We tried to get good with Tachanka, Rainbow Six Siege's worst operator

I rarely get praise from teammates in FPS games. So when my Rainbow Six squad starts worshipping me as a god after pulling off a single kill, I have no idea how to react. I'm learning that this happens more than you expect when you pick Tachanka, Siege's worst operator, affectionately known as “our Lord and savior”. 

His unique gadget is a mounted LMG with insane stopping power. But it also makes him an easy target. Once enemies know where he is—usually by sending a drone his way—they’ll exploit his lack of mobility and swarm him. In a game dominated by stealth and quick thinking, he’s the ultimate misfit.

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The advice on playing Tachanka is almost unanimous: don’t. But what if I only played Tachanka? If I dedicate the time to learning his ins and outs, can I make him a viable part of a five-man team? 

I set to work, reading guide after guide online. Among the photos of him relaxing on a sofa with a nice glass of red, the TachanCats, and Ubisoft’s own in-jokes, there are a few players taking their Tachanka strategy seriously. You can boil the best advice down to three key points. First, don’t be tied to your turret—think of it like you would another operator’s gadget. Second, reposition it often, especially if you’ve been spotted by an enemy. And third, try to place the MG in unpredictable places.

“Hey, would you mind not picking Tachanka?”

I jump into a casual game full of optimism, and die without a single kill. It’s the same in the next game, and the next. I always seem to be facing the wrong direction, and because his gun won’t rotate all the way around I’m constantly having to pick it up and noisily slam it down. I haven’t figured out how to protect my flanks, either, so I’ll often manage to suppress one chokepoint only to die to an enemy breaching another spot.

Things get better when I play away from the objective, setting up in adjoining areas and opening up new lines of sight by ripping through wooden walls. Enemies that peek me end up dead. Tachanka’s gun really is a monster, and all it takes is a quick click to delete them.  

I start to think more carefully about covering my flanks, giving myself small, manageable areas to lock down. If I feel unsafe, I abandon my LMG and try to find a new angle with Tachanka’s punchy SMG. When I’ve given away my position or killed an enemy I immediately relocate, and start to find off-angles that enemies wouldn’t usually check. As the hours tick by, I'm racking up at least one kill per round much more often.

I even use a few tricks of my own invention. My favourite is to give away my position, leave my turret behind as a slight decoy, and then kill an enemy when they poke their head around the corner spraying where they think I’ll be standing.

(And yes, I know that shield placement is woeful.)

It all comes together during a match on Theme Park. When the attackers finish with their drones, I plonk myself on the rail platform that splits the map’s second floor in half, aiming at a popular entry point. Sure enough, a Fuze tries to batter it down without scoping it out, and they fall to a quick burst from my LMG. Another attacker backs off, thinking better of it. 

I shoulder my turret and find another spot, this time pointing down a corridor that my teammates have said a group of enemies is heading for. I’m exposed but I trust the call and sure enough, one jogs right into my crosshairs. 

I end the round with three kills—just about the best I’ve managed since picking up the game—and I spend the next few hours perfecting my technique. The wins rack up, but a dawning realisation taints the victories. In Casual mode, you can basically make any tactic work. Most players don’t bother to send a drone through a choke before smashing through themselves. They don’t carefully peek corners, or work as a team. Everyone’s out to enjoy themselves and muck around—either that or they’re a new player learning the ropes. The fact that I can notch a few kills with Tachanka probably doesn't mean anything.

After two rounds on defence, they’re begging me to switch.

The real test will be Ranked. The mode makes me nervous when I’m playing with operators I'm great with, like Jäger. Here, my teammates' ranks are on the line. “Hey guys,” I mumble into my mic. No response. Okay. Let’s go for it. I click Tachanka’s portrait.

“Hey, would you mind not picking Tachanka?” asks one of my teammates. It’s what I expected. Not wanting to make enemies—and with no small amount of relief—I chicken out and play the match normally.

My next team is already joking around when I enter the lobby, and don’t mention it when I make my pick. But after two rounds on defence, they’re begging me to switch. Enemies are far too smart to be caught out by my tricks, even at my lowly Silver rank, and I die twice to foes that I never even see.

It’s time to change tack. For the next game, on Bank, I pick Jäger, and nail two enemies as they're trying to breach into the basement from above. I’m playing well, and when we win the next round, it seems like the perfect time to switch to Tachanka. Nobody objects. This guy’s decent, they’re probably thinking, so let’s give him a chance

Once I know roughly where the enemies have spawned, I set up my turret, carve a hole in the wall in front of me and watch the angle. I just have to wait, and if I get one kill, I’ll have done my job. Simple. Right?

One of the problems with playing Tachanka is that you feel more pressure than you would with other operators. When a couple of teammates die, all I can think of is them at their screens, scrutinizing my every move, watching me mostly stand there as they do the heavy work of roaming, checking cameras, listening for information, and flanking. 

I can feel enemies closing in, and the noise distracts me just as Hibana wanders lazily in front of my crosshairs. I panic, jerking the mouse as I fire, and whiff every shot. My opponent does a double take and taps me in the head. We lose the round. 

I get an earful from my team. “You’re so bad Tachanka!” yells AngryShoutyMan. “Why did you pick him? What are you, some little teenager?” I hold my tongue, but I haven’t lost heart yet. We end up losing on offense but I’m the only one to get a kill, and I still reckon I can do a good job on defence. Plus, I want to prove AngryShoutyMan wrong.

We’re defending bombs in the Tellers’ Office and Archives, and the round quickly falls apart. I’m more mobile this time, but I’m crowded out of some of my favourite spots, the enemy team methodically moving through the level, checking corners and flashing me away. The rest of my team falls one by one as I wait, useless, and with time ticking down I’m left alone on the point with two enemies for company. I hop off the turret and try to get an angle on the first, but it’s no use. I’m mowed down from behind. GG. 

AngryShoutyMan has seen enough. “You are literally contributing fucking nothing. Go back to casual, and learn how to play,” he screams down the mic. The first time he yelled I brushed it off, but something about it really gets to me. It’s not the anger in his voice—it’s the fact that, sadly, he’s right. He’s still raging down the mic when I leave the game.

In Tachanka’s current state he’s worse than useless in Ranked play. Even if you’re good with him, picking him is guaranteed to throw off your teammates before you’ve even fired a shot. And you can’t blame them: it’s impossible to tell whether you’re a Tachanka god or a griefer who’s playing to lose. 

I’d love to see his arsenal changed. Perhaps his turrets could deploy and pack up faster. Perhaps he could deploy two at once, hopping between them to react to enemy positions. Maybe his turret could be remotely controlled? Or perhaps Ubisoft, as it’s considered doing in the past, could take his turret away and replace it with a more viable gadget. The developer said last month that it’s not planning to make him better because, essentially, he’s too good a meme. But the fact that you can piss off your team just by picking him is perhaps a sign that the joke is finally getting old.