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Warhammer 40k Gaunt’s Ghosts - meet the Tanith First and Only

Everything you need to know about Warhammer 40k's Gaunt’s Ghosts - from datasheets and models to a full breakdown of the Dan Abnett book series

Warhammer 40k Gaunt's Ghosts - Games Workshop artwork showing the original main characters in the first few Gaunt's Ghosts novels

So you want to know about Gaunt’s Ghosts? This ragtag group of Astra Militarum bad-asses are perhaps the closest thing the Warhammer 40k universe has to genuine heroes, featuring the titular Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his band of ‘Ghosts’, otherwise known as the Tanith 1st light infantry regiment. They’re also sometimes called the ‘First and Only’, as this unit was both the first and the last regiment raised on the planet Tanith before it was destroyed by the forces of chaos.

Gaunt’s Ghosts are the brainchild of author Dan Abnett, and first appeared in the 1999 novel First and Only. Since then, there have been a total of 15 novels in the main Gaunt’s Ghosts series, along with several short stories featuring the Ghost’s exploits during the Sabbat Worlds crusade, with several omnibus and anthology collections as well. Gaunt’s popular regiment has also been enshrined in the tabletop game, with official rules in many Astra Militarum codices, and there’s even a box of models featuring the series’ more iconic characters. Read on to find out more.

Warhammer 40k Gaunt's Ghosts - author photo showing a selection of the Gaunt's Ghosts novels by their front covers

Gaunt’s Ghosts books

As of August 2022, the Gaunt’s Ghosts series has 15 main books, split into arcs. There have also been four omnibus collections, one per arc release to date. Here is the correct Gaunt’s Ghosts reading order, with the Omnibuses slotted in at the end of their respective arcs:

The Founding arc

  • First and Only (1999)
  • Ghostmaker (2000)
  • Necropolis (2000)
  • The Founding Omnibus (2003)

The Saint arc

  • Honour Guard (2001)
  • The Guns of Tanith (2002)
  • Straight Silver (2002)
  • Sabbat Martyr (2003)
  • The Saint Omnibus (2004)

The Lost arc

  • Traitor General (2004)
  • His Last Command (2005)
  • The Armour of Contempt (2006)
  • Only in Death (2008)
  • The Lost Omnibus (2010)

The Victory arc

  • Blood Pact (2009)
  • Salvation’s Reach (2011)
  • The Warmaster (2017)
  • The Victory, Part 1 Omnibus (2018)
  • Anarch (2019)

Warhammer 40k Gaunt's Ghosts - author photo showing a selection of the Gaunt's Ghosts novels by their front covers

In addition to the main books above, there have been several short stories that focus on either Commissar Gaunt specifically, or the Ghosts in general, across various points in the unit’s history up to and post 2019’s Anarch:

  • The Iron Star (2008)
  • Of Their Lives in the Ruins of Their Cities (2010)
  • A Ghost Return (2014)
  • Killbox (2014)
  • Viduity (2014)
  • Family (2014)
  • You Never Know (2014)
  • Ghosts and Bad Shadows (2014)
  • This is What Victory Feels Like (Forever the Same) (2021)
  • From There to Here (2021)

Generally speaking, most of these are contained across the three main anthologies for the Gaunt’s Ghosts/Sabbat Worlds theatre (although some may be available either as a standalone release or as part of other collections):

  • Sabbat Worlds (2010)
  • Sabbat Crusade (2014)
  • Sabbat War (2021)

Finally, there is The Vincula Insurgency, released in 2021, which is a novel-length book set in the “earliest days of Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First.” Chronologically it takes place during the Voltemand campaign, which was first described in 2000’s Ghostmaker.

Warhammer 40k Gaunt's Ghosts - Games Workshop photo showing the new Gaunt's Ghosts models painted in scenery

Gaunt’s Ghosts models

Bespoke models for the rank and file of the Tanith 1st are few and far between, with Cadian Shock Troops still being the stock template for most Astra Militarum armies. Generally speaking, you’d have to do a lot of custom work, or in a pinch maybe buy some Catachans and squint real hard.

Two sets of dedicated Gaunt’s Ghosts models have been released to date – there was a metal set of figures released in 2008, featuring characters like Colm Corbec, Doc Dorden, Brin Milo, and even a generic Tanith trooper.

At Warhammer Fest Online 2021, a second, plastic, set was announced, featuring a slightly different set of characters. Staples like Gaunt, Colm Corbec, and Larkin return, but they are now joined by ‘Try Again’ Bragg, Major Rawne, and Mkoll. It was released later that year and you can now purchase it directly from the Games Workshop webstore.

The metal set is very hard to acquire these days as it’s out of circulation now, but you can probably find some sets online if you look hard enough.

Warhammer 40k Gaunt's Ghosts - Games Workshop photo showing some of the new Gaunt's Ghosts models and an insignia graphic for the Tanith First

Gaunt’s Ghosts datasheets and rules

Dedicated rules datasheets for Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith 1st have been available since the original third instalment of Chapter Approved in 2003, along with the second Imperial Guard codex released for Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition in the same year. Subsequent editions have usually had some provision for fielding the Tanith 1st, and – even if they’re not referenced by name – Gaunt fans have usually had access to suitable rules for constructing an army that’s close enough, thematically.

In terms of Warhammer 40k 9th edition, while the new Astra Militarum codex isn’t released yet (guardsmen always seem to be last in line for a glow-up), there are thankfully still options for you to create a full army of Tanith 1st. Using the rules currently in place for the Guard, each of the new plastic models also has a fully approved stat block, so you can make use of them right away.

Warhammer 40k Gaunt's Ghosts - author photo showing a selection of the Gaunt's Ghosts novels by their title spines

Further to that, Warhammer Studio’s ‘rules colonel’ Robin Cruddace advises that you can make use of some of the new tools in the Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good supplement – specifically the Wilderness Survivors and Disciplined Shooters regimental doctrines. Psychic Awakening rules are no longer legal in Matched Play, though, mind.

Also key to remember is that the new Gaunt’s Ghosts models have the Officio Prefectus keyword. Due to the Advisors and Auxiliaries rule, the new models specifically won’t be able to benefit from the regimental doctrines – however, Cruddace says the stat blocks for Gaunt and his posse have been designed thematically, to naturally take into account the nature of the Ghosts’ abilities.

That’s everything you need to know about Warhammer 40k’s Gaunt’s Ghosts. For more information on the grim darkness of the far future, check out our Horus Heresy reading order, or perhaps our guides to Warhammer 40k’s Imperium factions, Xenos factions, and Chaos factions.