Tanith First (And Only)
"Cartref yw cartref, er tloted y bo. - Home is home, however poor it may be."
- – Welsh Proverb
"Happy those whose walls already rise ! "
- – Aeneis, Virgil
The Tanith First (And Only) are an Imperial Guard unit, that originally hail from the planet of Tanith. Their world was home to the famous Nalwood Trees, which moved in great migratory herds to make travelers get helplessly lost. Because of their origins, the Tanith people developed an inborn sense of direction and uncanny ability to hide in forests, which carried over to every planet they went to.
The Tanith people are predominantly Celtic, a mixture of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish as evidenced by their common appearances(Black Irish - pale skin, blue eyes and dark hair), in addition to their frequent use of bagpipes on the battlefield to boost morale, their names (The Scottish Mk- prefix and Welsh l's, y's and w's), woad tattoos and Sgian-dubh-style silver knives. Even the dark, mysterious forests of their lost homeworld is a nod to the ancient Roman descriptions of Scotland and Ireland.
The Tanith First and Only are largely the subject of the Dan Abnett's acclaimed Gaunts Ghosts series, starting with the aptly named(When it was originally published)"First And Only".
Sabbat Worlds Campaign
To bring a long story short, Tanith was destroyed by the forces of Chaos just shortly after they finished mustering three regiments (We did it before it was cool to do so, Cadia). Only one full regiment was able to make it off planet. With no functioning command staff, due to them being very much dead, a Colonel-Commissar by the name of Ibram Gaunt was assigned to look after the regiment. Gaunt was promised that if he led them to glory in the campaign, he and his regiment would be granted one of the conquered worlds for them to keep as New Tanith. Naturally they become complete badasses, known for taking missions deemed too suicidal even for space marines, and coming out stronger than ever. They haven't gotten that world yet though.
Thus begins 10 years (14 books and counting) of complete awesomeness. Whereby the Tanith accomplish things such as assassinating a Segmentum Commander, take and subsequently destroy a chaos corrupted STC producing Chaos-infected Men of Iron, and participate in many apocalyptic level battles on chaos infested worlds.
It should also be noted that the series as a whole started as Grimdark, but as early as the second book, moved away from it considerably. While many elements still exist, for the most part, it is downright heroic fantasy compared to many publications in the 40k universe. To put as a comparison, in general, while a lot of major characters die throughout the series, in each book, generally, the unit as a whole ends up BETTER off than it did at the beginning of the book.
With the newest book out, the Grimdark has hit levels rarely seen in the series, with more major characters dying than any three other books put together. Luckily, ends on a mostly high note.
- Macharius "Lucky" Bonin: Member of the Scout Division (the stealthy Tanith who are stealthier than the OTHER stealthy Tanith), Bonin is Mkoll's 2IC and the luckiest fucker in the galaxy. Has survived falling out of a chaos pyramid the size of a fucking titan, shattering his spine from said fall, having his air transport get shot to shit, being captured and lined up to be sacrificed by a pissed off Chaos Lord, THEN escaping the shitstorm of las fire that ensues from his boss blowing up said Chaos Lord. This man simply will NOT FUCKING DIE. He has a 1++ save at everything. He will walk through shit that'd give Spehss Mehrines a bad day, and come out the other side with a shit eating grin.
- Colonel Colm Corbec: Was Colonel of the First (and only) when it escaped the fall of Tanith. He was usually commanding the second Platoon and was a FUCKING MAN. Seriously this man was so badass he puts space marines to shame. He held off a horde of chaos cultists with a lasgun and a flamer. BY HIMSELF. Or that other time when he found a GIANT FUCK OFF DAEMON and he requested a orbital strike against it, just to make sure he got it. He had a large shaggy beard and mane of black hair to show off his Manley prowess. He became good friends with Gaunt and was well liked by everyone in the regiment as he was charismatic, awesome and wholly dedicated to the First as he got into a fist fight with another guard officer because he was being a dick to them, dragged his (and some other ghost's) injured ass on journey spanning hundreds of kilometers to help gaunt and the rest of the Tanith, and put himself in the line of fire and nearly died to save one of the soldiers in his command. [Spoilers to come] He was killed by a traitorous bastard called Cuu, and placed in a Nalwood coffin, with the sound of bagpipes and a Manly Fucking Tear shed in his honor.
- Ceglan Varl: Walking dispenser of cons, dickery, and one-liners. Not just comic relief, Varl is fully capable of GETTING SHIT DONE, as shown by being chosen to accompany Gaunt to a Chaos held world to gank a Traitor General. Has a bionic shoulder after being inconvenienced by a las round, now uses it to crack nuts and crush beer cans. He also persuaded Captain Ban Daur, one of the straightest, holier-than-thou men in the regiment, to help him by dressing up as a Commissar and nicking around 20,000 credits from a gambling den. Do not turn your back on this man, lest you lose your wallet, loose change, ID, and dignity.
- Hlaine "Mad" Larkin: Balls crushingly amazing sniper. Also bug fuck nuts (Well that was until Gereon and he got scared sane). Larks is head of the Ghosts Sniper Division though generally not through real command ability so much as being able to put a hot shot round through the eye hole of a Heretic at a kilometre away. Larks is also the clever git who came up with the whole "Gaunt's Ghosts" nickname, as he seems to be excellent at brand naming as well. Lost a foot on a chaos held world, so now he hobbles around on one made of wood. Any ass kicking he now administers comes with the danger of splinters. Larkin also seems to have the unfortunate habit of all his buddies getting fucking killed. Keep this in mind... becoming friends with Larkin is the Touch of Fucking Death. Don't believe me? Just ask Bragg, Corbec, Caffran, or Muril... though Cuu's dead, so it's not as common as it used to be. On that subject, Cuu is a teamkilling fucktard, like Kharn if Kharn were a dick instead of a pretty swell guy, and it's almost worth reading about him getting away with act of dickery on top of murderous treachery just to see if Larkin the Mad Sniper finally cook his goose. Of note is one time that Larkin finally split and ran away from a battle the Tanith were in. He hid in a old cathedral over looking where the battle was happening, and basically was finally all out of courage. Then the statue behind him of a angel came to life, gave him a speech about courage, and threatened to shoot him. The threat was unnecessary as he was over his whinny bitch moment and asked for something to wrap the barrel of his long-las with to protect it from being damaged as he prepared to shoot out of a window. The statue tore off a strip of its robe and handed it to him, which he used. After sniping a Chaos demagogue, the rest of the Tanith find him and apologize for thinking he had deserted and figured he was just looking for a vantage point (which he was careful not to correct). He comes to believe that the whole "statue coming to life" thing was his imagination running wild, as the statue is clearly just a statue. He then picks up his long-las and notices a charred strip of cloth around it. He then looks at the statue again and notices that its robe, chiseled from stone, is missing a strip that matches the one he's holding. Another maybe is his trick with his scope. He claims he can always tell if somebody is lying if he looks at them through his scope. Normally this is played for laughs, but it actually worked once when some Eldar created an illusion. So it's up in the air whether it's just one of his quirks or something is up with him.
- Commissar Viktor Hark: Originally assigned to the Ghosts as Gaunt's replacement, Hark got stuck in the shit position of having to help said Ghosts defend a tiny monastery on top of a FUCKHUGE fucking mountain from roughly 12 million severely pissed off Heretics. When it was decided they would stay, Hark became Captain Logic and was the only sane one to say "Fuck that noise, we're getting the goodies we came for and getting the fuck out of here" A heartwarming moment then ensued when all Ghosts present threatened to fucking murder him unless he stopped dicking Gaunt around, and of course, a close bond then developed. Over the years, despite this somewhat rocky start, the Ghosts have warmed to him as he is less of a rampant bag of dicks as other Commissars. Hark lost his arm to a bunch of carnivorous incestuous iguanas during the siege of Herodor, but has since had it upgraded to an augmetic arm that beats Heretics like they owe him money. This now forms a nice combination with his other iconic weapon, a Plasma Pistol. In the aftermath of the Ghosts pleasant stay in a fortress on Jago, Hark was forced to execute an old friend who happened to be using his psychic powers to turn aforementioned fortress into the fucking house from the Amityville Horror, (Admittedly the guy was helping the Ghosts figure out the secrets of the house and really saved them (Actually he put the guy out of his misery, as the man had been placed in a regiment that treated psykers in an incredibly grimdark way)). When all is said and done, Hark is a grizzled slab of meat well versed in the smiting of Heretic faces across the system.
- Mkvenner: If Ollanius Pius, Leman Russ, Sly Marbo, and Konrad Curze all devoted their genes to a cloning experiment designed to create one of the most badass humans to walk the earth, the outcome would be Scout Trooper Mkvenner. Formerly Mkoll's second in command until he went AWOL to personally make an ENTIRE CHAOS HELD PLANET his personal toy to fuck around with, Mkvenner spent his time being the Ghosts resident inscrutable badass. In his career as a Ghost, Ven has done such minor things as slaughter an entire squad or two of Blood Pact soldiers with just the Straight Silver on his lasrifle (which was out of ammo), be personally healed by a fucking reincarnated Saint Sabbat, bail Gaunt's ass out by talking to some weird tribe of Moth Savages who live in a completely hostile swamp where everything is poisonous (possibly Australia), and fight two fucking DAEMONS to a stand still (once again, just using Straight Silver, also possibly hoping to crush them with his ceramite balls). After his time spent slapping the Chaos troops on Gereon around until the rest of the Guard arrived, Ven proceeded to play dead, and bust the Moth Savages and Gereon Resistance out of Imperial custody when it turns out the Inquisition wanted to be a raging dick hole (what a shock, I know). Has now vanished again, until such a time as Horus comes back from the dead. At that point, it will most likely be Mkvenner who Ollanius Pius's that fucker. Mkvenner is probably the emperor's spirit in a flesh puppet, whilst the big E himself sits on the Golden Bidet. Probably still on Gereon slapping chaos troops around. Also he's a Wood Jedi.
- Trooper "Try Again" Bragg:One of the only heavy weapons Guardsman who made Space Marines look like pussies. An all around lousy shot hence the name "Try Again" but with two heavy autocannons duck taped together who the hell needs to aim? This man loved nothing more than to see what heavy weapon, that a normal human shouldn't be able to lift, he can make his personal bitch. Not only that but he was able to kill fuckers with a single punch. Yet despite his massive size and the ability to bench press a tank Bragg was one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet and was proported to be very intelligent under all his muscle. He was also the master at brewing Sacra, the poison of choice for the Tanith. Sadly Bragg was stabbed in the heart by Trooper Cuu after Bragg turned him in for looting. But Bragg almost took Cuu down with him despite having a fucking warknife through his heart. Although, it appears he was reincarnated in our world as a terrorist,
- Major Gol Kolea: Originally some fucking blue collar worker from Vervunhive, Gol got his shit together when a massive army of batshit insane Chaos Cultists from the Hive next door came a knockin'. Leading a bunch of survivors from the same mining company as him. This ragtag band of pissed off miners joined up with a PDF unit, and such were the immense size and density of Kolea's ceramite balls that he was asked to lead them when their commanding officer went down like a crying little bitch. This fucking guy attacked a Daemon Prince with a fucking mining pick. He is THAT badass. After all the shit that went down in Vervunhive, Kolea and his crew joined up with the Tanith First and went off to wreck Chaos shit across the rest of the Sabbat Worlds. Some angry Chaos lizard shot him in the brain when he was rescuing Tona Criid. Kolea then went Full Retard. Criid took over his platoon, keeping Kolea around as a trooper. A trooper built like a fucking Leman Russ battle tank. When Saint Sabbat finally decided that bein' dead was for pussies and reincarnated (
are you listening Emperor? Pussy....*BLAM* HERESY!!!) Full Retard Kolea took a critically wounded MkVenner and himself up to have a chat with her. It's unclear as to what happened in the Holy Hot Tub ( possibly delicious Heretical Sex*BLAM* EXTRA HERESY!!!), but Ven and Kolea were completely healed. That's right, he was healed from having half his brain missing: one of the regiment's doctors even noted that Kolea's brain is still physically damaged from the headshot, and has no explanation for his healing other than the Saint herself deciding that Kolea was too manly for something as small as brain damage to hold him back. He then proceeded to beat the ever loving shit out of a serial killer, and just generally ruin Chaos's day. He's the senior Vervunhiver in the First and Only, and is not a man to be lightly fucked with. Once starred in Undercover Boss in Vervunhive and sent 3 of his workers to Disneyland making a $5000 donation to something because of some "Sob Story". Got torn to shred by his demonic son.
- Major Elim Rawne: No one fucks with Rawne. Nursed a years long murder grudge against Gaunt, blaming him for not letting Rawne and the other Tanith die fighting for their homeworld like fucking idiots. Before his life as the Senior Officer of the Tanith First, Rawne was a fucking mobster. Thus he was bad ass before he went off and became bad ass-er. Major Rawne has grown over the years from a vicious and murderous malcontent with a hate-rection against Gaunt, to a vicious and selectively murderous malcontent with a hate-rection against Chaos. One of the famous Gereon Twelve (like the Magnificent Seven... only with five more guys), Rawne and Gaunt managed to put their assorted reasons for killing each other to rest on the surface of the Chaos held world, channelling all that rage into more productive things... like slaughtering heretic scum and railing that Gereon Resistance chick. MUCH more productive. Now that Rawne's back from the arse end of the Sabbat sector, he is slapping the shit out of the Blood Pact like it's a red headed step child. Currently tapping the ass of a hot Vervunhive Sniper by the name of Jessi Banda. That's right folks, this guy get's more ass while he's deployed than most civilians get in any given year (Author's note: God-Emperor it fucking sucks working for the Administratum.... when do I get to meet hot sniper chicks?) In closing: No one fucks with Rawne, except for several women in the regiment apparently....
- Tolin Dorden: An old medic able to patch up any guardsman and send them back into the fight like a Necron Lord with a res-orb. Likely the oldest member of the regiment, old enough to have delivered Colonel Corbec, which is badass considering the ultra-high risk infiltration missions the Ghosts get sent on. Still getting shit done while suffering from a terminal state cancer. Was complimented for his fearlessness by a White Scar Space Marine. Goes out like a badass, detonating himself and a fuckton of heretics with Trooper Merrt when he knows he can't be of use anymore.
- Junior Commissar Nahum Ludd, the boy wonder. Started out as a rather wet-behind-the-ears nublet who had never seen combat, assigned to basically spy on Gaunt after his return from Chaos-held Gereon. After getting some battlefield experience and after Hark bitch-slapped some sense into him a few times (you can't be on a first-name basis with the rank & file, Ludd, or they won't respect you) he started becoming badass, to the point where he could get fucking ASTARTES to follow his orders. Currently losing a battle with Dalin Criid to be Felyx Chass' bff.
- Sergeant Oan Mkoll: The head of the Tanith stealth division, Gaunt's most trusted tactician, and one of the two people in the regiment capable of hiding from the author of the fucking books if need be (the other being Mkvenner). After the Tanith's little adventure on Gereon, they took in one of the Ausfag savages named Eszrah ap Niht. These lunatics were known to be as good at stealth as a "normal" (because they really aren't normal) Tanith scout. Mkoll then proceeded to outstealth the motherfucker every time he got a chance to do. On one occasion, Mkdaddy managed to outsmart and outstealth a Dark Eldar Mandrake, which are described as living shadows and can enter an entirely different realm, separate from the Material plane AND the Immaterium. He then grudgingly admitted that the Mandrake was "good" before blowing its brains out. Once managed to kill a Chaos Dreadnaught with a lasgun and some plants. Decided not to tell anyone because he didn't think it was noteworthy enough. Mkoll is also one of the only people that Our Lord and Saviour Mkvenner decided to grace with the knowledge of his continued existence after he was thought dead. He also out-hunted a White Scar and then trap said white Scar and two other Space Marine (iT was a training exercise but still...)
Currently AWOL after the events of Warmaster, last seen screaming "I AM DEATH!" (in their language, no less) to a group of Sons of Sek soldiers and slaughtering as many as he could with his warknife.Actually get taken prisoner by the Sons of Sek, manages to break out and massacering them while screaming "I am Deahth", infiltrate the big bad's ship and murder him by shoving C4 into his throat. Second time him blowing up a Chaos Lord to pieces by the way, after Ouranberg.
- Tona Criid: Raised in the street gangs of Vervunhive, Criid is a tough gal, who took control of platoon sergeant from Gol Kolea, after he was wounded. She excelled in the position and joined the ranks of a handful of women in 40K who are badass and don't wear power armour. She also has two adopted kids who she cares for more than anything, thus elevating her badassery level as she is great parent and solider,
something not even the Emperor could dobut she did accept to go on a what was in all essence a suicide mission so maybe not mother of the year after all (to be fair both kids got revealed as stealth demon engines, so hey couldn't fuck their upbringing). She is also a possible low-key psyker, as she predicted Wilder would take command of the Ghosts in Gaunts abscence and a dream where Gaunt dies in the near future.Nah that was just Soric sending her visions.
Playing the Tabletop
First of: Although one of the most beloved Imperial Guard Regiments, Games Workshop still doesn't manage to produce rules to really allow playing
a the regiment of Gaunt's Ghosts. However, if you are willing to work around some things, it is possible.
Here are a couple of recommendations:
- Playing Yarrick as Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt is a solid (yet obvious) choice. He gives fairly good buffs, can give orders to everyone, and his ability to always stand up again is a fair representation of Gaunts stubbornness to die. Just ignore the fact he gives a bonus against Orks. Alternatively (
and since Commissars kill more than they save this edition*BLAM* See?*BLAM**BLAM*), it is way easier to bring a normal Company Commander with a Bolt Pistol and get him Draconian Disciplinarian as Warlord Trait.
- With the rules for Sly Marbo there now is an obvious and fun (even if not very effective) choice for Mkvenner or Mkoll. Good as distraction and objective grabber though.
- Bringing Veterans with Camo Cloaks is a thing of the past as well, so where to look for the normal squads? Veterans are still fairly good and can grab three Sniper Rifles as well as a Heavy Flamer, reflecting standard Tanith weaponry. However, they won't be able to secure Objectives, and the Lasgun as main weapon may fall a little short. Instead one could bring normal Infantry Squads and Ratlings or Command Squads for Sniper Rifles. But then you either wouldn't be able to order them or would only be able to take one for each Commander.
- The famous Scouts probably are best represented by small squads of Scions, being able to infiltrate anywhere if needed. However, prepare for them to not be very efficient, as for fluff reasons they shouldn't have any Meltas, Plasma weapons, or any of the other fun stuff.
- The best Regiment Doctrine to choose is most likely Cadian, since the simple rerolls compliments the Snipers and overall marksmanship of the Tanith army. Also, bringing a model of Brin Milo and letting him have the "Relic of Lost Cadia" is kinda fun. Alternatively, Tallarn would also work well, enabling to outflank a part of the army. With all the Sniper Rifles (you should definitely bring some, spamming them is the only way to deal damage with this army) they will however struggle to capitalize on their moving and shooting Doctrine. Though Choice.
- Since the Psychic Awakening there also is the option to mix your own regiment doctrines. Wilderness Survivors for the flat out cover buff is a must, with Agile Warriors (re-roll advance), Fire from Hip (shoot rapid fire at -1 after advance), or Slum Fighters (additional melee attack on hit roll of 6) as second choices.
- Another approach would be to play them with the rules for Elysians. Everything in your army will be able to infiltrate behind enemy lines, the HQs give nice morale buffs, and you have designated sniper squads. Not bad at all - simply fielding those rules will make your army more special since Elysians are so rarely seen. Only drawback imaginable would be that Tanith this way would be more of a supporting force to a bigger army, which is OK, but regular Scions would probably be better in dealing tons of damage (especially considering Tanith shouldn't have any Plasma/Melta). Elysians can be a bit cheaper though, so simply filling up any empty spaces on the board by turn two and taking it from there is an option...
- Doing one of the above and mixing in other regiments the Tanith have fought alongside might be a good way to mix in units that don't suit the Tanith. The Royal Volpone for heavy infantry, as Scions with meltas and plasma, or the Narmenian Armoured for tanks. This also gives you more variety in the kind of models you can feild.
- UPDATE: Only War: Hammer of the Emperor has rules for the Ghosts, so while you still can't play ythe regiment in large scale wars, you can play as the Tanith First-and-Only in squad-scale actions.
Note that as of the big FAQ you can only take a single squad up to three times, if you are playing by the tournament suggestions, therefore ruining a Veteran army for good. Seems only fitting Tanith is slowly dying out...
Brother Vinni's Commissar, who just happens to be wielding a power sword, bolt pistol, and wearing a camo cloak but is so TOTALLY NOT COLONEL-COMMISSAR GAUNT.
Brother Vinni's Guts, aka so TOTALLY NOT TROOPER 'TRY AGAIN' BRAGG