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View Full Version : The Siege of The Emperor's Palace... realistically



Captain Stern
13-09-2007, 22:11
We've all read Bill King's siege story and (love his writing as I do) it simply can't be an accurate description of a futuristic siege on such a vast scale. For whatever reason, we have to assume Horus HAD to launch a ground invasion since he didn't destroy Earth from orbit once he'd gained orbital supremacy. So, what I'm asking is, how would it work? What would it be like given what we know of the military technology available at the time (i.e. there probably wouldn't be men "manning the walls'" repelling hordes of Chaos Spawn trying to scale the wall or break through the gates)?

Iracundus
13-09-2007, 22:19
A ground invasion was needed because in the 40K universe, space power doesn't reign supreme as the be all and end all of the various military arms. Others can attempt to argue using various analogies to real world navies, blockades, whatever, but the point is that military paradigms can change. Just because wet navies or air forces worked one particular way in the past, is no guarantee those same parallels apply to space forces. GW has confirmed multiple times that in the fictional 40K universe, space power while playing a role, does not obsolete ground forces or obsolete the necessity of actually fighting on the ground. There are shields and surface to orbit defenses, and also simply the scale involved. It is why the various races have to actually use ground troops, and also why despite Imperial space superiority in the EoT campaign, they still suffered a loss when they lost the ground war.

The Emperor's Palace was bombarded by Horus incidentally. However it and the other emplacements around it were shielded. It's why the old board game depicting the Siege has essentially a blasted wasteland pockmarked with the still intact fortresses and the Palace itself.

Brother Enok
13-09-2007, 22:37
DOn't forget the old military maxim. "Only infantry can hold ground". You can pound a place to dust from land see or air, but unless you have boots on the ground your just making craters.

Whats so unrelaistic about manning the walls? As weapons increase in power and complexity, so does armour. Armies today still create concrete walls to funnel and fend of attackers, and armour wasn't made obselete by the advent of the gun, it simply changed in form.

If you read the novel "Dead sky, Black sun" you get an excellent portralay of seige warefare in the 41st millenium, I think It would be the same situation, on a much grander scale, for the seige of the Emperors palace.

Tyron
13-09-2007, 22:42
I guess they would use the fleet to do most of the work, clearing drop sites ect, destroying much of the palace defenses.

Porting down titan legions, heavy tanks and other sophisticated means to bring down the walls and other defenses.

Then launch wave after wave against the broken walls to invade the palace and kill it's defenders.

You got to remember the palace is as big as europe so it would be a difficult feat.

Nazguire
13-09-2007, 22:46
Fighting by manning the walls would make some sort of sense with the Imperial Palace given the supposed size of the walls. There's a reason they had names like the Eternity Gate and Ultimate Gate. Because they were so effin' big.

I'm sure there would have been miles upon miles of trenches, redoubts and the lot around the Palace as well as the loyalists manning the walls ''Helm's Deep'' style. Doubt there'd be a lot of scaling ladders, just a lot of corvus boarding ramps carried by the Titans (I believe that would have been a major reason to include the Titans, asides from blowing breaches in the gigantic walls, to allow troops to cross the walls quickly and safely.)

Horus wouldn't have tried to attack the WHOLE Imperial Palace, that'd be a collossal waste of time and effort. Much better to concentrate your whole force against one or two points of the Palace that lead to the quickest paths to the Emperor and the Inner Sanctum.

Brother Enok
13-09-2007, 22:47
Yup, current standard military strategy states that an entrenched or fortified defender requires three times as many numbers to be shifted, not allowing for massive diffrences in training and heroism between two said forces. so if there was 10,000 soldiers defending the walls, Horus would have needed, at least, 30,000 to take and hold them.

Captain_Ardias
13-09-2007, 22:51
The palace itself isn't as big as europe, more the size of Great Britain centered on GW's HQ (begining to see a pattern? :)). By this point though, terra has become a world city much like a gothic version of coruscant. I would assume that the preliminary bombardment would be aimed at leveling most of the city around the palace (which itself was most likely shielded to high heaven) to land all of the previously mentioned siege engines.

Edit: I would expect that there would be much more than 10,000 men manning the walls for the emperor. In WWI there were 10 million men on the western front alone, and that was with earth populated much less than it could be in Imperial times. At the least, I would expect 2-3 million men on the defenders side in such a massive fortress.

Nazguire
13-09-2007, 22:52
Yup, current standard military strategy states that an entrenched or fortified defender requires three times as many numbers to be shifted, not allowing for massive diffrences in training and heroism between two said forces. so if there was 10,000 soldiers defending the walls, Horus would have needed, at least, 30,000 to take and hold them.

Hence why he brought down a 'million strong host' consisting of elements like the Legio Mortis, the traitor Legions, thousands of Imperial Army soldiers, daemons, spawn, mercenaries.

Because when your main adversary are Space Marines (especially Space Marines who specialise in siege warfare) you suddenly need a lot more then three times as many soldiers to dislodge them.

Brother Enok
13-09-2007, 22:57
Appocolypse historic battle anyone?

charlie_c67
13-09-2007, 22:59
Especially when there are several primarchs and big daddy E running around.

Noserenda
13-09-2007, 23:09
And if you glass the surface from Orbit you have no confirmed kills on the Emperor and Primarchs, Horus wanted a decisive win so he needed bodies and a palace to rule from, he also hoped some of the other Primarchs might come over to his side, Sanguinius for example.

He was also fairly confident when he began the siege, he had massively superior numbers, plenty of traitors amongst the defenders and no Imperial Reinforcements in sight, why not take his time?

Oh, and Orbital bombardment would have been a lame ending.

Brother Enok
13-09-2007, 23:11
Oh, and Orbital bombardment would have been a lame ending.

This is also true.

Talos402000
13-09-2007, 23:51
The palace itself isn't as big as Europe, more the size of Great Britain centered on GW's HQ (beginning to see a pattern? :)). By this point though, Terra has become a world city much like a Gothic version of coruscant. I would assume that the preliminary bombardment would be aimed at leveling most of the city around the palace (which itself was most likely shielded to high heaven) to land all of the previously mentioned siege engines.

Edit: I would expect that there would be much more than 10,000 men manning the walls for the emperor. In WWI there were 10 million men on the western front alone, and that was with earth populated much less than it could be in Imperial times. At the least, I would expect 2-3 million men on the defenders side in such a massive fortress.

Actually, in the year 30,000 the Imperial Palace DID NOT cover the Earth. There were massive Arcololgies (the fore-runners of the hives) to be sure, especially along the coasts, but even the Imperial Palace did not cover the entirety of Albion. Nathaniel Garro recalled as a boy on Terra going out into the wild agri-parks of Albion and being so far out that he could see the stars clearly without any light pollution.

Ktotwf
13-09-2007, 23:57
1. Earth is the birthplace of the Human race, and just because Horus was a Chaos Infested ******** at the time, didn't mean he didn't want to preserve all of Holy Terra to be the center of his new Imperium.

2. I sort of get the impression that Earth wasn't very heavily shielded or defended at the time of the Horus Heresy.

In one of the Ragnar Blackmane novels, as he is looking at the unprecedented swarms of battleship fleets that surround Holy Terra, he remarks something like "Humanity had learned its lesson from the Horus Heresy", implying that the Imperium was overconfident, and that Terra had been lightly defended (especially in comparison with the uberfortress it is in WH40K time) at the time of the Heresy.

2_heads_talking
14-09-2007, 01:16
Possibly he simply meant that, with such a large Empire and the Emperor's misplaced loyalty in his primarchs, Terra had no need for more than a token force at any one time, especially as there was very little that could actually make it all the way to Terra?

Finnith
14-09-2007, 15:33
One point is that the battles in 40K are in a hugely different scale to the Heresy. At the time of the Heresy humanity had been having the crap kicked out of it for thousands of years either by other humans, orks or other xenos.

Peace on Earth had only been declared a few hundred years before, theres marines about who fought in the reunification wars still knocking about. Humanity along with the space marines was geared up for a blitzkrieg tour of the galaxy wiping out any possible future threat then moving on only stopping when it ran out of places to fight.

Alot of the stuff in the palace would have been for show. What use is a mile high gate other than to let titans in and to look showy. The palace was a big stamp on Earth saying this is where we are and we are here to stay. There are much more sensible places to build a fortress to run your galactic empire than Lenton.

jb85
14-09-2007, 17:01
I always assumed the reason for the ground assault was that Horus knew he could not win a conventional war in the long run from day one (likely due to the superior resources/logistics of the Imperium). Therefore to break the morale and back of the Imperial forces Terra needed to be conquered. However he judged it insufficient to simply annihilate Terra from orbit, he figuratively speaking needed to plant his flag in the rubble of the Imperial Palace.


Possibly he simply meant that, with such a large Empire and the Emperor's misplaced loyalty in his primarchs, Terra had no need for more than a token force at any one time, especially as there was very little that could actually make it all the way to Terra?

As for the defences on Terra, in other circumstances the Space Marine contingent would have been more than double the number that were there. It was careful manipulation by Horus that ensured the UM, DA, SW were caught too far out of position to reinforce earth. Even with the suddenness of the rebellion it still took a significant amount of time for Horus to reach earth. It is a similar scenario to SW where Chancellor Palpatine ensured the Republic fleet was spread too thin when Coruscaunt was attacked. Horus presumably deployed as much of the Imperiums assets in positions were they could not help Earth without making his intention obvious. As a result the forces on Terra are not likely to be a fair representation of what the Imperium could have mustered in more ordinary circumstances.

ryng_sting
14-09-2007, 17:11
And because Horus knew only he could be realistically expected to kill the Emperor - which, of course, was what the war was about.

heretics bane
14-09-2007, 18:37
The palace itself isn't as big as europe, more the size of Great Britain centered on GW's HQ (begining to see a pattern? :)).

But didnt GW not say that it was the size of modern day europe? anything smaller and to me sounds stupid, if the Emporer has a huge impire why would he have a Palace that was very,very small compared to other great worlds? i would like to think that a legions fortress monastry was bigger than Britain at the very least.

MadDogMike
14-09-2007, 19:17
I got the impression that the real reason Horus went on a ground assault was that if he had just stuck to an orbital bombardment the Palace's defenses would have lasted long enough that the Loyalists outside the system would arrive and crush him between them and Terra's forces. So he didn't have time for a conventional siege, he had to smash in there relatively quickly. Same reason he eventually set his "trap" for the Emperor, his regular assault was taking too long still.

Some guy (UK)
14-09-2007, 19:23
But didnt GW not say that it was the size of modern day europe? anything smaller and to me sounds stupid, if the Emporer has a huge impire why would he have a Palace that was very,very small compared to other great worlds? i would like to think that a legions fortress monastry was bigger than Britain at the very least.

As far as I know, the palace building itself is not the size of Europe, but the surrounding grounds controlled by the palace directly take up this area.

2_heads_talking
15-09-2007, 00:44
As for the defences on Terra, in other circumstances the Space Marine contingent would have been more than double the number that were there. It was careful manipulation by Horus that ensured the UM, DA, SW were caught too far out of position to reinforce earth. Even with the suddenness of the rebellion it still took a significant amount of time for Horus to reach earth. It is a similar scenario to SW where Chancellor Palpatine ensured the Republic fleet was spread too thin when Coruscaunt was attacked. Horus presumably deployed as much of the Imperiums assets in positions were they could not help Earth without making his intention obvious. As a result the forces on Terra are not likely to be a fair representation of what the Imperium could have mustered in more ordinary circumstances.

This is true, to an extent, however (and I cannot confirm this, as I don't recall any background material indicating this) I would imagine that the Gods of Chaos would have made the journey remarkably easier and a lot more safer for the Traitor forces on their way to Terra. This is not hard to imagine, as the Loyalist forces were held up by sudden unexpected warpstorms that barred their way or made travel almost suicidal; could they then not have calmed the storms long enough to allow a safe, extremely quick journey for Horus and his followers?

Also, with the emperor having his Adeptus Custodes and God knows how many regiments of Guardstationed planet-side already, I can't imagine very many more space marines than what was originally stationed there (the Imperial Fists chapter) actually residing on the planet; while he had to protect himself, he needed his marines to carve out the Empire and, as I said, he had misplaced trust in his primarchs that they would never turn on him, to do so in such numbers is something that, even during the teleport to Horus' battle barge, he still couldn't accept.

DantesInferno
15-09-2007, 00:46
This is true, to an extent, however (and I cannot confirm this, as I don't recall any background material indicating this) I would imagine that the Gods of Chaos would have made the journey remarkably easier and a lot more safer for the Traitor forces on their way to Terra. This is not hard to imagine, as the Loyalist forces were held up by sudden unexpected warpstorms that barred their way or made travel almost suicidal; could they then not have calmed the storms long enough to allow a safe, extremely quick journey for Horus and his followers?

Well, not for Mortarion and the Death Guard, at least....

2_heads_talking
15-09-2007, 00:53
Well, not for Mortarion and the Death Guard, at least....

True, but then they had been already picked by Nurgle to be his physical manifestation in the 40K universe, just they didn't know about it. So they don't really count. :p

Nazguire
15-09-2007, 01:04
True, but then they had been already picked by Nurgle to be his physical manifestation in the 40K universe, just they didn't know about it. So they don't really count. :p

Rather Typhon had already picked the Death Guard to be Nurgle's Legion

jb85
15-09-2007, 10:13
Also, with the emperor having his Adeptus Custodes and God knows how many regiments of Guardstationed planet-side already, I can't imagine very many more space marines than what was originally stationed there (the Imperial Fists chapter) actually residing on the planet; while he had to protect himself, he needed his marines to carve out the Empire and, as I said, he had misplaced trust in his primarchs that they would never turn on him, to do so in such numbers is something that, even during the teleport to Horus' battle barge, he still couldn't accept.

I agree he wouldn't have had many Marine legions stationed planet side (only the IF were recorded as being stationed there). That doesn't mean that Marine forces would not have been in a position to react to any potential invasion in a timely fashion. As it was 7 legions were in position to intercept Horus at Istvaan and another 4 were in position to reach earth before Horus (including SW before they were sent to Prospero)

What caught the Emperor out was the unique set of circumstances of the Heresy. It would be hard to ever imagine the possibility of half the legions rebelling, one or two maybe. Then 3 legions were crippled at the Drop site massacre and manipulation of Imperial deployments temporarily denied the Emperor the service of another 3. That left the Emperor working with one sixth of the Marines he would normally expect to have to react to a major threat.

Of course this strategy was probably necessary as I would not back the nine traitor legions to overcome the nine loyalist legions in a straight fight. The forces gathered by Horus would be difficult to control for any length of time. Some legions were combat ineffective (TS), too dispersed (IW), had their own agendas (EC, AL, NL) or difficult to control (WE). Horus would have been hard pressed to overcome a unified front from the loyalist legions with this force therefore he had to go for the quick knockout.

Wolf Lord Loki
15-09-2007, 17:26
Horus would have been hard pressed to overcome a unified front from the loyalist legions with this force therefore he had to go for the quick knockout.


While that is undoubtedly true as well if Horus could be said to have a particular style of combat it was decapitate the enemy and destroy their leaders.

Hence the Emperor was at the top of the list to be killed!!

Ktotwf
15-09-2007, 19:38
While that is undoubtedly true as well if Horus could be said to have a particular style of combat it was decapitate the enemy and destroy their leaders.

Hence the Emperor was at the top of the list to be killed!!

Strategy backfired a wee bit.

The pestilent 1
15-09-2007, 20:14
Strategy backfired a wee bit.

He nearly had the Emperor as the story has it, only his own arrogance (A lot of "Nearly playful Blows" :rolleyes: ) that lost him the fight.

Ktotwf
15-09-2007, 20:17
He nearly had the Emperor as the story has it, only his own arrogance (A lot of "Nearly playful Blows" :rolleyes: ) that lost him the fight.

Ummm...what? Thats not how the story goes...

2_heads_talking
16-09-2007, 00:15
Well, from what I remember of the Bill King story, Horus did actually gloat to the Emperor; even the killing of the Imperial Fist/Adeptus Custodes terminator was done to show the Emperor how little he cared for what had gone before. Really, Horus made the classic bad-guy mistake of not just killing him when he had the chance.

Brother Enok
16-09-2007, 09:53
And the Emporer made the same one, hoping his son could be brought back from the thrall of chaos.

Virus
16-09-2007, 11:32
1. In one of the Ragnar Blackmane novels, as he is looking at the unprecedented swarms of battleship fleets that surround Holy Terra, he remarks something like "Humanity had learned its lesson from the Horus Heresy", implying that the Imperium was overconfident, and that Terra had been lightly defended (especially in comparison with the uberfortress it is in WH40K time) at the time of the Heresy.

I took that to mean that Horus had been able to sweep aside any challenge in orbit as it was a surprise attack on Terra. The presence of a third of all the loyal Space Marine Legions on Terra suggests that the Imperium was not overconfident.
However, they definetely did increase security post-heresy.

Rockerfella
16-09-2007, 20:30
. Really, Horus made the classic bad-guy mistake of not just killing him when he had the chance.

Thats so true! :p

If Horus had just simply gone 'BOSH!' instead of faffing around, then the emperor would have 'total dead status', instead of 'might as well be dead' status.

Ah, that typical bad guy mistake! ;)

stormblade
17-09-2007, 07:36
Really, Horus made the classic bad-guy mistake of not just killing him when he had the chance.

- Beh, even if Horus had killed the Emperor, Russ would've taken him apart afterwards.

Iracundus
17-09-2007, 07:46
If Horus had hypothetically killed the Emperor and succeeded, the DA and SW legions were still coming to reinforce, so it's conceivable Horus may still have had to retreat from Earth. However, with the Emperor gone, it would have likely accelerated the fracturing of the Imperium with even more worlds defecting to Horus or seceding to be independent. The loyalist Primarchs might have managed to hold things together on a few worlds but it would mean still essentially the Imperium broken up into multiple enclaves.

MadDogMike
17-09-2007, 15:43
Really, Horus made the classic bad-guy mistake of not just killing him when he had the chance.

Well, it's been said the Emperor didn't blow away Horus instantly because he still harbored hope for him; maybe Horus didn't kill the Emperor instantly because of the goodness left in him under all the Chaos corruption? What's fair for one... ;)

Rockerfella
17-09-2007, 15:45
Good point! Whats good for the goose, is good for the gander! Etc etc!!!

pookie
17-09-2007, 15:53
Horus had no chpice but to take the planet with landing troops on it, the last time he tried wiping a force out from space look waht happened ( hint - Istvann III) the only way he could for sure take out the 'heart' of the Imperium would have been to take it on foot up close and personal.