Thursday, April 22, 2010

Campaign begins: Landings on Sentinell

Warp storms and problems in organising assault equipment scuppered General Veers' planned invasion of Bastien in 04.010M42. However, rather than simply wait until all the required units were available, Veers decided to keep the chaos forces guessing and on the defensive. to do this a force of some 200,000 men, less than 5% of Veers total battleforce, was sent to Sentinell following alarming news of rituals and strange goings on on the surface of the planet. With just two Imperial cruisers in support the battlegroup was vulnerable, but no enemy fleet was present upon their arrival. A bridgehead was established and regiments of Porphyrian and Cerberex Guard disembarked from their transports.

Initially the landings went well. Caught by surprise the forces of the Claws of Lorek faired badly against the Cerberex regiments who were in the vanguard of the initial assaults. The fortified settlement of Al'Shahek fell swiftly but Imperial leaders realised after two days of impressive gains that the Claws were not about to abandon their hold on Sentinell.

The Cerberex regiments were withdrawn from Al'Shahek following its capture for rest and refit. Casualties had been comparatively light but the commander on the ground deemed it better to install fresh units of the Porphyrian Guard to the hard won settlement. Whether or not this was the right decision will be debated, as the Porphyrians were far less well equipped than the regiments of Cerberex, and four days later on 2204.010M42 the Claws of Lorek counter-attacked. A savage battle for the settlement erupted but the Porphyrians were outlclassed. As quickly as it had been won by the Imperium Al'Shahek fell, retaken once more by the forces of chaos and forcing the Imperial army on Sentinell back to their landing zone. With enemies on all sides the excursion to Sentinell now looked rather ill-concieved, and only time would tell whether or not they would have to re-embark.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bastien: Tactical

Shaidar Haran defeat the Tau

The Imperium were not alone in their troubles with Shaidar Haran in 010M42. In early 04.010M42 a significant portion of the chaos fleet clashed with the Tau on the warp lane between Cernunnos and Skera. In late 02.010M42, alarmed by the increase in forces by both the chaos and Imperial battlefleets, the Tau in the Aleph expansion sphere pleaded for reinforcements. Just over a month later a new force of some five capital ships arrived at Cernunnos.

They immediately began survey sweeps of the vital warp lanes between Skera, Parius,Lucardium and Cernunnos, the hub of the Tau Empire in the Aleph sector. It was on one such sweep that the Tau encountered the chaos warfleet and in a confused and frantic engagement the Tau faired the worse. It is known (though they try to disguise it) that the Tau lost at least three ships, though the losses of Shaidar Haran were also not insignificant. Even so, the Tau did not need a naval defeat at such a critical time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Battle of the Perseus Run

With Admiral Cornellius and his large warfleet mustering at Farport, and Admiral Dreyer's fleet protecting Corticant, Jellicoe was sorely pressed when Grand Admiral Bova Magnus requested that an even larger force be assembled at the new Imperial base to aid with General Veers' crusade. After much deliberation Jellicoe agreed to move Admiral Beatty's battlegroup to Corticant via the upper perseus reach, now that Admiral Thok seemed to have learnt his lesson. This left the Farport Passage dangerously unguarded and with Thok still at large, not to mention the fleet of Shaidar Haran, which had not been located at Calliden, for weeks, Jellicoe was forced to move more ships from Caitlen Station to protect Imperial convoys.

Jellicoe ordered Rear Admiral Carsdale aboard the refitted Victory class battleship Agamemnon, along with the battlecruiser Dreadnought, the cruisers Redoubtable, Centurion and Agincourt and the light cruiser Achilles, as well as a host of escorts, to make sure the Imperial warp lane remained safe. Carsdale expected weeks of uneventful and fruitless searches for commerce raiders and Thok's faster vessels, such as the Ragnarok, the fast battleship now believed to have undergone a miraculous refit after her near destruction in 09M42. However the rear admiral was mistaken and on 1004.010M42 his astropaths sensed a disturbance in the warp. Carsdale moved his fleet to the uninhabited Pacifus system near the Farport lane but upon exiting the warp there was no sign of the enemy. Realising that Thok may be wary of attacking his fleet Carsdale split his force into five contingents and began a sweep of the outer reaches of the system. With the Imperial fleet now split up, the chaos admiral attacked.

The lunar class Agincourt was the first to detect chaos vessels, three escorts hiding in the upper atmosphere of a gas giant. Rather than attacking she immediately followed Carsdale's plan and fell back towards the flagship. The chaos raiders took the bait and pursued, only to be caught in the violent explosion of Agamemnon's Nova cannon at extreme range. Seeing two of their number vapourised the remaining raider fled. Then appearing from all around the system the Chaos fleet arrived. The battleship Mjolnir and two devastations directly in front of Agamemnon and Dreadnought, now joined by Agincourt, and on the Imperial contingent's starboard the carnage class Queen Hel and Hades class Wyrmfire appeared on a parallel course, trading broadsides with the Imperial vessels.

Initially outnumbered Admiral Carsdale was undisturbed. With the devastations and the chaos battleship still out of range the battleship Agamemnon and the overlord class Dreadnought traded blows with Queen Hel and Wyrmfire. It was an uneven contest and soon the carnage class cruiser was a wreck, her engines barely functioning and her guns out of action. Seeing this and realising the duel could only end with the destruction of both chaos vessels, and with the Redoubtable and Achilles approaching from the other direction, the two chaos vessels disengaged. This left the Imperial fleet free to concentrate on the Mjolnr, Hrrokin and Naglfar. With the Imperial fleet approaching from both sides, and a combined bomber wave from the carriers having little effect, the situation was grave for Thok's fleet. Lucky hits from Agamemnon's nova cannon and long range lance fire had already crippled the chaos battleship, and the Naglfar was taking severe punishment at the head of the chaos line. the Chaos fleet now had only one option. run for it. after one hour of fighting the chaos vessels turned sharply and cut their engines, but Naglfar was too close to the Imperial fleet. She was pummelled mercilessly by Admiral Carsdale before finally exploding as torpedoes detonated in her engines.

The battle of the Perseus Run was a convincing victory for the Imperium who lost just one escort and minor damage to the Agincourt. However, with almost the entire fleet of Rear Admiral Carsdale in action at Pacifus, this left the convoys dangerously exposed. On the very same day two light cruisers, Hildr and Skogul attacked a convoy bound for Corticant. five of the eight transports were lost before the brave actions of the escorting dauntless class cruisers and heroic fighting from one solitary cobra class destroyer caused enough damage to the pair of cruisers to force them to disengage. Many transports had been lost, but the Imperium had more, and Thok had in the course of one day lost one capital ship and seen four crippled, including the battleship Mjolnir. 1004.010M42 was a good day for the Imperium.

Shaidar Haran in the Deeps

Less good news followed. On the same day Admiral Carsdale left Caitlen station, so did the fleet of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Why they would not say, though they did reveal their course was into the Perseus Deeps towards Calliden. Jellicoe could only presume their ongoing personal war with the fleet of Shaidar Haran was to be rekindled. Jellicoe was correct. Several days after Carsdale's victory astropaths at Caitlen and Corticant received a message confirming that a battle had taken place in the Deeps. Once again the chaos fleet got the upper hand, and the Mechanicus fleet reported the loss of three vessels with at least another seriously damaged. Two of the chaos vessels were destroyed, but the loss of three valuable mechanicus ships was a bitter blow for such a minor success.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Corellian Redeployment

Wishing to distance himself from the recent defeats and failings on Tarsis Major, General Veers ordered Battle Group Redemption to disengage from the fighting and move away from the planet. With approval from sector high command, the 32nd Mechanised Regiment were to hold their ground on Tarsis Major, and the remaining units of the 5th Mechanised aboard the battle cruiser Imperious were to be moved closer to Betor. No longer acting as a quick reaction force, Battle Group Redemption were to start reinforcing the planets under Tyranid threat and still maintain a visible presence in the sub-sector to other potential threats to the Imperium.

With the fortifications nearly complete on Corticant, Battle Group Apocalypse under direct command of General Veers began preparations for launching a crusade agains the traitor planets in the Persus Deeps. After much deliberation between Veer's most trusted and loyal commanders, the inital target was set as Bastien. Although smaller more obtainable planets were within his grasp, Veers decided to launch a brutal inital assault upon the largest with smaller surgical strikes on key installations on the surrounding planets.

Without delay Battle Group Apocalypse departed on its crusade aboard the tyrant class cruisor Relentless.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thok's raid foiled by Beatty

Admiral Beatty was keen to make amends for the escape of the chaos cruisers Rheintochter and Hyrrokin on 2003.010M42 and he got his chance when the irascible admiral decided to ambush the Imperial fleet under Beatty’s command in the Frottrheim system in the Perseus Deeps on 0204.010M42.

Navigating a single ship in the warp is a challenge. Keeping a fleet of vessels together is nigh on impossible. This necessitates a large fleet to periodically drop out of the warp after anything more than small jumps. Beatty’s fleet was no exeption. His battlegroup, centred around the heavy cruiser Canopus and his flagship, the fast battleship Tiger dropped out of warp in the Frottrheim system on 0304.010M42. This is the time of most danger for a fleet as the vessels attempt to form up to provide themselves with mutual protection, but it is difficult for enemy fleets to predict when and where such a rendezvous will occur. Somehow however, admiral Thok’s vessels, including the heavy cruiser Rheintochter, were waiting in ambush.

Fortunately for Beatty his fleet had jumped in fairly good order with no stragglers, and the chaos admiral was unable to pick off a cruiser or escort squadron with impunity. Even so the day after Beatty arrived three of Thok’s cruisers suddenly appeared from a rent in realspace as they tore a hole in reality upon exiting the warp. Audacious was the closest vessel to the chaos fleet and she faired the worst. Appearing behind her, the chaos battlegroup quickly crippled her before the Imperial vessels, forming up near a small planetoid with several asteroid fields in the vicinity, were able to react.

The chaos ships had plotted their course well, appearing off the port quarter of the Imperial line and intending to sweep around the rear of Beatty’s vessels. Beatty however had been prepared for this, as he had had several conversations with Jellicoe about what to do in this very situation. Rather than turn his fleet to port in an attempt to get round the rear of the smaller, but faster, chaos formation, Beatty turned his fleet at once to starboard, swinging his entire battle line around in a course parallel to Thok's ships and accepting a long range duel with the chaos fleets.

Gradually the Imperial battle line took station several thousand kilometres from the chaos vessels, with Beatty’s fastest ships, his firestorms and the dauntless class Ajax to the rear of the line, racing at full speed to join the fight. With these vessels still out of range and the Audacious out of action, it was the Canopus and Tiger who exchanged long range broadsides with the three chaos cruisers.

At these long ranges the Imperial ships had a considerable advantage.Canopus and Tiger both had long range batteries and were the ideal ships to engage in a long range duel. Only the Acheron class Rheintochter was really able to respond, and Beatty focussed his attentions on her. The chaos vessel was forced to twist and turn to put off the Imperial gunnery, in turn all but neutralising her own ability to respond. At the outset of the battle the two Imperial vessels, with the aid of three sword class escorts had stripped the chaos cruisers of their own escort screen, and now the chaos ships were stuck in an uneven duel with the Imperial Navy. Taking hits and with the Ajax and her consorts approaching rapidly to deliver a crushing blow, the chaos commander abruptly turned his ships to starboard, away from the Imperial vessels and disappeared amongst the many asteroid fields.

The battle had seen the Imperial vessel Audacious crippled, but the chaos fleet had been damaged, and had lost three escort craft. The encounter had demonstrated the validity of Jellicoe’s standing orders for ambushes and sent a clear message to admiral Thok that to attempt surprise ambushes on a larger Imperial fleet was to risk disaster.

Betor: Southern Breakout

Having been stable for weeks the front line against the tyranids in southern Betor exploded spectacularly at the end of 03.010M42. The Xenos creatures erupted from seemingly everywhere, overwhelming the limited PDF defence. Dempsey, caught off guard by Nemesis once again, with his main force hard pressed in the north, had virtually no forces he could redirect to the southern front. Inquisitor Hathek’s appeals to the Adeptus Astartes and the newly created ASMOC’s reprioritisation of Nemesis to the top of the agenda had only just come into effect, and the only force available to the Imperial General was the green 3rd Prozan Cavalry.

The Prozan’s were eager, even gung-ho in their enthusiasm to “get at” the alien menace, and went off to battle full of optimism, which more than confused the battered, terrorised remnants of the forces they passed on their way to the front line. Very quickly the Prozan’s learnt how vicious and able their enemy was, as they attempted to counter attack near the western edge of Renestein. At first the battle seemed to be going well, with the highly manoeuvrable airborne cavalry easily outflanking the tyranid forces.

After a day of heavy fighting with high casualty rates on both sides, Nemesis appeared to react to the Prozan Valkyrie and Vulture gunships, and numerous creatures designated zoanthropes appeared. These highly psychic beasts caused terrible devastation amongst the armoured skimmers of the Prozan Guard, and very quickly the Imperial counter attack collapsed. Without their ability to manoeuvre, the Prozans were badly mauled.

With the destruction of a good part of the Prozan 3rd General Dempsey ordered a retreat, and it was all the Imperial commanders could do to stop an all out route. Renestein had been lost irrevocably and by 0704.010M42 the entire western seaboard of the Mittel Plain was surrendered to the aliens. Once again the Imperial commander on Betor appealed for urgent assistance, but messaging between Betor and Imperial HQ on Vastrid had now become almost impossible. It would be weeks before ASMOC realised the depth of peril the Imperium was now in on Betor.

Saturday, April 03, 2010