In this series of articles we will explore recreating the Tanith First and Only, aka Gaunt’s Ghosts, for the tabletop. It will feature kitbashing and conversions for camo cloaks and camo netting to represent the stealthy prowess of Gaunt’s Ghosts. In this first article we explore the aims of this hobby project and rough out a first Army List to guide the build.
The recent release of the chief characters of Gaunt’s Ghosts in glorious plastic prompted me to pay its extortionate price tag and review the kit here. I suppose my desire for the kit was related to my affection for the Gaunt’s Ghosts series of books.
Now that I finally have the kit and the models assembled and primed although still awaiting paint, I am sparing a thought for how I might use them on the tabletop. I did mention in my review of the kit that I have not moved on from Warhammer 40000 7th edition to the later editions, so the bundled rules are of no use to me.
If you wonder why I would stubbornly stick with 7th edition until now, read here: Edition Fatigue a Grognard’s Grumble.
As I noted in the review, the Gaunt’s Ghosts kit do make for a nice company command squad with the camo cloak option available in 5th, 5th and 7th edition Astra Militarum. Also Lord Commissars can take a camo cloak as an upgrade too, so that is Gaunt himself sorted with rules.
What use is a company command squad without a company to command? I feel the company I make for them should also be equipped and themed as the Ghosts are, with camo cloaks. So I am thinking how to expand Gaunt’s Ghosts to become Tanith First and Only.
The Tanith First and Only regiment is all about stealth. They are primarily foot guard and camo cloaks are their signature gear.
In 7th edition (using the 6th edition Astra Militarum Codex) camo cloaks are available only to Lord Commissars, Company Commanders, Company Command Squads and Veterans (using the Forward Sentries upgrade). Regular infantry, commissars, regimental advisors and other HQ support characters like pskyers cannot have camo cloaks.
Ratlings are not explicitly equipped with camo cloaks but they have the stealth rule so I think we could include them. Although I do not think ratlings were ever actually in the Tanith in lore.
Most Astra Militarum ground vehicles can take camo netting as an upgrade, so perhaps we could include some light vehicles with this upgrade.
All in all, that is a pretty restrictive set of units from which to build a force. No matter, my Tanith need not be a huge detachment because my Steel Legion project will constitute the main force of my Guard army.
Also Veteran guard are very flexible in their load outs so there is plenty of scope for kitting them out for different battlefield roles from horde purging to vehicle popping.
Clearly the bulk of the Tanith First and Only’s fighting power must be in Veterans with the Forward Sentries upgrade.
To date Games Workshop has released very few miniatures with camo cloaks suitable for use as Forward Sentries. There are some Cadian and Catachan metal snipers with cloaks. The Cadian company squad kit includes a sniper rifle option with integrated cloak. That is pretty much it.
If we want convincing Forward Sentries we will have to kitbash or convert them. This is another lure to me for creating the Tanith on the tabletop, kitbashing Veteran Forward Sentries has been a challenge I have been waiting for a reason to do for some time. Note, Forward Sentries can include Heavy Weapon Teams so we could cloak up some of them too.
That kitbash will come later in this series, for now let us make the first army list for the Tanith First and Only.
There are no formations in the Cadian Battlegroup Detachment (from the Mont’ka book) suitable for what we want to do. The closest fit would be the Emperor’s Blade Assault Company because it is composed of Veterans and has a Company Command Squad. Also, the restrictions of the Emperor’s Blade do not forbid them taking camo cloaks as upgrades. However there is no room in it for a Lord Commissar and we would have to include a lot of vehicles, at least five, four transports and a Hellhound.
The Allied detachment from the main rule book only allows one HQ slot but will need two for both a Lord Commissar and Company Command Squad. Consequently if we want to be Battleforged our Tanith detachment will have to use the Combined Arms Detachment.
A Combined Arms Detachment requires one HQ and allows two. Gaunt will take one slot as Lord Commissar and the rest of the Ghosts will be the Company Command squad that takes the other HQ slot.
Besides the HQ, the CAD requires us to have at least two troops and we can have up to six. A Veteran squad counts as one troop. Since Veterans will be the substance of what is available to us as Tanith and the special rule for a CAD, Objective Secured, only benefits troops we will tend to max out on Veterans. I am thinking at least five squads, maybe the full six.
Of course all the Veterans will get Forward Sentries but after that there is a lot of choice in terms of weapons. A vet squad can have a heavy weapon and up to three special weapons. It can also swap out its lasguns for shotguns. The sergeant can be equipped in different ways too.
We need to narrow the options a bit. Gaunt’s Ghosts are going to be our company command squad and they do not have a vox and there is no point giving a vox to a squad if their commanding officer does not have one. So we can rule out taking any vox. It would be pretty hard to model a vox on troops with camo cloaks too. Over or under?
Similarly heavy flamers will be tricky to model on models with cloaks. As with the vox, would the fuel tanks go over or under the cloak? Either way is pretty wonky. So we will rule out heavy flamers too.
To narrow down exactly how to build out the Vets it will pay to think about what kind of battlefield role this detachment as a whole would fill, and kit out accordingly.
Putting Forward Sentries together with the Objective Secured rule of a CAD suggests the strength of this detachment will be in playing for objectives by camping in cover by them. Surviving is probably more important than dealing damage.
Camped out in a ruin a camo cloak vet gets a cover save equivalent to the armour save of power armour. However, besides weapons with the ignores cover rule, the nemesis of a strong cover save is melee combat, because cover saves cannot be taken against such attacks.
The best way for most opponents to deal with our cover camping objective holders will be to fish them out with close combat troops. To build in resilience to this kind of attack we could kit out the squads with some weapons that are good for overwatch.
The Forward Sentries upgrade already includes “snare mines” which reduce the effectiveness of enemy charges (by making them disordered). In addition to that a squad could have at least one flamer.
Being mostly static, once in position, a squad for cover camping may as well take a heavy weapon team too. The best heavy weapons for overwatch are those with high rates of fire to mitigate for the low accuracy of overwatch. The heavy weapon available to vets with the highest rate of fire is the Heavy Bolter. Although, in general, it is not considered one of the better heavy weapons in 7th edition.
Not all objectives are alike. Some objectives will lie in, or close to, our deployment zone. Some will be in the middle of the board. Others will be in the enemy deployment zone. Some objectives can be reached before the enemy and some will have objective secured enemies on them that must be purged first.
It may pay to kit out the squads for taking and holding different kinds of objectives.
Defensive squads will be built to hold objectives they can reach before the enemy and these objectives will tend to be near to our deployment zone. These squads will want longer ranged weapons and will not want transports.
Offensive squads will be built to grab objectives from the enemy. These objectives will tend to be on the far side of the table. These squads will want weapons with the Assault special rule, they will probably want transports. For a transport I am leaning towards Taurox rather than Chimera. The Chimera is more of an IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) whereas we really just want a transport. The Taurox is a bit cheaper and better for getting into cover with its All-Terrain APC rule.
In between the two we could have more general purpose squads that will go for the middle of the table. They will either support the offensive squads or the defensive squads as required. Our company command squad will want to be in the centre of the table. This is so they can be best placed to throw Orders around where needed. So these middle ground vets will also have the role of protecting the company command squad.
All squads probably want a flamer to mitigate against being charged.
I think we have just about determined how the vets will be ideally constituted.
For elites we could have some Ratlings. Their job would be to take out enemy characters and special weapons.
Scout Sentinels with camo netting. There is nothing else I would take in this category so we could have up to three squadrons of three. I am leaning towards just two though. One for each offensive squad. Their job would to support the taking of enemy held objectives.
If I take anything here it would be a single Hydra or Wyvern, with camo netting of course.
So that is the rough first army list to guide the recruitment of this force for the tabletop.
Do think it is an effective list? Is it fluffy? Is it crunchy?