the Emperor fell straight into the chaos trap.

The Wolf Lord with his Thunderwolf Cavalry immediately assaulted the chaos spawn in the centre of Stahl's force, hoping them to be the first of many, however it was not to be - rather they were to be stuck fighting the invisible Spawn while there minds befuddled by magic for most the battle.

With the Wolf Lord trapped in combat, on the left the Rough Riders attempted to atone for their previous failures by destroying Rhinos containing the Iron Warrior Tank Hunters who were targetting the Space Wolves Murderfang and Vulnerable Dreadnought. Unfortunately the Rough Riders failed miserably. In return the passengers disembarked and destroyed Murderfang, while the Rhino Tank Shocked and broke the Rough Riders who were then run down by the Iron Warrior Bikers. At this point the order to break the foe came from Stahl who personally led the attack on the right flank. Hellbrute Mayhem packs and Helldrakes were released upon the field from orbit and in a coordinated attack, every unit that could fell upon the Imperials supported by fire from Vindicators, Obliterators and Havocs. The Skitarii forces attached to the Space Wolves attempted a rescue by drop pod assault to prevent the second wave of Maulerfiends from launching an attack, and they half succeede. However in return they were met with a storm of bolter fire and finally were torn to pieces themselves.

Meanwhile on the right flank a demolitions team mission to assassinate Warsmith Stahl went disastrously wrong due to grav-chute mechanical failure. The Imperials attempted to call on further air support but it was too little to late. During the hour of carnage the Wolf Lord was still trapped fighting ghosts. Realising the Iron Warriors had seized the forward positions, killed all other commanders, broken both flanks, flooded the centre and sent Maulerfields behind Imperial lines into the Mechanicum armour there was a risk of a general rout on the field and so called a tactical retreat to spare the Imperium further losses. Stahl now had a foothold on Minos, sending the Imperial high command into a frenzy of panic.

Libria III: Latest events

Libria III: Loyalist gains reversed

While the crusade were undoubtedly in terminal decline on Libria III, the war between the alliance and general Launceston's loyalists showed no signs of being won quickly. In previous weeks the loyalists had managed to catch the alliance overly concentrating their forces in the west, allowing Launceston to take advantage in the east. Waneria had fallen and the cities of Belleron and Caister were now under threat. Realising theis, the tau and their allies redeployed rapidly to the region, while in the west, the Iron Warriors prepared an assault on South Vale to prevent the new loyalist offensive isolating them on the Varras Isthmus.

In the south, the overwhelming technological superiority of the Iron Warriors and their mechanicum allies proved too much for the Praetorian Guard defending the southern front. With crushing predictability the Praetorians were badly mauled and soon Launcestons forces were once again forces to withdraw from the Vale into the Varras Isthmus.

This victory was followed up with commander Skyfall and the Shattered Silence orchestrating an operation in Waneria to retake their recent losses. The imperial advance was soon reversed as the new riptide suits now available to Skyfall caused havoc amongst the imperial guard. The Librian regiments facing the tau took heavy casualties, but Skyfall didn't have it all his own way and was prevented from taking the Spit Mountains themselves, the summits remaining in imperial hands. The twin cities however had been relieved.

Meanwhile in classic hit & run style the dark eldar of the Shattered silence, aided by the eldar themselves, smashed the Lunar Guard forces holding the Waneria plains. The Imperial Fists tried to intervene to hold of the xenos assault, but took heavy casualties to so far unencountered eldar weaponry, a kind of wytchfire which burned guardsman and astartes alike in their armour.

Disappointed, Launceston ordered a withdrawal. By the beginning of 05.015M42 the loyalists were back to their positions they had held before the offensive had begun a month before.

Libria III: Crusade reduced to toehold

During the last few days of 04.015M42, the Crusade suffered serious setbacks on Libria III. In West Cartasia Shadowstrike deployed his forces to shore up the front following the defeat of the Shattered Silence. His force was soon in action against the Vannaheim Guard and Sisters of Battle, and by 2804.015M42 the imperial line had been forced back to the ourtskirts of Quattria. THe Vannaheim commander asked for reinforcements but by then Vorushko had been forced to commit her reserve in the defence of Cartal.

In mid Cartasia itself, the loyalist offensive against the alliance continued, with the Space Wolves sending forces to aid the advance. Teaming up with the adeptus mechanicus, the astartes led the assault on the crusade capital, Cartal, while Vorushko's main force was engaged further south by the alliance. Despite a late intervention by the Dark Angels, the crusade was forced to abandon the city and move to Aegon. Now the Crusade had been reduced to a mere toehold, with their southern cities of Rhallor and Aegon under seige on two fronts.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Rahvan Malkaor advances into northern Zadoc

Throughout the first quarter of 015M42 the war Zadoc between the forces of chaos and the alliance, chiefly the tau by this point, had fallen into a stalemate, with both sides making small attacks with limited scope. Thus far the alliance had been profitting out of this, gradually eroding away the chaos held zones and capturing key cities. The lack of apparent interest on both sides was driven by warmaster Stahl's obsession with retaking the Perseus Deeps from the Imperium, and the alliance's urgent need to intervene in the Librian situation.

However during 05.015M42 the tau began to receive disturbing intelligence from the chaos occupied sectors, particularly those in the north. Daemonic incursions were increasing, sacrifices were becoming widespread, and disturbing changes began to manifest in reality itself. Commander Rahvan Malkaor decided to act, and sought permission to lead an advance on Andisele in the north of Zadoc. His plan would be to take the island of Anorigo by amphibious assault, and for this he requested reinforcements. His request was denied. The tau would have to attack with the forces at their disposal.

Fortunately for Malkaor the powerful Iron Warriors forces of Stahl were much reduced and concentrating on fortifying in the east. Much of the Arch Cleric's forces had dissipated with their leader's departure and the island and it's capital were now under the control of forces loyal to Krae'thrun'yzz The Puppetmaster - a blasphemous deity the tau found baffling.

Lacking any professional army, the chaos defences in the north quickly buckled, and the tau became cautiously optimistic of an easy victory. However soon the skies grew dark and other-worldy forces began tugging at the veil of reality separating the physical universe from the insanity of the warp. Before long a horde of daemonic entities had appeared to block the path to Andisele. Violent close quarters fighting broke out, although the chaos gods appeared not to favour their own kind, and the daemonic entities peroidically appeared to become less well defined, and their powers diminished. This inconsistency proved to be a weakness Malkaor was able to exploit, and gradually the tau overcame the daemonic army, and by the beginning of 05.015M42 they had achieved their goals.

Andisele fell to the tau revealing a charnel house of slaughter, and a disturbing environment where the physical universe had become a plaything of the god. Buildings, trees and the landscape itself had been warped, and as the power of tzeentch withdrew from the region the city suffered several catastrophic collapses, reducing much of the infrastructure to ruins.

Hive fleet Medusa reappears

While Imperial sector command were focussed on containing the alliance threat in the Librian system, predominantly oblivious to the internal divisions in their own ranks, and bolstering defences in the Perseus Deeps with the resurgent chaos threat, they were caught off guard in 04.015M42 by an attack from an unexpected quarter.

Gabriel's world, fought over and secured for the imperium in 013.M42 was not expecting the sudden appearance of the alien menace ofthe tyranids. Nothing had been heard of hive fleet Medusa, and Nemesis had not been reported further "west" than the Perseus Deeps, and had been in decline for some time. Suddenly, when an outlying settlement was found with its population massacred, and various biological parts removed from the dead, the imperial authorities raised the alarm.

Vannaheim regiments, assisted by the Adeptus Sororitas were quickly deployed to the base. Since the arrival of Titus Luthor in the sector the Vannaheim and Lycaon regiments had been central to the imperium's defence, as the Librian regiments were degraded by the war in their own system. Now the Vannaheim guard were called into action again, and despite the ferocity of the first tyranid assault the imperial line held.

The first encounter confirmed the presence of the aliens and vidpict analysis verified the aliens as belonging to the Medusa lineage. This first action was soon followed however, as the Dark Angels responded to another set of garbled and frantic distress messages, this time from the other side of the planet. Unable to redeploy in strength in time, the imperial guard could only listen in to vox traffic as a Dark Angels strike cruiser launched its payload of death into the midst of the alien swarm. then, to their horror, they picked up communications asking for immediate extraction, as more and more aliens poured out of the caverns around the isolated southern hemisphere outposts. Gabriel's World was declared "infested" on 0105.015M42