Friday, 27 April 2012

The First Battle of the Dunes

A Saga of Bravery and Heroism. Told by Adeptus Thansson, personal attendent to Hammerlord Styrkar of the Red Hammers.

On 2309012.M41 an astropath in my master's service received a plea for aid from the govenor of a remote Imperial world. Govenor Harkkonen was facing an uprising by native religious fanatics, followers of a psyker they called "Muad'Dib". After consulting with council my lord agreed to assist and called his banners. We were honoured by Runelord Kolsvein answering his oath personally, leading a lance of Speeders into battle. Six other pledged huscarls were able to muster formations in time, and Wing-Commander Gray of the Imperial Navy put two Thunderbolt fighter squadrons at our disposal. Combined with Hammerlord Styrkar's house guard our force consisted of;
  • Tactical Detachment Alpha (6 Tactical stands including one with Supreme Commander Styrkar, 3 Land Raiders, and 1 Hunter)
  • Tactical Detachment Bravo (6 Tactical stands, 3 Rhinos, 1 Razorback, and 1 Hunter)
  • Devastator Detachment Charlie (4 Devastator stands, 2 Rhinos, and 1 Razorback)
  • Devastator Detachment Delta (4 Devastator stands, and 2 Dreadnoughts)
  • Air Cavalry Detachment Zulu (5 Land Speeders, including one with Librarian Kolsvein)
  • Cavalry Detachment Yankee (5 Bike stands)
  • Scout Detachment Sierra    (4 Scout stands)
  • Artillery Battery Whiskey (4 Whirlwinds, and 1 Hunter)
  • 14 Squadron "The Mechbusters" (2 Thunderbolt Fighters)
  • 75 Squadron "The Great-Hawks" (2 Thunderbolt Fighters)
The force opposing us consisted of power armoured infantry, backup up by three flights of attack skimmers, a heavy tank company, and an assault gun company. In addition we had intelligence that two platoons of "fremen" warriors were somewhere in the area. Allegedly these fremen were incredibly skilled warriors, equal in battle to an experienced Terminator, and able to spring from the desert sand with no warning.

Jamie was using the Red Corsairs chaos list, with models primarily from brigade games. It included two Chaos Marine formations, a Chosen formation, 3 Blight Drone formations, a Defiler formation, a tank formation (3 Land Raiders and 4 Predators), and two Terminator (AKA "fremen") formations.

My lord deployed our Whirlwinds and land speeders on our left flank, opposite an enemy scout formation. Devastator detachment Delta had formed a strongpoint ahead of our main force. The majority of our force (detachments Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie) deployed in a valley between two mesas.

Our initial deployments
During the opening exchanges things went well for the rebels. A strike by their attack skimmers inflicted heavy damage on Kolsvein's speeder detachment, forcing him to pull back, while our airpower and artillery failed to inflict any significant damage in return. But our mechanised assault reached their lines undamaged, and drove their armour back under heavy fire.

My mechanised assault in the center

However we had committed too much of our force in one location. The rebels brought in their assault guns and infantry, and while the Land Raiders shielded us from the worst of their fire our formations took heavy damage. To make matters worse, a unit of Fremen had appeared, surrounding our artillery. While the gallant crews knew there was no retreat, they kept firing to the last.

Fremen surrounding my Whirlwinds

At this point the battle was a stalemate. Our mechanised units in the center of the field still held the advantage... until a second unit of Fremen appeared! We were forced to pull back, but still had enough strength that the rebels could not safely advance either. Behind us the Fremen that had destroyed our Whirlwinds moved to cut off our line of withdrawl, only to be broken by repeated airstrikes. With no clear advantage to either side, we disengaged, pulling back to our landing zones in the city.

At the end of turn 4 neither Jamie nor I had won. I had Break the Spirit, but pretty much all the non-Blitz objectives were contested, and we both had formations in the enemy half of the board. Since it was getting late we called the game for time.

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