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What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 21:21   #1 (permalink)
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Default What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

The Damocles Gulf Crusade is perhaps one of the most heavily debated examples of Tau history, with people on both sides making claims as to how it would turn out, and no side able to agree.

So, here is an Alternate History; no cheap gimmicks, no fanboy heroics, no Deus Ex Machina. This is a history of the Damocles Gulf Crusade if you take out all the conveniently helpful encounters. Specifically, the Tyranids. In short, we are going to assume that everything went as planned for the Imperials.

Tau players, I hope you will agree this to be a fair assessment of the Pre-Damocles Empire, and how it would fare. Tau Fanboys, handerchiefs at the ready.

[hr]

Alternate History - the Fall of Bork'an:
Before we begin describing the tactics and strategies of the factions, we must first make something clear; Damocles was a vanguard. As stated in the original Tau Codex, plentiful reinforcements had been promised, but none had arrived. This suggests that, by the time the fleet had reached the point where Operation Hydra was devised, fresh Imperial forces should have arrived.

And such reinforcements! Without the actions of Behemoth, the battlefleets employed would now be available, in part or entirity, to deploy against the Tau. Assuming that the first wave arrived during the assault on Dal'yth, the resulting conflict would ultimately see the fall of the planet; either the reserve Imperial units would join the battle with those below, or at worst a second offensive could follow the destruction of the first assault. Regardless, the Crusade would have itself a Major Tau World under its belt.

Total control of the planet would prove difficult, however; the Tau are not likely to surrender easily. Ultimately, occupation forces would be required to pacify the planet, or else more extreme measures would be taken. It is known that Inquisitor Grand favoured Exterminatus of the planet, so it could well be that the Imperium would employ orbital bombardment of Tau population centres, using the threat of genocidal cleansing to ensure no further resistance.

The Gathering of Forces:
Dal'yth demonstrated the military capabilities of the Tau to the Imperium. Although the Tau forces no doubt would gain battle experience, without extraction this knowledge would prove worthless.

The next stage, for both sides, would be to steel themselves for the coming war. Dal'yth was a First Phase Sept World, and its defeat would send a clear message to the Tau; the Imperium was not to be underestimated.

With Dal'yth as a staging ground, the Damocles Crusade could begin to press on through the systems to the galactic south. Whilst devoid of any major planets, these worlds would be used increasingly as staging grounds for Tau defence; better to hold a non-vital system than make a rearguard on T'au. For the most part, these battles would be one-sided, and entirely in favour of the Imperium. This is not because of the lack of ability amidst the Shas, but the ineptitude of the Tau Navy.

During this time, the Tau fleet was still composed primarily of Explorer and Merchant class Starships, relying on Orca Gunships (not to be confused with Orca Dropships) and Defender Class Escorts to protect their shipping. Although trade with the Demiurg had provided sufficient technology for efficient retrofitting of ships into battle craft, the fact remains that up until this point, the Tau had never encountered a true military force. These ad-hoc warships were formidable against the crude, ramshackle pirate vessels used by the Orks, but the Imperial Navy commands efficient and deadly ships of the line, supported by the craft of the Mechanicus, and the planet-breaking Astartes fleet craft. Though the Tau had proven themselves costly in the opening stages of the Crusade, the Navy now had experience of their tactics, and this experience would grow with every encounter. So it would be that slowly, inoxerably, the Imperial war engine ground on, following the dense star clusters and space lanes of the cluster...

Sa'cea:
Sa'cea has a high proportion of Fire Warriors, and sits at the tip of a stellar cluster that begins at Dal'yth. Where the Imperium to follow the Tau's colonial patterns, they could be forgiven for believing that Sa'cea was, if not the Tau homeworld, at least where the Empire would be broken.

Sa'cea would not fall without fierce resistance. Depending on how much of their manpower and fleet strengths had been expended to slow the Imperial advance, Sa'cea could prove either a more challenging recreation of Dal'yth, or a sturdy fortress world.

The Tau could not afford to lose Sa'cea; it was a bridgehead from Vior'la, a strong and powerful world. To assault from Ke'lshan or T'au, whilst feasable, would require traversing the dead space, and alert the Imperials to other potentially less-defended targets. Imperial ignorance would only last whilst their eyes were locked on Sa'cea. To play their hand too early would divert their gaze, and to play it too late would make no difference. The Imperials had to be broken on Sa'cea, or T'au itself would be at risk.

By this stage of the campaign, however, things would look desperate indeed for the Tau. The Imperium, seeing that the Tau Empire grows larger and more powerful than imagined with every system encountered, would increasingly be faced with the prospect that they are engaged against a major stellar empire, and so would be sending requests for aid almost daily. Significant Ultramarine strengths would be requested and deployed, and fleetyards as distant as Kar Duniash could conceivably be called upon to strengthen the Crusade. By contrast, the Tau's ability to make war diminishes with every battle; their fleets torn apart by the Navy. Knowing this, the Tau would logically have fortified Sa'cea in preparation for its assault, stationing all they could upon the planet. Vior'la, though desirable for such a conflict, could not be guaranteed as an Imperial target; with the system cluster drying up at Sa'cea, the Imperials could press out in almost any direction.

The war would be a long and bloody one. However, it would be a war the Tau could use. With the First Fleet engaged on Sa'cea, Tau forces would launch from T'au and Ke'lshan, targetting the Reserve Fleet, recoupering and regrouping on the worlds taken previously in preparation to support the main attack. Unfortunately for the Tau, the Crusade fleet would at this point be receiving a constant flow of fresh troops and ships; even if their gambit succeeded, they could not hope to stop the Imperials.


Endgame; Defiance at Sa'cea:
If all went well, the Tau could find respite at Sa'cea. Potentially, the forces gathered could destroy the assault forces of the Imperium, and the back-attack disable the secondary line. The result would be a stalemate; the Imperials consolidating the taken northern colonies, and the Tau regrouping to strengthen their new border. Both sides then enter an arms race, building forces behind their lines to strike the other. However, the Tau cannot hope to match the production capabilities of the Imperium. Ultimately, the beach-head won by Damocles would prove the staging ground for later campaigns, and the Tau confined to a slow, lingering death as Imperial and Ork raids slowly pick the Empire apart piece by piece.

Sa'cea Falls; the Aquila Descends:
If the Sa'cea gambit failed, the Tau race would be doomed. With the Crusade able to fend off the breakthrough assault and converge on Sa'cea, the Imperials would have two vital assets; a fortified world from which to stage fresh assaults, and knowledge that more lay beyond.

More distressing for the Tau, however, is that taking Sa'cea places the Imperial Navy within striking distance of T'au itself. Imperial Intelligence would by now have decyphered T'au as the race's homeworld, and prepare a brutal assault; with one surgical strike, the Tau Empire would be crushed.

By this stage, there could be no room for error on either side. Tau fleets withdraw en masse, gathering at critical stations and over the most valuable Sept Worlds, whilst the Shas below enforce martial law, readying the Tau people for the coming storm. A counter-attack is now an unacceptable option; to do so would leave whatever world they struck from open for retaliation.

In this time, a calm would descend; both sides prepare themselves utterly for the final war, knowing the fate of a race hangs in the balance.

T'au; the fall of the Empire:
A ground war on T'au is an unacceptable option; to do so would invite the Tau Empire to constrict inwards, and throttle the Crusade. Victory must be won in one swift and brutal action, the Tau must be brought to their knees, and know there can be no victory in resistance. With grim realisation, the order of Exterminatus is given, and the fleet prepared.

The resulting fleet battle would be one of the most brutal seen by the Imperial forces on the Eastern Fringe, as Tau vessels fight to the last to deny the Imperial assault. T'au's defences would be the anvil upon which the hammer of the Fleet would seek to break the Imperials, but the Navy would be well prepared. Led by the Astartes speartip, the Navy fleet would storm the defences, driving the Tau into open war while the Astartes focussed on the planet. Though losses would be heavy, there is little than can endure the wrath of an Astartes strike-force. Ultimately, T'au would burn.

Endgame; the aftermath of Exterminatus:
What would follow, none can say for certain. Perhaps the loss of their homeland would instill a fury into the Tau, and a grim resolution to fight on. If this were the case, the Tau Empire could endure for centuries, a canker that would drain ships and men as it is slowly eaten away. If this be the case, the Imperials would begin the long campaign to follow the stellar clusters linked to T'au, winding southwards through Ke'lshan, Vash'ya, D'yanoi, Tash'var, until at last coming to the two Sept Worlds at the southern tip; Bork'an and Fal'shia.

However, my own opinion is that the Tau would simply collapse. Their dream of unity and the belief the starts were theirs to claim would burn in the fires of T'au, their hopes and dreams proven to be nothing but a fool's delusion. Some would flee into the Gulf, hoping to find salvation out in the darkness, whilst other vessels turn to the wild spaces and vanish into the night. Some would stay, lamenting all they had lost, unable to find the hearts and minds to resist as the Imperials came, and praying for some sliver of mercy.

Regardless, the outcome remains the same; at a terrible cost in equipment and manpower, the Imperials would succeed; the Damocles Gulf Crusade would destroy the fledgeling Empire.
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 21:27   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

So? what's your point? Everyone knows if the imperials had had reinforcements, the tau would be a paragraph in "Imperial Crusades on the Eastern Fringe M41 vol3".

its a pointless exercise wargamer.

you can say the same stuff for what would have happened had alexander.. i mean macharius the great continued his crusade.

we can say the same stuff as to what would have happened had the Imperials not stopped one arm of leviathon. nids would have devoured the imperium as a short answer.

but none of these happened. there are better things to be doing. like drinking alcomohol.
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 22:21   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

It was a nice read, but I honestly don't see what your point is. It seems to be simply "Stuff this, Tau player, you have no chance"

As Deadnight said, the same can be said of anything, what if Horus had won? etc.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it - well written, and interesting. But as you said at the start, you assumed everything worked out from the Imperial perspective.

One could easily do the same, writing one for if everything had gone right for the Tau, in which case it would have been a massive Imperial loss.

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The Damocles Gulf Crusade is perhaps one of the most heavily debated examples of Tau history, with people on both sides making claims as to how it would turn out, and no side able to agree.
Huh? We know how it turned out. We know pretty well what happened, what forces were involved, and the new Andy Hoare books are going even more in depth about it.
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 22:23   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

I agree with Deadnight; it is completely useless to debate what cpuld have been.

If you assume there are no Nids coming, then why not assume that the Eldar Empire never collapsed; that Slaanesh never was born?
We have a German word for doing stuff like this: "Hirnwichserei".

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In short, we are going to assume that everything went as planned for the Imperials.
I lol`d at this. Hard. It NEVER goes "as planned", and most certainly not for the Imperials. It is just impossible to coordinate vast fleet-movements on such a scale without error. You have read countless amounts of fluff for 40K, Wargamer - when did it EVER go as planned - for anyone?
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 22:28   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

When I said "everything goes right", I was perhaps too generic. I meant that the Tau didn't have any Deus Ex Machina to rescue them. In other words, no Ork Waaagh, no Hive Fleet Behemoth, no entire Necron race springing up under Terra, just Tau vs Imperials.
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 22:46   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wargamer
When I said "everything goes right", I was perhaps too generic. I meant that the Tau didn't have any Deus Ex Machina to rescue them. In other words, no Ork Waaagh, no Hive Fleet Behemoth, no entire Necron race springing up under Terra, just Tau vs Imperials.
Without reinforcements, the Imperial advance was stalled. The thing that saved the Tau was the lack of reinforcements, they had managed to stall the advance of the fleet at Day'lth, and had more to commit to the fight, whilst the Imperials had no more to commit unless their reinforcements turned up.
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 23:00   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

As i understood it it was a draw, with neither side making much headway.
A more interesting question might be, "As no reinforcements had arrived, and if negotiations had broken down, which side would have eventually been victorious?"
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 23:14   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

I am not sure where the debate is. If the Imperium had not withdrawn and had not been reinforced, the crusade would eventually have been cut off and destroyed on Dal'yth. If they had stayed and been reinforced in sufficient quantity, they would have broken the stalemate at Dal'yth and pushed through the rest of the Empire in relatively short order. This isn't that complicated. Imperial fanboys like to whine about the Tyranids here, but the recall due to the Tyranid invasion only gave the crusade as it was a way to withdraw with honor. It only "saved" the Tau if we assume that the Imperium would have kept pouring resources into their stalled offensive. And given the Black Library books on the subject, that is not quite as clear. The Damocles Gulf Crusade seems to have been fairly self-contained.

How the rest of the septs fell would likely have followed the same pattern. The Imperium would be brought to a stalemate if they brought a specific quantity of troops, destroyed if they brought less, and victorious whenever they brought enough to push through.

So the real question is whether or not the Imperium would have been willing to send more troops in to reinforce the stalled Damocles Gulf Crusade, even without the Tyranids breathing down their neck. Rogue Star and Star of Damocles make it pretty clear that there really wasn't all that much out there at the time. That the Crusade went forward at all was mainly due to the personalities that went with it, particularly the Cardinal and agents of the Inquisition. It is unclear if there was anyone back in the Imperium that was all that interested. The Space Marines who had companies along with the Crusade would likely have sent support, but I am not so sure about the Administratum.
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Old 02 Dec 2007, 23:48   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deadnight
but none of these happened. there are better things to be doing. like drinking alcomohol.

What did you think fueled his desire to make this post in the first place?
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Old 03 Dec 2007, 00:37   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: What may have been; the Damocles Gulf Crusade.

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WE SHOULD HAVE WON! WAAA!
That's great, but you lost. Accept it, and move on.
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