I have a new habit, trying units that the Internet poops on and see just how ineffective they really are. I place an important caveat when trying these units out, the rest my army list will be solid. This is important to demonstrate just what the “weak” unit is doing or not doing for my army. Over this last weekend I played three games using Chaos Marine Havocs. This pricey unit has been forgotten for every other Heavy Support unit in the CSM codex, let us see how I fared with them.

I ran three different units of Havocs, all with low squad counts.

  1. Six Havocs with four Autocannons, Mark of Chaos Glory, Rhino with Havoc Launcher = 230 pts
  2. Six Havocs with four Plasma Guns, Mark of Chaos Glory, Rhino = 195 pts
  3. Five Havocs with four Heavy Bolters, Mark of Chaos Glory, Rhino with Havoc Launcher = 195 pts

My lists were filled out with Daemon Princes or Kharn, anchored by Plague Marines, Khorne Berserker or Noise Marines.

In my first game I used two Havocs as I would use Ork Lootaz; terrain for cover, with the bonus of a Rhino for screening. I typically do not use many 48″ range weapons, it made a huge difference even compared to 36″. I was also unaware that Havoc Launchers are twin-linked. I had lots of ranged dice to throw at my foe. With a Kharn and Zerkers in a Landraider, my opponent could not bring his full might against the Havocs. This allowed the Havocs free reign of the board. Once my opponent was able to kill Kharn and his buddies, he then turned his attention to the Havocs, but by that point my Rhinos created nice walls for protection. What I learned from the first game:  immobile Havocs work best when my opponent is distracted by more important units he must kill. With the Autocannon range it was much harder for him to avoid my shooting, I imagine the same for Missile Launcher Havocs.

My second game I ran the Havocs as close range damage dealers, once again I was running two identical units. This time I used two Deamon Princes with Plague Marines and Noise Marines as backups. I chose to hold my Havocs in reserve, I figured I would be able to bait my opponent to come close enough to be within 26″ of center of the table. My opponent focused his attention on my scoring units as the table was aligned with objectives mostly under his control. He also possessed the faster army, so he had a sound plan by deny my mobility in the form of my Rhinos. When my Havocs finally arrived in turn four the game had progressed, to my Princes pulling most of my opponents force to one side. I had chosen to go second so I was able to play in reaction to my opponent moves throughout the game. I hid my Havocs hoping that my opponent would make a mad dash for the center objectives. Luckily for me the Havocs were able to do their jobs. One squad targeting Speeders and another a scoring unit. The Havocs only got half the game to play, they proved decisive. With everyone hating on plasma lately, it still stands as the best way to take out high toughness or high armor infantry. It also does a number on vehicle with low AV. I felt like for one game that I was back in 3rd edition. What I learned from my second game was there is never any shame in holding a fragile unit back in order to come out when you need it the most. It also got me thinking about outflanking with another underused unit, Chosen.

In the third game I had the worst performance from the Havocs. I took only one squad and tried to keep the cheap. My opponent had much spam to down my Havocs. They were also positioned poorly. I went right for the largest piece of terrain figuring cover was more important than anything else. This happen to be right in the way of where my opponent wanted to swing his army. He destroyed the Rhino to deny line of sight games then proceeded to try to kill the squad. By the end of the game I was left with one Havoc thanks to re-rolling my leadership. My opponent shot at the Havocs more than he should have. It allowed me to swing the rest of my force up his flank before he could swing back at me. He also used his biggest fire base against the Havocs, which would have been better used elsewhere. What I learned from the third game was that Havocs should always support a larger effort leaving them away from help was a bad idea. Even with 36″ range of Heavy Bolters my opponent was able to deny me targets I wanted to shoot. I will have to explorer Havocs as a diversion, as I said before my opponent focused just a tad bit more attention than he needed on them. I also learned that six Havocs was better than the minimum of five that extra guy to throw away proves invaluable.

This is a first impression. I have not played Havocs since 4th and dusting them off for 5th proved enlightening. They are not as bad as everyone claims and with the right person, effective. With that said, I believe for almost half the cost, a fully loaded Dakka Pred is better. You do get more survivability with Havocs over the Pred and people will tend to be surprised by Havocs being fielded. They are not easy mode like Oblits, you will have to think, but you can get better results. If you have a defined role for Havocs, I say try them out you might be surprised.