Monday, 13 August 2018

Wurrshuv's Revenge - Finale

War Without End - The Conclusion to Wurrshuv's Revenge 

After 14 weeks of thrilling heroics, fiendish villainy and tabletop wargaming action, the first ever Advanced Tau Tactica global campaign has come to an end. For the last three months members of the ATT online forum have been battling for their lives against the relentless onslaught of Orks commanded by Dregmek Wurrshuv, hell bent on conquering the ATT Orbital, slaughtering the Tau and looting everything that isn't nailed down (naturally in the case of things that are nailed down they'd loot the nails too). The conflict has been the largest and destructive and brutal in the history of the ATT Orbital thus far, eclipsing even the infamous daemonic incursion of 2013 in size and bloodshed. As the dust settles, the future is impossible to tell. Reinforcements from both sides have flooded in, and the fighting has spiralled out of control, spilling across the surface of M-88 with no clear winner in sight. The only thing that can be said for certain is that whatever side emerges victorious will do so only at a staggering cost.

When the campaign first began all the way back in May, we honestly had no idea what was going to happen. Right up until about part-way through the first month I had lingering fears that the whole thing would be a complete disaster. Even now there are still areas that I would have liked to see improved (but of course that's just part of the learning experience). But as it transpired the ATT community did an outstanding job of engaging with the campaign, and by all accounts it seems like a good time has been had by all. And if that is true, then I've succeeded in what I set out to do.

And the Final Result is...

... A draw! Over 14 weeks the Tau and Orks have fought each other to a standstill, with neither side being able to completely dislodge the other. The Orks have been halted to the west of their landing site, but in turn the Tau have failed to dislodge them completely from the surface of M-88. The conflict on the planet is now doomed to grow exponentially as both sides rush reinforcements to the warzone and escalate the engagement, and the warfare is likely to rage on for years if not decades. 

Some particularly prophetic seers may have seen this outcome coming some time ago, but it was never a sure thing. There were many opportunities for the Tau to secure at least a minor win, and for a while I had grave fears that the poor hapless Greenskins might be swept from the campaign too soon. Fortunately this was not to be, and instead much of the campaign saw the fate of M-88 hanging in the balance. 

The Road So Far 

From the very outset when I first pitched the idea of what would eventually become Wurrshuv's Revenge to the Powers That Be on Advanced Tau Tactica, I had one ultimate goal in mind - to recapture some of the fund and excitement of the old Games Workshop global winter campaigns that I remembered growing up like The Third War for Armageddon, Eye of Terror and The Fall of Medusa V. Because of this, I had a good idea of the general style of the campaign - a map-based system where the narrative was mostly driven by player input. Instead of some iron-fisted metaplot that railroaded the participants towards a completely pre-programmed outcome, I wanted the players to be largely in charge of their own actions, deciding for themselves what their grand strategy was going to be and what part they wanted to play. After all, one of the best parts of an event like this is that the players' choices and decisions really matter, and it's important that their games and contributions have a real impact. 

At the same time, the scale of the event and the multi-player aspect of it meant that big movements and changes would need to be performed by players en mass. This tied into another aspect of the old GW campaigns that I wanted to recapture - the communication and coordination between players, the banding together and collective plotting and scheming, the back and forth banter between different factions. From the old Eye of Terror and Medusa V online discussions it always seemed like this was a big part of the fun in these campaigns, so I knew this campaign would need to facilitate that as well. Of course, given the general 'hands-off' approach I wanted to take, it would be up to the players themselves to organise themselves and coordinate on strategy.

The GW campaigns were enormous affairs, with some very sophisticated mechanics for determining all these things (especially in the case of Eye of Terror). Naturally I wouldn't have anywhere near the same production budget or resources as GW at the height of its glory, so this meant I had to scale things down somewhat. Most importantly the mechanics needed to be able to be managed by just one person if necessary, as most of the ATT mods have a life outside of the site and could be occupied by other commitments. In the end I worked out a simple mechanic of shifting points around to determine territory control and who was winning the campaign - each territory would have 100 points in it, which shifted between the two sides based on game reports (a win would shift one point over to the side that won), and whichever side held the majority of the points in that territory controlled it. In turn, there were 8 Campaign Points that shifted between the two sides based on who controlled territories, with each territory being worth 1 Campaign Point except for the two 'capital territories' of Wurrshuv's Krunch and Fio Starport, which were worth 2 each. It may not have been the most advanced set of campaign rules ever devised, but it was good enough to capture the rough feel of the GW campaigns and - most crucially - was simple enough that the whole thing could be tracked by just one mathematically challenged media graduate.

With the core mechanics set down, it became a matter of taking the right steps to make everything a reality. Senior contributors on ATT (including site founder Sebastian 'Tael' Stuart himself) chipped in some fantastic artwork and graphics for the project, including an enormous campaign map to fight over. Narrative and background ideas were workshopped out. Eventually April 1st and the annual storytelling event on Advanced Tau Tactica happened, which had already been earmarked as a prologue to the campaign. Once it was finished, I spend the next few weeks relentlessly typing out page after page of campaign lore - over 37 pages in total by my last count (put some army lists and a full-colour hobby section on it and you have a full campaign codex!).

At last the faithful day arrived when the campaign was scheduled to be launched. Right up until the very end I was frantically getting everything finished and ready for posting, and in the end some of the final features had to be added in post-launch. To make matters worse, a technical oversight left the campaign forum with the same problem that Salyut-1 had: no-one could access it! Nonetheless, some quick improvisation allowed everything to get underway, and a decent number of Advanced Tau Tactica members jumped at the call to arms.

As the campaign began however my biggest fear quickly came to pass - there weren't enough Ork players! As I had always dreaded, too many ATT members were either unwilling or unable to join the Ork side, leaving the campaign with no real opposing force for the Tau. I tried several different methods to try and attract more players to the Ork side, but ultimately even with the ability to fight with any non-Tau army the ratio of players between the different factions was far more lop-sided than I would have liked.

I had grave concerns that this would result in a very quick massacre against the Orks, but fortunately salvation came from the Tau players themselves, who obligingly made little to no effort to get organised and co-ordinate their actions for the first portion of the campaign, instead just hammering away at their own individual targets, many of them in the Tau-controlled territories rather than taking the fight into the Ork-held areas. This ultimately proved to be a major influence in the campaign's outcome, and the Tau could have secured an easy win had their players been more aggressive with their early actions. This in turn ended up being reflected in the background, with the in-universe Tau commanders bickering amongst themselves and focusing entirely on tactical engagements against attacking Ork forces while Wurrshuv took direct control of the Greenskin war effort and focused on outmanoeuvring the Tau at the Operational and Strategic levels.

While the turnout was certainly healthy, if one-sided, far fewer games than I initially anticipated ended up being reported in, which influenced how the campaign lore ended up evolving. Initially I had planned to let the players tell most of the story through their games, but I ended up finding myself with very little material to work with each week. This meant I had to change tactics and start inserting more pre-scripted elements into the campaign narrative to keep the action flowing and make sure things didn't get too boring. There were a number of elements that were pre-scripted from the start, most of them being larger scale things like the war in the air and special forces actions that weren't likely to crop up that much in the games of 40k that I expected were most likely to be played. Incidentally, these Strategic and Operational level developments would be slanted in favour of whichever side was currently the underdog in terms of games being reported and territory held, so naturally the Orks ended up coming out on top in most of them! After a week or two of seeing if things would pick up on their own I enacted my contingency plan and put a pre-programmed Ork offensive in motion, which would continue in any territory that didn't see anything else happen in it that week.

Shortly after the first month of the campaign things started to change. After several weeks of acting largely independently the Tau players began to make attempts at getting more organised. The first such effort largely went nowhere, but after consulting with the NPC advisor for the Tau side of the campaign (there was one for the Orks too, but it never really ended up being used) the second one proved much more fruitful and resulted in the Tau immediately going on the offensive. Two Tau players in particular shifted their focus onto the Mo'Hav Plains, and after putting notable effort towards linking their games together I decided to reward them with a bit of extra input into the campaign's storyline, Thus was Operation MONSOON born, and proceeded to burn a path into Ork territory for the rest of the campaign.

At the same time I had been thinking more about the planet M-88 itself and what the world was really like. This was in the middle of winter, which meant that it was pelting with rain where I live. A side effect of all this rainfall was that the fields nearby where I often walked in get these enormous puddles, big enough for waterfowl to swim around and dive in. One day when I was out for a walk I was inspired by how the landscape looked with these giant pond-like puddles. I imagined an entire continent or planet covered with a series of gigantic puddles the size of lakes, connected by rivers and streams, nestled amongst muddy fields and flooded paddies, all brought on by the rain, and armies fighting over them.

I immediately wanted the campaign to be set somewhere like that, but the area of M-88 that was being fought over had already been characterised as a mostly dry realm of Savannah and dusty grassland. The solution that immediately came to mind was simple - a seasonal change in the terrain, with cooler seasonal temperatures bringing massive amounts of rainfall that would transform the landscape into a network of seasonal lakes and waterways. This would become the Lake Season that the second half of the campaign was set in. The idea turned out to be a great way of shaking things up and keeping everything interesting, offering a whole new set of tactical challenges and opportunities to the belligerents. Addressing questions on how the Lake Season worked from a scientific perspective allowed me to work out ideas for a whole ecosystem and biome based around the concept, some of which was extrapolated on in the Campaign background.

Of course 40k was only ever one component of the Wurrshuv's Revenge story. Throughout much of the campaign I made sure to drop hints about the wider context of the war, from small scale special forces actions to larger-level stuff beyond even Apocalypse level 40k - more veteran readers of the Campaign lore may have noticed several references to a number of the old Ork war machines from Epic, for example. This is perhaps best illustrated in how the conflict in space played out. When the campaign started I assumed that most participants would be for whatever reason unable to participate through games of Battlefleet Gothic (or Epic, or Inquisitor, or...), so I decided to make these elements more pre-scripted to keep the action focused on the 40k level since that was the lowest common denominator and I wanted maximum accessibility. I was very pleasantly surprised when one participant did indeed submit a Battlefleet Gothic game report, and while there was little mechanical impact have - like I say I wasn't really expecting Battlefleet Gothic game reports so there were no mechanics in place for them - I readily incorporated it into the campaign narrative as best I could.

In hindsight, I can't help but feel like I mismanaged the space subplot. Since the plan was for the space side of things to be secondary to the ground battle, I generally tended to give the space war less attention and left it as a largely static deadlock for most of the campaign. This certainly left the ground conflict as the centre of things, but it also left the space side of the fighting very uninteresting. The big Ork space offensive towards the end of the campaign was an attempt to rectify that as best I could after realising that I could be putting in lots of pre-programmed events like I had been with the ground narrative.

Nonetheless, things continued to run smoothly, and the escalation represented by Operation MONSOON coincided nicely with the final month of the campaign. To help bring things to a fittingly apocalyptic climax I began to insert other subplots of my own devising in, acting as hooks for players to build their own narratives around. These included things like the destruction of both sides' capital defences (meaning no territory would be safe), Operation IO and the Ork civil war in the north. The aim was to help encourage and inspire players with their own storylines.

In the final days of the campaign there were some very interested elements in the form of a number of mini-campaigns that some players were running. I would have very much liked to see these reach their natural conclusion, but alas they had the rotten luck of being started just as the campaign reached the end of its own operational lifespan. One of the golden rules I learnt from the very best version of the Warhammer 40,000 core rulebook is that when a campaign is set to wrap up, make sure that it does. This is a philosophy I continue to adhere to, and so after an extra week to give people a little extra time to get ready, I drew the event to a close. The way I see it, it's far better to end things on a high note and leave the players with good memories rather than leave things to fizzle out and grow stale.

Which brings us to where we are now, at the end of Wurrshuv's Revenge. It's certainly been an adventure. The Tau put in a phenomenal effort, but ultimately their offensives were too little, too late, and the Orks on M-88 are now here to stay.

What Next 

This doesn't mean everything has to stop now. The Wurrshuv's Revenge event may be at an end, but there's still plenty of room for games set in the aftermath of this unprecedented conflict. Both sides are now firmly entrenched on M-88, and it is likely to take years if not decades for one side to gain a decisive victory. In the absence of Wurrshuv Ork warlords struggle amongst themselves for dominance, with a number of gifted Ork leaders being top contenders for commanding the Greenskin war effort. The Tau may be more organised, but they're still on the back-foot as they struggle to contain the endless streams of Ork reinforcements that are now pouring through the tellyporta arrays constructed in Ork territory. As the conflict escalates it is also likely to spread to other areas of the planet, which in turn means combat in other warzones on M-88. Even if the Tau somehow manage to drive the Orks off the planet, the Greenskins still thoroughly infest the outer regions of the system. 

The campaign may be over, but the war has only just begun... 

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only WAR! 

- Millitant 

Wurrshuv's Revenge - An ATT Campaign 


The world of M-88 has been plunged into unending war, the likes of which the Tau of the ATT Orbital have never seen before. Despite enormous effort by the Tau, the tellyporta arrays constructed in Ork-held sectors have been activated, and an unstoppable tide of Greenskin reinforcements, equipment and supplies now pours through them as the unimaginably vast Ork invasion forces massed in the outer reaches of the system travels through the tellyportas in earnest. Already the Ork numbers have grown enough for regions to become permamently Ork-infested, Orkoid life becoming rooted beyond what any orbital attack or weapon of mass destruction can remove. 

The Tau have managed to halt Ork expansion westwards, but they can claim few other victories. While Ork forces continue to batter themselves against the Tau positions, other Ork armies have begun to look elsewhere for conquest and battle, and the Ork hordes have begun spreading north, south and east beyond the theatre of operations that has been fought over for the last three months. The Tau have been quick to respond, and now both sides are engaged in a series of mutual outflanking actions that are likely to see the conflict spread across much of M-88's surface. 

The conflict in space continues to deteriorate for the Tau. Kor'vattra Fleet K-42 has been recalled from the theatre, reassigned to other battles where it is now more urgently needed. In its place a massive force of Tau naval reinforcements has arrived to relieve the embattled Kor'vattra Fleet and supplement Operational Group Or'res'tel'K, which has remained in the system. Despite this influx of reinforcments however Tau naval efforts have met with fewer and fewer successes. All attempts to reopen the two lost reinforcement corridors to M-88 have ended in failure, while more and more Ork warships are beginning to slip into the system's primary biosphere. Though the Tau have mercifully been able to continue intercepting all Ork Roks inbound to M-88, this has become little comfort with the activation of the tellyporta arrays on the surface. 

Having grown bored with the conflict, and feeling cheated at being denied his final vengeance for T'saum'Or'Sha'is, Wurrshuv himself has withdrawn to the tellyporta array at Wurrshuv's Krunch and left M-88, departing the system with many of his followers for fresh warfare in destinations yet unknown. Despite this the situation on the surface remains in the balance. While Wurrshuv may no longer be present, vast swathes of the Ork invasion remain loyal to him and continue to fight on under his instructions, unshakable in the belief that their leader will one day return with even larger Ork hordes. Any manpower that may have been lost by the departure of Wurrshuv's core warbands and chieftains has been offset by the arrival of exponentially greater numbers of Orks. Word has now spread through Greenskin civilisation about the enormous battle growing on M-88, drawing Ork warbands from thousands of light-years towards it like moths to the flame as Ork warriors and warbosses strive to get 'A piece ov da Aktion'. Massive Tau reinforcements have been sent to contain the situation, and much like the Imperial world of Armageddon there is no telling when the conflict may finally come to an end, with all analysts and commentators agreeing that the fighting will take dozens if not hundreds of Tau'cyr to resolve, if indeed such an outcome is still possible... 

Situation Updates - All Sectors 

Plunda Seaz - ORK INFESTED 

The activation of the tellyporta array in the He'Sho Seas sealed the decision by Tau commanders active in the region to withdraw, now facing utterly impossible odds as the Orks infest the He'Sho Seas to the core and begin to expand outwards in all directions from it. The final evacuation was performed within days of the tellyporta array's activation and was a complete success, with the surviving Tau forces managing to defend their landing sites around FFG355Y against enormously fierce Ork counterattacks, enduring relentless bombardment by Ork artillery and air power until the remains of the Tau expeditionary force were fully evacuated along with all remaining wounded and as much materiel as possible. Those bodies of fallen Tau warriors and their allies that could be recovered were also extracted for burial and return to their respective peoples respectively, while any equipment and supplies that could not be taken back were dismantled and destroyed to prevent their capture by the Orks. 

The evacuation took place over several days, with the final Tau rearguards being extracted by mantas at midnight. The action has abandoned the region to the Orks, who now refer to it as the 'Plunda Seaz' for its vast mineral and energy wealth. Despite this, Tau losses during the evacuation were minimal, and the Tau have been able to salvage most of the remains of the air-landing forces sent to the region. Opinions and feelings vary among the surviving Tau air-landing troops who fought in the area. Some have been left embittered by the operation, feeling that their Enclave bretheren and Empire comrades abandoned them during the campaign and blaming the failure of other Tau forces to adequately support them for the eventual loss of the region. Others instead hold a more positive outlook, instead focusing on their tenacity during the campaign and rightly pointing out that they managed to hold the area around FFG355Y for three months straight against virtually everything the Orks could throw at them. Many observers in the wider Tau Empire and Farsight Enclaves agree that this was a herculean task and a worthy achievement to be commendable of.  

Ork Points: 83 
Tau Points: 17 

Mo'vn Plainz - ORK CONTROLLED 

Despite the heroic efforts of Operation MONSOON, the Tau have been unable to prevent the activation of the tellyporta arrays built int the northern and southeastern Mo'Hav Plains. The result has been, much like in the neighbouring He'Sho Seas, an overwhelming influx of Ork reinforcements funnelled into the region and a thousandfold increas in Ork presence throughout the area. Newly arriving Ork armies are also now using the region as a springboard for expanding to other areas, and massive Ork migrations have been detected heading north, south and east from the territory, now referred to by the Orks as the 'Mo'vn Plainz'. The influx of reinforcements has combined with continued Ork counterattacks by armoured forces in the south from Test Range Ekko and Gargant Mobs in the north to effectively blunt the progress of Operation MONSOON for the time being. 

Despite this, the Tau Coalition Command on M-88 considers Operation MONSOON to be a success. Over weeks of fierce combat the Tau offensive has managed to carve a salient comprising hundreds of square Tor'kan into the Ork-held region, now known as the Monsoon Salient, and prevented the Orks from completely infesting the Mo'Hav region. Heavy Tau reinforcements to the area have managed to thwart all Ork attempts to cut off or overrun the salient, and it has now become a bastion of Tau territory within the Ork-held sectors. Although they failed in their objective of recapturing the Mo'Hav Plains, the commanders and warriors who fought as part of Operation MONSOON have been lauded by Tau observers and media channels as Heroes of The Empire for their triumphs and honourable conduct in battle. Shas'el Kiv'rai'ka'nan, for whom the operation had been designated a Trial By Fire, has failed to achieve the rank of Shas'O, but has nonetheless gained an enormous amount of experience alongside his forces during their successful defence of Operation MONSOON's southern flank against Ork counterattacks and raids on Ork logistics and supply lines. 

Ork Points: 72 
Tau Points: 28 

Wurrshuv's Krunch - ORK INFESTED 

After a series of titanic battles near the border of the Krunch region, the Tau Guards Cades and their supporting forces that constituted Operation IO has managed to escape Wurrshuv's Krunch, though only at a considerable cost in lives and resources. Having avoided the border regions contaminated by Tau biological warfare, Operation IO was eventually able to succeed in fighting through the southernmost corner of Da Fang and circling back into the Saal'vesa training grounds from the northern Or'vesa region, before making their way back to Fio Starport. Ork resistance was fierce, and vast numbers of Wurrshuv's finest warriors pursued the Tau incursion at every step. Many of these pursuing forces were ultimately annihilated as the retreating Operation IO ran them into large Tau reinforcements arriving from the starport. Following their escape the Guards Cadres and their supporting elements have been evacuated off-world alongside a number of other Tau formations involved in the conflict (including the Gue'vessa training forces known as the Eastern Tigers and Beasts from The East, both of which having been trapped on the planet outside the theatre of operations for the duration of the campaign), which have since been transported out of the system by the departing Kor'vattra fleet K-42 to other assignments where they are more urgently needed. 

As they withdraw the forces of Operation IO have left behind them an estimated several thousand Tau prisoners in total taken from various warzones in the theatre of operations on M-88, including a large number of ORBIT captives from the earlier Ork victory near the Krunch-Saal'vesa border. These Tau prisoners of war are now condemned to toil in slave labour producing munitions and supplies for the Ork war machine, or be executed in spectacularly brutal and gruesome ways for the entertainment of the Greenskins and as part of Ork propaganda efforts. Continued influxes of massive Ork reinforcements through the tellyporta array at Wurrshuv's Krunch will make any future attempt at rescue operations for these Tau captives extremely difficult at best. 

Wurrshuv may have exited M-88 and its star system, but he has left behind a legacy of violence and destruction that will shadow the planet and the ATT Orbital for generations to come. Ork invaders now swarm across the planet's surface in uncontrollable numbers, while orbital surveillance and Earth Caste ecological surveys have detected growing populations of Feral Orks taking root amongst Orkoid ecosystems in many outlying areas of M-88's landmasses, seeded there from Orkoid spores washed away in the Lake Season rainfall. Despite remaining confused and dismayed at the withdrawal of Operation IO, Wurrshuv himself has taken great pride in being the first warlord to beat the forces the ATT Orbital, and now markets his creations as the weapons and equipment that bested the greatest warriors of the legendary station. Consequently he has found his services in ready demand form many Ork warbosses and warlords across the Eastern Fringe. 

Ork Points: 100 
Tau Points: 0 

Training Ground Saal'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED 

Tau ORBIT forces have managed to successfully break through the encircling Ork cordon around their positions. Acting swiftly in the face of this grave threat, ORBIT commanders identified the weakest link in the closing Ork noose and concentrated their efforts there, targeting the lighter Gretchin Revolutionary Komittee formations to the west. The resulting battle saw the ORBIT cadres decisively smash the rebel Grotz at several key points, routing the Gretchin militias and allowing them to escape towards friendly territory. The ORBIT forces then linked up with a massive wave of Tau reinforcements landed from Fio Starport, which covered their retreat and destroyed the pursuing Ork forces. The ORBIT forces have since been withdrawn from the theatre and reassigned to the ATT Orbital. 

The conflict has left the Tau ORBIT forces with a checkered legacy. While their early successes in the fighting continue to be lauded by many media channels, the ORBIT cadres remain unable to escape the lingering damage suffered to their reputation from their catastrophic defeat near the Saal'vesa/Krunch border. This has been further compounded by the excessive force they have employed in the weeks and months following the defeat, up to the use of wide-scale biological warfare, leaving many to question the stability of the ORBIT commanders in the wake of such a serious loss. Ultimately, for every Tau who associates the ORBIT cadres with triumphs like Blood Ridge and images of Tau walkers standing triumphant over the remains of Ork Stompas, there is another who associates them with the defeat of the border region and images of ORBIT warriors in full retreat past burning wrecks of Tau vehicles and battlesuits, or the horrifying ecological damage wrought from the ORBIT biological warfare attacks. This has left the ORBIT forces as an extremely divisive subject amongst the wider Tau Empire, with supporters amongst the stronger Imperialist elements of the Empire's populace and equally strong critics and detractors from the Empire's Populist segments. Investigations into the actions of the ORBIT cadres have thus far found no cause for Censure, however a small but vocal number of Tau hold lingering suspicions that the ORBIT commanders have only managed to escape more serious repercussions through political connections and favour among the Tau Empire's Imperialist elite. 

Nonetheless, the ORBIT forces have played an important role in the defence of the Saal'vesa training grounds, and their actions have helped to contain the Ork advance westwards and prevent the Empire Sector from being completely overrun. Heavy Tau reinforcements have now secured much of the Saal'vesa region, driving large-scale organised Ork resistance out of the area save for a few isolated pockets along the region's southeastern border. 

Elsewhere in the Saal'vesa training grounds, the Enclave special forces unit known as Covert Ops Team 24-C has finally engaged with the Ork assassin known as Da Predata. After an extended period of observation and covert stalking of the Gue'vessa operatives, Da Predata finally launched a surprise attack on the team which resulted in a series of cat-and-mouse hunts and ambushes that have seen all involved combatants heavily wounded. The operatives of Covert Ops Team 24-C were able to be successfully extracted and are currently recovering in the ATT Orbital's infirmary wing, with a full recovery expected in the immediate future. The whereabouts of Da Preadata are unknown at present, but it is unlikely that the Ork will remain hidden for long... 

Ork Points: 23 
Tau Points: 77 

Training Centre Or'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED 

The takeover of the tellyporta array by the renegade Northern Raiders has plunged Da Fang into chaos. Wurrshuv-loyalist Ork forces have stormed into the Ork settlements and citadels constructed within Da Fang with orders to crush the renegade hordes and bring the Ork salient to heel. The result has seen every settlment, outpost, villiage, fortress and stronghold constructed by the Orks in the region wracked with unimaginably vicious street-fighting between the two Ork factions. Losses on both sides have been extremely heavy, and thus far no side has been able to gain the upper hand with the Northern Raiders' advantages in motivation, force diversity, experience and knowledge of the local terrain being offset by the Wurrshuv loyalists' advantages in heavy weapons, numbers, equipment and logistics support. To strengthen their position the Northern Raiders have activated the tellyporta array within Da Fang under their own control, using it to bring in reinforcements from those Ork invaders in the outer reaches of the system who are sympathetic to the Northern Raiders' cause. 

The only thing the two Ork factions can both agree on is their shared hatred of and continued struggle against the Tau, and thus far all attempts made by the Tau to exploit this rift amongst the Orks has ended in failure, with both sides uniting to repel Tau offensives and incursions into Da Fang with shocking force before resuming their infighting. Thus far the fratricidal Greenskin conflict has remained confined to the northern Or'vesa region, but some Tau analysts are beginning to wonder if it will spread to other areas of the planet as the Orks continue to migrate around the Tau positions to the west. 

The conflict has taken a heavy toll on the Enclave Sector, and the area surrounding Training Centre Or'vesa is now littered with the wreckage of Tau and Ork vehicles and the final resting places of Tau and Ork warriors. One of the few parties who can truly claim to have prospered in this environment is the Snakebite hordes commanded by Old Smashafist, who have thrived in the warzone and consistently outfought their Enclave adversaries. Old Shmashafist has been comfortably able to boast to his peers about his forces claiming the lion's share of Tau kills amongst the Snakebite forces on M-88, and Old Smashafist has since left M-88 with his armies and departed the system for fresh conquests elsewhere. Several other Ork forces from the Northern Raiders have followed this example. 

Ork Points: 35 
Tau Points: 65 

Fio Starport - TAU CONTROLLED 

Vast armies have been landed at Fio Starport, comprising hundreds of thousands of Fire Warriors and auxiliary troops. More arrive now constantly, with exponentially growing numbers of troops and equipment being committed to the conflict as the Tau Empire struggles to contain the situation on M-88. The majority of these reinforcements consist of ground forces, and have reinforced all Tau controlled areas within the theatre of operations against continued Ork attacks, while others have been deployed outside the theatre in an attempt to check the rapidly accelerating expansion of the Ork migrations on the surface. Also included are a full complement of Tau superheavy assets comprising additional Manta squadrons, Moray flights, Tiger Shark AX-1-0s and Scorpionfish missile carriers to supplement the Lionfish heavy gunships and Stingray heavy missile gunships already deployed in numbers on the surface against the growing numbers of Ork Gargants encountered. These assets have been deployed to all sectors, and Tau Mantas and Morays duelling with Ork titans is an increasingly common sight on the front lines. 

These heavy reinforcements have been able to drive back the Ork incursion into the region surrounding Fio Starport, trapping the Greenskins between themselves and the incoming Guards Cadres of Operation IO. The resulting engagement saw the attacking Orks utterly annihilated before the reinforcement formations covered Operation IO's withdrawal to Fio Starport, eliminating the Ork forces in pursuit. Other newly arrived Tau forces have been assigned to seeking out and destroying the marauding bands of Spektas that still remain within the region. In the face of such overwhelming Tau forces the Spekta mobs have begun to withdraw from the region, ravaging outlying Tau outposts and infrastructure in their way in an orgy of looting and mayhem and bringing as much stolen Tau war materiel as they can carry with them as they cross back into Ork-controlled territory. 

In the aftermath of this latest phase of the conflict on M-88, the Tau leadership is struggling to understand the course of events in more depth. Hard questions are being asked about the management of the Tau war effort, and about what the next moves of the Tau forces on the planet should be. The ATT Orbital command staff is also beginning to plan around the developments, relocating training exercises scheduled soon to areas not threatened by Ork expansion. The possibility of using the embattled Orks to hone the fighting skills of Tau military forces assigned to study at the ATT Orbital is also being discussed.

Ork Points: 0 
Tau Points: 100 

Final Ork Campaign Points: 4 
Final Tau Campaign Points: 4 

Campaign Result: Draw 

Campaign Analysis of Ork Invasion Strategy on M-88 

Subsequent studies of the Ork invasion plans used by Wurrshuv indicates a surprisingly sophisticated strategy vastly more advanced than what is typically encountered amongst the Greenskins. Following the initial landing of his Rok invasion transport and the subsequent assault of the Ork Speed Freak vanguard elements (itself an excellent method of both securing the initial Ork landing site and thinning out Wurrshuv's internal rivals), Wurrshuv initially adopted a strategy of carefully massing his forces and supplies until he could confidently attack with overwhelming force. This method proved highly successful in the initial stages of the Ork invasion, allowing Wurrshuv to conquer the He'Sho Seas with relatively little difficulty. 

While effective, this initial approach ran counter the natural instincts of the Ork species, which quickly began to cause dissension among the ranks of Wurrshuv's forces that eventually resulted in the formation of the Northern Raiders, a rift which ultimately never fully recovered. This crisis, however, proved an excellent illustration of Wurrshuv's surprisingly capable problem solving skills. Whether by natural instinct or deliberate design, Wurrshuv allowed the dissident Orks to launch their own attack on a seperate axis from Wurrshuv's own planned route of advance, with the net result of opening a second front against the Tau forces and thus forcing the Tau to spread themselves more thinly on the ground, further enhancing one of the major advantages Wurrshuv's armies had - overwhelming numbers. 

When Wurrshuv's main offensive began, progress was initially slow. Ultimately the overwhelming majority of warbosses and chieftains under Wurrshuv's command were reluctant to use their own initiative when attacking. The result was a considerable window where the Orks could have lost the overall strategic initiative. Acting fast, Wurrshuv's solution was simple. He centralised all Ork command decisions and assumed direct control over the Ork offensives - if his subordinates would not attack without his explicit instructions, then he would give them all the instructions they could ever ask for! 

This enabled the Orks to retain the strategic initiative, an advantage that Wurrshuv ruthlessly exploited. For most of the campaign the Orks were able to force the Tau to fight on their terms, choosing when and where to attack and throwing the Tau defence into chaos. Ultimately Wurrshuv was able to become strongly entrenched within the decision-cycle of the Tau Coalition Command, which proved fatal to the Tau efforts to remove the Orks from M-88. 

While the Tau focused their efforts on tactical actions, Wurrshuv appears to have sought to defeat the Tau at the operational and strategic levels. It is unclear at this time how conscious Wurrshuv's reasoning was towards this decision, but whatever the case may be it appears that Wurrshuv recognised the lack of initiative in many of his subordinates as a tactical liability. However, by rigidly controlling their actions with centralised command, Wurrshuv was able to channel their efforts towards an overall victory by directing efforts in areas that would afford maximum damage, sacrificing a degree of tactical success for greater overall progress at the higher levels of warfare. 

Wurrshuv's offensive plans were, as is characteristic of many aspects of Orks, simple but brutally effective. After initial attacks identified the concentrations of Tau defences and their capabilities, Wurrshuv directed the Ork follow-on forces to where they would do most good, feeding lower quality formations into the more powerful Tau forces to keep them tied down while the top-rated Ork armies attacked more poorly defended areas. This enabled the Orks to circumvent and then cut off and surround the strongest Tau forces and undermine Tau defences to deadly effect. Wurrshuv also took great efforts to utilise his considerable air power and special forces capabilities to good effect, using them to mount deep strikes on the Tau rear echelons, targeting concentrations of reserves and supplies, communication nodes, power grids and other assets to further weaken Tau defensive efforts. In the later stages of the conflict these attacks were also supplemented with air and artillery scattered minefields, believed to be a relatively recent innovation for the Orks. 

On the tactical level Wurrshuv and his forces made excellent use of captured Tau equipment, whether turned directly against its former users or incorporated into Ork designs. Wurrshuv displayed a keen understanding of both Tau technology and Fire Caste combat doctrine, and devised a number of countermeasures to exploit it. The most dramatic example was of course the infamous Beepy Gubbinz electronic defence systems that exploited the widespread use of IFF technology in Tau weapon systems to prevent Ork units from being targeted, but other examples are also widely apparent, such as the use of Traktor-Grappla devices to neutralise the Tau's advantage in weapon range and the use of captured cloaking devices to enhance the infiltration capabilities of Kommando units. 

Finally, Wurrshuv also displayed a significant appreciation for the importance of logistics in an extended war of conquest. It is particularly notable that after securing his initial landing site Wurrshuv's first target was the He'Sho Seas, an area well known to be exceptonally rich in minerals, metal ores and fossil fuels. It is still widely speculated that Wurrshuv or one of his Mek acolytes may have devised some means of detecting this abundance of natural resources while on planetary approach or final descent, allowing the Orks to steer their landing towards it. Though this has still yet to be confirmed, it would fit well with Wurrshuv's affinity for advanced technology and sensor equipment. Likewise, Wurrshuv placed great emphasis on effective supply lines, putting much effort into creating an efficient road network between Ork territory and amassing an unimaginably vast fleet of supply trucks and pack animals alongside the more well-known Tanka and Krawla superheavy logistics transports. In an excellent display of incorporating multiple system redundancies, it is well known in Tau intelligence circles that over 50% of the Ork logistics fleet - including either the entire force of tankas and krawlas or the all conventional transport vehicles - could be destroyed and Wurrshuv's armies would have remained fully supplied at almost all times. 

In conclusion, Wurrshuv's war effort throughout the campaign displayed an exceptional talent for grand strategy and the operational art of warfare, and is a strong testament to the grave danger Wurrshuv poses for the Tau Empire. It is believed by many Tau analysts that Wurrshuv may only be the first Ork to begin adapting to prolonged exposure to the Tau, and as time goes on more Ork warlords may follow his examples. 

Campaign Analysis of Tau Defensive Strategy on M-88

For most of the campaign the Tau defence effort was focused almost entirely at the tactical level. Even after their initial defeat at the Ork landing site and the fall of the He'Sho Seas, it appears from analysis of transcripts and communiques that the majority of Tau commanders active on M-88 continued to underestimate the Ork invaders, thinking them to be incapable of large-scale coordinated actions. This was to ultimately prove a deadly mistake. As a result of this hubris, the Tau made no real effort at planning on the operational and strategic level, believing that a simple string of tactical victories would be sufficient to break the Orks' will to continue fighting. The result was that Tau cadres often found themselves outmanoeuvred by the Orks despite never being defeated themselves in open conventional battle. 

These problems were only further compounded by the command and control structure adopted by the Tau for the campaign, a very confusing system that never made it clear exactly who was in command of what and whom. It appears that this command structure was a major factor in preventing the Tau from capitalising on many of their advantages and seriously inhibited attempts to form a coherent strategy. These communications breakdowns also resulted in the Tau being dangerously slow to adapt to the new technologies used by Wurrshuv's forces, most notably the Ork Beepy Gubbinz countermeasures and cloaking-field equipped Spekta commandos. 

These factors led to the Tau squandering most of their reserves and supply resources in local counterattacks that did little to achieve the Tau's strategic goal of driving the Orks from the surface of M-88. Worse still, the Tau failed to effectively use one of their greatest assets - a high degree of initiative amongst their leadership. Instead the Tau forces adopted an almost entirely defensive posture that effectively ceded strategic initiative over to the Orks and left the Tau reacting to Ork movements rather than making taking their own proactive actions for over half of the conflict. Some Tau commanders realised the folly of this approach early, leading to the ill-fated Tau air-landing offensive into the He'Sho Seas, but a lack of coordination left these attacks almost completely unsupported, stopping them from making much headway in their objectives. 

On the tactical level the Tau proved exceptionally lethal, and many Tau forces found themselves achieving extremely lopsided kill ratios in their favour. Though a number of Tau cadres suffered few or no tactical defeats, the lack of a coherent strategy prevented the Tau from turning this tactical success into operational and strategic gains. In the end, the Tau attempted to defend everywhere, and thus defended nowhere. 

In many ways the Tau can be seen to have acted as an obliging enemy for the invading Orks. The overemphasis the Tau placed on tactical level actions left them open to the operational and strategic level explotations required by Wurrshuv to make the most of the limited personal initiative of his subordinates, and allowed Wurrshuv to easily get inside the decision-cycle of the Tau leadership. All too often the Tau commanders on the ground succumbed to threat overload and doubled down on defensive actions when an offensive would have been more helpful to the strategic goals of the Tau. 

One area where the Tau consistently performed well was in space. Unlike the ground war, the Air Caste naval operations were highly coordinated, with a well-streamlined command structure. The Kor'vattra vessels of fleet K-42 in particular served with distinction, and are directly responsible for ensuring no further Ork roks ever reached the surface of M-88. Initially the Tau fleet was hamstrung by a lack of resources to cover against the twin threats of the Ork roks and Freeboota warships, with Kor'vattra fleet K-42's focus on intercepting Ork roks resulting in a number of Tau reinforcement convoys falling prey to Freeboota commerce raiders. Once additional ships arrived in the form of Operational Group Or'res'tel'K, the situation was soon rectified and the Tau were able to secure command of the system's primary biosphere for most of the campaign, their naval superiority only broken during the final concerted Ork offensive in space. 

After a month of little progress, Tau commanders on the ground began to make drastic changes. The cumbersome command and control structure in place since the conflict's start was replaced with a considerably more streamlined version, and after a number of high-level meetings the Tau began to make coordinated offensives into Ork territory. The results were immediate, giving rise to the success of two major Tau offensives in Operations MONSOON and IO. This ultimately proved the importance of effective coordination and a focus on operational level warfare during extended campaigns, but in the end proved too late to decisively break the solidly entrenched Orks before they could activate more tellyporta arrays, at which point Ork infestation levels in the theatre of operations on M-88 reached critical mass. 

"In the end, victory in war does not come from winning every battle. It comes from winning the right battles." 

- Shas'O'T'au Kais'Ka'Eoro'Da'Anuk, Guards Cadre commander

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Wurrshuv's Revenge - Week 13

Wurrshuv's Revenge - An ATT Campaign 

Week 13 

The end is nigh on M-88. The titanic struggle between the Tau and Orks is now in it's final blood-soaked twilight, and both sides launch their final decisive blows. Rising from the heart of the Greenskins' settlements and fortresses, the Ork tellyporta arrays are now fully functional, and the Tau now fight frantically to destroy them before they are activated. The Orks, in turn, are now confident with the knowledge that massive reinforcements are imminent, and have emptied their reserves into shattering the Tau once and for all. Millions of Greenskins have now surged from their settlements and strongholds to rampage across the surface of M-88, and the Tau have been thrown into retreat in multiple sectors. 

In space Ork warships continue to flood the inner system. Freeboota fleets have succeeded in shutting down one of the Empire reinforcement corridors to M-88, and continue to maintain a stranglehold on one of the two Enclave reinforcement corridors. This has effectively halved the Tau reinforcement and resupply capacity for the conflict. Tau fleet elements mount counter-attacks where they can, but there seems to be no end to the number of Ork vessels overrunning the system. Kor'vattra fleet K-42 continues to see success at intercepting further Roks. 

Situation Updates - All Sectors 


With no sign of imminent relief and in the face of spiralling casualty rates, the Tau commanders in the He'Sho Seas have determined that their remaining resources are insufficient for the task set them, and have ordered a withdrawal from the region. In response surviving Tau elements in the He'Sho Seas have ceased offensive operations and begun falling back to the Tau landing sites around FFG355Y for evacuation. The result has seen a growing concentration of Tau forces around FFG355Y as Tau elements filter back to the landing sites and await evacuation. 

The Orks have offered no respite for the spent Tau air-landing forces, and continue to mount vice-like pressure against the Tau incursion. The Ork settlements within the He'Sho Seas have dispatched many of the reserves stationed there to reinforce the already immense Ork armies hounding the Tau, whose advance has been slowed only by a series of desperate rearguard actions by Tau troops. Although these rearguards have prevented the Orks from overrunning the Tau evacuation zones thus far, they have failed to stop the Orks from surrounding Tau positions. Ork airstrikes under Linebakka mercilessly strafe and bomb the landing sites during spells of fair weather, and Ork artillery has begun relentlessly hammering the Tau while they wait for transport to arrive. 

Ork Points: 83 
Tau Points: 17 


Determined to prevent the local tellyporta arrays from ever coming online, Operation MONSOON continues to sweep through the Mo'Hav Plains with its campaign of 'Settlement hopping'. With the tellyporta arrays functional, the Tau are able to distinguish the genuine tellyportas from their replica decoys by analysing the energy signatures as the tellyporta arrays begin to power up, allowing them to concentrate all force on the devices. This has drawn the Tau into a seemingly endless cycle of blood-soaked and horrifically bitter street fighting within the Ork settlements and fortresses housing tellyporta arrays. Losses have been extremely heavy on both sides, with the Tau's growing experience in combat within the confines of an Ork settlement being offset by the defending Orks' intimate knowledge of the layout of their strongholds and a fanatical drive to defend their homes and livelihoods. The veteran core of the Gretchin Revolutionary Komittee forces fighting on M-88 have proven particularly effective here, with their experience in Orkish street-fighting on Gorkamorka giving them a decisive edge while being able to match and even defeat Tau in close quarters combat. 

As Operation MONSOON continues to push east, Ork counterattacks from Test Range Ekko keep its southward progress checked, allowing Greenskin forces to continue to move through the Mo'Hav Plains into Tau territory. Ork fighta-bommers flying under Linebakka continue to pummel Operation MONSOON's supply lines and rear echelons during periods of fair weather. Worst of all, however, is the events in the north, as the lead elements of the Gargant mobs deployed to the Mo'Hav Plains have finally made contact with Operation MONSOON. The initial attacks from the Ork titans have proven devastating on Operation MONSOON's northern elements, and all Tau attempts to resist them have thus far ended in failure. It is feared that the Gargants may be unstoppable... 

Ork Points: 72 
Tau Points: 28 

Wurrshuv's Krunch - ORK CONTROLLED 

Operation IO's fate has been thrown into jeopardy. Shas'O'T'au Kais'ka'Eoro'Da'Anuk has been forced to abandon his carefully laid exit strategy for his troops after their escape route into the Saal'vesa training grounds was compromised by Tau weapon strikes. The Guards Cadres were able to detect the biological weapon attacks before they could run into the contaminated areas, and have managed to avoid any exposure to the biological agents, changing their route of march to take them due west towards Fio Starport. This is expected to delay the breakout of Operation IO, but much of the original withdrawal plan has been able to be salvaged. 

This has been the only consolation for the Tau forces involved with Operation IO. The delay brought on by the diversion has enabled the Ork forces pursuing the Guards Cadres to overtake and encircle the Tau, and the Guards Cadres now face the very real proposition of being cut off and surrounded by Wurrshuv's most fearsome armies. Supplies are beginning to run low and casualty rates continue to rise. Nonetheless, Operation IO has succeeded in drawing away most of the Ork forces In a position to attack Operation MONSOON from the north-west, and the ATT Shas'ar'tol is considering the possibility of exploiting this vulnerability with a follow-on offensive into the Krunch region to relieve pressure on Operation IO and allow the Guards Cadres and their support to escape. 

Ork Points: 100 
Tau Points: 0 

Training Ground Saal'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED

In a desperate bid to stem the unstoppable Greenskin hordes pouring into the Saal'vesa training  grounds, Tau ORBIT forces have resorted to the use of weapons of mass destruction. ORBIT forces have launched biological weapon strikes along much of the border between the Saal'vesa region and Wurrshuv's Krunch, contaminating large swathes of land with 'smart-virus' agents developed under ORBIT supervision. These biological weapon attacks have been employed in conjunction with a number of heavy-duty fusion charges placed at strategic points by ORBIT engineers and detonated to restrict Ork troop movements. 

In response the Orks already present within the Saal'vesa region have dug in around the ORBIT positions, creating a formidable network of fortifications that has proven highly resistant to attacks. Infantry-based counterattacks by ORBIT forces have achieved a limited penetration of the Ork defence lines, but at the cost of staggering losses. This has in turn lead the ORBIT commanders to requisition superheavy units to support further offensives, and subsequent ORBIT offensives have been supported by experimental superheavy walkers deployed by the Tau. These assets have proven successful in combat, most notably engaging and destroying a number of Ork stompas in several pre-dawn engagements. The aftermath of one such engagement has been captured on film by an embedded Water Caste journalist and gained notability as part of a renewed propaganda campaign, however the ORBIT forces still retain a reputation for excessive force, with images of the desolation wrought by their biological weapon strikes and extensive demolitions sending just as strong a message amongst the more moderate elements of the Tau Empire. 

The Ork retaliation has been swift. Ork aircraft flying in fair weather periods have staged bombing missions on Tau support facilities in the area, destroying the Tau superheavy walkers in their bases. Ork fighta-bommers have also mounted interdiction missions on Tau superheavy walkers travelling between battles, destroying them with tankbusta rokkits. A number of Tau observers, analysts and veterans have noted a grim irony in seeing their superheavy units being countered by air attack. These air raids have been employed in conjunction with a renewed Ork ground offensive from Test Range Ekko in the south-west that has managed to flank the ORBIT positions entirely. Led by a Grotzkreig of Gretchin Revolutionary Komittee Republikan Guard armoured formations supported by thousands of Ork warbands, the offensive has managed to encircle the ORBIT forces, trapping them against the Ork defence lines. Gargant mobs also continue to roam the Saal'vesa region. It remains to be seen whether the ORBIT forces can manage a breakthrough from their isolated pocket... 

Ork Points: 24
Tau Points: 76

Training Centre Or'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED

Enclave forces counterattacking in the region surrounding Training Centre Or'vesa have begun to make increasing headway against the Orks. Most notable of these successes is the destruction of a number of Ork Gargants and Great Gargants, among the first Ork titans deployed to the northern Or'vesa region, with repeated tracer missile strikes. Enclave forces have managed to push back the recent Ork advances in several sectors, but thus far remain unable to penetrate Da Fang. 

The reason behind the recent Tau successes around Training Centre Or'vesa lie in internal strife amongst the Greenskins, which has now finally come to a head. Chafing under the increasingly repressive methods of Wurrshuv's Tech-Nob enforcers, disenchanted with Wurrshuv's obsession with technology and convinced by their recent success that the Big Mek has outlived his usefulness, the Northern Raiders have declared themselves independent of Wurrshuv, and established Da Fang as a Free State. Wurrshuv's Tech-Nobz have locked down as many settlements as they can, but vast swathes of Da Fang have erupted into open revolt against Wurrshuv. Countless settlements and fortresses have been engulfed in mass rioting and brawling, caused as much by Orks celebrating their new freedom as they are by clashes with those Greenskins who remain loyal to Wurrshuv. Worst of all, Northern Raider rebels have seized the tellyporta array constructed in Da Fang, and are preparing to use it to bring forth reinforcements for their cause. 

In response, the vast armoured formations massed on the edge of Wurrshuv's Krunch have crossed over the border into Da Fang, and Tau orbital and aerial surveillance shows vast numbers of Wurrshuv-loyal armoured forces advancing on the renegade settlements and fortresses at speed. It seems that internecine Ork confrontation in the Or'vesa region is now inevitable... 

Ork Points: 35
Tau Points: 65


Over three months since the beginning of the conflict, the scenario most feared by the Tau has finally come to pass. Acting as part of the latest and most ambitious offensive by the Orks, conventional Ork forces have launched an incursion into the region surrounding Fio Starport. This attack has exploited the lack of defences surrounding Fio Starport in the aftermath of the grav-smasha strikes on the region, as well as the efforts of marauding Spekta mobs that continue to roam the area, and is at least in part an attempt by Wurrshuv to prevent any escape for Operation IO. Like the Spektas before them, the Ork warbands mounting this offensive have taken fierce pride in having the honour of leading the first major assault on the Tau's main planetside stronghold, and morale remains high. The Tau stealth cadres deployed to the region to counter Spekta activity have been optimised for operations against special forces and are ill-equipped to face the large well-armed and highly motivated conventional forces they now find themselves confronting, and the ATT Shas'ar'tol is desperately searching for a solution to halt the Ork incursion. 

More positive news has come for the Tau in the air. The Earth Caste has now completed their new network of airbases, and Tau combat aircraft numbers in the theatre of operations have grown large enough for the Tau to begin combat operations in fair weather conditions. These sorties have been limited in scope so far, and the Tau remain a long way from achieving air parity in the face of the Ork advantages in numbers and pilot skill among veteran flyboyz, but the Tau have nonetheless been able to achieve a handful of aerial wins in the brief periods of fair weather while retaining the advantage in poor weather conditions. 

Ork Points: 0
Tau Points: 100

Ork Campaign Points: 4 
Tau Campaign Points: 4