Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Wurrshuv's Revenge - Week 2

Wurrshuv's Revenge - An ATT Campaign 

Week 2


The storm on M-88 has broken in earnest. After months of preparation the Tau and Ork counteroffensives have been unleashed, running into each other head on. The result has been a blood-drenched stalemate with neither side able to gain ground against the other. Tau firepower and mobility is being offset by Ork mass and low cunning. Both sides have suffered heavy losses, with thousands of Ork warbands destroyed and hundreds of Tau cadres rendered combat ineffective by attrition. The Tau leadership now fears that further Orks may be drawn to news of the battles and may escalate the conflict even further. In an attempt to quickly gain the upper hand, the ATT Shas'ar'tol is seeking to hold the Orks in place with their current front-line forces while marshalling further Tau reinforcements for a series of massive air-landing operations that, it is hoped, will catch the greenskin hordes in a vertical envelopment. The plan has significant risk however, as it will denny immediate reinforcements on the front lines and could leave the Tau vulnerable should the Orks manage a successful breakthrough. 

Tau naval forces are beginning to trickle into the system, but not at the same rate as the Ork Freebooter fleets lured by bloodshed and Wurrshuv's promises of riches for any that fight for him. This deficiency is further compounded by the exponentially growing numbers of Ork Roks approaching M-88, filled with new Invasion forces and carrying the threat of opening up additional fronts on the surface. Kor'vattra fleet K-42 has shifted focus primarily on hunting down the encroaching Roks, deeming them to be the greater threat. The Tau fleet has seen considerable success in this endeavour, and thus far no additional Roks have made it to the surface of M-88, but this has come at the cost of leaving the Tau reinforcement corridors vulnerable. Already a number of Tau convoys carrying fresh troops and supplies have been lost to roving wolfpacks of Ork freebooter warships. 

Situation Updates - All Sectors 

He'Sho Seas - ORK CONTROLLED

The Tau beachhead in the He'Sho Seas region continues to hold out against massive Ork counter-attacks, but they remain cut off and losses are mounting. Only a steady trickle of Mantas and Orca dropships making their way through the formidable Ork air defences in the region is preventing the Tau landing forces from being annihilated. A number of raids against nearby Ork mining operations and oil infrastructure have been attempted, but all have thus far ended in failure with the Tau forced to fall back under heavy enemy attack. Without further reinforcements, and with the unrelenting Ork pressure on the Tau landing zones, the Tau have simply been left with too few warriors to spare for these missions. 

The Orks' Intacepta Rokkit networks in the He'Sho Seas have been instrumental in their defence efforts, and the Orks do not hesitate to pound the Tau positions with long-range Intacepta Rokkit fire when there are no Tau aircraft operating in the area. The allies and mercenary forces that arrived with the Tau air-landing troops have thus far suffered the worst losses, being placed in the highest-risk sectors by the Tau commanders. Morale amongst these mercenary elements is low, due to spiralling casualty rates and growing fears that Wurrshuv may retaliate against them personally should they continue to fight against him. The Big Mek has a notorious reputation amongst the outlaw underworld of the Eastern Fringe, and this has not gone unrecognised by the mercenaries and pirates fighting alongside the Tau, with many questioning whether the rewards promised by the Tau outweigh the grave risks involved. 

Amidst the dire situation for the Tau landing forces, one small silver lining can be found in an unexpected area. Scattered Tau remnants are beginning to find their way back to the Tau landing sites in the He'Sho seas. A combination of survivors from the initial Ork assault on the region and surviving elements from Operation FARSIGHT, these Tau are found approaching the outskirts of the Tau beachhead at erratic hours, often waiting until nightfall to complete their journey. Occasionally they arrive in ragged bands of three or four, but more often they come in pairs or, most common of all, lone warriors who are the sole survivor of their unit. Fire Warriors and Pathfinders in these remnants frequently have at least their basic kit and weapon still with them, and occasionally FARSIGHT remnants will still have functional Stealthsuits, but more often than not these survivors arrive with little more than the combat armour on their bodies, all other equipment having been irreparably damaged or lost in their desperate flight to safety. Nonetheless, these remnants are a welcome source of extra manpower for the Tau landing forces, and the Tau commanders at the He'Sho Seas beachhead are eagerly collecting every scrap of intelligence they can gleam from the survivors for use in planning their next move... 

Ork Points: 84
Tau Points: 16

Mo'Hav Plains - ORK CONTROLLED

The Ork Speed Freak warbands have now largely left the Mo'Hav Plains region, but this area remains no less heavily populated by Ork forces. The extensive network of roadways the Orks have constructed in the area continues to function as a major supply artery for the Ork invasion, channelling war materials, supplies, spoils and Ork warbands between the Ork-occupied sectors and the front lines, and as the road system reaches maturity more and more effort is being put towards security, with increasingly elaborate defences beginning to spring up across the region to guard the vital roadways against intruders. 

In the wake of the Speed Freaks come hundreds of thousands of regular Ork warbands and Wurrshuv's own armies, forming a second echelon of the greenskins' southern offensive and acting as a follow-on force to the Speed Freaks to exploit any breakthroughs the speed-crazed Orks may achieve. Orbital imagery and footage from high-altitude surveillance drones shows unimaginably vast plumes of impenetrable black smoke blotting out the surface of M-88 as these forces flood the staging grounds and roads of the Mo'Hav Plains in preparation for their attacks on the Tau in the west. 

Ork Points: 81
Tau Points: 19

Wurrshuv's Krunch - ORK CONTROLLED

Flying out of their airbases in the Krunch region, Ork flyboyz continue to wage a relentless air war in the airspace over the Tau controlled sectors. Though they have suffered considerable losses against the Tau air cadres, the Ork pilots are quickly learning Air Caste tactics and adapting to them. A number of fighta-bommer aces have emerged from the fighting and are now feared across M-88. It is believed that the significant disposition of the Ork air forces works to their favour in this regard, as their numbers leave more room to adapt and experiment with their tactics - any failures are simply absorbed as acceptable losses that the Orks can take. The Tau air cadres, with their limited numbers and much less expendable assets, do not have such a luxury. 

On the ground, Wurrshuv has taken keen note of the success the Tau have had with their stealth technology in previous conflicts, and has started using it against his enemies in earnest. The heavy losses of Operation FARSIGHT combined with plundered Tau technology from battles in the west has left the Big Mek with an ample supply of salvaged stealth field components, which he has used to expand the ranks of his Spektas. Instrumental in the initial Ork victories in the He'Sho Seas, these feared Kommandos use looted stealth field generators to devastating effect. Newly formed Spekta mobs have been deployed to all major fronts, and have thrown many Tau forces into chaos with their deadly raids. It would also appear that the Tau are not the only ones to have fallen in the cross-hairs of the Spektas - several dissenting Ork warbosses have suffered gruesome 'accidents' after refusing to provide suitable tribute to Wurrshuv or challenging his authority. 

Ork Points: 100
Tau Points: 0

Note: Due to heavy Ork defences and overwhelming numbers of Orks in the area, Tau players may not report games in this region. 

Training Ground Saal'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED

In the south the Speed Freaks have struck the Empire Sector in full force. Thousands of speed-crazed warbands have descended on the Saal'vesa training grounds in an orgy of high-speed destruction, with the fighting becoming a grim reflection of the initial Ork landing. The Speed Freaks have lost none of their cunning or ferocity, and the week's combat has seen heavy damage inflicted on the southern Tau forces. The Tau's salvation thus far has been the lack of unity amongst the Speed Freaks - with individual warbands operating on their own leadership, no central coherent strategy has been followed by the Speed Freaks, allowing the Tau to redirect them with relative ease and defeat them piecemeal. 

The end result has seen the Speed Freak assault blunted, but has also left the Empire Tau forces unable to push into the neighbouring Mo'Hav plains. The front line in the Empire Sector has been left a fractured mess as the belligerents have become locked in a vicious cycle of swirling manoeuvre warfare and mobile combat, with mechanised Tau hunter cadres chasing Speed Freak warbands in inconclusive running battles that leave the two forces increasingly intermingled. The ATT Shas'ar'tol remains confident that they can contain the Speed Freaks, but there are growing concerns about whether this can be done before the second echelon of Ork forces massing in the Mo'Hav Plains hits the Empire Sector in strength. 

Ork Points: 34
Tau Points: 66

Training Centre Or'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED

The Tau have been dangerously slow to respond to the operational and strategic opportunities presented to them in the Enclave Sector, with Tau forces in the north paralysed as their commanders debate how best to exploit their regained initiative. The Orks, however, have been equally indecisive, making piecemeal attacks at both the Or'vesa training grounds and at targets outside the training areas as individual Warbands and warbosses direct their forces on the course of action they deem most suitable. 

The result is another chaotic stalemate, further compounded by logistical complications as Tau Empire forces are moved back to the southern regions in order to engage the Ork assaults there, or moved up from the south to assist the Enclave troops. Renowned Guards Cadre commander Shas'O Da'Anuk is calling for the Tau to establish a clear and unified strategy immediately and with all due haste. In the meantime, the combat in the north continues to reach unprecedented levels of bitterness and savagery. Several longstanding hatreds and grudges have now formed between veteran forces who have fought each other on multiple occassions, and fighting between such rivals has become notorious for the scale of horror involved. The Enclave forces have gained particular infamy in this area - unfettered by the civilian control of the Ethereals and with a longstanding history of violence against the Orks, the Enclave warriors are continuing to attack the invading Orks with a level of brutality that has shocked observers from the Tau Empire. 

Ork Points: 38
Tau Points: 62

Fio Starport - TAU CONTROLLED

With aircraft losses continuing to grow, the Tau are turning more and more to ground-based air-defence to protect against the incessant Ork fighta-bommer raids. The Tau have already established an impressive integrated air defence network in their occupied territories, and additional contingents of Tracer Missile batteries, Stingrays, Skyrays and Angelfish have been deployed to the surface to strengthen the Tau air defences. Though boasting formidable firepower, the ground-based efforts continue to be hampered by Ork aircraft carrying Beepy Gubbins, restricting the amount of weapons that can be brought to bear on them. The Ork countermeasure systems have become especially feared and hated by the Tau, and a number of research efforts have been initiated to develop an effective counter. 

With the advent of increased Ork Spekta activity, the Tau have turned their attentions to counter-intelligence and counter-stealth capabilities. A significant quantity of advanced sensor equipment has been requisitioned by Tau forces on M-88, and many Pathfinder and Stealth Teams are being recalled to Fio Starport to receive additional training in counter-infiltration methods and tactics. It is believed by the Tau that these forces will then be able to hunt down the elusive Spekta mobs with the support of widespread gun drone patrols. 

Ork Points: 0
Tau Points: 100

Note: Due to the extensive Tau defence networks in place within this region, Ork players may not report games in this territory.   




Ork Campaign Points: 4 
Tau Campaign Points: 4 




Some disturbing reports have begun to filter through to the ATT Shas'ar'tol from Tau elements in the field. In a number of incidents in Tau controlled sectors contact has been lost with isolated Run'als and outposts. Investigating teams have found the installations reduced to blood-soaked abattoirs, their occupants massacred. No survivors have thus far been found, and no evidence of the identity of the attackers can be ascertained, save for crude Ork glyphs written in blood at each site and the missing heads and spinal columns of the Tau victims. 

It is suspected that these attacks are related to a number of similar incidents that have also begun to surface. Isolated patrols and teams of Tau and auxiliary troops have, from time to time, disappeared into the wilderness of M-88. In all such cases contact is never reestablished and search parties have found only mutilated remains of the team members scattered over their projected route of march. Again, all victims have been found missing their head and spine. 

The ATT Shas'ar'tol is convinced that the same party is behind all of these attacks, and a full-scale investigation is underway. The Tau leadership only hopes that the culprits can be found before they cause more serious damage... 








Gogsnaga remained motionless in his perch on the rough knobbly branch of a tree, carefully positioned so that none of the leaves peeling off it would land on him and betray his location. He had learnt the right way to do so long before, after it ruined an ambush against some Humies he was a part of. He had been the only survivor of his Kommando mob that day, and he was determined not to see it happen again. He would have preferred to have taken position in a tree that wasn't shedding anything at all, but that was not an option for him. All of the trees in this copse of woodland were deciduous, and leaves continued to swarm and dance in the air like a flock of birds. Not that Gogsnaga could see them at the moment, seeing the world through the lurid oranges of the false-colour sensor readout his goggles were showing him. What was visible, however, was the brightly glowing radiation signatures of his quarry... 

Shas'Ui'Sa'cea Rra'Myr stalked along the winding woodland path, focusing on any detail that might seem out of place, his pulse carbine raised as he scanned the surrounding trees. The rest of his team of Fire Warriors advanced cautiously in front and behind of him as they too scrutinised the foliage for any danger to the convoy they were escorting. Rra'Myr struggled to listen over the heavy scream of turbine engines from the Devilfish and gunships that crept alongside their dismounted escorts. The Shas'Ui would have preferred to keep moving while mounted, but knew that an advance on foot gave them the best chance of flushing out any ambushes the Ores'la might have set up. Rra'Myr hated these woods. The trees pressed in on both sides, and left him feeling suffocated. Still, the trip through them had thus far been uneventful. The Pathfinders at the head of the column had reported nothing out of the ordinary, and even the sensors on the cadre's battlesuits had not detected any enemy presence yet... 

Gogsnaga noiselessly slunk down from his perch in the trees, carefully lowering himself to the ground so as not to disturb any of his surroundings. All around him the world was a riot of acid oranges, an alien vision to his eyes, but one he knew was necessary in order for him to see at all through the looted Stealth systems he and his fellow Spektaz wore. Wurrshuv had explained to them that the invisibility afforded by the Tau gubbinz made everything invisible to them too, and the only way to see while they were cloaked was through the use of special kustom goggles Wurrshuv had provided them with, fashioned from looted stealthsuit optics. The stealth gubbinz, Wurrhsuv had shown them, would hide them on every colour save one, which was whatever colour they set the goggles to using a toggle on the side. Gogsnaga had discovered that Orange was a colour the Blue gitz didn't usually see at first, so that was the colour he had ordered his Boyz to use. Even now he could see the shapes of the Spektaz as they crept out of the woods with him. Gogsnaga slowly, purposefully stepped closer to the nearest unit of Tau warriors... carefully... closer... quiet now... closer... yes, that's it... he was very close now, almost able to reach out and touch the diminutive alien, and still they were completely oblivious... closer... 

Shas'Ui'Sa'cea Rra'Myr stood poised as he waited with the rest of his team while the Pathfinders returned to the column from their advanced scouting of the path ahead. What unnerved Rra'Myr most was his inability to hear anything over the noise of the vehicles' engines. Without a good set of ears the Shas'Ui felt like he had an arm tied behind his back. He had no way of hearing an approaching adversary, nor could he tell if any of the woodland's natural life had fled or made some kind of response to an intruder. He doubted he would even be able to hear an incoming Ores'la fighter-bomber. It was why Rra'Myr had chosen to leave his helmet clipped to his utility belt, leaving him free to taste and smell the air. It wasn't ideal, but it was better than relying on vision alone. The Shas'Ui just wished he had more of a basis of comparison to know if any scent was different. Still, despite his gnawing unease, Rra'Myr could at least take solace in the fact that nothing had happened yet, and it seemed like nothing would as he turned to start walking forwards. Before he could begin to take a step, however, he felt the strangest sensation on the back of his scalp, a gust of warm moist air that blew forth in an oddly rhythmic pattern, almost like... breathing! 

The Fire Warriors watched as their Shas'Ui froze. They watched as their Shas'Ui whirled around on the spot and levelled his pulse carbine at the space behind him. Then they saw their Shas'Ui knocked reeling by nothing, his arm twisting on its own until it broke in two with a sickening crack. The blue-spattered black blade of a massive wickedly-fashioned knife sprouted from the Shas'Ui's torso, just below the shoulder, and hoisted the screaming Tau into the air before ripping him apart in a shower of cyan gore. The azure blood washed over a rippling shifting silhouette of a monstrous Ork warrior that immediately ducked to one side and rolled into thin air, leaving behind only a staccato beat of deafening gunfire as it unloaded a slugga into the Tau ranks and a single tumbling stikkbomb that struck the ground with an ear-splitting blast and a whirlwind of jagged shrapnel. The Firewarriors responded immediately, training their weapons in the most likely direction their assailant had travelled in to lead the target. It was already too late. Before a single trigger could be pulled the rest of Gogsnaga's mob attacked, butchering the Tau where they stood. Some were stabbed in the back, others had their throats split open. A couple of unfortunate ones were torn limb from limb. More still were struck down by slugga fire or blown apart by stikkbomb explosions. 

The struggle had not gone unnoticed, and already the rest of the Tau were scrambling into defensive positions or training their weapons on the lopsided melee. As they did, one of the Devilfish towards the front of the column spontaneously detonated, erupting into a brutal fireball that scattered burning debris across the woodland trail. The surrounding Fire Warriors immediately turned at the sound, and were immediately caught in a hail of high-calibre bullets as a pair of unseen big shootas opened up on them at point blank range, the survivors also being slaughtered as the second mob of Spektaz pressed their attack. 

The Tau grav-tanks pirouetted where they hovered in search of the invisible tormentors. A Skyray loosed a volley of smart missiles from its forward turrets, the guided munitions twisting and weaving through the air in search of targets before plunging down and detonating harmlessly on an empty section of leaf-strewn pathway. A Hammerhead had much better success, its target-lock guided burst cannons spraying the vicinity of the wrecked Devilfish with searing plasma pulses that systematically ripped apart one of the attacking Spekta mobs in a tempest of deep green blood, dirty yellow bone and burning brown earth. While the Hammerhead's target-lock dealt with that threat, the gunship's main turret swung around to the side and fired a submunition round from its railgun, smashing apart the side of the trail in a tremendous blast that left a series of dark green smears and sparking components where it had caught another mob of Ork ambushers. 

A moment after the railgun fired, two screaming rockets erupted from the air on trails of thick black smoke behind the Hammerhead at point-blank range. One fractured apart in flight and corkscrewed wildly into the trees. The second impacted the grav-tank right in the side of one of its auxiliary fuel cells, detonating the vehicle's hind-quarters in a blistering explosion. menacing shapes shimmered in the burning wreckage as the Spekta mob swarmed over the ruined Hammerhead to tear open hatches and slaughter the surviving crew. 

A trio of Broadside Battlesuits turned and shifted themselves back-to-back, then poured rockets into the surrounding woodland to clear it of any further attackers. They were too late to catch the mob of Spektaz that had crept up on them. Two of the Orks systematically dismembered one of the battlesuits with the high-powered cutting fields of their burnas. The Nob leading them tore open the chest of another with his power klaw. The final one was set upon by the remaining Spektaz in the mob with krak stikkbombs. 

A psychotic grin filled Gogsnaga's face as he walked amongst the carnage. This was one hunter cadre that would not reach the Or'vesa training grounds. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Wurrshuv's Revenge - Week 1

Wurrshuv's Revenge - An ATT Campaign 

Week 1 



A week on from the start of the Tau counteroffensive has seen little movement of the front lines, with both sides instead seeking to consolidate their own holdings before pressing further on. Combat has thus far been limited to only a few major battles and several dozen low-intensity raids and skirmishes as the Tau and Orks probe each other's forces for weaknesses and opportunities to exploit. Aerial and long-range engagements between high-level operational and strategic assets have also intensified, and the skies over the warzones of M-88 have become crisscrossed with trails from aircraft and long-range missiles. Electronic warfare efforts have also intensified on both sides in an attempt to further disrupt the enemy's command and control capability. 

More and more Roks continue to stream into the inner regions of the system, leaving the Tau fleet increasingly stretched. As news spreads about the growing conflict in space, Ork Freebootas have begun to flock to the system in search of battle, further strengthening Wurrshuv's space forces. So far the valiant efforts of Kor'vattra fleet K-42 have managed to keep the Tau reinforcement corridors open, but it remains to be seen how long this can be sustained. 

Situation Updates - All Sectors 

He'Sho Seas - ORK CONTROLLED 

Tau forces have scored one of their first major victories in enemy territory in the He'Sho Seas region. In a daring air-landing assault planned by Enclave Command, Tau Hunter Cadres staged an attack on an Ork oil refinery complex designated FFG355Y by the ATT Shas'ar'tol. Allied forces played a key role in the operation, with the Tau commanders calling in every single mercenary and free agent contact they knew of to bolster their numbers and ensure mission success. It is believed that Enclave Command may even have called on the services of pirate warbands through ties established by the mercenary and piracy operations conducted by the Farsight Enclaves in the wider Eastern Fringe. 

Regardless of their nature, these additional auxiliary forces proved an immense help in countering the overwhelming numbers of Greenskins sent against the landing forces, and the operation has been a success with the oil facilities destroyed by Tau airstrikes and a small beachhead established in the He'Sho Seas. Nonetheless, while an important step the attack has thus far been but a pinprick. Numerous other Ork settlements and resourcing operations continue to work unimpeded, and Ork reinforcements are beginning to flood into the region in preparation for counter-attacks. The Tau landing forces are now cut off behind enemy lines, reliant on continued Air Caste missions for support, reinforcement and resupply. The allies with them are thus far aiding in the defence of the beachhead, but there are concerns among the ATT Shas'ar'tol as to how reliable they may prove to be in the long-term, especially over an extended campaign. 

Ork Points: 84 
Tau Points: 16 

Mo'Hav Plains - ORK CONTROLLED 

As part of the second stage of Operation FARSIGHT, the Tau attempt to comprehensively assess the Ork invaders, the Tau have begun dispatching long-range patrol forces into the Ork occupied Mo'Hav Plains, with the objectives of probing Ork defences and forces in the area, analysing Ork offensive and defensive capabilities and reestablishing contact with any surviving Tau forces in the area. Several scattered parties of survivors from the initial Ork attacks and the remnants of Stealth teams and special forces inserted into the area during earlier stages of Operation FARSIGHT are known to still be present in the region, desperately struggling to survive as the Orks mercilessly hunt them down, and the ATT Shas'ar'tol wish to save as many of these lives as they can. 

Thus far all such efforts from these long-range patrols have ended in failure. The Vior'la forces sent to the surface of M-88 have spearheaded the operations, and numerous Vior'la cadres have found their patrols annihilated by fast-moving Speed Freak warbands or locked in bitter skirmishes with Greenskin patrols. Little headway has been made, while the spoils of M-88 continue to pour back to Wurrshuv's Krunch along the miles of crude roadways created by the Orks, with vast convoys delivering hundreds of tons of looted Tau items to Wurrshuv and his followers, where they are a converted into new weapons and wargear with which to equip the Greenskin hordes. 

Ork Points: 81 
Tau Points: 19 

Wurrshuv's Krunch - ORK CONTROLLED 

Plundered Tau technology and vast quantities of raw materials continue to stream into the fortresses and Mek workshops surrounding Wurrshuv's Krunch, where Wurrshuv and his Mek acolytes use them to create ever more diabolical devices to arm the greenskin hordes with. Recent evidence has suggested that the notorious Bad Dok known only as 'Orkanik' has resurfaced on M-88 and pledged his allegiance to Wurrshuv. What fiendish designs Orkanik might have on M-88 none can say, but Deff Dreads and Killa Kans have already begun appearing in larger numbers amongst the Ork invasion. 

As the conflict escalates Wurrshuv has begun to make increasing use of high-level assets to undermine the Tau forces arrayed against him. Batteries of extended-range Soopa Gunz have been deployed on the edge of the Krunch area and now bombard concentrations of Tau troops and vehicles in the neighbouring sectors with relative impunity. An expanded network of Ork airbases now honeycombs the region, and in addition to patrolling the Mo'Hav plains squadrons of fighta-bommers now constantly strafe and bombard Tau forces in the nearby Or'vesa and Saal'vesa regions, often prioritising supply depots and convoys. Several squadrons of fighta-bommers have been ovserved using captured Blacksun Filters to stage effective night-time raids on Tau positions, while the ever-present Beepy Gubbinz or 'Shoot-me-not devices' continue to complicate Tau air-defence efforts. 

Ork Points: 100
Tau Points: 0

Note: Due to heavy Ork defences and overwhelming numbers of Orks in the area, Tau players may not report games in this region. 


"It's dark, so you usually hear them first, a kind of cross between a roar and a howl that sounds like an electric whirlwind. Then somewhere close to the horizon they vomit out a cascade of hot bright orange-white tracers into the ground ahead of them. That's when they drop their payload. You learn quickly how to tell apart each kind - regular rockets ripple out in swarms, tank-buster rockets always come in pairs and sound like a thunderclap when they strike the ground. The incendiary bombs are the most impressive, erupting into giant fans of fire and smoke that can burn for hours on end. 

Sometimes you'll see a pair of missiles rise up to chase them, or a bright blue stream of fire from an Angelfish somewhere nearby, but all too often the only sight at the end is bright flares from their afterburners. And Come morning there'll be another supply convoy wrecked on a sea of craters." 

- Shas'Ui'Fal'shia Kar'J'kaara, on the efficacy of nighttime Ork air attacks 


Training Ground Saal'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED 

The first lead elements of the Speed Freaks sweeping westwards have begun to enter the Saal'vesa training grounds, and have met with swift Tau counterattacks. Engaging in force, the Tau have defeated many of these early forrays in an ironic mirror to their setbacks in probing the Mo'Hav Plains. One particular incident saw the destruction of a number of mobile oil platforms the Orks had set up to facilitate the rapid refuelling of their follow-on forces. The mobile oil platforms represent an intriguing new example of the ways in which Wurrshuv's forces have prepared for a protracted conflict and their attention to logistics support, and Earth Caste science and engineering teams are eagerly examining their remains. 

The Tau have held the line thus far, and morale is high in the Saal'vesa training grounds. As the Speed Freaks continue their race westwards, and more conventional Ork forces beginning to stream forth from the Mo'Hav Plains, the conflict in the south is only just beginning. 

Ork Points: 34 
Tau Points: 66 

Training Centre Or'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED 

The Tau leadership has decided that their first step should be to strengthen their defences. Thus, the bulk of the Tau military efforts have been focused in the region surrounding Training Centre Or'vesa, aiming to contain the attacks of the Northern Raiders. Responding to requests from Enclave Command for more reinforcements, Tau Empire troops have been redirected from the Empire Sector in the south to aid their Enclave allies in the north. 

Thus far the additional forces have tipped the balance in favour of the Tau, and strong counter-attacks in the areas surrounding the Or'vesa training centre have managed to stabilise the front lines in this region. Tau Empire forces fighting here have made good use of the local training grounds, where their intimate familiarity with the terrain and environments of the grounds gives them a decisive edge in combat. This has presented the Orks with a fork - either attack the training grounds in force where the Tau hold a key advantage, or bypass the training grounds and press onward in the region, which in turn has presented the Tau with an opportunity to finally gain the operational initiative in an active theatre. 

Ork Points: 38 
Tau Points: 62 

Fio Starport - TAU CONTROLLED 

With command and control fully established, Earth Caste engineering efforts have recently been focused on expanding the medical and repair facilities at the Fio Starport complex. Since the fighting escalated a steady stream of damaged equipment and wounded Tau and auxiliary warriors has begun to filter back to the region from combat in other sectors. In many cases evacuation off-world is required, but with more aid stations and repair bays in place and additional equipment and supplies for them, a large number of more moderate casualties can be returned to active duty much more quickly, and the number of equipment write-offs can be significantly reduced. 

The Air Caste have continued their bombing campaign over the He'Sho Seas and Mo'Hav plains, but their resources are beginning to stretch thin. Mounting losses from intercepta rokkits and defending fighta-bommers over Ork territory are starting to take their toll on the Air Cadres deployed on M-88, and increasing Ork air-raids put further pressure on the Tau air forces. Additional Tracer Missile batteries have been forward-deployed to nearby warzones in order to strike at Ork airbases in the Krunch area as an attempt to compensate for this. 

Ork Points: 0 
Tau Points: 100 

Note: Due to the extensive Tau defence networks in place within this region, Ork players may not report games in this territory.  


Ork Campaign Points: 4 
Tau Campaign Points: 4 




Away from the conflict on M-88, an unusual incident has occurred aboard the ATT Orbital. Less than two Rotaa ago ATT Security teams encountered an unknown life-form roaming the corridors of the station. The creature then proceeded to rampage around the Lower Concourse of the station, killing 3, wounding 7 and inflicting considerable damage to a number of conduits and sub-systems. Security Drones managed to eliminate the alien, which was then identified as an Orkoid Squig. 

Exactly how a Squig managed to reach the ATT Orbital is unknown at this time, but subsequent investigations have suggested the life-form may have originated from one of the station's refuse pods. The module has since been jettisoned as a precaution and tracked. 


+++Priority Address+++ 
+++TO: All Tau forces, Empire Sector+++ 
+++AUTHOR: Shas'O'T'au Kais'Ka'Eoro'Da'Anuk, Hunter Cadre Da'Anuk (42nd T'au Guards Cadre)+++ 
+++Standby+++

Well then.

To all those Tau and allied forces in-theatre, I bid you welcome. Whether you've just arrived in-system or you've been fighting the Ores'la alongside my forces since they first landed, it's certainly good to have you here. Some of the forces I see under my command I do not recognise, but I look forward to working with you. Some names I am very familiar with, and to those I say that it is certainly good to serve alongside you once again. We need all the help we can get on M-88 and I could not have asked for better comrades in this dangerous time. 

When I first defended the ATT Orbital against the forces of the Mont'au, I never once imagined it would have come to this. These invaders have dealt us a humbling defeat, and now they have made their stronghold in the very heart of our planet. I suspect after the last Incursions some may have thought us invincible. Recent events have proven that to be an illusion, and a grave misjudgement. 

But we have survived nonetheless, and that has given us a chance to learn from our errors and correct our mistakes. If we can do that, we may have victory yet. The forces gathered here on the surface are considerable. They include warriors of excellent calibre, and our equipment is second to none. Though they may stray from the path of the Tau'va, the denizens of the Gulf have returned once more in our time of need, and stand ready to lend their aid as well. If we remain united, and we retain our wits, we will surely triumph. 

But remember warriors, do not become overconfident. I've fought Wurrshuv before on T'suam'Or'Sha'is, and he is a cunning and deadly adversary. The armies he has brought with him have already shown considerable power, and if the latest reports are to be believed his own forces are formidable indeed. It seems he has developed a keen understanding of both our technology and our way of war, and there is no telling what other tricks he may have gleaned on the Eastern Fringe. 

It is certainly a mighty conflict that is set before us, but I feel confident about our chances. Trust your brothers and sisters, and the auxiliaries who stand shoulder to shoulder with you, and may the Ethereals watch over us. It's time we hit back. 

Let's hunt some Ork, 

- Da'Anuk

Monday, 30 April 2018

Wurrshuv's Revenge - an Advanced Tau Tactica Campaign

In case you didn't know it already, for some time now I've been a member of Advanced Tau Tactica, the premier online forum for high-quality content regarding the Tau in Warhammer 40,000 (and Battlefleet Gothic), run by none other than tabletop hobby rock-star Sebastian 'Tael' Stuart (if you were following GW games around 2005-2007 you may have seen some of his models featured in White Dwarf). Over the last few months I've been working with the ATT moderators and admins on a very special project - the first ever ATT global campaign, Wurrshuv's Revenge.

It works in much the same way as most other big global map-based campaigns in the past, drawing a lot of inspiration from the legendary Eye of Terror and Third War For Armageddon campaigns run by GW, but also more recent campaigns such as Battlefront's Firestorm: Red Thunder and its sequel Firestorm: Stripes. The mechanics are fairly simple, with each territory on the map having 100 points split between the Tau and Orks fighting over them. Reporting games moves points from one side to the other, depending on the game results, and whoever has a majority of points controls that territory. Hold enough territories for long enough and your side will win the campaign.

You'll need to have an account on Advanced Tau Tactica, as that's where all the game reports are being tracked, but due to site access being restricted for unregistered guests I'll also be hosting campaign updates on here as well. You won't really be able to contribute much, but you will be able to follow the campaign along as it unfolds.

Thus, I present to you...

WURRSHUV'S REVENGE - AN ATT CAMPAIGN 


Opening Stages 




Almost one Kai'rotta after the initial Ork landing on M-88, the Tau are finally in a position to begin decisive counter-attacks. Hundreds of cadres from across the Empire have been sent to the planet to aid the ATT forces fighting on the surface against the Ork invaders. The Greenskins themselves have not been idle either and continue to hold the strategic and operational initiative, keeping pressure on the Tau forces with powerful offensives to the north and south of the main concentrations of Tau. 

New waves of Ork Roks have arrived in the inner biosphere on approach to M-88, alongside the occasional Freebooter warship. The Tau fleet has engaged these Ork reinforcements with great success, but more Ork space forces continue to arrive from the system's outer reaches, and much of the Tau fleet has been occupied in hunting down incoming Ork Roks before they reach the surface of M-88. This has left the Tau with only limited aerospace support from the fleet. 

The two belligerents begin to enact their next moves, and in the process burn their names into history... 

Situation Updates - All Sectors 


He'Sho Seas - ORK CONTROLLED 

Since conquering the region in the early stages of the invasion, Wurrshuv's forces have made the He'Sho Seas secure territory, and permanent Ork settlement is thriving in the area despite Air Caste interdiction missions and Stealth Team raids. Vast armies of Gretchin and slaves now toil in labyrinthine mines torn into the face of the world, excavating thousands of tons of metals, chemical salts and crude fossil fuels with which to feed Wurrshuv's war efforts. Recognising the strategic value this mineral rich region holds and responding to the Tau efforts to disrupt the mining operations, Wurrshuv has ordered the construction of extensive defences in the region, including a full network of Intercepta Rokkit batteries. Airbases have also begun to spring up in the area, allowing Ork Fighta-bommerz to provide more comprehensive air cover over the territory. 

The He'Sho Seas region has also begun the process of colonisation by Orkoid lifeforms. Freshly seeded fungus farms have begun to spring up between mining forts, while Squigs and Snotlings have been observed roaming the wilderness in increasing numbers. To support the mines, numerous Ork settlements have been founded in the region and their size and population density is growing rapidly. 

Ork Points: 85 
Tau Points: 15 


Mo'Hav Plains - ORK CONTROLLED 

Though subject to frequent Tau airstrikes, the Orks retain a strong hold on the Mo'Hav plains and the routes between Wurrshuv's Krunch and the He'Sho Seas. Hundreds of miles of roughly hewn roads cut into the landscape now run between the Ork strongholds in the Krunch and the mines in the He'Sho Seas. Large convoys ply these crude roadways, transporting goods between the Ork territories. Convoys leave the He'Sho Seas carrying cargoes of raw materials and return with fresh supplies and equipment produced in the Krunch. 

Tau long-range reconnaissance elements have begun to map this Ork road network, but the immense size and chaotically tangled nature of it has made progress slow. That new roads are created daily, and older ones are frequently abandoned has not made the task easier. 

Ork Points: 80 
Tau Points: 20 

Wurrshuv's Krunch - ORK CONTROLLED 

The site of the initial Ork Rok landing, Wurrshuv's Krunch has become the clanking smoke-belching heart of Wurrshuv's nascent empire. Under the protective cover of massive crackling force-fields, the Orks have thoroughly infested the region and the territory is now strewn with titanic sprawling Ork fortresses, bristling with firepower and crammed with murderous Ork warriors. The Ork defences in the area, already formidable even in the early stages of the invasion, have been constantly expanded and reinforced, and many among the ATT Shas'ar'tol fear they may be impenetrable. 

Ork reinforcements from further in the system continue to pour through the internal tellyporta array within Wurrshuv's Rok by the hundreds of thousands, and hulking foundries and crude industrial plants churn out an endless supply of weapons, vehicles and munitions from the raw materials mined in the He'Sho Seas. 

Ork Points: 100 
Tau Points: 0 

Note: Due to heavy Ork defences and overwhelming numbers of Orks in the area, Tau players may not report games in this region. 

Training Ground Saal'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED

The front line of the Empire Sector, Training Ground Saal'vesa has become a staging ground for the upcoming Tau counteroffensive. Temporary bases for Hunter Cadres litter the area, and the forces of the Empire have been training intensively under the supervision of ATT veterans. Supply dumps also permeate the region, established in anticipation of the counteroffensive. 

With the defences around Wurrshuv's Krunch proving too strong, the Tau have had to adjust their plans, and their new strategy calls for a bypass of the Ork stronghold to attack its supporting infrastructure in other territories. Given the likely axis of advance southwards and eastwards for the Empire forces, they are likely to encounter the approaching onslaught from Wurrshuv's Speed Freaks head on. 

Ork Points: 35 
Tau Points: 65 

Training Centre Or'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED 

The Ork forces comprising the Northern Raiders have pushed deep into the region surrounding Training Centre Or'vesa. The fighting has been bitter and bloody, with quarter neither asked for nor given, but the Tau forces here have managed to hold the line and stabilise their control of the territory. The Auxiliary forces have suffered the worst losses, with many Kroot Kindreds cut off from friendly forces and fighting for their lives as the marauding Ork warbands ruthlessly hunt them down. 

The Enclave Tau operating in the area have launched a full-scale counter-attack against the Northern Raiders and have made several attempts to link up with the scattered Kroot forces, though none have thus far yielded success. 

Ork Points: 40 
Tau Points: 60 

Fio Starport - TAU CONTROLLED 

Tau troops and supplies continue to filter through to Fio Starport from the ATT Orbital and Tau starships in orbit. With most of the Tau fleet otherwise occupied, the starport has become the centre of Air Caste activities in support of the Tau operations on M-88. Large numbers of Air Cadres have been forward-deployed to the starport, and it is from here that long-range airstrikes and reconnaissance overflights in Ork-held territory are coordinated. 

The Earth Caste has outdone themselves in the expansion of Fio Starport, and the Tau complex has grown to be one of the largest permanent installations on the planet, almost approaching a small colony in size. Extensive command centres have been established alongside field training facilities and temporary academy campuses. Life in Fio Starport has almost become a mirror of life on the ATT Orbital above in miniature. 

Ork Points: 0 
Tau Points: 100 

Note: Due to the extensive Tau defence networks in place within this region, Ork players may not report games in this territory. 

Ork Campaign Points: 4 
Tau Campaign Points: 4 



And there you have it for the start of Advanced Tau Tactica's first forum campaign! There is a ton of background lore that's also been written covering the backstory behind the campaign. There was talk about making a PDF out of it, so I'm waiting to see where that goes before I post it here because a post on here containing it would be gigantic (seriously, it may rival an actual GW codex in length). 

If you know anyone who is a member on Advanced Tau Tactica, encourage them to join in! And if you want a piece of the action yourself, sign up on the site! Ork players are especially welcome for it (and you can always leave afterwards if you have no interest in the Tau). Just remember to keep to ATT's rules and guidelines - we're very serious about them. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Mechanismo

Ok, so this time it's not actually entirely my fault that this update took so long in coming. I had originally come down with a bad case of Painting Block, but the real reason behind the delay was that the internet died.

One day about 2-4 months ago the broadband connection at my house spontaneously keeled over and ended itself. The DSL line went dead, and took the telephone landline with it. This effectively left me spending almost two months completely cut off from the modern world, since the SIM card in my mobile phone also decided to commit suicide at this time. The SIM card was fixed relatively quickly, but fixing the internet required a lengthy back-and-forth investigation by the ISP which revealed all kinds of incompetence in managing their servers and took over a month to iron out - and even then the landline still doesn't get a good connection (though the internet has improved considerably). In the meantime I decided it would be as good an opportunity as ever to shift focus for a bit, and spent the elapsed month or so enjoying some computer games, including a vacation on Alpha Centauri that was filled with memorable adventures.

As it turned out, a long break was exactly what I needed to break my Painter's Block. After the internet was restored and I returned to painting I found my hobby mojo thoroughly recharged, but was then plagued with delays for another month or so due to one reason or another.

But I digress. Before I get on to the latest round of models, I want to talk about something else for a minute. Like I said, this article has been a while coming, and the first story to warrant one was my discovery and purchase of this book.






First written in the late 1970s, Mechanismo is a relatively obscure Science Fiction artbook written by Harry Harrison. It contains a few short articles discussing various Science Fiction elements common at the time, and how they relate to the real-life scientific advances that were happening at the time. There's also a loose narrative linking across several pieces that seems to have been invented purely for the book. The main attraction, however, is of course the galleries of Science Fiction artwork contained within, organised into sections covering most of the basic pieces of technology common to many Science Fiction stories - starships, robots, time machines, space equipment, and miscellaneous vehicles and machinery. The artwork itself is a wildly eclectic mix, much of it very bizarre, but it also contains some real stand-out gems - highlights include various pieces by Jim Burns, a classic rendition of the O'Niell Cylinder space habitat by Roy Coombes and a couple of pieces of concept art for Star Wars (the first one, what most now know as A New Hope).

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because Mechanismo has been an enormous influence on me over the years. My father owned a copy when I was a kid, so I spent a considerable chunk of my childhood poring over the artwork in it. While I've always loved Science Fiction, this book - especially the Jim Burns art pieces in it - was easily one of the biggest Science Fiction publications to impact on my formative years, and to this day all of the Science Fiction I create - whether Battlefleet Gothic/Warhammer 40,000, some other sci-fi tabletop game or something entirely of my own invention - draws heavily on it.

So naturally when I found a copy in a local second-hand bookstore, I had to have it. And I felt I ought to share it on here, since it is after all a huge influence.

So, you're probably (not) wondering what the latest thing I've spent all this time painting is. It's the first batch of gun drones for my Tau army, providing a highly mobile manoeuvre element and some basic reconnaissance and scouting capability to the cadre.

First off, as is tradition, here are the original drones from my first Tau army.





These guys came together organically overtime. GW has, to my knowledge, never released a full set of gun drones - instead they're usually included with other Tau model kits, which is something I always thought was really neat (I've also always loved the other 'freebie' units that GW did like this, the 3rd edition Tyranid Rippers and Necron Scarabs). Thus, this unit built up over time as I accumulated them in pairs from other Tau kits. Most came from the 3rd edition Tau Battleforce I got, while a couple of others came with a Firewarrior box.

The two with bonding knife decals on them were intended to be optional additions to a Crisis team. At the time I insisted on having a select few drones dedicated to being an independent squadron, and wargear drones dedicated to, well, being wargear additions to units, with no crossover of the two. This left me concerned that I could end up mixing the two by mistake (no real problem from a practical point of view, but as I said I was somewhat OCD about this at the time). Thus, I came up with the solution of marking out the Battlesuit wargear drones by putting bonding knife transfer decals on them in order to tie them into the Battlesuit teams better.

One interesting thing to note about the drones is that almost no glue was used in their construction. I quickly found out with my first models (see April's post 'Start A Revolution' for more details) that almost all of the gun drone parts fit together just fine without needing adhesive, and so I refused to glue down any of the joints in order to allow maximum range of movement on the models - this means that their guns can rotate and elevate as much as the model's design will allow them. It does mean that their guns can fall off from time to time, but I consider the extra movement range and simplicity of construction to be more than worth it. Thus, the only component glued on the model is the antenna, stuck to the drone body with polystyrene cement. Speaking of which, astute readers will note that all of the drones have their antennas on the left side. I saw the antenna attached to both of the little dimples on the drone on the original GW studio examples, but seemed to notice slightly more stuck to the left one, so I standardised on left-hand antennas early on - though it seems many others did not.

These aren't actually all the drones from my first Tau army. The ones that came with vehicles have not been pictured (they'll be presented with their parent vehicles when the time comes), and there are a further two that I pressed into service as makeshift Shield Drone proxies, hastily converting them to the role by putting them on the stand without their pulse carbine turrets. They were only ever meant to be a temporary stopgap until I could put together some real Shield Drones, but ended up soldiering on in that capacity until this rearmament program started. It should however give you an idea on what the drones in that army looked like.

Now then, here are their new replacements.






These gun drones are to be the first of many, and came as a set from one of the Tau giveaway bundles I won at the local GW store. Conveniently this batch contains enough to make a full gun drone squadron for use in games. I have since discarded my old doctrine of dedicated gun drone units, which was fiddly and would waste precious transfer decals, and have instead adopted a more modern system where all gun drones become part of a collective 'drone pool' from which I can allocate gun drones to independent squadrons or unit upgrades as needed. Thus, the gun drones will be the only unit in the army (and indeed in any of my modern tabletop armies so far) to not be named. This also conveniently eliminates the need to fiddle around with writing a name down on the tiny rim of the flying stand.

I'm still somewhat torn on the flying stands. I still really love the look of the bare flying stand bases on their own, without anything done to them - the clear base and stem combination is easily the best way I've seen to model something that's floating in the air (certainly much better looking than the ugly tacky methods of perching the model on a long extended detail or scenic base that are common on NuGW models). However, I received more recommendations to base the flying bases, and it does still look good, while hiding any scratches or smudges. I suppose I can always commandeer some clear flying bases from the older drones if I want.

Aside from that, there isn't that much special about the drones. Once again, most of their parts are dry-fitted, giving them full range of rotation, but aside form that the main difference is their much snazzier paint scheme.

There is, however, a couple of other photos of my at-the-time complete force that I forgot to post up. Since at the time I took them I just had my two Firewarrior teams and an HQ, and since it's an excellent excuse for it, here's some background lore on the Firewarriors in the army.

Hunter Cadre Da'Anuk - The 42nd T'au Guards Cadre 

Tactical Fire Warrior Teams 




"I still remember when I first encountered him. I was just a Shas'la then, posted as a guard for one of the conclave chambers on T'au. At the time there was a discussion going on about future military development, and I will never forget what he said that day. He said, "You can't fight a war without warriors." 
And he was right. I suspect that was what first set my feet upon the path to becoming Shas'nel. Something about those words seemed to resonate with me. I found myself in total concurrence with it. The truth was plain, for as long as there is war, you will need soldiers to fight it. You can delay the inevitable with aerial and orbital bombardments, gunship strikes, battlesuit attacks or drones, but sooner or later you will have to send someone into the fighting to achieve your goals." 

- Shas'Nel'T'au Kass'Ko'Vash, on his encounter with Shas'O'T'au Kais'Ka'Eoro'Da'Anuk 


From the moment of its first inception, the backbone of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre has been its core of well-trained, well-equipped, motivated Fire Warriors. Shas'O'T'au Kias'Ka'Eoro'Da'Anuk has always held a strong appreciation for the value of infantry in warfare, and when reforming his hunter cadre in the aftermath of the First ATT Orbital Incursion he took great pains to ensure that no expense was spared in the training and rearming of his Fire Warriors. This decision resulted in the creation of a force of highly capable troops equipped with the finest of Tau wargear which has served Da'Anuk well in every major engagement the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre has fought in. From the twisting labyrinth of the ATT Orbital to the hellish nightmare of Doran'Cha to their latest conquests against the Gue'la Imperium in the 3rd Sphere of Expansion, the Fire Warriors of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre have delivered victory for the Tau Empire time and again. 

The origin of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre's 'Tactical' Fire Warrior teams can be found in the first Fire Warrior infantry teams that formed the core of Da'Anuk's original hunter cadre. Forming the bulk of Da'Anuk's forces and outfitted with the best equipment Da'Anuk could procure for them, these troops were instrumental in the Tau commander's first victories. They performed the bulk of the devastating night-time raids that earned Da'Anuk his title on the moon of Hoki, and proved themselves to be formidable adversaries to the Adeptus Astartes in Da'Anuk's early campaigns against the Ultramarines (famously after a Space Marine captain scoffed at the idea that they would prove effective in battle). 

By the time of the First ATT Orbital Incursion attrition had left Da'Anuk's forces spent, and the Fire Warriors teams were one of the few units to remain fully capable during this period, with a combat readiness level considerably higher than the grav-tanks and vastly higher than the battlesuits in the cadre. During the First ATT Orbital Incursion the Fire Warriors took the brunt of the fighting that Da'Anuk's cadre was involved in, especially when the combat moved into the corridors, rooms and hallways of the orbital where heavier equipment could not follow. Ever since, the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre's Fire Warrior teams have been invaluable to their contributions in the subsequent ATT Orbital Incursions. and have become intimately familiar with the troubled station's layout and defences. 

Following the First ATT Orbital Incursion and the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre being awarded Guards status, the Fire Warrior teams were rebuilt with recruits drawn from the survivors of the ATT internal security forces who had fought alongside the 42nd T'au Guards to replace the considerable losses they had sustained in the conflict. Since then the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre has recruited from the cream of T'au's Fire Caste, maintaining the standard requirement common to all Guards Cadres that prospective recruits must have a minimum of 1 Tau'Cyr's worth of combat experience before they can be accepted. New warriors are then put through the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre's comprehensive training program covering all of the special skills and equipment operation they will need when serving in the 42nd T'au Guards. 

All Fire Warriors serving in the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre are equipped with combat armour incorporating the latest model of the advanced 'Lar'Shi' infantry combat system, providing a full range of tactical information including voice, video and text communication from the integrated Cadre network, an interactive map featuring geographical and topographical data of the surrounding warzone, basic translation algorithms for dealing with alien lifeforms, objective information and waypoints and data-links to other cadre elements, as well as the standard features of Fire Warrior combat armour. A Fire Warrior can access most of the Lar'Shi features from the tactical computer built into their gauntlet, or from the display in their helmet, which also incorporates thermographic and UV sensors, passive radio detection systems and the full range of features common to the standard Fire Warrior helmet. The Fire Warrior combat armour consists of the same Fio'tak composites as standard combat armour, and is capable of fully protecting the wearer from any small arms weapon thus far encountered by the Tau. 

The primary weapons of choice for the Fire Warriors of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre remain the PX-16 pulse rifle and PX-16-1V pulse carbine, both tried, tested and combat-proven designs in use since the Second Sphere of Expansion with only minor design refinements. Both weapons make use of the same technology common to all pulse weaponry, using an electromagnetic induction field to propel a particle that breaks down into a plasma pulse as it leaves the barrel. The pulse weapons in use with the 42nd T'au Guards cadre are fed with advanced K-type munition particles, each one only a few molecules large, allowing almost a thousand of them to be stored in the removable magazine cylinders that are a standard fit for both weapon types. The tiny K-type munition particle reacts on contact with the atmosphere, triggering a chain reaction that converts atmospheric gases into high-energy plasma, creating a pulse burst far in excess of the particle's initial size. It is this chain reaction that produces the distinctive blue crescent shaped muzzle flash of a pulse weapon. 

Quite possibly the greatest small arms infantry weapon in the galaxy, the PX-16 pulse rifle possesses a near-perfect blend of range, accuracy, firepower, reliability and ease of maintenance and supply. It's stopping power and penetration characteristics are directly comparable to Imperial bolt weaponry, but with superior range and ammunition capacity and with fewer moving parts, the PX-16 is also considerably more reliable. Firewarriors in the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre are trained to favour the fully automatic setting on the PX-16, trusting in excellent trigger discipline to prevent ammunition wastage. This requires intensive training, but provides maximum flexibility on the battlefield by allowing a Fire Warrior to change firing rates more quickly - to increase their weight of fire, the warrior needs only to squeeze harder on the trigger. 

As well as the anti-grav stabilisers and recoil compensators integrated into most Tau weaponry, the PX-16 pulse rifles used by the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre are fitted with the latest model of advanced optical sights, including thermographic and UV modes (useful as a backup in case the Fire Warrior's helmet sensors are damaged), built-in ballistic computer and full systems integration with the 'Lar'Shi' infantry combat system. The sight unit uses a wireless connection to network with the Fire Warrior helmet, where it interfaces seamlessly with the helmet display. The sight view is incorporated directly into the HUD field of view, and moves fluidly in real-time with the sight's movements. A Fire Warrior can aim the weapon just as he would without a helmet, or use the sight alongside the helmet's sensors for enhanced binocular vision. The sight feed can also be used to see around corners. 

Perhaps the most revolutionary and important feature of the PX-16 pulse rifles used by the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre is the power cells that fuel it. The 42nd T'au Guards Cadre is one of a select few Tau formations currently supplied with advanced prototype enhanced power cells. These enhanced power cells make use of the latest advancements in tri-lithium fusion technology to provide three times the energy capacity of a standard pulse weapon power cell with no increase in weight or size. Where a standard pulse weapon power cell provides enough energy for 50 shots, a tri-lithium fusion power cell can provide energy for 150 shots. Fire Warriors in the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre commonly take advantage of this by firing three-shot bursts where single shots would normally be used, but are also able to go for three times longer between reloads when conserving ammunition, and can lay down massive amounts of automatic fire if the situation calls for it. When rebuilding his forces following the First ATT Orbital Incursion, Da'Anuk made sure to use every means at his disposal to ensure his cadre was selected to be among the first to receive tri-lithium fusion power cells, knowing the advantages they would provide his troops, and they remain one of the most prized pieces of prototype technology used by the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre. 

In addition to the warriors armed with PX-16 pulse rifles, the 'Tactical' Fire Warrior teams of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre include a small section of between three and four warriors each armed with a PX-16-1V pulse carbine. The PX-16-1V makes use of the same advanced sights, anti-grav stabilisers/recoil compensators and tri-lithium fusion power cells used on the PX-16. Its reduced barrel length means the PX-16-1V has a shorter range, but in return is much lighter and more manoeuvrable, making it ideal for short-range firefights in close quarters. Like other pulse carbine models, the PX-16-1V features an underslung photon grenade launcher. The grenade launcher on the PX-16-1V is a break-action variant, firing photon grenades from a small magazine at the rear that holds three photon grenades and can be reloaded, the bottom section swinging away on the rail-like frame that connects the grenade launcher to the pulse carbine. the launcher is fully integrated with the weapon, and synchronised to fire a photon grenade automatically with each pull of the trigger. When combined with the plasma pulse fire of the carbine itself, the resulting barrage is more than capable of pinning most enemies in place. The PX-16-1V model also features an automatic fire setting, an improvement over previous pulse carbine versions that were limited to semi-automatic fire only. Unlike those using the PX-16, Firewarriors in the 42nd T'au Guards cadre using the PX-16-1V are trained to be proficient with both automatic and semi-automatic settings, and encouraged to use their best judgement for the battlefield situation at hand. 

It is the addition of this carbine section that distinguishes the 'Tactical' teams from the other Fire Warrior teams found in the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre, and what gives them their great flexibility. In defence, the carbine armed Fire Warriors can provide close-in protection for their teammates, pinning down nearby enemies and covering the team's flanks. On the offence, they provide an effective manoeuvre and point element able to lead the team in attacks on enemy positions and room-to-room combat. Like all Fire Warrior teams in the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre, 'Tactical' teams are trained to be able to split up and operate as smaller units of six Tau, and when operating in this fashion it is common for the carbine section to be split between the two groups to afford each one it's own point element. 

In the early days of his command, Da'Anuk established in his Fire Warrior teams the system of Mission Specialists, Fire Warriors with additional training and equipment for specialised roles. Originally each team had only three such Mission Specialists; a technical or technology specialist, an honour guide and a 'Mont'yr'B'Ka' (translated to Gothic as 'Veteran Scout Marksman'). The addition of these Mission Specialists proved to greatly enhance the effectiveness of the Fire Warrior teams, and was an important factor in the success of their nighttime attacks in the campaign on Hoki. In the years following the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre achieving Guards status, Da'Anuk has added more Mission Specialists to his Fire Warrior teams. Following the First ATT Orbital Incursion, team corpsmen were included, and proved invaluable in the gruesome battles on Doran'Cha. In the aftermath of the Second ATT Orbital Incursion Da'Anuk drew on experience learned and added demolitions experts to every Fire Warrior team, which have likewise proved invaluable. The role of Mont'yr'B'Ka has been further split into two specialist roles, a team scout and a designated marksman, although some Fire Warrior Teams still have one warrior perform both roles, often when the team scout proves to also be the best shot in the team. 

One notable tradition amongst the Fire Warrior teams of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre is that of the Team Second. The Second will often be one of the most experienced or capable warriors after the Shas'Ui team leader, and functions as both their second in command and a bodyguard. To this end the Second wears the same full-colour helmet and coloured shoulder guard as the Shas'Ui as both a sign of authority and to confuse enemy snipers. The Second's armour also includes the same Sept markings as found on the Shas'Ui painted in adaptive 'smart paint' that can be turned transparent or opaque with the application of a small electric currant. This allows the Shas'Ui and Team Second to effectively 'switch markings' as the situation dictates to further confound enemy marksmen. The Second will be a capable leader and tactician in their own right however, more than able to lead a small six-Tau element if necessary, and can fit into the role of team leader seamlessly should the worst happen to the Shas'Ui. 

The modern iteration of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre's Fire Warrior Teams were proven for the first time in the trial by fire of Doran'Cha, where Da'Anuk's investments payed off considerably. The 'Tactical' Fire Warrior teams were again at the forefront of this conflict. Mounted in Devilfish transports equipped with rappelling lines, the 'Tactical' teams moved from rooftop to rooftop during the battle for Doran'Cha's capital city, laying down devastating fusillades of pulse fire into oncoming Tyranid swarms from their high vantage point and then swiftly redeploying to another building top when they were threatened with being overrun. Working in concert with other mobile elements, the 'Tactical' Fire Warrior teams were able to whittle away the Tyranid numbers considerably with these tactics. 

With their superb equipment, excellent training and outstanding martial tradition, the Fire Warriors of the 42nd T'au Guards Cadre are certain to remain an indispensable cornerstone of its operations. 

**** 

So then, that should do I think. Now to see about getting my Tau some more firepower...