Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015


The 22nd Inf Div, a large part of the armoured strength of XVIII Corps, was the spearhead unit for Operation Dragonfire.  40 Kloms east of Fort Nuttar is an area of wadis almost 600 Kloms square, it promised 300 Kloms of hard wadi bed, allowing 72AGs armoured might a swifter journey than one over the dusty, soft prairie.

In the event the rocky sides of the wadis had been well prepared with crew served weapon emplacements, hidden from aerial surveillance.  Veterans of 2/99 Regt of the Separatist PDF bide their time. 

30th Pardus Armoured Regt, nearly 200 Leman Russ, with their attached Cadian Superheavies and a battalion of Brimlock Dragoons as their anti-infantry screen, set off just after midnight.  Along the hills and ridges the scouting parties from Sarainian 30th that had been dropped off by Valkyrie, were quietly and efficiently swept up by the PDF’s Special Forces who were expecting them.

22 Inf Div were blind, but the clock had been set and Operation Dragonfire would proceed to timetable.   Gen Pandovic (Narmienia), the Divisional Commander, informed Corps HQ of the deficiency in reconnaissance and information and was told to proceed regardless. 

Delta Company of the 30th Pardus Armoured Regt was allowed to advance to a point where it could not turn around, indeed,  it could hardly manoeuvre at all.  A pinch point in the wadi system limited was allowed to be passed; keeping some distance between sub units, Delta Company was allowed through the pinch point in its entirety.  The interlocking fields of fire of the Separatist PDF’s Las Cannons and AGTW hit every vehicle within the first two minutes of the engagement, still an hour before dawn.

Number 7 Platoon of the Brimlock Dragoons did force their way into that part of the wadi system, however, not being as heavily armoured as Leman Russ’ their Chimerae were also swiftly knocked out.  

Delta Company’s Officer Commanding, Major Rotick, had his tank knocked out.  Not a soldier who gives up easily, he jumped to another (working) tank in his company, forcing it’s commander to walk to the rear.

He directed the fire of the remaining Pardus assets to all fire on the northern wall, as splitting fire between multiple targets did not appear to be having any effect at all.  In the event, survivors do report that return fire from the northern positions slackened off.  However the enemy was too well sited and dug in; after seventeen minutes all of the tanks and Chimerae were knocked out and the survivors were making their way out of the wadi, back the way they came, on foot.

A similar story unfolded along all of the chosen lines of advance that day; there were only a limited number of wadis that would facilitate an armoured advance and it was no real trouble for the enemy to set ambushes therein.  The lack of reconnaissance was a major factor.  In their haste to push a greater part of their armoured strength eastwards, they had squandered a part of it (and more importantly, perhaps, experienced Pardus tank crews[1]) in an ill-advised manoeuvre.  

An entire Brigade of Rough Riders had landed two days before[2].  Postponing operation Dragonfire until it could have become available to Operation Dragoonfire as a reconnaissance asset would have saved resources and ultimately time. 

The wrecked vehicles had to be recovered, assessed and then either repaired or put beyond use[3].  Another complication for 22nd Inf Div's planners. 

The PDF had already planned their escape routes, largely using the smaller wadis and occasional prepared tunnels.  Any weapons or equipment left behind was either booby trapped or wrecked.  Relatively few bodies were discovered. 

Dismounted infantry from 23rd Inf Div, most notably the 8th and 9th Vitrian Highland Regiments, deployed into the ambush sites by mid-afternoon and cleared them, making the are safe for the vehicle recovery teams.

On day two, vehicle availability was an issue; The 30th Pardus Armoured Regt was at 54% and the 2nd Brimlock Dragoons were at 22%.  The 3rd Narmienian took over the lead and moved cautiously, allowing the now largely dismounted Brimlock Dragoons to keep pace.  The wadi systems opened out, allowing more room for manoeuvre; on day two, 22nd Div was confronted not just with ambush by dug in and camouflaged crew served weapons, but also detachments from the PDF’s 73rd Tank Regt.  

The PDF tended to use their formations mob handed, allowing for a greater concentration of force; they were able to do this because they knew the wadi system well and had hidden tank formations in prepared positions, as per their planetary defence plan.  They were able on one occasion to charge through the screening Narmienian tanks and engage one of the Cadian Baneblades at extremely close range (10s of meters), resulting the destruction of “Cadia’s Wrath” with all hands.

Tank battles were fought all day.  General Pandovic had four tanks shot out from under him during the day.  The first time his command tank was knocked out, he re-mounted and ordered the survivors from C and D Companies to assault the dug in positions whilst the rest of his command kept the PDF tanks away from the fight.  Unfortunately the crew served weapons drew the rest of C and D Companies in like fly paper and took a heavy toll on the armour, quitting only where the accompanying infantry caught up.

The Baneblades proved to be a liability in the wadis overall[4].  They could not use their range or firepower as their field of fire was extremely restricted.  Any attempt to go near the wadi walls would result in the wall collapsing and the Baneblade eventually bogging in the soft running sand that inevitably flowed in.  Similarly, neither airpower nor artillery would be used as this was likely to block the required tank routes with soft sand.

General Pandovic pulled muscles in his back and knees jumping from the fourth knocked out ‘Russ that day.  This mishap would leave him in severe pain for days, still commanding his Division and the Narmienian 3rd.  Pain and sleep deprivation did not make Day 3 of Operation Dragonfire any better.  The Narmienians availability was at 58% all vehicles.   Colonel Eatuthor, XVIII Corps COS, Ensured that 1st Division[5] took over on Day 3 and that Day 4 would mark a consolidation of gains and review of progress against the plan.  

In the event, the inability of armoured formations to exit the wadi system once they were in it was deemed sufficient reason to abandon Operation Dragonfire after 4 days.

[1] By now, Comptroller Bellormus had built up a stock of Leman Russ types as replacements.  Almost all of them were on Acre, but some were already committed to the supply chain and therefore less than a week away.
[2] The Macharian Thunder Guard; at this point a Brigade sized formation, as yet unassigned to any Corps.  Their mass conveyor, the Optime III,, dropped them directly at Fort Nuttar.
[3] There were still guerrilla bands at large so all abandoned resources were put well beyond use.
[4] There were several places where the superheavies blocked the wadi entirely, preventing advance, reinforcement, resupply, retreat or evacuation. And they used fuel which could have kept three or four ‘Russ running.
[5] 1st Division was Vostroyan, Volpone and Valhallan units and also included two tank regiments. 


  1. Sounds distinctly like a section of this theatre needs to be played :)

    Also sounds like they tried to go a Wadi too far ;)

  2. Institutional inflexibility. The bane of all our lives...