Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Havoc Launchers

Even before 5th edition, I made a lot of use out of havoc launchers as an upgrade to my chaos space marine rhinos. I believe that they are a highly effective choice of blast weapon for the budding chaos commander to choose.

Unlike a loyalist space marine razor back, the upgrade to the chaos rhino won't cost valuable transport space onboard either. I've been very happy with havoc launchers on the whole! Hence today, I thought I'd try to articulate why I like them so much.

Probability to Hit
Havoc launchers use the scatter die like all other blast weapons in 5th edition. Other folks have talked extensively about the beauty of re-rolling (I'll refer you to Adam's article on the average and maximum scatter probabilities to read up on this further).

Havoc launchers are twin-linked blast weapons. You can see in my previous article how this affects normal weapons and why they're a good thing in general. But how does twin-linking affect blast weapons?

Blasts use the scatter die. That means there is a 1/3 chance of scoring a direct hit even in the hands of a snotling. Even if it misses, creatures with high ballistic skills (BS) can reduce the scatter back to zero in many cases.

Hence, regardless of BS, the base probability to hit with a twin-linked blast weapon is 55.6 per cent (i.e. 1/3, plus 1/3 of those missed shots). Adding to that a BS of 4 from chaos space marines, havoc launchers are strong.

The only real choice is whether to re-roll a missed roll to hit. I often find that I keep the first roll to hit as it doesn't typically scatter very far and usually finds its way to hit something useful.

One of the real beauties of the havoc launcher is its range. It often comes as a surprise to my opponents to realize that it can reach an impressive 48 inches across the board. Indeed, players of other armies aren't that familiar with this little gemstone in the chaos player's armoury.

One of the best ways to take advantage of this range early (and shock factor!) in the game is to target a squad that has been deployed toward the rear of the board and try to force a morale check (see also Adam's much earlier article on this tactic). If they fail and run away, chances are they'll be off the board in turn 1. This works well against some Tau and guard squads and occasionally (if you're really lucky) against the odd chaos space marine squad that is opposing you.

In short, I try not to leave home with a rhino without a havoc launcher - they're great!


oni said...

Nicely focused article. I agree, the havoc launchers should be a must for any chaos player.

Scott said...

I've started putting havocs on all my rhinos. Mainly becasue I face a lot of orks, so they're really useful.

However, you did get one thing wrong. Twin-linked blast weapons re-roll to hit, not to scatter. Check out pg 31 of the rule book.

Raptor1313 said...

I think they're a decent utility, but I'm not sold on them as essential gear.

Most of the time, Chaos is advancing on the enemy. Moving 12" means no shooting the havoc. It does not appreciably increase your ability to kill vehicles, but can do a bit of infantry illing.

Then again, I'm not necessarily enamored with razorbacks either, so...yeah.

I think they've got a use, but I'd cut them to make space for other things first.

Chris said...


For a twin linked blast weapon, you re-roll the scatter dice and the 2D6 to see scatter distance. There's no roll to hit with a blast weapon. This is covered on page 30 of the BRB, under "Blast weapons and re-rolls" :)

I've tried Havoc launchers on my rhinos, and while they did OK sometimes, most of the time I found I wanted those extra points to spend somewhere else so I ended up dropping them.

Scott said...

oops. I meant re-roll to wound. I didn't think you re-rolled to scatter too. I'll check it next time I have the rulebook in front of me.

Gamers World said...

Good stuff, I hate havoc launchers but only because I have to play them. I have only played chaos once and a mixture of two defilers and 4 havoc launchers obliterated me (not to mention to obliterators).

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