Chronique:Canon Fodder - Summer Red, Summer Blue

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For this edition of our fiction-focused Fodder feature, we wanted to highlight another top-notch convention experience that has a healthy helping of Halo happenings to get in on. In case you don’t know, Halo isn’t just something to be played on-screen – or only by springing surprise attacks on friends (or co-workers) with BOOMco blasters – it’s also something that you can play around a tabletop. Thanks to our development partners at Spartan Games, Halo: Fleet Battles and Halo: Ground Command are incredible ways to experience large-scale battles in the Halo universe from an entirely new perspective.

This weekend, Spartan Games is showing off the latest and greatest offerings in Halo tabletop gaming at the finest tabletop and board gaming convention in the land: Gen Con 2016 in Indianapolis. If you are able to make it to the Gen Con show floor, make sure and check out both the Spartan Games booth (#2756) and booth (#2407) for some awesome hands-on Halo like you’ve never seen before. For more details on their show floor schedule and offerings, check out their pre-Gen Con blog here.

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Of course, one of the awesome perks of releasing sweet new Halo: Fleet Battles and Halo: Ground Command sets is the inclusion of new and intriguing slices of lore that help flesh out the Halo universe in some particularly cool new ways – even within realms you might feel already familiar with. Since Spartan Games is working round the clock to meet the unprecedented demand for new tabletop sets, we thought it would be fun to showcase some of the cool narrative nuggets contained within the newest scenarios’ unit descriptions, along with some additional developer commentary from one of 343’s very own high-level story sorcerers, Kenneth Peters.

“For the initial wave of releases we focused on a curated selection of units that were both iconic and had a tactical role that would work well on the tabletop. The units in the two-player starter box should be immediately recognizable to anyone that has played Halo: Reach, though the tabletop game allows us to explore interesting facets of the UNSC and Covenant military which are not easy to show in books or video games. In this game we’re heavily leaning towards the mass battles that you traditionally only see in the skybox or are described in the novels – conflicts at the regimental and legion scale were always our target.”

- Kenneth Peters, Franchise Writer, 343 Industries

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Officers - UNSC Army command unit[modifier]

UNSC Army ground forces are led by seasoned and battle-hardened veterans, who have accumulated many years of combat experience against both human Insurrection forces and the ruthless alien armies of the Covenant. These soldiers are consummate boots-on-the-ground, no-nonsense leaders who do what needs to be done to keep their men alive and complete the mission.

Despite the many horrors of combat they have witnessed, UNSC officers are trained to maintain a calm perspective, displaying little emotion, no matter how dire or somber the battlefield situation is. Their role is to inspire their men, and to deliver a sound tactical perspective. They also ensure that combined-arms operations are carried out efficiently and safely by controlling the unit’s shard of the UNSC distributed battle management and communication network (“battlenet”).

“I’m a former Marine, so it pains me to say that it made more sense to focus on the UNSC Army for Halo: Ground Command. The Marines will the subject of their own expansion units soon, though Warthogs and Scorpions will be useful in either order of battle.” – KP

Riflemen - UNSC Army infantery unit[modifier]

The core fighting units of the UNSC Army are well-trained, disciplined, and motivated men and women tasked with the defense of the humanity across a myriad of planets and battlefields. It is because of their tenacity that humanity has survived as long as it has against the overwhelming technological and numerical superiority of the Covenant military, and it is on Reach that they will have their finest hour.

Riflemen units are equipped with a wide variety of Small Arms (Assault Rifles, Grenade Launchers and Shotguns) but can be reinforced with Heavy Machine Guns or Rocket Launchers.

“These were the very first units made for the game, and it was a real treat to work on them. I’ve always liked the look of the Halo: Reach troopers, and here we get to put some theory and lore into practice in terms of game rules and army building. We thought about having weapon loadouts be more important for the trooper units, but eventually rolled most of their weapons into a broad “Small Arms” category.” - KP

Fire support – UNSC Army weapons unit[modifier]

Army Fire Support Teams are allocated as part of their battalions offensive or defensive plans, and their loadout is usually tailored to their mission, terrain, and expected enemy composition. In defensive operations they provide overwatching support-by-fire, while on the offense they engage enemy vehicles and heavy infantry.

“These are not seen in the game, but were obvious from an organizational and practical design perspective.” - KP

Spartan – Special Warfare asset[modifier]

Spartans are biologically enhanced, cybernetically augmented super-soldiers who wear Mjolnir powered assault amour, which further amplifies their strength, speed, and resilience. While the Spartans were created to deal with colonial unrest, they now stand in the front lines of war against the Covenant as the UNSC’s most elite force. Each Spartan is a hyper-lethal special forces operative, capable of wielding every vehicle and weapon in the Covenant and UNSC armory and committed to the completion of their mission no matter the odds or opposition.

“Spartans in Halo: Ground Command are Spartan-III operatives who – like most of Noble Team – were selected for special assignment. Their special mechanic in the game allows a single Spartan to swap weapons (and game model) and fill different roles as the battle evolves.” – KP

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Warthog – M12 Force Application Vehicle[modifier]

The M12 Warthog is a large four-wheel drive all-terrain utility vehicle. Although some Warthogs are used solely for transportation, most are armed and have a multi-mission capability. The standard Warthog offers two seats (driver, side passenger) and a cargo bed for carrying equipment or a turret-mounted weapon system. Variants of the Warthog have been in service with UNSC forces for over two centuries.

The most common series within the FAV platform is the M12 Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV) fitted with a pneumatically powered, 360-degree rotation multi-purpose M46 Vulcan Machine Gun. Other major variants include the M12A1 Light Anti-Armor Vehicle which is fitted with a M39 Rocket Turret, M12G armed with a devastating M68 Gauss Cannon, and the M12R ‘Missile Hog,’ which is fitted with the M79 Multiple Launch Rocket System.

“The starter box only includes the LRV configuration with M46 chaingun, but their separate box expansion will include the rocket, chaingun, and gauss weapons. They can be magnetized to easily swap between weapon loadouts. I’m also looking forward to upgrade and customization kits that will further expand the available options (e.g. the M39 Rocket Turret and tracks for the M862).” – KP

Pelican – D77-Troop Carrier[modifier]

UNSC Army personnel were typically shuttled to combat zones in conventional transports, but the ubiquitous D77 Pelican was employed when troops and vehicles needed to be moved quickly to combat zones. When prepped for launch a Pelican can load up troops, attach a vehicle to the rear cargo clamp, take off, and deploy its passengers and vehicle at any point on Reach within the hour.

“These are massive models, and with their detailed interiors I expect to see some very cool dioramas. This is one of those vehicles that when you see in-scale with other Halo units makes you appreciate their sheer size. They don’t have modelled cockpits, but that was a sacrifice we were ok with.” - KP

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Elite Zealots[modifier]

Zealots wield both military and religious authority within the Covenant hierarchy, and are ruthless and cruel enforcers of the Prophet’s orthodoxy. Only the most cunning and bloodthirsty warriors are selected for service as a Zealot, and few of those ever openly serve outside the walls of their cloistered chapterhouses and monastery fortresses. Zealots serve the Way and the Path to the exclusion of all else, and their word is law on military campaigns.

The Zealot is a force commander and apostle of the Prophets who leads Covenant forces in times of war. Zealots do not simply command. They are war priests and dervishes who inspire as much as they direct, and their order is held in awe by many within the Covenant.

“We originally had an Ultra as the warhost commander, but once we included Spartans in the starter box it made sense to step up the Covenant force a bit. Ultras and other high-ranking Elites will be coming soon, allowing you to use the Zealot as the commander of an all-Elite warhost or legion.” – KP

Grunts - Levies units[modifier]

Grunt is the human name for the low-ranking, xeno-arthropodic Unggoy who form the bulk of the Covenant ground forces. Indoctrinated to deluge their enemies in bodies and blood, the Grunts are considered to be disposable assets by their commanders, though they are rarely expended without good cause. Vast numbers of ill-trained Levies are used for front-line combat as well as various menial roles in the invasion, organized into Lances (analogous to squads) under the command of an Elite overseer.

“Levies is the general name for masses of low-ranking Grunts. The specialist Grunt units coming later will allow for fun – and very lethal – armies that drown the UNSC in bodies and explosions.” – KP

Elite Minor[modifier]

Young Sangheili warriors are ever-hungry for glory and accumulation of battle honors that will enable them to advance in the bloody meritocracy of the Covenant. It as Minors that the warrior’s battle lust is tempered by the realities of war and they learn the merits of teamwork, though these lessons are hard-earned by impetuous and overconfident recruits’ eager to show their worth. Those Minors who show an affinity for leadership are placed in command of lower-caste Covenant forces, while those with more bravery than skill are kept under the watchful eye of experienced Sangheili Majors.

“We realize that many people will want to field all-Elite armies, but it was important to show the diversity of the Covenant right off the bat, then allow people to specialize their forces.” – KP

Hunters – Mgalekgolo battle congregation[modifier]

Hunter is the human name for the combat form of an exotic alien species known as Lekgolo. Hunters are actually composed of eel-like creatures (though often called “worms” by UNSC personnel) bound in an armored shell. In Hunter form, the gestalt intelligence created by the Lekgolo is fairly intelligent and has an impressive capacity for tactics, though by nature they generally disregard the presence of other Covenant when engaging in combat.

Hunters are deployed as bonded pairs on the battlefield – each forming one half of an independent colony. The death of one Hunter will drive its surviving partner into a berserk rage.

“Hunters are one of my favorite units, and we’ve already brainstormed the concept of a special force commander who will allow all-Hunter/Lekgolo armies.” – KP

Ghost – Type-32 Rapid Attack Vehicle[modifier]

Floating on a cushion of gravitic energy, the Ghost is a one-man all-terrain bike with a ubiquitous presence in all Covenant military actions. The Covenant use the Ghost primarily as a scout and raider, sending it behind enemy lines to track and hinder an adversary’s movement. Particularly daring operators use the Ghost to directly engage enemy infantry and light combat vehicles (such as the human’s Warthog).

“We looked at making the Ghost drivers modular, but that simply wasn’t an economical option.” – KP

Phantom – Type 52 Troop Carrier[modifier]

The Phantom’s sleek silhouette and sinuous design is imprinted in the minds of most UNSC military veterans. Agile and heavily armed, the Phantom is a versatile assault dropship used to ferry troops, armored vehicles, and pre-fabricated fortifications from staging areas and carriers directly to the battlefield. Each Phantom is armed with a heavy plasma cannon turret installed on an armature located beneath the cockpit and two smaller plasma cannon door-guns on the sides.

“We’re already looking at the viability of customization kits that will let you create variant Phantoms (such as swapping the doors and engine nacelles to match Halo 2).” – KP

If you are interested in Halo tabletop gaming and are looking to catch up on some of Spartan Games other Halo projects, check out some of these previous issue of Canon Fodder for more info!

Issue #11: In the Loop Issue #34: Ship Happens Issue #41: Infinity & Beyond Issue #71: Stand Your Ground

Don’t be late to the Crate[modifier]

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As a friendly reminder, time is running out on your chance to get in on the Halo Legendary Crate: Founders Edition. Every Halo Legendary Crate will be filled with items specifically tailored to provide and awesome and exclusive Halo experience, and you only have until Aug 14 to call dibs on the Founders Edition crate. Be among the very first Spartans to join Fireteam Apollo and get your swag on!

That will do it for me, folks – but I leave the rest of this update in the capable hands of Brevet and Uny.

Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and for Fodder fans in Italia, head over to our friends at conoscere meglio il mio esperienza in 343 Industries.