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One Sunday night... “Alright.. point coming up. I’m not slowing down cos if I do we’ll fall out of the sky -” “Don’t drop. Don’t drop. Just keep moving.” “Roger” “You’re gonna run into the tower too...” “Nah mate --” *KABOOM* Welcome to the Havoc squad, where SOCA’s most grizzled Planetside 2 veterans come together to be passengers in an upside down Galaxy as it flies directly into a tower, killing all men onboard. It hasn’t always been serious business in SOCA’s Havoc Squad. Formed in early 2014 under its original name of Shadow, this salty squad of veterans originally started out as a specialist scouting and infiltration squad. With just two members to begin with, the idea of a scouting squad was discussed late one night by Miskaton, then a Sergeant, and yours truly. Drawing from my past experience as squad leader for Charlie Squad I was keen to get a squad up and running again that shied away from the frontline combat roles and focused instead on the finer arts available to Planetside 2’s Infiltrator class: being a sneaky bastard. Starting out as an experimental foray into long-range scouting and observation of troop movements, it was quickly established that in a fast-paced game like Planetside you don’t really get much of an opportunity to scout. Enemy movements are typically carried out with an instant redeploy across the battlefield and there isn’t much to observe when that happens. One moment the hex you’re in is empty, and the next you have a platoon of MAXes waltzing out of the spawn room door wishing to introduce you to their twin love-cannons. Shadow threw out that idea and decided to expand its role on the battlefield. With three new members added to its ranks, the squad focused on something that would prove effective during ops and would assist Foxhound more directly. By disrupting the enemy’s movements and helping set up advanced deployment options for the Foxhound infantry squads, Shadow could use its small numbers to make a big difference. With tasks still best suited to the Infiltrator class, Shadow would deploy behind enemy lines and set up sunderers and sit on the capture point at forward bases to secure newly captured bases so Foxhound could deploy forwards. We could also set up defensive measures in advance by swapping to engineer and mining the vehicle pads or claymoring the approach lanes. Shadow didn’t need to field large numbers to fulfil these roles, not that SOCA had a lot of specialist Infiltrators anyway, but typically the squad was closed to recruitment unless a particular candidate showed up who was really keen for this style of play. GETTING GOOD With the tactics employed by Shadow quite different to those from Foxhound, a private mailing list was set up away from the forums to share ideas, discuss ideal weapons and keep everyone informed. I figured you can’t expect a squad to fight together as a cohesive team if they’re only together for two hours a week. The first email to grace the mailing list was by co-founder Luckblade and pretty much laid the foundations for what would prove to be an extremely valuable squad development tool: After a successful few months figuring out what we were really about, I decided to push the envelope further and establish what I wanted our squad to ultimately stand for: Reliability, professionalism and respect. An email sent on the 9th June 2014 marked the beginning of this era with ground-rules and expectations laid out for all Shadow members. In the old days of marshalling outside the warpgate before each op, Shadow was there first. We didn’t break formation. We didn’t stuff around and shoot wildly in the air. We had our game-plan for the night determined early and we could always be depended upon by our commanding officers, no matter how difficult or stupid the task was. New members were encouraged to carry out a critical ‘task’ for the Terran Republic prior to being formally accepted into the squad, much to the mirth of the rest of the squad. We even were stupid enough to hold internal competitions to push the limits of our skills and maintain a bit of joviality during ops, some got a bit out of hand, such as the fabled “Sunderer Takedown Challenge”: GETTING A COOLER NAME This formula proved quite successful and progressively we drew interest from other members of SOCA. When a commanding officer decided to step down and take a break from the rigours of leadership they often chose Shadow as their place to settle. Squad leaders and soldiers from Foxhound or the Ironside armour division would wish to up their game and look towards Shadow. Our play style didn't suit everyone, and yet our playstyle had gradually shifted away from our initial methods. No longer were we a dedicated Infiltrator squad excelling in disruption. We had branched out into infantry and armour work, with epic point holds against superior odds, demolition squads against armour and sunderer emplacements, on occasion we just jumped onto the ground and complimented Foxhound’s numbers as infantry. With several big names from Foxhound joining us over the months it became clear that “Shadow” was no longer an appropriate callsign for the squad. In November of 2014 after drinking some beer and having a bit of a shit-talk, a name came forwards from one of SOCA’s retired commanding officers, our crazy Russian friend RaideRRazor. He put forward one simple word: “Havoc”. It was brilliant. Our speciality at striking both quickly and brutally at enemy armour emplacements, or breaking onto a point and holding until the bitter end could so neatly be summed up by that one word. So, from that day onwards we became Havoc. Our motto: “Casually Effective”. From its inception, the squad had always strived to be self-reliant. The wealth experience brought in by each member meant that even when the squad leader (myself) or 2IC ToobitHor were away for a week the squad would still form up on Sunday night, get in touch with SOCA’s command chat and probably prove to be more effective since I’m not in charge for once. We have an established infantry fire team led by SOCA’s former commanding officer HydraLink and former Alpha squad leader Truesight. Dedicated scouts STR1D3R and yours truly keep the recon up, while dedicated pilots Poundsy and MidnightRider42 keep the cancer-Gal airborne at all times (except when there’s a tower in the way). Solid infantry players like MolotovAssassin, Rockmann and RaideRRazor would assault from the ground, yet could be swapped out for armour with fully certed Prowlers, Skyguards, repair Sunderers rolled out at a moment’s notice. Our mobility and experience with all vehicles and classes ensure we can approach a multitude of scenarios. While we keep our attitude serious during ops, we’d still find opportunities to pick fights with the other outfits and have a bit of fun: GETTING OLD With April 2016 coming up, nearly two years from when Shadow first formed, I wouldn’t say the squad has changed much at all. We’ve had a few more retirees and we’ve gained some more new blood to fill the holes as needed. We’ve had a boozy New Year’s Eve party with some crazy Russians and been to another meet up at Adelaide’s Schutzenfest where the king Digo himself attended for the glory of SOCA. With over 1,100 emails sent using the SOCA Shadow mailing list, spanning 135 separate conversation threads, we still keep in touch and we’re all still mates - even with that MolotovAssassin guy despite him being a kiwi. We’ve been Delta squad, Charlie squad, off in our own platoon as whatever-squad and then back to Delta squad. We’re older, saltier and as Havoc’s leader I certainly drink, swear and complain more than ever before. At least the beer is better now. With enough Station / Daybreak Cash invested in shiny camos, helmets, lumifibre and other cosmetics, our wives and girlfriends probably cry to sleep each night. We’re with SOCA for the long haul and we plan to see Bravo Company all the way to the sexy, bitter-veteran end.