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Salamut IX Campaign: After Action Report

Jeff: Get yourselves a lovely hot cup of tea, settle down and enjoy the tale of the campaign to save Salamut IX (Blood Angels point of view). Five days of gaming makes for a lengthy report. But I hope a fun read. I've put in the comments my thoughts on the experiance from a player's perspective so if you want to skip all the in character stuff and get to my thoughts, head comment-wards. Otherwise, I turn you over to Captain Ioannis Machiavi:


+++TRANSMITTED:  Salamut IX; Achernar Sector
+++RECEIVED:  Baal; Ultima Segmentum.
+++DATE:  3.942.117.M42
+++TELEPATHIC DUCT:  Adept Maude Schumacher; Sabre of Baal
+++REF:  BAIII/53616c616d7574
+++AUTHOR:  Captain of the 3rd Ioannis Machiavi; Master of Sacrifice.
+++DESTINATION:  Commander Dante; Lord of the Host; Master of the Blood Angels; Regent of Imperium Nihilus.
+++SUBJECT:  After-action report Salamut IX.
+++THOUGHT:  By His blood are we made. In His name do we serve.

Master, I present the initial after-action combat reports of 3rd Company operations in Salamut IX against the ork. Primary objective: To prevent the fall of Salamut IX for up to an estimated week for Imperial reinforcements to arrive.


initial auspex readings and complement of our vessels
Completed rendezvous with Raven Guard forces aboard the Sable Sword under Captain Yiraka within acceptable sidereal tolerances. Tandom jump to Salamut system completed successfully and in synchronicity. Initial approach in silent running. Established a force of five ork capital ships and an as-then unknown number of escort craft. Impossible to establish orbital superiority at that time thus operated on the basis of planetary appraisal and then hammerblow deployment of company to operate independently until assistance could be provided by the Imperium.

long range auspex pict capture of Ork fleet. Capital ships marked out.
Results of contact made with Imperial Authorities were most unsatisfactory. Governor Singhe was prisoner of ork forces in the besieged city of Tarno, her second was a nervous man unsuited to command and the General hadn't slept in four days. How this state of affairs was allowed to occur and then indeed how it was allowed to continue is beyond my understanding and care. The orks were demanding 100 basilisk artillery pieces for the Lord Governor's release. Unusual cunning but within parameters for established ork intellect. Secretary Shikoba and Lord General Nayeli were assured that her recovery would be a top priority for our forces.  Raven Guard scout units were tasked to infiltrate Tarno and identify the Governor’s location for extraction.

It is worth mentioning at this juncture that had we not been there the Raven Guard would have deployed with no communication to planetary forces of any kind. They remain, as they always have been, secretive to almost the point of obstruction. I should point out, however, that Captain Yiraka proved most cooperative and was open to Blood Angel doctrine. I know we cost him men and machines encouraging him thus. For this I do not apologise, but do appreciate and acknowledge his sacrifices in the name of allied tactics and the defence of humanity.

With the Auspex grid broken we had insufficient data on planetary approach to make useful dispersal of our forces possible, without data on enemy movements and strength it would be a blind drop into chaos. Captain Yiraka and I determined that we would re-take these relays with overwhelming force and gain us useful data to plan formal deployment on second pass.

Blood Angel and Raven Guard forces breach from boarding torpedoes.
Primary Far Orbital Augeries established that Port Damas had fallen. This was deemed an unacceptable risk to have operational above us during primary combat deployment. Terminator Strike forces from both chapters along with Brother Dreadnoughts Abraxus and Helios were prepared aboard deactivated thunderhawk gunships and manually ejected from both vessels on first pass and instructed to wait until T-1 hour of our second pass before assaulting to distract from our approach. They struck the auxiliary power generation substructure, slaughtering their way through an estimated 200 orks for the loss of two Raven Guard and severe damage to Brother Helios. Our returning vessels recovered the thunderhawks while preparing our next move.

Planetary deployment on second pass.
With the data from the recaptured auspex relays we learned we had a complex theatre to manage. The city of Tarno would, for the time being, be abandoned to fight alone. We had neither the numbers or time to embroil ourselves in urban guerrilla war against the ork. Instead we resolved to deploy our entire strength planetside and interdict two large northerly moving formations of orks to dissuade them from further such action. The forces moving on Sathis we felt to be manageable by the curtain wall guns and army units stationed within Sathis itself. Unconfirmed reports of orks in the forests caused us to recommend larger auspex garrisons although a lack of data means, to my shame, that these men were being deployed as canaerids in a mining facility. Their fate would tell us more than orbital scans ever could.

Raven Guard sortie flies over Blood Angel forces raiding an Ork column.
Forward Operating Bases were deployed, ours as a lynchpin between the cities of Bacca and Sathis. The Raven Guard FOB as a resupply and rearming facility in the largely untouched city of Apis. I am pleased to say that Imperial Air cover improved considerably on the restoration of the auspex grid. As we had suspected the orks in the west were indeed heading for Sathis and indeed were being reinforced. Worse, the Ork Capital Ships in orbit were moving over Sathis itself and readying themselves for bombardment. We also finally received the news that the Raven Guard scout formations had located Governor Singhe in Tarno. We needed orbital supremacy for the decapitation strike and teleport retrieval of the Governor. It was, I am sure, the Emperor’s guiding hand therefore that chose that moment to grant us Vice Admiral Laius Ortano’s arrival in system with his fleet.

The liberation fleet of Laius Ortano

There was now much to co-ordinate in little time. While ground forces moved to destroy both reinforcing columns of orks heading for Sathis, a rapid strike force was arranged to both cripple the ork artillery punishing Tarno and to distract ork forces so as to facilitate the governor's rescue. Aboard the Sabre of Baal and the Sable Sword, our terminators massed in teleportarum chambers to assist in the orbital battle and to be immediately available for deployment in rescue operations. As these engagements commenced, our vessels lit drives and joined Vice Admiral Ortano for the orbital battle.

I was planetside for the engagement, but Void-Captain Adeline has given her appraisal of the battle and I will summarise it here: Ortano’s tactics were superb. He committed in strength to the spinward flank of the engagement area in force. Imperial forces stripped the entire forward defensive screen of the orks before driving in to peel the bombarding capital ships from low orbit to allow their destruction and to protect the planet. Sathis reports that while the shields took multiple hits the city’s defences never fell thanks to this quick action. Our vessels engaged in the close-in, brutal fighting that we are made for while Ortano continued his sweep of the ork vessels. The Sabre of Baal came through almost unscathed. Sadly, we cannot say the same for the Sable Sword. I fear the Ravens do not practice a straight up fight as often as we do. Regardless, the Raven’s roost was still functional and we could proceed to phase two of the engagement.

Raven Guard airborne sweep in to attack Ork looted artillery positions.
While the artillery raid was conducted – peerlessly on our part I might add although I believe the Raven Guard took some casualties – our vessels moved into position over Tarno. Once the scouts signalled that they had the Governor in sight and the time was right, terminator forces assaulted, demolishing the orks and securing the governor. An astartes mortalis casket had been hastily repurposed into a crude protective container for the governor to shield her from the worst of  rigour teleportatis. With her recovered to the Sabre of Baal we tended to her injuries and then at her request returned her to the planet’s surface. My Sanguinary Priest Kyriakos Israfael spent most time with her and was impressed by her resolve and ability to adapt to what were some extreme circumstances. We now had orbital supremacy, the governor back in post and auspex coverage. Our war could truly commence.

Mid campaign dispositions.

Of course, as is always the way, this was the moment that the orks massacred the defenders of Relay 34 and knocked it offline again. Regardless, we had orbital track by this time and were more capable of acting independently of planetside auspex. With Tarno bleeding white, we attempted to access some of the forces corralled at as-yet un-attacked Apis to keep that fight going. We did not want Tarno to fall. At this time – and indeed throughout this phase of the war – Tarno was a tar pit in which the orks were trapped. We did not want thousands of greenskins free to roam wherever the whim took them. To my fury, not only did Lord General Nayeli refuse on the basis of fear of assault from the orks, she had also not undertaken any reconnaissance operations north of Apis to assess the level of that threat, considering it too great a risk. By this time I understand she had not slept for a week. Rather than wasting my time with a woman incapable of recognising mortal frailty we simply asked the Governor to set the Commissariat to force her to sleep and got on with the war ourselves. I want the record to show that the suffering of the people of Tarno was exacerbated by Nayeli’s cowardice and incompetence. Later, we would learn that the city of Apis could have defended itself against the orks hiding in the jungle even with the redistribution of forces we suggested. Her passivity is a disgrace to mortal soldiering.  

Blood Angel forces ambush an Ork armoured column
We moved to crush armoured ork forces heading for Bacca, with a combination of armoured column and orbital strike. Raven Guard anti-armour forces were largely needed to recover a downed Storm Eagle so this fell to us. At the same time we resolved to reinforce auspex 33 and retake 34. I assured the Raven Guard that we would handle 34 ourselves and thus found the opportunity to spend the five Lost Ones and the Lost Sarcophagus we had brought with us from Baal. Chaplain Raziel volunteered to lead the Death Company into battle and they dropped to Relay 34. We found we had underestimated the ork forces in the area. A large host of Kommandos reinforced by entire warbands of Stormboyz. This army was quickly dubbed Storm-Kommandos and engaged by our forces and orbital reinforcements. I am glad to say that all of the Lost found themselves the clalean death in battle that all of us could wish for. Although I regret that the explosion of the dreadnought’s power supply has left us with significant repairs before we can again spend a Sarcophagus. In orbit, at our request, Vice Admiral Ortano deployed his naval armsmen to retake Port Damas. We wanted the port operational again if we were to spend much longer here.

The Lost of the Death Company arrive to search for signs of life at Auspex 34.

Simultaneously to these actions, Raven Guard scout units deployed to the woods around Apis to do the General’s job for her. I am assured that her 2iC deployed sentinels to support immediately she was asleep. A welcome gesture but one that should have happened a week ago. Of course they found enough orks that the General doubtless feels herself prudent. I maintain that a ¼ to 1/3 redeployment could have been tactically viable and saved many Imperial souls in Tarno. A small detachment was also sent to scout troubling reports of a “large fauna” attacking villages with descriptions that better fit a maelific entity of the warp than a local predator. We were fervently hoping for a fanciful description of a large beast, but this was not to be. The scouts found evidence of a large, obviously daemonic presence. With no idea how this could have come to be on the world at this time we hastily pulled together a force of terminators and both Chapter’s librarians to assault the beast once the Raven Guard had eyes on the target.

Sanguinary Priest Israfael and Codicier Gabriel
This battle was brief but unbelievably violent. Our forces teleported down and engaged the beast – some form of shale-like entity calling itself Baraqiel according to Israfael. I would ask Codicer Gabriel but he languishes in a coma. According to Sanguinary Priest Israfael, the initial engagement was positive. Massive armament expenditure on target and grievous wounds inflicted by the psychic assaults of the Librarians. Then, almost faster than the eye could see, the beast was on Gabriel and had all but fatally skewered him as though he was a child. Apparently the beast engaged in some sort of psychic conflict with Gabriel attempting to consume him but our fierce brother held on. I am deeply indebted to Brother-Librarian Nironan of the Raven Guard for destroying the beast with the aid of the terminator corps. Brother Gabriel remains comatose and I would request that Lord Mephiston look at him as soon as we return to Baal and perform whatever psychic surgery is necessary to get this hero of the 3rd back on his feet. Captain Yiraka and I flew directly to Governor Singhe’s chambers to appraise her of this new threat and to sternly advise her to invite the Inquisition to inspect the world as we would certainly be doing the same.
Blood Angels forces trap a Speed Freak warboss and his retinue and destroy him

While this was going on, we assaulted yet another armoured column of Orks heading to Sathis and conducted a major raid on the rear echelons of the ork forces besieging Tarno. This was partially to cover the insertion of Raven Guard scout units to co-ordinate orbital and air strikes on Ork forces in Tarno and to ascertain needs of the defenders. We packed four drop pods with ammunition, food and medical supplies and fired them into pre-determined co-ordinates. The Raven Guards acquitted themselves well in this role and I fancy would have liked to have been fighting in this fashion from day one.
Major deployments to the west and harrying actions along the eastern flank

The final action of the day was a co-ordinated orbital bombardment of a massive ork force heading for Bacca. A Raven Guard Damocles was to pin point the strikes and we sent several predators to aid in this effort. Had they settled for a single shot we would probably have got away with all materiel intact. But the men on the ground elected to put themselves to the hazard for an additional strike on the orks. This exposed them to Speed Freak elements at the ragged edge of the army. We lost a Baal Predator and the command tank of the Predator formation. Our forces chose to scuttle them rather than let them fall into eager Deathskull hands. The Raven Guards risked their own lives to recover our men and ferry them out in the Damocles. In return our men coaxed some speed out of the engine and advised on Ork psychology to get the Damocles and the covering Stormtalons away clean from the engagement.

Entire companies worth of men and materiel form a thin black and red line.
Then, glory be to the Emperor we had the best news. Imperial reinforcements were early. Our ships had detected their signatures at system's edge. We had only to hold the orks for twelve more hours and only one place to do it: Tarno. Sathis, Bacca and Apis could all hold for twelve hours. Tarno would fall in three. We wanted the hosts of Orks pinned in their assaults not free to roam. As a result we relieved the defenders of Drover's Square, a weak-point in the crumbling Imperial line. We deployed the remainder of both our companies en masse.

The Orks assult on the entire front
The orks came in a great wave of armoured vehicles, walkers and never ending foot troops. Our deployment and firepower kept them at arm’s length for hours and might have lasted all twelve, were it not for a band of those accursed Storm-Kommandos that infiltrated the hab-block on our right flank and assaulted the roof simultaneously. Casualties on the right flank were horrendous and would have been worse had Captain Yiraka not intervened with his assault specialists. In the centre, weight of numbers eventually overwhelmed even our firepower and the ork warlord’s bodyguard pressed forward and assaulted us. I am proud to say that we carried the fight to him and that it was my hammer that smashed his filthy xenos carcass into lifeless jelly. Even as the orks' will started to break, contrails in the sky announced the arrival of Imperial forces. The relief of Tarno was complete.

A now deceased Warlord and his retinue

In the days following, we liberated the Tarkan Oil-Fields as the Imperial Guard relieved the towns. With this done, my Brother Captain needed to return to Deliverance; the Sable Sword was in desperate need of refit and he had suffered many more casualties than we had. Total Blood Angels casualties at around 18% with 7% fatal. Will need to request several of the new scout formations. I am dispatching the Sabre of Baal homeward to bear our wounded men and machines to be treated and fitted with whatever bionics are required. Once it has been rearmed I request its return to my charge. My company shall remain here to assist Imperial forces with the mopping up process. With none of the Lost in my charge any more I am the ideal Blood Angel commander to meet with the Inquisition also.

I remain, as ever, your faithful servant and ready sword.

Ionannis Machiavi
Captain, Blood Angels 3rd.


Captain Machiavi


  1. So, as promised, my thoughts on this awesome experiance. Oooh, spoilers I guess! ;)

    This is probably my favourite way to play Warhammer 40,000. Objectives that make sense, that feel like they build to something real. Casualties that matter so you don't sacrifice pawns for victory.

    The downside is that someone needs to put in an unbelievable amount of mental effort to pull it off and in this case that was Charlie. He really ran with it switching between roleplayed conversations with planetary forces to campaign co-ordinator to battlefield tactician. It was really, really appreciated as the world felt real and the stakes likewise.

    The system we used seemed to create the sort of casualties that you might expect from a company of marines and so probably works nicely. Some teething troubles with google drawings and mine and Tom's inability to remember what icons represented what units can be solved very easily for the next time.

    Narrative gaming is excellent and everyone should try it, I will say that the style is dependent on forces. In the case of marines, every one is a living miracle and must be preserved. 1-to-1 casualties are absolutely viable. With Guard or Orks you have to assume only the elite and personalities "matter" and there's plenty of the little people to go around. In that case it is more a matter of what territory you hold, or how many civilians you save rather than how many of your own men go home.

    I'm sure I'll have more thoughts, if I do, I'll whack 'em in the replies to this. Till then, toodles!

    1. Aww, thanks dude, that is most gratifying to read :)

      I for one am glad I know players who are keen on this style of gaming and have the intellect to play a space marine in ways that entertain. It's easy to imagine the cringeworthy version, and I'm glad we've been spared it :P


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