Monday, September 26, 2011

The Aleph Sector - current ground campaigns

Glossop V: Thrugnik suffers setback

During the summer of 011M42 the war between the Orks and Imperium on Glossop V had become a lonely and sporadic affair. Ork Warlord Krumpgutz had apparently lost interest in his conquest in the world, although this was no comfort to the Imperium, as the fickle ork leader was known to change his mind often and for no apparent reason.

Thrugnik, the other major warlord of the Cerrack Nebula, decided to take on the defenders of Glossop V for himself, in order to secure himself the undisputed leadership of all orks in the Vastrid sector. Fortunately Imperial Intelligence intercepted increase manic chatter from crude vox networks on Aspaster, and Imperial Psykers felt the unmistakeable growth of Ork power around Thrugnik's homeworld.

Realising an attack in force was likely, and reasoning that Glossop V was the obvious target, the commander on the ground appealled for help. Once again the Space Wolves of Erik Morkai's great company responded to the call, and arrived with little time to spare. Thrugnik's Waagh! had landed and was moving swiftly towards the small Imperial base on the planet. Deploying rapidly, including the use of Drop Pods once again, the Space Wolves were able to halt the Ork advance, allowing the Imperial Guard stationed on Glossop V to take back several small outposts lost to the orks in the spring. The position on the minor world remained in the balance however, and one small band of Space Wolves together with a few thousand Imperial Guardsmen wouldn't last long if a concerted Ork attack materialised.

New Dark Eldar Cabal encountered

General Veers remained in overall command of all forces in the Perseus Deeps as the summer of 011M42 drew to a close. His forces were now spread out after the campaigns of Corticant, Bastien and Parthenope, and the Inquisition disputes, still rumbling along in the background, meant that a new offensive against Chaos didn't seem likely in the near future.

The Tau too were stretched. Very few forces had been sent into the Aleph Expansion Sphere from the Tau Empire during 011M42, as wars elsewhere demanded more attention. In addition the fighting on Tyndareous soaked up any reinforcements which may have been forthcoming.

The net result was that in 09.011M42 the Imperial and Tau posessions in the Perseus Deeps were vulnerable. This vulnerability was taken advantage of in late 09.011M42 by a new Dark Eldar cabal, known as the "Shattered Silence", and led by Archon Kuro Kenshi. Within the space of a week, the Dark Eldar had raided Skera in the Tau sector, and landed in force on Gamordal, the most exposed Imperial territory.

The result on Skera was a catastrophe for the Tau, who were brutally massacred by the Dark Eldar. After taking vast numbers of (inferior) Tau slaves for their own depraved consumption, the Cabal systematically razed to the ground several Tau settlements and laid waste to much of the Tau colony. Skera was badly mauled amd some Tau even questioned its continued viability, as it now appeared unable to defend itself from deliberate invasion.

On Gamordal the Praetorian 42nd, refitting and resting after their long and futile campaign on Tarsis Major, were ideally and fortuitously placed to react when news of the Dark Eldar arrived at thier base. Kenshi had clearly not included the presence of a full Imperial Guard regiment in his attack calculations, and the arrival of the 42nd was an unwelcome surprise. In a battle which raged for two days, both sides fought each other to a standstill, before the Shattered Silence Cabal withdrew under the cover of darkness, back to their fastness in the warp.

Valboris: Lorek halts Nemesis

With his campaign in the Perseus Deeps in tatters, and his new venture in the Vastrid Sector in reverse, the Chaos warlord Lorek turned his attention to Valboris. For many months the Tyranids had spasmodically extended their control of the world, and much of the western hemisohere, including settlements in the North Reach and Badlands, were now all but consumed.

Nemesis however hadn't committed its entire force to Valboris, the main hive fleet moving on and now somewhere in the Zadoc subsector. Even so the Tyranids slow advance had been relentless, the aliens apparently not worrying about the time it would take to consume the world, rather that it would, in the end, be consumed.

Lorek was determined to stop the slow digestion of an important chaos world, and in late 09011M42 a force of marines loyal to him arrived at Mount Silston. From here they moved in force to the infested settlement of Bartertown, and after several days of hard fighting, managed to dislodge the Tyranids from a significant portion of the town. The resistance had been determined however, as if the hive mind was irritated by its food fighting back. Lorek realised that to fully cleanse Valboris would be a hard task indeed.

Tyndareous: Space Wolves regain initiative

The recently appointed Imperial overall commander on Tyndareous, General Devereux Trescott, received some welcome aid in 09.011M42, as a company of Space Wolves arrived to take the war to the Tau. With the Tau fleet protecting supply convoys from attack, the Space Wolves were able to slip a single strike cruiser into Tyndareous orbit. The Space Wolves then conducted a combined offensive, driving overland from the secure base at Arrenton, co-ordinating with accurate drop pod assaults.

Despite at least one drop pod arriving late, the drive across the Burbeck plain was savagely successful, as the Tau were unable to deal with the Space wolf forces at close range, and many were slaughtered in vicious hand to hand fighting, where the Astartes troops had overwhelming superiority.

The Space Wolves did suffer losses from Tau firepower, and many of their vehicles were destroyed by accurate railgun fire. At Pardle Junction, an entire squad of Space Wolves was cut down by mass fire, but in general the Tau were forced to retreat. Pardle junction fell on 2509.011M42, and on the next day a second drop took the strategically important Tyndar Plateau. The Tau still occupied Vallerander, Burbeck bay and much of the Tyndareous starbase, but the Space Wolves had cut the Tau occupied zone almost into three, and now the Imperium had the initiative on Tyndareous. General Trescott now needed reinforcements, and fast.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tragean vs. Craddock 1709.011M42

Lord Tragean moves in force 1709.011M42

While admiral Thok led his force out of the port of Mordecai, Lord Tragean was leading a much larger force of seven capital ships, led by the desolator class battleship Irredeemable Apostate, out of Kendrenec. This was the first time in ten years the warlord had personally led his ships, and it was the largest fleet Kendrenec had seen leave its docks in a decade. Fully half of Tragean's force left port in a series of escalating engagements which began to alarm Jellicoe. It seemed the Chaos fleets were testing the Imperial blockade. The Imperial admiral now worried that a truly apocalyptic fleet battle may ensue. What if all the forces of chaos sortied simultaneously? Could they, or would they, co-ordinate such an effort? His blockade had to isolate the Chaos bases from each other, as well as bottling them up.

Tragean's force was indeed impressive, but Admiral Craddock was well placed to intercept from his base in the Valitane subsector, as his fleet was on exercise near Zog at the time. Beattie already had to contend with Thok, so Craddock's force, the battleship Vanguard, cruisers Redoubtable, Aboukir, Dreadnought, Invincible and the light cruiser Ajax, immediately turned towards the Kendrenec space lane to give battle to Tragean's force.

The two fleets converged on 1709.011M42, the same date as Beattie's victory over Thok, the Imperium's six capital ships facing an enemy of seven, though the latter lacked escorts. Craddock's fleet lacked a ship armed with a nova cannon, and so the admiral chose to close the range, moving his fleet in formation towards the chaos fleet. Tragean's fleet did the same, and the two fleets maintained formation as they passed one another in between dense asteroid fields.

In the opening salvoes Invincible and Dreadnought took most of the firepower, and were forced to take evasive manouevres, throwing off their gunnery. Even so the heavy fire crippled the overlord class heavy cruiser Dreadnought, although somehow Invincible remained unscathed. Vanguard fired back, supported by the Aboukir's lances, and this weight of fire quickly took its toll on the slaughter class vessels Doomblade and Reaver, who's high speed and short range meant they had taken up position closest to the Imperial line.

Suddenly and without warning Doomblade exploded in a catastrophic warp drive implosion, crippling her sister ship and doing even more damage to the dreadnought. Desparately Dreadnought and Invincible, now crippled, attempted to move away from the chaos battle line. Invincible was successful, but Dreadnought's captain evidently failed to order a general power down of his vessel, and the battlecruiser's augur signal remained a bright beacon to the chaos vessels. Within minutes of Doomblade's destruction the Invincible also exploded, a critical hit to her plasma engines detonating the vessel and damaging Ajax in the process.

The two fleets passed, Reaver disengaging on the chaos side and Ajax and Invincible similarly leaving the fray. Repeated charges by the four sword class escorts were woefully poor, and three were destroyed in their futile attacks. As the battle wore on the gap between the two fleets opened out, briefly allowing Vanguard to rake the chaos flagship with heavy fire, but the chaos vessel remained battleworthy. Admiral Craddock then had a choice. Turn his fleet to starboard and accept a long range firefight he couldn't win, and risk the faster chaos vessels crossing his T behind his fleet, or turn to port taking shelter behind an asteroid field.

Craddock had little choice and turned to port, although this in itself didn't guarantee the rest of his fleet's safety. Only manic changes of course by Redoubtable saved the dictator class vessel from being crippled, and Vanguard herself took damage from the long range guns of the chaos fleet. Clearly Craddock was outgunned by a superior fleet, and it was equally clear that the scourge of Admiral Choraeous had returned to lead his fleet once more. The Imperial fleet fled back to the Valitane subsector for repairs, allowing Tragean's fleet clear passage to Thok's base at Morecai. The chaos forces were concentrating their forces as Jellicoe feared. Soon Jellicoe himself would have to face an enemy his predecessor had failed to best almost a decade earlier.

Thok defeated by Beattie

Following Thok's forces' latest sortie into the Perseus Deeps in 08.011M42, the Imperial Admiralty based at Caitlen Station decided to increase the blockade of Chaos by adding their newly arrived task force, including the Oberon class battleship Hood, to the blockading fleets.

Admiral Jellicoe now had a battleship and five cruisers at strategic locations across the Deeps, ready to intercept any breakout from any of the Chaos fleet bases. Admiral Dreyer's formidable task force, including the Emperor class battleship Iron Duke, was stationed at Farport. Admiral Beattie, commanding Tiger stood closest to the chaos forces on Corticant, while Jellicoe himself raised his flag aboard the Victory class Agamemnon, guarding the space lanes between the Perseus Deeps and the Zadoc subsector from Caitlen Station.

Before Rear Admiral Clinton-Baker's battlegroup could fully join the blockade however, a force of Thok's ships once again slipped their moorings and headed into the Deeps. Admiral Beattie's force immediately moved to intercept, despite the fact that Glorious and Firedrake were still undergoing repairs and would not be able to join their comrades in battle. Beattie, leading Tiger, tracked down Thok's battleforce in an uninhabited system on the Perseus Run, and in the ensuing battle decisively defeated the chaos vessels.

Queen Hel was reduced to a hulk, while the grand cruiser Mjolnir was heavily damaged. The heavy guns of the fast battleship Tiger and the venerable vengeance class Canopus proved to be the difference between the two fleets. Despite running the gauntlet of asteroid fields, Thok's ships were unable to mount a co-ordinated attack, and the Mjolnir herself proved to be significantly outclassed by the Imperial fleet, which Beattie handled well, keeping his vessels in formation and concentrating fire on the most threatening vessels. Unfortunately for the Imperium, Thok was not the only chaos warmaster at large on 1709.011M42.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tau consolidate position

With Vallerander lost commander Starfire himself, Shadowstrike's right hand and overall commander of the Tyndareous campaign, decided to personally lead the attack on Burbeck Bay. His attacking force made up of veteran cadres who had fought on Tarsis and Melberg, and they were well used to Imperial tactics and capabilities. The Zadocians however, were unfamiliar with the Tau, the Imperium having destroyed their only units which had significant experience fighting them.

Starfire's forces stormed into the city, anihilating the Zadoc regiments defending the perimeter with well practiced precision and minimal casualties. The survivors of this assault fell back into Burbeck and to their credit mounted a fierce guerilla resistance. Starfire's cadre then had to fight from street to street, eventually securing the city and port after many days rooting out the last remnants.

Whilst this was happening, further south and east, mechanised cadres pushed through to capture Rainier Pass and air mobile cadres were deployed into the hills surrounding the Tyndareous Base while pathfinders periodically launched seeker missiles into it making imperial operations hazardous. Stealth suit infiltrations and drone patrols began ambushing any Imperial forces that attempted to leave the base to track down the pathfinders. The tau now had a massive strategic advantage and the Imperial forces on the planet had been widely scattered, their supply lines cut.

Meanwhile wider Tau strategy saw them returning to the Rim worlds, still dominated by the Catechism. For now the Tau were simply there to observe. They needed to know what the chaos forces were doing, what they were likely to do and what forces they had available to them if they were going to ramp up their campaign against the Imperium. The last thing the Tau needed was an opportunistic attack by the Catechism from an undefended flank.

The Tau pathfinder teams landed on Aornis, but the Catechism air force soon responded in force, and the tau air caste was forced to deploy defensive baracuda screens. After several dogfights the results were inconclusive, and the pathfinders were withdrawn as a precaution. The Tau were satisfied that the Catechism had no imminent plans to attack outside their own domain, but were none-the-less concerned with the strength the chaos forces still had at their disposal in the Rim Worlds.

Tyndareous campaign: current

Thok sends out raiders – 08.011M42

For many long months Jellicoe's fleet had successfully blockaded the chaos fleet bases of Kendrenec, Calliden and Mordecai. Tragean's large fleet rarely set out from its base as it was usually needed as a threat to the many warring tribes within the chaos held system. Shaidar Haran hadn't been seen for years, and many Imperial Navy officers felt it likely the force had either disappeared or been mothballed. The Catechism rarely ventured further than the Rim Worlds, Moonface's domain, but that still left Lorek and Thok.

Lorek's disasterous defeat at the hands of Jellicoe on 2201.011M42 during the invasion of Ares had seemingly deterred him from launching further fleet actions, but Thok's fleet had recently been enjoying relative success against the Imperial fleet, and it was only a matter of time before the mad admiral ventured forth from Mordecai once again. Jellicoe's biggest fear however was for the various fleets of chaos to join up and assault their jailer, the blockading Imperial fleets.

Jellicoe had adopted a policy of distant blockade. This was made easier with the Imperial-Tau "swap" of Minos for Aganthus, and with major fleets based at Farport, Corticant and Caitlen Station, Jellicoe could react in sufficient time to protect the vital Imperial worlds and waystations in the Perseus Deeps, without risking his capital ships in long deep space sweeps. To perform this role commanders Tyrwhitt and Harwood were given large squadrons of escorts to patrol the warps lanes for raiders. If the chaos forces made any major move from port, Beattie would react first, with support from Dreyer's powerful Farport fleet. If the chaos move was large, Jellicoe would lead his main fleet from Caitlen Station for a decisive victory.

On 3008.011M42 reports came in that several cruisers had left orbit around Calliden and had slipped into the Perseus Reach and were heading for the Farport lane. From here they would be able to threaten General Veers supplies which were vital for the cleaning up operation to keep Bastien and Parthenope under Imperial control. Jellicoe had to react, and sent four cruisers from Beattie's force to intercept, while the remainder of the Vice-Admiral's battlegroup remained near Corticant, in case the fast battleship Ragnarok should re-appear.

Glorious, Centurion, Intrepid and Agincourt successfully tracked the chaos ships down to a small red dwarf system midway between Calliden and the Imperial base at Corticant, while the chaos fleet were preparing to make their next warp jump. Both fleets were well scattered, and a confused action developed as both sides tried to form into a fleet formation. During the action the Glorious and Intrepid were heavily damaged, and Centurion, outnumbered and caught without support, exploded. On the chaos side, Midgard was destroyed, while the cruisers Brunhilde and Heimdall were crippled.

Overall the confused action was a draw, with both sides losing one capital vessel and having two others badly damaged, but once again Jellicoe's fleet was unable to deliver a victory with equal forces against a foe the admiral was used to beating. Now he feared Thok would be emboldened by this fact and launch ever larger raids into the hard won north-west Perseus Deeps. Jellicoe was sure however, that he had the resources available to meet the mad chaos admiral if he came out in force.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Perseus Deeps - Fleet Dispositions (current Chaos/Imperial)

Alphe Current

Astartes gain in Cerrack Nebula

At the end of 08.011M42 with setbacks in the Zadoc sector, activities in the Vastrid sector were almost going to plan. Sector command had been consolidated under General Alexander, a veteran of the successful campaigns on Tyndareous and Coronus, and several companies of space marines had lent their aid, forming a Vastrid command council. The space marines of the Lamenters chapter and the space wolves were soon in action, and on 0209.011M42 they launched a combined operation against chaos forces on Quim and Hogans Fall, reasoning that the limited forces loyal to the Lorek, the ousted "Master of Chaos", could not defend both places at once.

In the event, the forces of chaos put up a reasonable defence on both worlds, but were overrun on Quim and Hogan's Fall. The Claws of lorek found themselves in a desparate situation against the Lamenters, and Hogan's fall was liberated on 0509.011M42, with the Claws abandoning their deepest base in the Vastrid sector. On Quim, the space wolves annihilated the defenders, despite daemons being raised to halt their progess, and established a firm beachhead on the world. As the Space Wolves dug in, allowing Imperial Guard units to land, an urgent request came in for aid against the Tyranids.

Nemesis gain on Alphe

The situation on Alphe worsened as 09.011M42 began, as tendrils of Nemesis began to appear on the mainland of Hulme Island and on Snowwald Island. The PDF put up a spirited fight in Springbay, but the situation soon became desparate. Sensing an opportunity to cleanse the islands with one quick thrust, the recently arrived Ultramarines immediately planned a strike.

The marines landed on the north of the island without incident and attempted to locate the focus of the hive mind on Snowwald. Once again however, it appears that Nemesis was one step ahead, somehow understanding Astartes tactics and using them against them. The tyranid hordes successfully ambushed the Ultramarines forces, diverting them from their larger assets and swamping them with a horde of bodies. Taking casualties they could ill afford, the Ultramarines evacuated, abandoning the brave defenders of Springbay to their fate.

Meanwhile the Praetorian Guard formed their thin red line on the mainland near Moorden. The ranks of Praetorians, resplendent in their red tunics and white helmets, fired volley after volley into the advancing hordes, but the tyranids swarmed relentlessly, a tide of bodies overrunning the Imperial positions. Even the dour stubbornness of the Praetorians couldn’t face Nemesis indefinitely, and after a hard battle the Imperial line finally broke, the guardsmen fleeing their positions, leaving Moorden to be overrun.

With the situation on the front line deteriorating rapidly, General Percival was also forced to divert precious resources into policing, as order on Alphe began to break down. Panic gripped the citizens as they realised that this new enemy was far far worse than the forces of chaos. Now only percivals troops, and badly battered Astartes chapters stood between the population of Alphe and total annihilation.