In all competitive games a metagame develops, and usually with it, a mutual understanding between players that not all characters are created equal. “Hakan! What the f*ck.” However, in today’s gaming age, developers are able to tweak metas by buffing and nerfing characters through patches to make them more balanced or viable. And in many instances, it works. But occasionally it doesn’t, and some characters never truly find their place in competitive play. In fact, some of them become targets of ridicule – they become memes. Meme characters are mechanically broken, community driven jokes typically selected only in poor taste. But the joke is usually inconsequential, and destined to fade into obscurity. In Rainbow Six Siege, one such character has refused to accept this fate and ironically – through his perceived uselessness – has risen as a wildly popular, cult figure within the game’s community. His name is Aleksandr “Tachanka” Senaviev, and to many… he is The Lord. “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” Tachanka’s tale is a complex one. It’s the bittersweet story of a character who doesn’t fit into his own game and a community that embraced him because of it.
“I love him.” “Why do you love him?” “Because of the meme.” It’s also the story of a passionate and dedicated development team struggling to correct their greatest mistake without upsetting a fanbase who gave it a life of its own. But before we get into that, let’s answer the question: who is The Lord? Tachanka is a release defense operator whose name references Russia’s World War 1 horse-drawn machine gun carriages – which like many aspects of Russian life had their own song: While Tachanka might be heavily armored, he lacks the mobility of his 20th century namesake, and is one of the slowest operators in Siege.
And although his primary and secondary weapons are actually half decent – the main source for his ridicule lies in his special ability. “LMG mounted! And loaded!” That’s right, Tachanka can set-up a mounted, drum-fed LMG, capable of tearing through drywall just as easily as his opponents. Now, in theory, this might sound pretty f*cking badass. But in practice… not so much. “Right I’m saving that, there’s something wrong with this Chanka gun. There’s something wrong with it.” The problem is that Rainbow Six Siege is about movement and information.
And because almost all surfaces can be destroyed or penetrated by gunfire, standing still in the open is a recipe for being made into swiss cheese. Unfortunately for Tachanka, his turret simply doesn’t have a great place in the game. It takes forever to set-up and take down, your movement is limited while using it, and you can’t set it up too close to cover because the weapon needs room to be maneuvered. In fact, Tachanka’s overall kit is ranked so lowly by players that many even think Recruit – the default operator selected if you fail to pick another – is considered a more viable pick because he offers more in game utility. All of these factors combine to make Tachanka one of the least picked and effective operators in Siege. And only a few months after the game’s release, he had become known as one of its worst operators. But Ubisoft’s “mistake” had developed an underdog status and over time a strange fame. Tachanka had ascended from being a mere mortal to Lord Tachanka. Seemingly, the first time someone called him Lord Tachanka was YouTuber MicrowaveGaming.
“I’m also looking for more clips for a kill of the week montage by you the viewers. If you would like to participate, then drop me a link or send me a video. If you have an ace with Tachanka then chances are you’re gonna be number one because ALL HAIL LORD CHANKA!” And the basis of the Lord Tachanka meme is that he is so bad, he’s actually incredible. People love him in the same way that they love watching The Room… “you’re tearing me apart Lisa!” …4th of July hot-dog eating contests… “You’re witnessing greatness athletic mastery. This is not a parlor trick, this is not slight of hand, This is Major League Eating’s best ever…” and Star Wars? “IT’S A TRAP” Wait a second, did you add this? I would never agree to this… Anyway, in an attempt to make Tachanka more balanced, Ubisoft introduced changes later in the year, during the mid-season reinforcements for Operation Red Crow.
The adjustments included a bulletproof shield for his turret and some additional recoil to the gun itself. And it was in that update that Ubisoft began leaning into the community’s love for the Lord Tachanka meme – highlighted by the inscription of the Russian word for “Lord” on his new turret shield and a special appearance by his voice actor Anatoly Zinoviev on the reveal stream. “If you want to say what’s up to the chat too, they’re here.” “Sup guys!” “They’re really excited to see you here.” “LMG MOUNTED AND LOADED!” “That’s really awesome.” Yes, your eyes do not deceive you – the Lord even has a fan-created emote which you will see spammed in Twitch chat.
In the end the changes brought by Operation Red Crow did little to make Tachanka more effective, and even today, his pick-rate remains quite low. But in spite of this, his meme god status has continued to be supported by Ubisoft, who in May of this year released an actual Lord Tachanka bundle. And at the Six Major in Paris, Siege’s esports director Alexandre Remy, explained to us why Ubisoft chose to embrace The Lord meme. While most interaction with the Tachanka meme happens outside of the game, the Lord does make the occasional ranked appearance.
Just…. with questionable motivations. “It’s only for when you’re beating someone like 3-0 and you want to rub it in that you’re better than them. That’s all, that’s all he is.” “You’ve gotta spawn peek on the turret. It’s an embarrassment isn’t it? If you get peeked with that turret and you die in spawn, that’s bad.” “You know when you’re playing a game as well and someone uses it, you don’t get angry. You just sort of laugh and go along with it and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s a great thing, to be honest.” Even though Tachanka is often used for in-game trolling, his current state as a broken but beloved operator presents a complicated issue for Ubisoft. And therein lies the problem. How do you change the character without completely destroying his community-created identity? We asked Siege fans and personalities how they’d react to a significant Tachanka rework and their answers only highlighted the division.
“I’d probably be very unhappy, because you just can’t change a meme like that. Like if they tried to make him more competitively viable, it would remove the meme completely. I’d probably be unhappy yeah.” “I think it’s good for the community, to have something. It’s on a lot of t-shirts, it’s the banter of the community, I don’t think they should touch him.” “I’d love it. He needs a complete rework. As soon as they gave other operators moveable LMGs he became irrelevant.” “I have no idea what that change would be, a plausible change would be that his turret can shoot through sheilds and that would actually be like legitimate, so then you would have a direct deterrent against a shield pushing site because you have a turret that can shoot through that kinda stuff. So that would be really cool.” So the question then becomes: What’s more important? Having another viable operator in your game’s meta or leaving a community-born meme undisturbed? It’s a puzzle that Ubisoft is still trying to solve.
Regardless of where you stand on Lord Tachanka – whether you think he is a dying meme, or he’s Siege’s patron saint. Whether you think he should be buffed or just left alone – he elicits a reaction. And his presence in the game has not only contributed to the formation of Siege’s unique communal identity, but it has also further informed Ubisoft’s design choices behind operators going forward. So there you have it – Lord Tachanka. Proof that a meme is capable of positively shaping both a community’s identity and the development philosophy behind one of esports’ most exciting, rising games.
Sounds like more of a miracle than a mistake, right? You know man, I always think that we’re doing the Lord’s work with this show. Hey man, The Lord loves all equally. Who told you that? He did. “Tachanka will always stand by you”. “How do you feel when people pick him instead of you? “I mean there are people doing a lot of mistakes, a lot of stupid things. I don’t know what to say about these kind of people choosing Tachanka instead of Blackbeard I mean it’s a sort of insane.” “What would you say to all of those people who are proclaiming the lordship of Tachanka.” “You guys are wrong and I will come for you.”