May 9, 2014 by brennon
The Halo universe is one that practically rejuvenated the first person shooter genre back when Combat Evolved game out on Xbox and so many games have borrowed from it since. Of course this has meant plenty of sequels and side stories and a vast array of different troops and vehicles to go with it. As it exists at the moment Halo is both a WizKids product, with their Action Clix pre-painted range, and is also available as Mega Bloks kits too. Of course there are also the masses of different Halo action figures out there too. But, I think it would make an awesome wargame and here’s why…
The first reason is of course it’s mass of different factions and races that you can choose from. The first of which are the UNSC, or the humans that make up the ‘good guys’ of the Halo world.
The humans of Halo have been locked in a bitter struggle against not only Insurrectionists (more on them later) but also the alien alliance known as the Covenant. The first big thing to talk about with the UNSC is the super-human Spartans that they have used to combat the incredibly powerful Covenant as they invade their worlds. Spartans are essentially walking tanks, much like Space Marines with built in shields, super-human strength and combat knowledge from hundreds of different engagements. They are incredibly powerful soldiers and imagine a set of miniatures allowing you to customise and build your own Spartans very various different periods in the time line.
Of course not all of the soldiers in the UNSC are Spartans. Away from the super-humans they have Marines and the ODST who serve as almost their special forces operatives in the field. The kits would be brilliant looking I reckon with a nice selection of weapon options for those on offer including sub-machine guns, the assault rifle, pistols, rocket launchers and more.
The UNSC also has access to masses of different vehicles including the Warthog Jeep which is a pretty awesome looking vehicle with a mounted machine gun and things like the Scorpion Tank, Hornet flyers and even massive things like Elephant transport and Pelican Dropships. I could see each of these looking awesome on the tabletop and you have so much to work with.
Opposing the UNSC we have The Covenant. This alien conglomerate is made up of the deadly Elites, brutal err…Brutes and plenty of smaller races like the Jackals and Grunts. All of these would be awesome looking miniature kits on the tabletop and it would be awesome to see clear plastic shields for the Jackals. You could even make up some clear plastic versions of the Elites for when they are cloaked, same for the Spartans actually. Even the massive hulking Hunters would be epic with their glowing green fuel rod guns!
The make up of the Covenant would be very similar to the UNSC with heavy duty troops like Spartans and Elites versus things like Jackals and Grunts going up against the Marines. The balance should be there I reckon with the asymmetry of the Covenant coming in their hierarchy system. It would be pretty neat to see a system whereby taking out the Elites or Brutes in the Covenant army unsettled the lower caste making playing with them a tactical challenge much like the game.
Later on in the game franchise the Covenant also split so, much like with the early human forces you could even do a pre-civil war Covenant army that either focuses on the rebel Elites or the loyalist Brutes and their Prophets.
The Flood are the parasitical enemy of all the factions in Halo. They assimilate and control the bodies of the dead, warping them and twisting them into a strange hive mind style affair. Miniature wise this would give plenty of awesome opportunity to create alternate figures of everything else out there and you could have a real massive swarm feeling to them on the tabletop.
You could potentially start things off with them being limited in the sort of Flood they can take but as they destroy and take over the bodies of the dead they can use them to take over their ranks. As a primarily melee based force it would be their ability to take over the dead and use their weapons that made them worth using. Once again you’d have a nice asymmetry at work here in the forces.
Before the Covenant there was a civil war going on between the humans. Colonies turned on others and the Insurrectionists fought to be free of what they thought was the yolk of oppression. This would make for another interesting expansion style faction to the game that takes you back in time to the first Spartans, soldiers with different equipment and of course a whole range of more rag tag looking soldiers for the Insurrectionists and Rebels.
You could see this kind of expansion as something akin to how Forge World are doing the Heresy in Warhammer 40,000. The models wouldn’t have to be drastically different but you’d have plenty of chance to spread your wings with designs here and make up vehicles and equipment that has been scavenged and cobbled together. You could even work in some different tactical options for the Rebels giving them access to terrorist style abilities like improvised explosives and traps on the tabletop. They certainly wouldn’t be as tactically powerful as something like the UNSC with their Spartan technology but numbers do tell.
If you wanted to go even further back you could look at bringing the Forerunners like the Didact back to the tabletop. The Forerunners would have access to all their interesting ancient alien technology and of course you could always theme your force to be based on the Prometheans or the Sentinels we were more used to seeing in Halo and Halo 2. These robot forces could well work by being drafted into either the UNSC or Covenant as allies maybe, certainly not with the Flood. Some of the designs for the Sentinels are amazing and much like with something like the Convergence of Cyriss in Warmachine you’d have some ace looking painted figures with plenty of glow effects.
What About The Game?
So that’s the armies that could well be on offer but what about the game? You really want something that stands out from other games out there and I have pondered on this for a while. I think the key to the game would be in the flexibility of it’s play style. Halo has always been a game of both stealth and sabotage as well as all out war on huge battlefields so it would be good to reflect that.
When you were making your force maybe you could chose to either put together a more Kill Team style game where you take a handful of men or a larger strike force that allows the use of vehicles and of course bigger armies and squads. Both styles of game would have objectives and potentially changing ones during the game itself but they would differ drastically from one to the other. For example in the smaller games maybe you’d have a secret objective (a bit like Malifaux) where you have to assassinate a certain target in the opponents force, and he might have something similar. In larger games you might end up with King of the Hill (using the video game for inspiration) objectives where you need to hold areas of land.
I think this would all work well with one of the key themes running through the Halo games and that is an AI or Command feel behind everything. The UNSC would have access to AI like Cortana from the video games that built up power through the mission representing their battlefield knowledge and chatter they heard from the opponent that could be spent on buffs and such. The Covenant would have their high commanders doing something similar along with the Gravemind of The Flood and AI for things like the Forerunner but potentially more advanced. I think this would lead to some interesting battlefield tactics and if you had the Insurrectionists in the future having something to corrupt AI that could be a cool additional aspect – almost like destroying cards in the enemy deck as they effect their technology.
I also like the idea of one model in the force being your signature hero. Much like Master Chief you could take one model from your army and make him your focus point. This could be a Spartan, an Elite or something key from each force and they would be able to level up like a role-playing hero giving the game a progressive feel. Away from that you could always do a points buy system for one off games. They could even have load-out slots like in the video game allowing them to bring certain weapons to the game but at a limit.
Admittedly most of this is somewhat of a pipe dream and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a Halo wargame away from other tabletop iterations I mentioned at the beginning. However, there are some companies out there that make miniatures perfect for the world. Just look at Anvil Industry’s Unity Council Marines and Republic Grenadiers. Perfect Marine and ODST/Spartans wouldn’t you say?
Do you think the Halo universe would work well on the tabletop?
"The UNSC would have access to AI like Cortana from the video games..."