The Taros Campaign (or the Battle of Taros) is a significant piece of lore centered around the T'au Empire, and one of the most well written stories in the Imperial Armor series of books. Later lore often references it for current models in the codex, including Piranhas and Longstrike.
The simplest summary is that during one of the T'au spheres of expansion, they attempted to negotiate with an Imperial world and lure them into the T'au Empire. The nobles agreed to simple demands at first, but eventually got caught by the Administratum and had elements of Space Marines deployed to the Planet, before getting BTFO. Afterwards, they deployed again, this time with more guns, but got BTFO again.
It's well-written and thought out for the most part, but also has some significant instances of the plot handing the Tau victories or advantages that don't actually fit with 40K or the Tau. For example, sallying out of a fortification to engage Imperials besieging them and somehow winning without the artillery just blowing them to pieces or being mowed down.
- 1 Prelude
- 2 The Denab Incident
- 3 Early Plans
- 4 The First Intervention
- 5 Battle At The Palace
- 6 Battle Aftermath
- 7 Planning The Invasion Proper
- 8 The Invasion Takes Shape
- 9 The Invasion
- 10 The Landing
- 11 Assault On Tarokeen
- 12 The March to Tarokeen
- 13 The Tides Turn
- 14 The Space Battle
- 15 Operation Comet
- 16 End Of The Battle
- 17 Analysis
- 18 Assorted Awesome
- 19 Assorted Skub
- 20 Judgement
- 21 Taros 2: Skub Boogaloo
The Taros Campaign took place on the planet Taros, a desert world utilized primarily as a mining world for its valuable mineral wealth. This desert world was relatively sparse, having one major city, and a few sporadic installations dotted across the surface, including a Water plant, an Adeptus Arbites precinct, and a weapons silo, with the remainder of the planet being mines.
Interests obviously collided on the Mineral wealth of the planet. The T'au, always being the expansionist blueberries they are, sought to acquire the rich mineral resources of the planet. So the Water caste went to work, bribing and pandering the Rulers of the Planet, until they were slowly able to gain a sphere of influence within the planet that allowed significant trade and commerce between them and Taros.
Enter the Imperium. You see, the Imperium can always use more war material. But with omens of Abbadabbadoos 13th temper tantrum, the Tech Priests of Stygies VII sought to gather more material for weapons and ammunition procurement. Enter Taros, which was identified as one of the top choices by the Administratum. It was rural (meaning they could "invest" into the population and infrastructure, allowing for a higher net production) and had the materials they needed in a relatively close location.
Enter the Administratum officials, who were sent to inform the Governor of his new task. Lord Aulis, the Governor, gladly accepted, but many things began to add up incorrectly. Somehow, Taros had been over-mining, and that there was little indication of where this ore had gone. Interviews with Lord Aulis and the mine owners revealed no information beyond a few wild conspiracy theories that could not be proven. The officials suspected they were clamming up, but left anyway, with Aulis' promise that Imperial Tithes and production quotas would be met.
When the Administratum began to discover signs of this, the ruling elite collectively shit bricks, with a minority calling for them being killed. Aulis urged calm, stating that they had nothing that proved them of any wrong actions or doing, only suspicions...
The Denab Incident
Until some idiots got caught in the Denab system. See, the Denab system is hardly remarkable, besides some piracy and some T'au ships. An Imperial patrol fleet in the area discovered three suspected pirate vessels, and tracked them to a T'au waystation, ambushing and crippling one of them, while also being engaged in combat with several T'au warships. After a brief fight, the Imperial Navy achieved victory, captured survivors, and set sail for home.
The whole thing confused the Navy, but not the Auditor Prime when he discovered the report. He connected the dots, noting that the captured ship was sent from Taros to Stygies, yet ended up at a T'au installation. It could only be a sign of treachery in his eyes.
After the aforementioned Auditor Prime filed a report, the slow, inept Administratum finally heard his case, then began to debate how best to respond. The first was simply assassinate the Governor, but this outright rejected. It was not of simply the Governor, but the entire elite, and its proximity to the T'au Empire mean't that it was likely the xenos would still sweet talk the ruling class into cooperating again.
Instead it was agreed that a show of force was required, and that an elite force would need to be sent in to secure the capital and remind the T'au who owned this planet. This resulted in what later became known as the First Taros Intervention, a strike led by the Avenging Sons Space Marine chapter. If you know the Chapter, you know how this ends.
The First Intervention
Quickly, they began to plan. The second company, along with elements of the scouts and First companies were rallied, and deployed to the system. Plans were made, which is somewhat surprising for a faction who traditionally is known for shoot first, ask questions later. It consisted of several plans, all of which were designed with clear intent.
1: Assault the Governor's palace. This would allow immediate killing of the primary suspected traitor, and be a show of power to the ruling elite, T'au, and general populace. Deployments of heavy weapon assets and additional forces could then begin once the palace had been secured.
2: If Governor is not present at the Palace, deploy heavy assets immediately to subdue hostile elements and begin with follow up raids on several nearby suspected hiding sites, in order to limit casualties and maximize effectiveness.
3: If resistance is too great or plan 2 has failed, withdraw to orbit and nuke the Capital (Tarokeen). This gesture would weaken the resolve of the remaining populace and turn them against those who had courted the T'au.
Captain Aramos, the Marine in charge of the operation, planned a multistage initial strike. Assault and Tactical Squads would be launched by Drop pod into the governmental complex that is the Governor's palace, and go to work. The tactical squads would block the primary entrances and stymie the flow of PDF reinforcements, while the assault teams would move on to find the Governor. Terminators would stand by to be deployed from the ship on the Governor's position to quickly cut him down, before the other phases of the plans could commence.
If they failed to find him initially, they would move to plan 2, deploying scouts, Devastators, and Dreadnoughts from orbit to perform other strikes to kill the Governor, then initiate a full withdrawl by Thunderhawk afterwards, and would be the same for Plan 3.
Simultaneously, the Adpetus Arbites had received orders to strike at the Mine Owners and arrest them, before handing them over to Aramos after the conclusion of the battle in the city.
Keep in mind, these are not horribly strong elements. They lack vehicles, serious air support, and elite dreadnoughts. This was primarily a surgical strike, not an attempt to seize the planet. It was a show of force to scare the Taros populace and elite back into line.
Battle At The Palace
Initially the plan went perfectly. Enemy orbital defence elements flat out refused to open fire upon the Space Marine Strike Cruiser, and the ship managed to deploy its drop pods without problem. Assault Squads tore through the poor PDF forces, clearing room after room with properly applied frag grenades, bolt pistols, and the occasional side of FUCK YOU!
Finally, they broke into a large chamber, and found some surviving guards and officials. Assuming the Governor was among them, he called in the Terminators, who proceeded to gun down everyone present in less than a second.
Analysis soon revealed that the Governor had never been there at all, as none of the recovered DNA showed signs of being even closely related to him. Aramos, obviously pissed off about this, ordered his men to move to the second plan. T'au Mantas soon flew overhead, and the tactical squads found themselves under fire from XV-8 Crisis Battlesuit teams, Hammerhead Gunships, and Mechanized infantry elements. Far into the night, the Avenging Sons tactical squads attempted to hold, until they fell back.
The preceding day was a fierce battle, with air strikes, infantry charges, and tank bombardment turning the already ragged palace into shreds. The Marines held their position, and sought to defeat the T'au by entering a war of attrition, though captain Aramos noted that his men were running low on grenades and ammo. In a stroke of true brilliance, the author remembered that Space Marines don't need sleep, and had them use that to their advantage in the preceding night when T'au attempted to sneak into forward positions within the palace.
The second day was not so fortunate for either side. The T'au had used the night to bring up more guns, including Broadsides and more Hammerheads. These units were combined with Barracuda fire to try and rip the Space Marine cover from them, and fighting became primarily concentrated at the gates. Aramos ordered air support to run the T'au aircraft and bomb the city, trying to knock out some of the enemy fire.
...This plan actually worked. Most of the fighting afterwards was reduced to sporadic gunfire and the occasional sniper shot, until another surge forced the Terminators to be commited, of which three of them were killed by Crisis fire, and a Dreadnought was felled. Aramos realized the situation was hopeless, and ordered Thunderhawks to withdraw his men. The Avenging Sons had failed, and the First Taros Intervention with them.
The Avenging Sons had lost almost 80 men in the fighting, while the T'au also suffered unknown but substantial losses. The presence of Broadside and Hammerheads also suggested there were substantial elements of T'au on the planets surface who had plenty of time to set up and prepare for an invasion.
The Arbites also failed to enact their part of the plan due to mobs of angry workers who told them exactly where they could stick their power mauls. The Arbites withdrew back to the precinct house and awaited friendly relief efforts. They were assaulted and destroyed three days after the invasion failed.
Planning The Invasion Proper
Taros was declared a primary target, and immediately contacted the Imperial Guard. Lord Commander Ivan Von Gustavus immediately was assigned a commissar, and got to work organizing a command staff. They contacted the initial Auditor who investigated the planet, and set to work gathering as much information as they could.
When we say as much as they could, we mean everything. Everything from weather reports to missionary testimonies were unraveled, compiling enough information to know everything from the population of the planet to how many angry peasants with frying pans could be expected as part of the PDF. Imperial Spy elements revealed little to them about T'au forces in the effort, and they could only guess at the true number.
Ten regiments of Guardsmen were acquired under the efforts of Marshal Da Steal. About half were expected to come from Tallaran, while another three were procured from random worlds. Elysian elements were also procured as well as Kriegers, but the Kriegers would not be available for the initial invasion due to being occupied with a previous warzone.
Other elements included orders of Sisters of Battle in primarily support functions, with Confessors and priests being attached to each regiment as per the request of the Imperial Commanders. A Titan Legion was organized under a Techpriest, and four Warhound Scout Titans were deployed as part of the invasion force, and the Raptors space marine chapter were also procured.
The Invasion Takes Shape
Marshal Da Stael began organizing his staff to begin searching for a way to land on the planet. The most obvious target, Tarokeen, was ruled out due to the likelihood of substantial enemy defensive elements in the area. The invasion was agreed to have to come from outside the city. They then planned to land in several places upon the planet surface, before scrapping this idea under the fear of being defeated in detail, and agreed to have a single concentrated landing zone. Tallarn elements would be sent to the surface first as a spearhead, with more forces and supplies being brought in at a later time once the need for them arose, and the space for them procured.
The biggest focus that was highlighted to all the commanders and senior officers was that Water would be incredibly scarce upon the desert world, and that rationing it would be a priority. The securing of water supplies undamaged or molested would be a primary concern. (Remember this. It'll be important later)
Admiral Kotto and his fleet deployed for Taros, with the Raptors space marine Chapter, and about half the regiments they had. After arriving to no enemy resistance, the Raptors surged ahead to begin the invasion of the planet. A Missile silo designated "Decima" was bombarded. Then followed up by Assault Squads (Strike Force A) deployed from high orbit. Scouts would relay any intel they could about the enemy position, serving as a vanguard for the Marine attack. The Assault marines would eliminate AA defenses, before calling in Tactical and Devastator squads (Strike Force B-C) to eliminate enemy resistance and plant melta charges to destroy the silo roofs and collapse them. They would then push in as a whole and eliminate the remaining enemy forces. A Separate two squads of Tactical Marines (Strike Force D) would stay behind to act as reinforcements or a rearguard for the committed units.
The plan had to be changed shortly after the scout elements revealed that heavy weapons platforms had been added since the last time the site had been inspected. Instead, Strike Forces B and C were to abandon their task of eliminating the Silos, a task that now fell to Strike Force D, and the 6th company was put on standby for tactical reserves to replace them.
The Plan went without a Hitch, a complete success. Silo Decima was silenced, and Armored units of the Raptors were rushed down to protect the landing site of the Imperial Guard.
Due to restrictions, only a single Imperial Guard regiment could be deployed, not the initially planned three. Early plans to use Stormtroopers were ruled out due to the lack of heavier weaponry. The landings went on without a hitch, and a flurry of activity soon became the Imperial Guard Landing Zone. De Stael, eager to begin getting underway, ordered his men to send out Sentinel and infantry patrols to scout for enemy buildup near their location.
Near the landing Zone, work for an Airfield commenced at once in order to allow an easier deployment of aircraft to support ground elements, and to avoid having to deploy into several gravitational forces when launching from orbit.
Three days after the initial landings, the Raptors withdrew, leaving a scout squad in order to support Imperial Forces with intel gathering. The unloading process took almost two weeks, and was as chaotic as any Imperial Guard landing is, including shenanigans such as supplying Stormtroopers with Saddles.
Assault On Tarokeen
Imperial Forces began planning an invasion of the capital from the East and West. Gustavus and De Stael determined the best plan would be for the Raptors to distract the T'au on the Eastern Edge, while Imperial Elements engaged in the North. However, the Raptors refused any mission not directly linked to fighting on the front line because apparently they're fucking glory hounds for once in their history.
Plans were drawn up instead to use a fresh regiment of Imperial Guard for the eastern Point, while supporting units of Artillery, Aircraft, and tanks would push the westward point. This was the point of the Tallaran Vanguard: they would be used not only as the first on the battlefield, but as the first men to march towards Tarokeen.
The March to Tarokeen
The initial day was met with no resistance. The men marched a full 20 Kilometers before resting for the day. However, the seemingly absent T'au were at work.
Shas'o R'ymr (The one model that is his own sept) ordered his Pathfinder Teams and Stealthsuits to observe the enemy, and wait for the ideal time to strike. However, they largely attempted to avoid the Imperial Guard forces until an engagement at an abandoned mining facility, which basically shaped the rest of the Campaign. T'au Pathfinders hid themselves and marked enemy armor that approached. Then, Skyrays and Hammerheads would surge forward and attack them. Infantry would be engaged by Devilfish supported Fire Warriors, who would then retreat once the guard brought forth heavier weapons like mortars or Heavy Bolters. They would then withdraw as Basilisk fire tears up the area, and repeat day in and out on multiple fronts, largely slowing the advance.
De Stael responded by calling on the Imperial Navy fighters to get off their lazy asses and move their aircraft to try and engage these rapidly deploying aliens. The T'au responded in kind, using their Aircraft to counter the Imperial Aircraft. The Air War for Taros had begun, and would prove to be one of the deciding factors in the battle.
The war continued on many fronts, from Kroot ambushes to direct contact with T'au forces on some occasions.
The Tides Turn
The Imperial Guard Forces made excellent work, but were stopped a mere 40 kilometers from their target. The reason was their logistics were becoming overburdened. The T'au nightly dropped Fire Warriors, Pathfinders, and Stealthsuits behind enemy lines to raid supply vehicles, while aircraft that were not occupied would perform the same role.
A daring raid by what must be the most ballsy T'au ever resulted in the Imperial Ground Airfield being raided, resulting in a substantial loss in their aircraft reserves. This warfare continued in an attempt to drain the Imperials of their supplies. Funnier thing is, it worked. Imperial Forces are stretched to the limit, and the T'au are inflicting casualties from the elements, not from weapons.
The Space Battle
Ok, lets be honest. The Blueberries got completely destroyed in combat. But the ships did follow the overall strategy of the Campaign: target the enemy supply lines. An entire regiment of Imperial Guardsmen were drawn away from the fighting, while for a time the Raptors were drawn from the planet to hunt for their Fleet.
Even when the Imperial Navy managed to track down the major T'au fleet assets, they simply used it as a chance to continue raiding the Imperial convoys that were now left relatively undefended.
De Stael ordered a mission involving Elysian Drop Troops and Stormtrooper units to sieze a Hydroplant near the front lines that could be used to supply the frontline Imperial forces. He hoped it would make defending at least some of his supply lines somewhat easier. The plan had similarities to D-day and other WW2 uses of paratroopers: elite forward units would push forward and take the plant, while Space Marines, Cadians, and the Warhounds pushed up the field to relieve the Paratroops.
The initial landings originally went without a hitch. The paratroops jumped into the facility, and gained control of it. Then Kroot and T'au forces ambushed them, and fierce fighting ensued. The Imperial Guard were able to throw them out, but only after heavy fighting. The second landings, lacking the obvious element of surprise, were engaged by AA batteries, fighters, heavy weapons units, and generally ripped apart.
"BUT WAIT" You Ask. "Why couldn't they do both in just two consecutive landings?" Remember the landing zone for these aircraft is at the initial landing zone for the Imperial Guard. So they have to fly all this way under fighter protection, fly back, refuel, rearm, repair, switch pilots, then do it again, and land in an industrial facility all in one go, with only a certain number of craft having night flight capabilities. So daylight landings are the only real option. All the craft are operating at the edge of their operational range, stretching the time they can stay there incredibly thin. Also, aircraft are stretched pretty thin by this time in the campaign.
The reinforcing elements couldn't help either. Though the initial march towards the Primary water facilities went well, forcing the T'au to retreat in a way unfavorable to them, the T'au were able to strike a crippling blow by wiping an Imperial Titan off the field. Conflicting GW lore indicates that it was either Longstrike, or more likely, a Tiger Shark AX-1-0.
This forced the remaining titans to withdraw, but allowed the Cadians to push forward. They did so under constant harassment from Devilfish, Piranhas, Pathfinders, and Tetras, all launching heavier weapons at the enemy units. In the end, it was revealed that the Cadians arrived a day too late to aid the paratroops, and worse, the Water treatment plant was gone. The Operation had ended in failure, and was symbolic to whom the Battle would belong to.
End Of The Battle
Most of the Imperial Officers were arrested, sent on suicide charges, or executed for their failure in the system under the Commissar General, including Gustavus and De Stael. Imperial elements were withdrawn, and began a full retreat from the system.
Minor skirmishes continued, including the death of the commanding Ethereal and the fighting at the Landing zone, but neither of these battles had significance worth noting.
The Taros campaign is one of the best books in Warhammer 40,000 written about the planning of battles against enemy forces. Many fans and military buffs love to cite the attention to detail of the Logistics and their importance to military operations. The T'au used their environment in a highly effective way, utilizing superior mobility against their enemy.
A few other factors in their favor are listed below.
1. Universal Grav-Tech: Grav tech has an innate advantage when traveling over rough or hostile terrain. Imperial Tanks lack this, and the mobility it provides, giving more credence to the idea that this is a viable strategy
2. Environment: T'au (and Kroot, if they eat desert animals or whatever) are naturally adapted to arid and desert worlds like Taros. Tallarn Desert Raiders do get credit for being used during the campaign, as having your vanguard as natural desert dwellers is a smart move.
3. Physiology: T'au Sleep far less than humans need to. Its a minor advantage, but every little thing helps. This is also taken into account when it's the Tau at disadvantage from having to fight against the Avenging Sons.
The Imperium acted well and planned well for the campaign, but made several critical errors
1. Did not move the supply lines with the Army: Similar to the German Invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa, the initial invasion went well, but was seriously slowed down by the slow trickling of supplies over increasing vulnerable supply lines. Same idea, but in spehhhs.
2. Static Airfields: The construction of Airfields right beside the initial landing zones were a practical, and not horrible move, but ideally should have been moved up with the rest of the army. It is notable that the Imperium felt a somewhat reasonable sense of worry about them being ambushed again, and thus wanted to keep them in a place they knew was pretty secure.
3. Use of mounted Units: Water was a very scarce resource on Taros. Mounted units would merely increase that use, and thus decrease the amount for their men.
All in all, R'ymr (or Longknife, as he is called) played Kau'yon and Mont'ka in a very atypical way that payed off well. The Kau'yon was the lack of T'au forces, waiting for the Imperium to come to them and overextend, followed by the Mont'ka, which was the strike upon the enemy supply lines.
All in all the Taros campaign is incredibly well written, and a decent source for looking at the more in depth part of military planning.
- Badass bird mercenaries with blades
- Guardsmen proving once again they have adamantium balls
- Well planned out campaign that makes lots of stuff in other sci-fi settings look like a joke
- Not retarded Imperial Commanders
- Non-Ultramarines get a chance to shine on their own.
- A good reason for each faction to have vested interest in the planet that goes beyond the simplicity of DoW.
- Named Commanders instead of generic-genericfaces.
- General Badass T'au and Imperial soldiers.
- One Shotting Titans: It's only less skubby if the Tigershark did it. If Longstrike head shot the Titan(as the 8th edition T'au codex claims he did) then this is complete and utter bullshit. Tigershark weapons are strong enough to pierce the shields and cause damage maybe, but there is no way that a Hammerhead is, and if he is Headshotting titans, its because several Tigersharks did so first, and he got lucky. (Then again, he wouldn't be the first tank commander to kill a Titan. Ask Knight-Commander Pask of the Cadians, who did it with a Leman Russ.)
- Raptards: The Raptors are known for being tactically sound. Why then is it that they are offended at the prospect of being asked to go on a diversionary attack east of the capital city? These idiots are the sons of Corvus Corax, not Sigismund.
- Leaving a titan on the battlefield: What. The. Fuck. The Titans of the Collegio Titanica are war machines that are incredibly valuable, and in no way an investment you ever just leave on some dusty backwater planet. Why the techpriest who convinced the martians it was a good idea to do this hasn't been shot, and then everyone who thought it was fine hasn't been shot, is frankly completely beyond us.
- T'autical genius: How come the T'au happened to know exactly which water facility the Imperium was going to seize, and so conveniently laid traps for them coming in. The second day is maybe less scubby, but the first is a good joke. Further, T'au shouldn't be that hard to spot from fighters, they're billowing sand wherever they go with those tanks.
- Radarded: No Radar? The T'au made heavy use of Dropships, and likewise the Imperium during Operation Comet. So why the hell is it impossible for anyone to get sightings on anything in this book. Imperial Hydras are equipped with auspex scanners and thus have no excuse, seeing as they are mentioned being on the front lines.
- Sun battle: Part of something not mentioned above, but the T'au use the literal sun as a way to foul up their enemies sensors during void combat. Getting incredibly close to a sun is just so contrived, and reliant on your enemy being AI enough to be kited towards it. Besides that, Imperial ships can refuel by dipping into stars. That is literally their primary source of fuel and frequently harvested by Mechanicus ships just diving right in and gobbling up plasma to transport elsewhere. There's no reason for them to not be able to target enemy ships near a star. Hell, the Imperials could have just dived into it and hunted the Tau ships from there with the Tau stark against the void and the Imperial ships impossible to find or shoot.
Its a good book, and does a great logistical analysis of the battle that is almost always ignored when you get big battles anywhere (Hoth logistics anyone?) It has its failings and skub, but don't let that stop you from enjoying an entertaining story.
Taros 2: Skub Boogaloo
Aeronautica Imperialis brought us the second Taros Campaign, and this time the Imperium takes Taros back from the Tau. They kill all the humans who lived there and sided with the Tau, and replace them with loyal Imperials. Needless to say this has become a major source of skub.