|This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's popular or we can't be bothered to delete it.|
Halo is a vidyagame series exclusively released for the ECKSBAWKS, ECKSBAWKS 360, ECKSBAWKS JUAN, and PC. The series was developed by Bungie, though Microsoft has bought the rights to the game. The Halo universe is pretty massive, with all sorts of media ranging from video games and graphic novels to action figures and a series of short movies released to DVD. It became famous for being the game that saved ECKSBAWKS from doing an Atari Jaguar by identifying an untapped new market of loud, stupid fratboys, and was the only reason anyone would even want to buy an ECKSBAWKS console.
Occasionally it breaks away from the generic sci-fi pattern and explores a more fatalistic and human side to the story without having to suck Master Chief's dick or obsess over ancient alien technology every three seconds, and is generally regarded as being about ten times better and more mature for it. Unfortunately, within the games, this lasted a grand total of one game before 343 Industries acquired the license. Within the books, there are many wonderful examples otherwise, and the plot of Halo 4 can only be completely understood by reading the books from the series that begins with Glasslands. Halo Silentium by Greg Bear is also a necessary read to really understand how many times the Forerunners screw up, be it their own society or another species, or the entire galaxy, and the true nature and intent of the Flood. The character development of the Librarian and the Didact also makes this quite a fun read. If you're into books, that is. It should also be noted that Halo is to be commended for abstracting religious fundamentalism, caste systems, hubris and xenophobia and showing why they are so harmful and also doing away with the myth of -4 Strength through female Marines (not these Marines ), Spartans, and so on.
/tg/ isn't big on Halo and topics pertaining to Halo will normally be saged, trolled, told to go to /v/, or some combination therein. On /v/ however, Halo is... still widely hated. Then again, /v/ hates video games in general. The hatred of /tg/ comes less from the actual game/gameplay, and more from it being off-topic and a few fanboys being retarded asshats.
Though this also may be due to the fact Halo fans have Cortana to fap to while fa/tg/uys are stuck with fapping to the Emprah HERESY!WORT WORT WORT! *GLASSED*
Like Warhammer 40k the state of Halo's fluff has been in limbo, while Halo may have fucking spectacular authors on the line of Greg Bear and Eric Nylund it also has its fair share of colossal fuck ups in the line of Brian Reed and Karen Traviss. Don't even get us started with the advent of 343i and their mixed bag success on the Recalimer saga as well as Halo's more...questionable marketing campaigns nowadays. Ironically, while the more recent games has been bait for flamewars that will send any respectable forum thread into lock down, Halo's transition to tabletop gaming after some failed attempts like Halo Actionclix (Which is a shame cause while the game rules sucked, the models was in such high quality that it even outshines some high priced models from Forgeworld) has been more positively received, what with the fact that hardcore Haloites now need to use their brains now and that the new mini models are quite nicely detailed.
If you want to know more, here's a link to the Halo wiki: Go nuts.
The Halo universe takes place in the 26th century. Mankind, led by the United Nations Space Command (UNSC), has developed its own crude faster-than-light drive (the Shaw-Fujikawa drive) and finally colonized other worlds. At its height, human civilization occupies nearly 800 planets, forming a ring of outer colonies and rings of inner colonies with Earth as its capital. This is not what they're talking about when they say Halo, mind you.
Sometime in the year 2525, an agricultural world in the outer colonies, creatively named Harvest, is attacked by an unknown force. In the succeeding months, all attempts to make contact, or even defend against the alien forces are met with swift destruction. It is not long before more colonies are wiped out.
The unknown menace finally identifies itself as the Covenant, a coalition of several alien races bent on destroying humanity. At first they seem to be doing this because that's just what aliens do, but later on it is discovered that the story is somewhat deeper. Apparently (Thanks to the revelations of the Reclaimer Trilogy which is a horrifying mishmash of the worst of WH40K and the Cthulhu Mythos) humans were once an ancient, super advanced, totalitarian, bigoted, expansionist, racist, supremacist, violent, militaristic, war-mongering, nightmare of an empire who makes the Great Crusade seem pleasant in comparison. All were fine and dandy when the Flood came out of fucking nowhere (Long story short, they came about when the humans kept forcing their pets to sniff some powder from an ancient, mysterious ship, what could go wrong?) which forced the humans to invade into Forerunner territory as they were trying to save the galaxy from the Flood. The Forerunners not taking into the whole "I destroy your planets and exterminate your civilians out of benign and superficial reasons" promptly kicked the humans in the galactic nuts, stripped of their technology and de-evolved them back into caveman. Later, the Forerunners ended up getting nommed by the Flood in the most ridiculous OCP way possible and found out how they fucked up so bad when one of them found out that the ancient humans once had the solution against the Flood (Later shown to be just a elaborate hoax to fool the Forerunners by the Flood) that they had to glass the known galaxy just to kill most of the Flood. Oh and they also named the humans their Reclaimers as their way of saying sorry for turning them into cavemen and telling them to finish their job, fucking Forerunners.
This made the Covenant kinda jealous, because it was them who first discovered the Forerunner technology, adapted it to their own, and finally started worshiping the Forerunners. Apparently, knowing that your gods had a favorite, finding out that it isn't you, and finding out that it's instead the species that invented truck balls upset them just a little. So, back to glassing. It's not long before the UNSC military, and humanity itself, finds out that it is being pwned.
Clearly the only solution to this would be a ridiculously tiny unit of infantry with clever armor named in allcaps. This leads to the SPARTAN-II program, (SPARTAN:s were created to fight against the Insurrection but happened to be extremely effective against the Covenant as well) humanity's last hope (thirty three men to defend eight hundred planets, lolwat?), thirty-three super soldiers, divided into teams 3 or 4, and sent as force multipliers to assist the UNSC's beleaguered marines and mechanized divisions. Though not as a defensive planetary force (the UNSC having lost a large chunk of those 800 worlds early in the war), but as an offensive special ops unit, infiltrating behind enemy lines, assassinating commanders, and disrupting the Covenant's supply chain; doing the suicide jobs that others could not, slowing down or in some cases halting Covenant military build-up before it can launch further devastating attacks on the humanity. At exceedingly great resource cost and high lost of life, the UNSC together with the Spartans gradually turn the tide of the war.
To end the war once and for all, humanity enacts a desperate plan: They would send a specially refitted ship (the Pillar of Autumn) along with Spartan contingent deep behind enemy lines and attempt to capture one of the Prophets (the select group of religious leaders that form the highest caste of the Covenant). But as usual, it all goes horribly wrong before it can even begin. The UNSC's fortress-world of Reach, and unofficially the Spartans' homeworld, is discovered by the Covenant. Next to Earth, Reach is the most heavily defended world in Human space. It falls in a matter of days, as the Covenant brings nearly a third of its entire fleet to lay siege over the planet. As Reach's defenses wither away, the Covenant simply brings in more reinforcements. Few escape the doomed Battle of Reach, but one of the ships that manages make it out of the system in time is the Pillar of Autumn. Aboard is a single Spartan II, suspended in cryostasis. Yet, that is where the story truly begins, for the Autumn blindly jumps right into a heavily guarded star system containing a Halo; a colossal ring-world, hundreds of kilometers in diameter, built millions of years ago by the Forerunners, and worshiped by the Covenant as an ancient artifact of unimaginable power. The Pillar of Autumn's fate and that of the Halo, becomes the setting of the original HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED game.
While as mentioned that Halo has been proven skubtastic over the years on /tg/, the recent surge in popularity among tabletop has garnered a niche within /tg/ community. That and the fact of a billion fandex for either the Covenant, UNSC or Forerunners as well as fanfiction that range from okay to literal bait for fan wars.
It no longer has the ire it once had due to most of the annoying asshats migrating to COD and Battlefield as well as the fact that some of the squeakers that used to inhabit the Halo community has since matured into adults by now. Halo nowadays has been seen as...okay.
Codex: The Covenant
A bunch of people decided that the Covenant's tech and machines are pretty nice in a WH40K setting So "Codex - The Covenant" was made to implement them into the tabletop game.
Furthermore on the context on Halo. Whoever thought this was a good idea to send out what counts as IoM guardsmen against Killer Death Worms, Giant Spider Mechs, Killer Ewoks, Space Lizardmen with Lightsabers, Killer Wookies with Metal Shanks that go OMNOMNOM, Space Pirate Turkeys that also go OMNOMNOM and Giant Dinosaurs that goes HULK SMASH!; needs a shot to the fucking face. Then again, the good guys are the UNSC, not exactly famous for making good decisions. (As if the Imperium is much better when it comes to taking disregard for Human life to new and interesting extremes *cough "Chenkov" cough*. Besides, its not like the UNSC had much of a fucking choice when it came to the Covenant/Flood/Forerunner biology and tech being used against them)
A while back during its heyday, Actionclix made a deal with Microsoft and Bungie at the time to create an Actionclix game based on the Haloverse. While the models were extremely well detailed and well crafted. Its high pricing for the models and its overall clusterfuck of its rules has made Halo Actionclix a somewhat lackluster experience.
This led to a initial surge in popularity with the idea of future tabletop games based around the universe (Read below on Halo Fleet Battles and Ground Command), however like Halo Risk. The initial popularity died down quickly once the rules was read since you know, during that era (Halo 3), the main target audience was kids and teenagers who have zero to little clue on how to play an Actionclix game.
This has in turn, force Halo Actionclix to have a relatively short lifespan and the models have thus turned into a collectors item for display and collecting dust.
Halo Fleet Battles and Ground Command
With the introduction of Halo Fleet Battles which is essentially Halo's take on Battlefleet Gothic, that is centered around the Fall of Reach which is like the biggest naval combat within the Covenant-UNSC fluff, some fa/tg/uys has apparently lost their collective shit due to the fact that this is the first time that Halo is getting a tabletop treatment (The Risk and Actionclix games although the models are nice, does not really count). Similar to most tabletop miniatures, the models coming with Halo Fleet Battles and its contemporary ground units comes unpainted which means you have to paint all the neely-willy details yourself, that and the fact that it comes with its own rulebook and stats has garnered /tg/'s approval. In fact, some has already decided to convert the models and place it within Battlefleet Gothic itself (Although how you will be able to adjust the rules to make it fair is going to be a nightmare). All models are Finecast, make that of what you will.
Both Fleet Battles and Ground Command are made by Spartan Games. Overall, Spartan Games are much more reasonably priced than the models made from Games Workshop. Seriously for the Covenant set you are getting 6 Highly-detailed Plastic Ship Models, 1 Formation Base Sprue (4 Bases in all), 1 Ship Overlay Sheet (6 Ship Overlays), 2 Token Sheets, 1 Statistics Sheet and 1 Assembly Guide for (US)$35.94 whereas the UNSC gets 2 Epoch Heavy Carriers, 6 Paris Class Frigates, 2 heavy sprue, 1 flight stand base, 1 overlay sheet and 1 assembly guide for $32.5, that is like cheaper than GeeDub's $66.55 pricing for only 5 Terminator models. Tl;dr you can literally buy two entire Covenant or UNSC fleets for the price of a single Terminator Squad. Whether these tabletop games may boost Spartan Games to become GeeDubs rival is unknown. But what is known is the fact that Halo is owned by Microsoft which is a company that dwarfs GeeDubs in both money and influence. So in a rare hypothesis that GeeDubs think their high and mighty and goes on their copyright abuse that forced other smaller model companies to close down and have set their cross hairs on Spartan Games and more specifically the Halo license...as the old saying goes...there is always a bigger fish. Seriously, it could be seen from Spartan Games perspective as a blessing of sorts as unlike poor ChapterHouse Studios who was sued by GW, the backing of Microsoft puts some immunity for Spartan Games. That and Microsoft in all honesty, has the power and influence to bully the bully if Games Workshop decides to get uppity when Spartan Games release the models for the Covenant Prophets which look similar to the Tau Ethereal; that or Microsoft can just tell them to fuck off and bite the pillow.
The Fleet Battles set also comes with some kickass artwork depicting both factions leaders (Shame they didn't have Halo's answer to Creed that is Preston "I turned a Gas Giant into a fucking star just so I can stroke my massive ego" Cole) sitting on their respective armchairs. Although how they are going to balance the UNSC/Covenant (Since Covenant ships can no-sell their UNSC equivalents) is up to debate. However since its release, they kind of bullshitted the balance by making almost every UNSC ship bigger than a cruiser to carry multiple MAC's, all of which are more powerful than the pea shooters that the frigates usually carry. Also the UNSC gets the advantage of SMAC Platforms which makes them great at holding the line and acting as giant, immobile, floating Basilisks. This means that the UNSC specializes in lots and lots of missile spam and swarm tactics to compensate general shitty defensive capabilities and shorter range whereas the Covenant act as giant line breakers with their fuck huge ships and massive firepower.
For more detailed rules, Fleet Battles is a point based system like most games on tabletop. In this case the point based system allow players to build their fleets and the basic building block is the ‘Element’, an Element is a 60mm x 60mm base which represents a unit of ships and these elements are grouped together into battlegroups. A player's fleet may contain as many battlegroups as he/she wish so long as it adds up to the available point limit. However as mentioned, UNSC players must have more ships to overcompensate their vulnerability so the price of each UNSC ship is vastly cheaper than the Covenant. The rules for creating battlegroups is simple, each battlegroup must contain 1 capital ship element and 1 support ship element as a minimum. Each element also has a build rating which when added together cannot be greater than 6.In this example the Covenant Battlecruiser has a build rating of 3 whilst each Heavy Corvette element has a build rating of 1 which means the total build rating for that battlegroup is 6.
As well as having a build rating each element also has a points cost and this is used to create the overall fleet. As well as using points to buy ship elements, each fleet must have a commander which have their own points cost as well as special optional units such as Spartans or Covenant Zealots (both of which are used in boarding actions). Once players have created their fleet it’s time to work out the number of boarding craft and small craft each battlegroup can generate at the start of the battle. The number of boarding craft available to a battlegroup (plus any special boarders) are placed onto the base of an element in the battlegroup and in the game they launch from this element.
Wings are worked out in a similar way with each battlegroup being able to generate a number of wing tokens. Setting up a table is self explanatory, however to set up the 'Wings' players must make sure that all battlegroups are placed so that the players can put their ‘Wings’ on the table up to 8” in front of the battlegroups. These ‘Wings’ are small interceptors and bombers that are represented by tokens and fight their own battles during the game. Bombers can be used to inflict damage on larger ships whilst interceptors are used to try and negate that threat. Wings can also be placed on friendly element bases to represent close support and are useful if bombers or boarders break through the forward defenses. Once all battlegroups are placed its time to start the game.
In terms of of playing and turn sequence. Fleet battles is broken up into several consecutive sequences. First is the Orders phase which is the phase in which your commanders (The dudes in busts) order your fleet around. Each commander in your fleet has a card which explains the orders that commander can give during a turn, these orders are represented by use of 5 special dice which are rolled during this turn and placed on the commander’s card. The order dice have 3 symbols which are Command, Attack and Defense. The orders card shows the number of each dice symbol that is required to carry out an order and also tells you when that order can be played. Orders dice are also used to work out initiative for the turn, with each player rolling a d6 and adding +1 for each command dice symbol on the commander’s card.
The next sequence is the Wing phase which is split into sections, Move and Attack with all movement being carried out before combat is worked out. Wings are represented on the table as a stack of tokens that are either interceptors or bombers (not a mix of both) and players alternate moving each wing. The stats cards give the movement value for each type of wing and movement for them is free flow with no movement restrictions. If 2 enemy wings move into contact they become locked and any wings still in contact at the end of the Wing Movement phase take part in combat.
However it is possible to unlock bombers by moving a stack of friendly interceptors into base contact with the locking unit. An example given is shown here:
- Player 1 activates a wing of bombers and moves them across the table
- Player 2 seeing the threat moves a wing of interceptors into base contact with the bombers locking them
- Player 1 then counters this by moving his own stack of interceptors into base contact with the locking unit, this allows the bombers to move a few inches away from the combat
- And so on.
Once all movement is completed the Attack phase is started and players work through resolving the combat for each stack of locked wings. Essentially, each wing token generates a number of attack dice and these are rolled to work out a number of hits. Each token can take a number of hits before it’s removed from play and wing combat is simultaneous. If wings remain in base contact at the end of the phase then they count as locked in the following turn. Wings that are removed from play go into a scrap pile and some elements can launch new waves in the end phase of the turn, this means Wings are always in play and players have to continual guard against bombers. On the other hand there are Bombing Runs which is what happens if a wing of bombers is able to get through to an element in a battlegroup during the movement phase and it’s not locked by interceptors then it can carry out a bombing run against the element. Elements do have to ability to fight off these attacks using their point defenses but these attacks if successful can be devastating as they take affect before the Battlegroup phase of the turn. These attacks use the standard combat mechanics.
The third sequence is the Battlegroup phase. Here is where the real fun and the real meat of the game begins. Once the Wing phase is completed its time to activate the battlegroups, player alternate and activate a battlegroup at a time, the player with initiative gets to decide who activates first. Once a player decides which battlegroup to activate the elements are moved and then combat is carried out, also during this phase boarding actions are initialized. In terms of movement phase, movement is simple with each element having a movement value, elements can turn up to 45 degrees at the beginning and/or end of the movement dependent on their type. For example an element of UNSC Paris frigates can turn at the beginning and at the end of a movement whilst a large Epoch carrier can only make a single turn at the end of its movement. There are some special rules for movement that each faction can use and in the future some commanders of heroes might allow for other special rules to be used in game. One golden rule is elements must move a minimum of half their movement during a turn and no, you can’t reverse. Also during movement elements can launch boarding craft at enemy ships, these use similar rules to Wings and if they get into base contact with an enemy element the craft is assumed to be boarded. Like bombers they can be shot down by point defense or attached interceptors. When the battlegroups end their movement phase, this is where the combat phase appear. Each element have primary and in some cases secondary weapons and they are fired in turn, if different elements in a battlegroup share a weapon type they can combine their fire. Before any firing is carried out players have to declare what they are firing at and with what weapons for the whole battlegroup, then you work through the firing doing all primary weapons before moving onto the secondary ones. Each weapon type has a range a firing arc and an attack value. So simply check the range (you can pre-measure) check you are in arc and then total up the attack dice you’ll be rolling. Range is measured from the center to center of elements and firing arc is worked by looking at the overlay card on each elements stand. Most ship's primary weapon has its primary arc which is designated by the outer light blue circle on the card, whilst the secondary weapons arc is shown by the inner purple segment of the circle. Once you’ve work out if a weapon can fire you then add up the attack dice. So for example if 4 elements of the Heavy Corvettes are firing their plasma cannons (4 dice per element) at a single target they would generate 16 attack dice. Or you could split the fire and allocate 8 dice at 2 enemy elements and so on, but the important thing is you have to decide what you are going to fire at before any firing is carried out.
The Dice that dominate Fleet Battles are called Combat Dice. These are special dices that speed up combat, these dice have 4 different facings which are:
- Really bad Miss
- 1 success
- 2 successes
However, the actual effects of the dice are determined by the firepower rating of the shot and that’s determined by a nice little sliding scale. There are 5 different firepower ratings the higher the rating the better the effects of the shooting. For example at firepower rating 4 (which is the default) all hits count and you can reroll a dice with a Miss facing for each 2 success facing you have already rolled. But at firepower rating 2, any 2 success rolls count as a single success and no rerolls are allowed. The firepower rating you shoot at depends on a number of things, like the range of the shot, if any terrain is in the way etc. Once you’ve worked out the number of hits you’ve made, your opponent tries to nullify some (or all) of those hits by rolling a number of combat dice again using the firepower rating and counting successes. The number of dice rolled to save is dependent on any shields the ship may have. The defended successes are removed from the attacking successes to give you a final hit number, you then work out if you scored enough successes to cause a damage point. Each element has a damage track and this is the number of successes needed to cause a damage point, once a ship has taken 3 damage points it’s removed from the table. Other weapons like torpedoes use similar mechanics although torpedoes are vulnerable to point defense like bombers and boarding craft. Once you’ve finished all attacks for the active battlegroup, the opposing player picks a battlegroups and carries out movement and attacks, until all battlegroups have been activated, then you move onto phase 4.
The fourth sequence is called the Boarding resolution phase. This phase only happens if at the end of the battlegroup phase some elements have enemy boarding craft attached to them. The mechanics are nice and simple as you would expect.
- Attacker rolls combat dice
- Defender rolls combat dice
- Work out who rolled higher
- Roll on the boarding result table
Step 1 the attacker works out the number of combat dice available, this is done by counting up the security detail number on each token in the boarding action and then rolls dice using the firepower rating for that unit.
Step 2 the defender does the same using the security detail number for the element plus any friendly boarders he has on board.
Step 3 is deciding who scored highest and what the difference is as that will affect what happens in step 4.
Step 4 roll on the Boarding results table, each player rolls a d6 and the results are added together along with a modifier depending on what happened in step 3 and the results are applied.
The results on the boarding table go from ‘Vainglorious Assault’ where the boarding action fails and all board craft are expelled into space to ‘Critical Core Breach’ where the element is removed from play and other elements around it also takes hits.
The fifth and final stage is appropriately named as the End phase. In the End phase, players can try and repair damage, work out if anyone has won the game and generally tidy up ready for the next turn.
For the battles centered around the ground, Ground Command seems to be more feasibly plausible in fluff terms. What we know is that both factions are going to be incredibly dropship focused, meaning that the implementation and usage of dropships like the Pelican and Phantom are going to be crucial for tactical victory. Models for both factions are small enough to be converted into other tabletop games, although the UNSC personal are a tad bit taller than a Space Marine.
In terms of detailed gameplay, movement phase is similar to Fleet Battles. However Ground Command also has two key gaming spaces: Pre-Game and In-Game. The former refers to the Strategic/RTS part of the game and latter to the Action/FPS part of the game. Essentially, Pre-Game allows players to flex their RTS muscles, building their Forces strategically to complete their chosen missions. In general play, all scenarios are encouraged to be rolled PRIOR to Forces being chosen, so players can go away and plot their enemy’s eventual demise. This gives the game a planned-outcome-feel since players have had time to reflect on the mission to hand and have brought the right tools for the job.
Choosing a Force is a simple process that uses the Build Rating (BR) and Maximum Force Value (MFV) methods that was introduced in Halo: Fleet Battles. Like H:FB, Ground Command also use the ideas of Standard and Specialist Battle Groups. The former will be used multiple times by players, whereas the latter will be limited in their use, commonly limited to only one per force. Battle Groups have Units that are call Requisites which in turn gain access to Optional Units. Requisites MUST be taken for a Battle Group to be considered game legal. These vary from Battle Group to Battle Group. For example, an ODST Battle Group MUST take ODST Units as Requisites, whereas a UNSC Army Mechanized Battle Group MUST take Riflemen Units. Requisites are, however, deliberately kept to the bare minimum needed to represent the nature of their Battle Group to uphold flexibility allowing players to find new and innovative combinations to field.
Once Requisites have been taken, players have a number of Optional Build Rating points to spend in each of the following categories: Infantry Units, Armored Units and Air Units. The points available will vary depending on the Battle Group chosen, giving certain Battle Groups greater access to some types of Unit, or may even skip using a Unit type altogether. For example, a Covenant Spectral Host Battle Group (Elite Ghost Units optional Air Support) allows a Covenant player to not have any Infantry and instead field lots of fast attack Ghosts with Elite drivers. This is a Specialist Battle Group and is limited to one per force. It is static in its requisites but can have access to a Flyer if a player wants to spend the BR and Points to add it their Force.
A UNSC Standard Armored Battle Group only has Armored Units as Requisites. A player can still add some Infantry if they want, or even add Flyer Units, or they could just spend all of their points on Armour and as this is a Standard Battle Group a player can take several in their Force if they so choose. All of this leads to an incredibly flexible force building mechanic that gives the game great longevity. There will be literally thousands of combinations available, giving players the chance to execute their plans in a prepared way. The Build Rating of a model (Element as it is called in the game) and a Unit (a collection of Elements) is what translates to Victory Points. It is a simple method and allows games to be won by destroying Units of Infantry, destroying Armored models, shooting down Flyers, capturing Objectives, killing Characters and etc.
In terms of building a terrain and setting, Ground Command's terrain is placed using mutual consent to encourage the construction of fair and reasonable battlefields. The rules of Terrain are binary to make it simple to use and fast to play with – for example, you can or you can’t move through it; you can or you can’t shoot through it, or a combination of both. This makes Terrain nice and simple to play with, but still gives players a strategic view of the battlefield and allows for a planned route of advancement. Terrain ranges from simple Supply Drops to large structures like the Covenant Stealth Pylon.
Similar to Fleet Battles, Ground Command has commanders for the players to choose from and is played similarly to its space counterpart. So in summary:
- Forces are made up of Battle Groups, which can be of varying types: UNSC Mechanized Battle Groups, Hunting Host Battle Groups, Armored Battle Groups, and so on.
- Inside each Battle Group are Requisite Units that must be taken, then Build Rating limits are set to allow players to add in Optional Units later.
- Forces can and should be made up of multiple Battle Groups.
- In narrative play, all Forces should be chosen after the Scenario is determined, allowing players to tailor their lists to fight out the mission.
- Terrain is placed by mutual consent and is designed for simple use and quick gameplay. There is a table generator included if mutual consent proves difficult.
- In Halo: Ground Command players have access to Generic Force Commanders that cost considerably less than narrative named Commanders. These Generic Force Commanders have Standard Orders and a Factional Order. They are the only Commander available in competitive play.
These is just the Pre-Game. Now it is the In-Game phase. As with Halo: Fleet Battles, the Halo Dice is used in conjunction with the Firepower Rating Table to control modifiers and drive the statistics in the game. Both games start with players using a default of Firepower Rating 4 with the Rating modifying up and down accordingly. This means that when rolling Halo Dice, a result of 2 (or Spartan Exploding 6 for example) counts as two hits, a result of 1 result counts as one hit, a Miss result can be re-rolled if you have rolled any 2s, and the Skull result is a definite miss. Some weapons will provide a positive bonus to the Firepower Rating whereas Terrain conditions and Scenario effects generally cause the Firepower Rating to suffer a negative penalty. The faces of the Dice in Ground Command are Fail, Miss, Success and Exploding. Than there are the Tokens. In Ground Command there are three available tokens, these are: Activated (placed when a Unit Activates or attempts a Reaction), Damage (for when an attack equals or exceeds a value on a Damage Track) and Cooldown (which is used to represent a situation where a weapon or even an entire Unit cannot fire). There is also the Statistic Profiles which are used as a simple visual presentation mechanic to show players the various statistics used by Units on their statistic cards. These cards will be large enough to fit in your hand and will have all pertinent rules (as well as paraphrased notations about Loadouts) on them, making Unit reference in Halo: Ground Command quick and very simple. Also like Fleet Battles, Ground Command issues Command Dice for commanders on the battlefield to drive the Command & Control side of the game. The Command/Attack/Defense symbols allow players to execute orders from their Force Commander’s Data Sheet that can often be the difference between success and failure in battle.
Then there is the Reaction Fire which is how Ground Command tries to translate the FPS element into tabletop. In order for it to work, Ground Command have created a Reaction Statistic for every Element in order to allow the game to represent a persistent form of overwatch where every Unit on the table is assumed to be engaged in the battle at all times. The Reaction Statistic has two numbers shown as X / Y on a Unit’s Profile. The X number is used if a Unit has not yet been Activated, and the Y number is used if a Unit has already been Activated. If a player wants to react to an enemy Unit’s activation, the player makes a 2D6 dice roll, adds or subtracts any modifiers and hopes they match or exceed the relevant number, if they do, they get to fire in their opponent’s activation, either at the start of a Unit’s movement or at the end.
Attempting a Reaction is not without risk, however, as you are only permitted to attempt a single reaction to an enemy Unit’s activation and whether you succeed or fail the reacting Unit gains an Activation Marker as a result. This means a player has to choose wisely which Unit will be used to React to the enemy. Sometimes it is better to React with a Unit that has already gone, especially if the Unit has a good Y-React number. For example, UNSC Warthogs excel at this, creating mobile mini-fire-bases upon which the UNSC can base their advance/defense tactics. It may also be the case that a player is unwilling to React, as it will affect their ability to surge forwards (since making a Reaction attempt gives a Unit an Activation Marker that effectively halts any chance of performing a Movement Action). In a massed battle game, where you could literally have hundreds of miniatures on the tabletop and large numbers of Armor and Flyers, you suddenly have the intensity of an FPS, where no Unit is ever truly safe. This means that even if your opponent has already activated a Unit, the Unit isn’t actually out of the game.
As you might expect, not everything has the same React X/Y. A Spartan who are the elites for the UNSC, might be capable of multiple feats of arms in a turn, firing in all directions as he/she attempts to defend a wounded soldier. A ponderous pair of Hunters are, however, far more measured and lumbering, taking time to line up shots and gear themselves for combat. This is represented by the Spartan having a React Score of 5/6, whereas a Hunter Unit is limited to 10/13.
In terms of weapons. Ground Command issue Small Arms. They are not, however, always the same in the game. For example Small Arms, when in the hands of Grunts, have one set of Small Arms Stats, and a different set of stats when used by Elites. This makes the game flow smoothly and gives each faction diversity without the minutiae of looking directly into the hands of each and every model. That is not to say that all weapons are in this category. Certain Units can upgrade one or more of their bases to be specific Fire Teams, like Grunts wielding Fuel Rod Cannons, UNSC Troopers manning HMGs, etc.
This brings us on to Weapon Loadouts. The majority of weapons in the game, including Small Arms, normally have at least one Loadout. A Loadout is a custom rule that enhances a weapon. It could be as simple as Suppression (+1) in the case of UNSC Small Arms or Point Blank in the case of Covenant Small Arms, to more complex Loadouts such as Devastating, Pinpoint, Indirect Fire, and so on. Each of these Loadouts is summarized on a Unit’s Statistic Card and detailed in the core rulebook for ease of reference. The variation of the Weapon Loadouts thus leads us to The Weapon Spread. Here each and every weapon, if you are willing to shoot it long enough can technically destroy anything in-game when it comes to Halo. This means that the game has to come up with a new system for weapons that allows for this incredible flexibility. So the Weapon Spread System is designed to do exactly that. The Weapon Spread divides the Attack Dice available to a Weapon into three distinct categories, each citing the weapon’s effectiveness against a specific target.
- Anti-Personnel (AP) refers to a weapon’s ability to damage Infantry targets.
- Anti-Tank (AT) refers to a weapons ability to damage Armoured targets.
- Anti-Air (AA) refers to a weapons ability to damage Flying targets.
When firing, Ground Command uses a combination mechanic (the same as in Halo: Fleet Battles) so a Unit of 4 Bases of Grunts shooting at a Unit of UNSC Riflemen in the open (always a bad thing for the UNSC) would roll 2+2+2+2 = 8x Halo Dice using Firepower Rating 5 (the best they can get!). From this roll the Grunts would expect to get about 6 Hits, which should, on average, kill 2 Bases of UNSC Riflemen. In terms of Melee, each element rolls a number of Halo Dice equal to their Melee Statistic, but unlike Ranged Attacks, all players are looking to do is roll Skulls – all other results are ignored. Roll a Skull and you automatically do a point of Damage (or in the case of Melee vs Vehicles, 2x Skulls for a point of Damage). Heroic Saves can be attempted after that, but essentially that’s as complicated as Melee gets. If each side rolls the same number of Skulls in a round of Melee, the survivors keep fighting until someone wins – or until both sides are wiped out. Once one side is declared the winner, the loser is pushed back, leaving both sides free to React as normal. Lastly, like Fleet Battles, there is the End phase in which it is used to tally up scored Victory Points for the Game Turn. Victory Points (VPs) are generated by destroying enemy Units, where their Build Rating directly translates to VPs. VPs can also be scored according to the conditions stated in any particular scenario you might be playing. For example, the Assassination Mission from the core rulebook gives bonus VPs points for taking out anything with the Commanding Presence Loadout, whilst the Take and Hold Scenario gives additional VPs for holding Placed Objectives (usually Buildings of importance on the battlefield). The Scenarios all last a certain number of Game Turns, after which the person who has scored the most Victory Points wins.
Last but not least, we cannot forget Flyers which are crucial for tactical victory in Ground Command. In Ground Command all flying vehicles are separated into two categories: Hover Flyers and Air Support Mission Flyers.
Hover Flyers are treated in the same way as any other battlefield Unit, moving shooting, reacting in the same way as any other model. They are targeted using a weapon’s Anti-Air (AA) Statistic and tend to be fast moving and pretty aggressive in their use. Examples of these include Banshees or Falcons, which may be seen operating in Units with more than one model, or be individuals, depending on their Build Rating and the Battle Group they are part of.
Air Support Mission Flyers tend to be far larger than their standard Hover counterparts, dominating the sky with their bulk and durability. These Flyers are simply too large to remain on the table turn to turn, and instead resolve their movement, the execution of their chosen mission and extraction in a simple strafing method. Examples of these flyers include the UNSC Pelican and Covenant Phantom.
When using an Air Support Mission Flyers, players activate the model in the same way as any other Unit, declaring a Mission type for the Flyer. This Mission will have an attached Victory Points cost, which is given to the enemy directly after the Mission is announced. This give-and-take aspect to Air Support Mission Flyers makes the taking of these large models very balanced – you get a huge reward, but your opponent gets a strategic bonus if you saturate the battlefield with too many. This means that protracted use of aerial assets will cause a drain on the player’s chances of winning an outright victory, but execution of these Missions will often be vital for continued success in the combat operation. So balancing if, when and how you bring in your Air Support Mission Flyers is a skill that will take time for players to develop. There are a variety of Missions available to Flyers of this type. Combat Drop Missions allow players to bring in reserves. Supply Drop Missions allow the placement of a Supply Drop Marker that increases the Reaction Statistics of all friendly ground models within range. Ground Attack Missions allow you to target ground Units with increased effect. Reinforcement Missions allow you to bring a damaged Unit of Infantry (and in some cases Armor) back up to full strength, and Air Patrols allow you to place your Flyer ‘on-station’, ready to intercept enemy flyers when they activate.
Yes that is an actual model of a Covenant Super Carrier. No it will not be a good pain.
That's right, Halo's dropships are as big as a Thunderhawk while being more sensibly designed and having more firepower to boot.
For those who wanted to put a Spartan in tabletop for some reason, here are the rules.
WS 4 / BS 4 / S 4 / T 3 / W 1 / I 4 / A 1 / Ld 8 / Sv 3+/6++
1 Spartan - Squad Leader (Ld 9)
- Unit Type
- MJOLNIR Armor
- MA5C Assault Rifle
- Combat Knife
- Frag Grenades (Offensive)
- Special Rules
- At All Costs - As per their tactical doctrines, Spartans are combat veterans of independent action and deep infiltration missions. Spartans gain the Stubborn rule from the Warhammer 40k Core Rulebook.
- Shoot First, Ask Later - Spartans specialize in ranged tactics, and prefer not to engage powerful enemies head-on. Spartans will more often than not disengage from melee combat to use their ranged weapons instead. Spartans gain the Hit & Run rule from the Warhammer 40k Core Rulebook.
- May Include up to 4 additional Spartan- for 13 points per Model
- Any model in the squad may take an Onboard AI for 3 points per Model
- For every 4 models in a squad, one model may replace their MA5C Rifle with one of the following:
- M90 CAWS (Shotgun)...............................6 points per Model
- SRS99D-S2 AM (Sniper Rifle)..................10 points per Model
- M41 SSR MAV/AW (Missile Launcher)........15 points per Model
- M6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle (Spartan Laser)....35 points per model
- Each Spartan squad must choose to be one of the following:
- Spartan Is - Squad gain the Eternal Warrior and Feel No Pain USRs for 10pts per model. Role a d6 for each model, on results of 5+ the model also gains the Crazed special rule.
- Spartan IIs - Squad gain +1 Ballistic Skill and the Split Fire USR for 4 points per model. The squad may choose to become an Elite Choice.
- Spartan IIIs - Squad gain the Stealth and Infiltrate USRs for 3 points per model.
- Spartan IVs - Squad gain the Hatred and Fleet USRs for 3 points per model.
- SPARTAN ARMORY
- MJOLNIR Armor - Created parallel to the Spartan-II Program, the MJOLNIR Armor is a sealed system, capable of extravehicular activity or operations in toxic atmosphere. Weighing over half a metric ton, the armor's shell is constructed in overlapping layers of Titanium-A plating and highly durable ballistic alloys of remarkable strength. It has even been augmented with a refractive coating capable of dispersing a limited amount of energy weapon strikes. The Spartan gains a 3+ Armor Save.
- MJOLNIR armor is equipped with a full-body recharging energy shield that was reverse-engineered from captured alien technology. The shield itself is utterly transparent and does not hinder sight in any way but briefly flashes a greenish-gold color when hit. The Spartans gain a 6+ Invulnerable Save.
- Onboard AI - All MJOLNIR Mk V models or better feature a complex crystalline matrix within their neural interface, which Cortana likened in structure to the computer systems of the Pillar of Autumn. An AI construct increases tactical awareness, provides an indispensable guide, serving almost as a co-pilot and navigator, and multiplies the Spartan's already phenomenal reflexes. A Spartan equipped with an Onboard AI increases their Initiative value by 1.
- MA5C Assault Rifle - The MA5C has an attached electronics suite that provides information on rounds remaining in the magazine, compass heading, and capable of wireless up-link with MJOLNIR systems for improved accuracy. Made of Titanium Alloy and Polymers, the rifle performs well in a variety of environments. Having a rate of fire of 650 rounds a minute, and chambering the old-school M118 7.62x51mm NATO Armor Piercing, Full Metal Jacket Rounds, the MA5C is fully capable of a withering barrage whilst even in motion or on a charge. Though lacking strength and stopping power, these rounds are designed to pierce most conventional ballistic body armor.
- It has the following stats: Range 18" / Strength 3 / AP 6 / Type Assault 3
- M90 Shotgun - is a pump-action, magazine-fed, dual tubular non-detachable type weapon. It uses the Soellkraft 8-Gauge Magnum Shotgun Shell, a large round capable of phenomenal stopping power.
- It has the following stats: Range 12" / Strength 4 / AP - / Type Assault 2 Rending
- Sniper Rifle S99D-S2 AM - aka the "SR System 99D-S2 Anti-Matériel", it is a semi-automatic UNSC sniper rifle that fires 14.5 x 114mm APFSDS (Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot, with a tungsten or depleted uranium core) from a 4-round magazine. As a sniper rifle, it is fitted with a variable-magnification optic that shows real time images in infrared vision when not looking through it. When looking through it, the scope shows a target's distance and elevation. The rifle is so powerful it even can be used effectively to fire at light armored vehicles.
- It has the following stats: Range 48" / Strength X/ AP 4 (When firing at vehicles, the rifle adds D6 to its Armor penetration value) / Type Heavy 1, Sniper, Anti Material.
Anti Material: Shots fired from this weapon rend on a 4+.
- M41 Rocket Launcher - aka the "M41 SSR" fires 102mm HEAP (High Explosive Armor Piercing) shaped charge rockets. The launcher sports a 2x scope and can fire rockets over long distances with devastating accuracy, and its two launch tubes allow the wielder to fire two rockets before needing to reload. The rocket launcher spreads a huge amount of damage over a large area. It is capable of taking out entire groups of infantry at any range and is effective against most vehicles.
- It has the following stats: Range 48" / Strength 7 / AP 3 / Type Heavy 2, Blast
- M6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle - The Anti-Vehicle Model 6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle (abbreviated AV M6 G/GNR) also known as the Spartan Laser, is the UNSC's first man-portable, shoulder-fired direct energy weapon.
- It has the following stats: Range 36" / Strength 9 / AP 2 / Type Heavy 1, Ignores Cover
-Targeting beam: The Spartan Laser projects an obvious laser target, any enemy units that can, may choose to fire Overwatch at the firers unit as if it was the assault phase.
Spartans may take the M831 Troop Transport (M831 TT) or M12 Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (M12 LRV) as their dedicated transport.
- M12 Light Reconnaissance Vehicle - 40 points
- M831 Troop Transport - 30 points
Armour (Front) 10 / Armour (Side) 10 / Armour (Rear) 10 / HP 2
- Unit Type
Vehicle (Fast, Open-Topped, Transport)
- M46 Light Anti-Aircraft Gun (M12 LRV)
- None (M831 TT)
- Transport Capacity
- Four (M12 LRV)
- Eight (M831 TT)
The ubiquitous M12 and its troop transport variant the M831, are the UNSC's primary multi-role ground vehicles. They are used anywhere from scouting and reconnaissance to fast vehicle transport, forming an integral part of the UNSC's armored vehicle fleet for fifty years. It is a highly mobile, all-wheel-drive, all-wheel-steering, all-weather vehicle, capable of traversing all but the most dangerous of terrain. The M831 features a rear bed with an expanded seating compartment, while the M12 features a rear mounted anti-aircraft gun (the M46 LAAG) that can also be used against infantry.
M46 LAAG - The M46 Light Anti-Aircraft Gun (LAAG) is a tripled-barreled, electric-powered, linkless, belt-fed weapon. The LAAG fires the 12.7x99mm (.50 cal) armor penetrating rounds and can fire at a rate of 1200 rounds per minute.
- It has the following stats: Range 48" / Strength 5 / AP 5 / Type Heavy 4, Skyfire
- The M12 may choose to replace its M46 LAAG with a M68 Gauss Cannon for 35 points
M68 Gauss Cannon - Officially known as the M68 Asynchronous Linear-Induction Motor, this heavy weapon fires 25mm hypersonic speed projectiles via asynchronous magnetic acceleration. The kinetic energy of which is enough to pierce even the heaviest of armor plating or completely obliterate unprotected matter.
- It has the following stats: Range 60" / Strength 8 / AP 1 / Type Heavy 1
HQ: Master Chief Petty Officer John 117 - 170 points.
WS 5 / BS 6 / S 4 / T 3 / W 4 / I 5 / A 4 / Ld 10 / Sv 3+/6++
- Unit Type
Infantry (Independent Character)
- MJOLNIR Armor
- MA5C Assault Rifle
- Combat Knife
- Frag Grenades (Offensive)
- Cortana (Counts as On Board AI)
- Special Rules
- Spartan II - The Master Chief has the Split Fire USR.
- At All Costs - As per their tactical doctrines, Spartans are combat veterans of independent action and deep infiltration missions. The Master Chief gains the Stubborn USR.
- Shoot First, Ask Later - Spartans specialize in ranged tactics, and prefer not to engage powerful enemies head-on. Spartans will more often than not disengage from melee combat to use their ranged weapons instead. The Master Chief gains the Hit & Run USR.
- Heroes Never Die - The Master Chief gains the It Will Not Die and Eternal Warrior USRs, in addition he may fire heavy weapons at full ballistic skill even if the unit moves but unlike the Relentless universal special rule he may only ever fire one weapon per turn.
- He May Not Be The Strongest - The Master Chief gains the Fearless USR and may re-roll failed saving throws of any kind.
May replace his primary weapon (MA5C assault rifle) with of one special weapons from the following list:
- M90 CAWS (Shotgun)...............................6 points
- SRS99D-S2 AM (Sniper Rifle).......................10 points
- M41 SSR MAV/AW (Missile Launcher)...................15 points
- M6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle (Spartan Laser)....35 points
Due to being at the forefront of many battles such as the battle of Requiem Master Chief Petty Officer John 117 may take weaponry not usually issued to Spartan teams, he may select a secondary special weapon from an extended list:
- Z-390 High-Explosive Munitions Rifle (Incineration Cannon).....55 points
- It has the following stats: Range 48" / Strength 9 / AP 1 / Type Heavy 1, Blast, Ionizing.
- Ionizing: If a model suffers a wound from a weapon with the Ionizing special rule and before Feel No Pain rolls are made, the bearer rolls a d6, on a result of 4+ the model suffers Instant Death with no saves of any kind allowed including Feel No Pain, In addition Necron reanimation protocols may not be used on models which were removed from play by this special rule.
- Asymmetric Recoilless Carbine-920 (Rail Gun)...................20 points
It has the following stats: Range 48" / Strength 6 / AP 1 / Type Assault 1
Master Chief Petty Officer John 117 may choose to switch between firing his primary weapon or secondary weapon in every shooting phase; only one of the weapons can be fired per turn.