The contest is in honor of the upcoming release of Halo: Ground Command. Obviously, though, you're not going to be painting those minis (since they're, y'know, not out yet). However, you can paint the figures from the Halo minis that are available from Halo: Fleet Command. There's also the 54mm figures given away at Salute. Weren't at Salute? Well, you're in luck because those figures are available over in the Spartan Games webshop.
Prizes will include signed rulebooks, as well as other Halo-themed goodies from both Spartan and Microsoft.
You have from the 13th of this month until August 31st to get your entries in.
But at the moment, it's still Thursday. As such, it's time to look once more at some bits to help make your gaming tables look their best.
Today's batch of stories includes: New Blacksmith Shop From Burn In Designs, Manorhouse Workshop Update #5 – 3D Bases – Modular Terrain: Skirmish & Wargame, and Free asteroids, scenery, acrylic tokens, or Other With Spartan Games Purchases.
New Blacksmith Shop From Burn In Designs
Jed'd blacksmith shop's work is legendary in the town of Rock Ridge. Every nail in the town is said to have passed through his forge. Jed works fast and that is what you need in a growing town.
The new Rock Ridge Blacksmith Shop is a 2 part kit with a main building and an outer courtyard and forge. The kit also includes a collection of accessories to help decorate and set the scene like an anvil, wheels and a work bench.
Manorhouse Workshop Update #5 – 3D Bases – Modular Terrain: Skirmish & Wargame
Completed the master of the apse of the abbey. This section is the most complex of the six bases that will make up the abbey with cloister in ruin.
Some details of the master. As the secret passage under the altar and the collapse in the corridor at the side of the apse.
These particulars also serve to strengthen the elevated parts of the altar area and the corridor, making no flexing in the time.
All the best.
Free asteroids, scenery, acrylic tokens, or Other With Spartan Games Purchases
Option 1: Halo: Fleet Battles Rulebook. Your chance to pick up an extra copy of the rules. Give it to a friend, leave it at your local game store or keep it as a spare!
Option 2: Token Set. Upgrade your card tokens to high-quality coloured acrylic. Sets available for Halo: Fleet Battles, Firestorm Planetfall, Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars. If you choose the Token Set as your FREE gift, please specify the game in the 'Comment's section during Checkout.
Option 3: Asteroid Set. Made from high quality resin, the asteroids in this set are perfect for players looking to quickly bolster their scenery collection and make their spaceship tabletop games more interesting. You get everything pictured above, providing you with a generous number of asteroids in multiple sizes.
Option 4: Hanger Set. A massive Zeppelin Hanger and an Airfield Control Tower is included in this easy-to-assemble set, making it the perfect acquisition for players looking to add terrain or objectives to their battlefields.
Option 5: Ruins Set. A great addition to any 28-32mm scenery collection, this ruined building set will help you to bring the cinematic action of your games to life.
Well, Spartan is here to expand your fleets with bunches of new options. More ships, more commanders, more dice.
There's several different sets, as you can see, that all come with different options. Whether you want to add a large amount to your fleet, or just get a couple pieces here and there, there's a set almost custom-designed for you. And, as-mentioned, more dice, because sometimes you don't want to share with your opponent.
I, of course, once more made my rounds of the place and got some galleries of photos over on the TGN Facebook page.
I got to check out Gods & Monsters by Altered Reality. I hope to get a demo from world-renown artist, Heath "BA" Foley sometime soon.
Undercity is the new board game from Privateer Press. I got some photos of that set as well.
Sticking with Privateer Press, here's a look at the figures and board from the Unleashed set for the IKRPG.
Gale Force 9's booth had WWE Showdown, the D&D Dracolich, the new Firefly expansions and more.
Fantasy Flight's display case was filled with a bunch of the new board games they've recently announced.
Fantasy Flight Games put out some previews of new ships coming for X-Wing.
We posted the story of the Conan: Rise of Monsters Kickstarter getting underway. They're here and I got to take a look at the figures.
Spartan Games had some new ships they were previewing for Halo: Fleet Battles.
Spartan also had some prototype figures of the ground-based miniatures game they're working on also based on the Halo universe.
And last, but certainly not least, a look at the Mantic display cases.
We're looking at getting a full review article done as well. Stay tuned.
The first product shipping will be their Halo: Fleet Battles, The Fall of Reach box set. This box will contain a full-color rulebook, the Fall of Reach campaign guide, 49 plastic ship models, 30 custom dice, various Fleet Commander Data Sheets, flight stands and overlay cards, punch-out card scenery and tokens, and a Quick Reference Guide sheet.
Expect to see the box at your game shops on July 20th.
In 2001, Microsoft changed the landscape of console based shooters with the release of Halo: Combat Evolved for the original Xbox, introducing the world to Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 (or the Master Chief for short) and a rich, sci-fi universe. Over the years the franchise spawned many more releases ranging from sequels to books and comics to updated re-releases on new consoles. And on October 27, 2015, Microsoft and 343 Industries (the developers and caretakers of Halo) will release Halo 5: Guardians on the Xbox One. But soon, another all-new gameplay experience will be available thanks to Spartan Games — an appropriately named UK based tabletop game studio. In February 2015, Spartan announced its forthcoming tabletop miniature game, Halo: Fleet Battles.
From Digital to Physical
In 2014, Neil Fawcett — Creative Director of Spartan Games — was discussing possible licensing options for a new game. Previously, the studio created their own worlds in the form of Firestorm Armada, Firestorm Planetfall, Uncharted Seas, Dystopian Wars, and Dystopian Legions. When asked what his dream project would be, he didn’t need time to think it over. Neil simply said, “The cream of the crop would be to get Halo.” If you’re going to dream, you might as well go big, and that’s what he did.
The pitch was made to Microsoft and 343 Industries, and it didn’t take long for them to get back to Neil with exactly what he wanted to hear. They were interested. With that, Neil broke the news to an excited group of designers and sculptors: Spartan is bringing one of the biggest video game franchises from the digital space to the physical space like never before — the game will focus on the gigantic ships and battles that ensue between the humans of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and the alien Covenant forces.
Armed with a slew of Xbox 360s and Xbox Ones, the Spartan team got together in a secluded cottage and set about playing every Halo game. They were fans of the series and had played them before, but the team wanted to make sure that, even in a large-scale fleet game, what made the Halo series popular remained in Spartan’s game: a deep mythology brought to gamers through powerful storytelling and rich characters.
The team had to channel this into a tabletop system that would appeal to fans of the games who might be new to tabletop miniature gaming, and to veteran wargamers who may have no real attachment to the Halo name but are looking for a new miniatures game to try. Luckily, this was made easier through 343 Industries’ constant support, working side-by-side with Spartan to provide lore, encouragement, and quality art.
Explore the Unexplored
Spartan’s decision to focus on the ships of Halo is not without reason. Beyond cutscenes or minor gameplay sections, space combat is rarely focused on in the Halo video games. “Everyone knows the Master Chief, but there’s an entire military behind him. We wanted to put a little more flesh on the bone. And spaceships are cool,” said Neil. People who play the games know these ships from cutscenes, but now they can actually maneuver them and see how battles are fought in the Halo Universe.
The very reason Spartan chose to develop a fleet game is also one of the biggest challenges. Neil and his team have been entrusted with bringing to life something Microsoft and 343 Industries have yet to do, at least publicly. According to Neil, 343 Industries has been nothing short of supportive and excited with the whole process. “Microsoft and 343 Industries have opened their doors to a wonderfully rich tapestry of information.” A lot of this information has never reached the public, but it is there and accessible for Spartan’s team to use.
Microsoft and 343 Industries have entrusted Spartan not only with the duty of turning a mountain of art and unpublished background information into a compelling fleet battle system, but also of realizing ships such as the Covenant ORS-class Heavy Cruiser and UNSC Epoch-class Heavy Carrier that have, until now, only existed in the Halo Story Bible, dialogue exchanges, and concept paintings. Designed by Spartan’s talented model makers, the ships are then carefully reviewed by 343 Industries for accuracy and conformity with established canon before seeing physical form in Halo: Fleet Battles.
Assemble for War
Players construct Fleets by assembling “Elements,” which is the game’s terminology for Flight Stands of UNSC and Covenant ships. Each Element has a point value depending on what models are placed on the Flight Stands. Those ship models are highly-detailed, colored plastic — grey for the UNSC and purple for the Covenant. When the game launches, the staples of the UNSC Fleet will include the new Epoch-class Heavy Carrier, as well as Marathon-class Heavy Cruisers and the Paris-class Heavy Frigates. The Covenant will have the new ORS-class Heavy Cruisers, Battlecruisers, and Heavy Corvettes. Elements are then formed into Battle Groups and, in turn, these form a Fleet.
The massive ships in the game, such as Covenant Assault Carriers and the UNSC Infinity, are divided into multiple sections: aft, mid, and fore. Each section has its own arc of fire, weapons, shields, and more. The smaller ships come several to a Flight Stand, with the UNSC’s Heavy Frigates mounted three to a Stand, while the Covenant’s Heavy Corvettes come in pairs. Putting multiple ships on a base isn’t a new idea, but the formation strategy Spartan is implementing in Halo: Fleet Battles makes it unique and integral to strategic game play.
Each multi-ship Flight Stand allows players to customize their ship formations, such as when small ships are escorting larger vessels, which has real effects on the way Battle Groups function. These formations are not static; they can be changed during the game. Spartan decided to do this to avoid those cases were, for example, a player has three Battle Groups that have lost all but one ship on each base. Now, instead of running those lone ships around the map, avoiding being shot, a player can form a new, unified Battle Group. This feature also keeps opponents on their toes as players can change up their strategies mid-game.
Beyond the ship miniatures, various fighters and bombers from each side are represented by stacks of Wing Tokens on the playfield. These small one or two-manned craft act as the initial volley of attacks in most battles. They are built to die, so don’t get too attached to the Wings. The Wings go a long way towards recreating the hectic feel of battle as small craft buzz around the middle of the conflict as the giant ships volley weapons fire back and forth.
Not Just Empty Ships
Spartan knows fans love the cast of the Halo series. And they plan to keep respecting that love. Ships can’t fly themselves, so each player must choose a Fleet Commander, such as Vice Admiral Michael Stanforth for the UNSC or Supreme Commander Rho ‘Barutamee for the Covenant, while building their forces. Heroic Characters will also be available for players to add to their fleet, such as Cortana or Prophets, to aid their Commanders in battle.
Fleet Commanders are part of what Spartan is calling the Command and Control engine – a system designed to be easily picked up by the non-tabletop gamer and deep enough to keep a wargamer engaged and coming back once the shininess of a new product wears off. Commanders are represented by Data Sheets and highly detailed resin busts, but are not actually assigned to a particular ship. The Data Sheets have precut slots for custom Order Dice, with some of these slots having a color. At the start of a turn, players roll their dice and place them in the Sheet. The three icons on the dice allow players to issue orders like: Attack, Defend, and Command. When an Order is issued, that die is removed from the sheet and considered used. Once used, the die can’t be used again until the next turn, when all burned Order Dice are rolled again.
Attack and Defend are the dice players will burn when initiating an Attack or Defense Order. Bigger attacks may require you to burn more Attack icons (the same goes for Defense), so you might find yourself banking specific icons in the Data Sheet to be used later. A Commander must always be able to judge when to hold fire in hopes of gaining a better opportunity down the line.
Command icons serve a few different roles. Just having Command icons in waiting can net a Fleet a bonus to initiative in a round, but they can also be spent to issue Command Orders. Orders come in two forms: Standing Orders and Specialist Orders. A Standing Order is a non-unique action any Commander can use, such as “Brace For Impact,” “Improved Shooting,” and “Form Up,” to name just a few.
Specialist Orders are skills a particular Commander is known for. Some of these orders come with pros and cons that help build the personality of the Commander on the battlefield. For example, a Covenant Commander might be known for his aggressive boarding party tactics, so his special ability is to launch boarding parties from an extended range. Whether a Standing or Specialist Order is given, each one has a Command icon cost attached to it, so you’ll need to balance your Data Sheet with what you think will be the right amount of Attack, Defend, and Command icons.
Battles are not fought by one person alone, which is where the Heroic Characters come in, such as Cortana, Spartans, Prophets, and others. You can station these characters on ships throughout your fleet, which means they are vulnerable to death. Heroic Characters can potentially give Commanders an edge in the fight. The Heroic Characters sheets also has slots that are color coded, and if those slots match a Commander’s, the Commander can share those dice in the slots.
Neil describes this system as a matrix of effects. Some characters may get along with certain Commanders better than others, so friendships and rivalries can affect gameplay, which is another step towards giving characterization to the game. As an added bonus, the Fleet Commanders and Heroic Characters art is all being handled by the talented artists at 343 Industries.
The Spartan Touch
You can’t talk about dice and Spartan Games without discussing exploding dice, a hallmark of the company’s games. “It’s our thing. It’s what we do,” Neil remarked. For those unfamiliar with the idea of exploding dice, when a die is rolled, and the highest/best outcome comes up, you keep rerolling that die. This can result in continued successes that far outweigh what you should have been able to roll with just the given dice.
However, in Halo: Fleet Battles, a capping mechanic has been added to stop the rolls from getting out of control. This new mechanic comes in to play when determining effective ranges between ships. For example, a ship in effective range will get to go full out with all their fire power, but being further away may strip away the ability to have your dice explode into more successes. Doing this helps encourage players to maneuver ships more often. If you really need to take down that Covenant or UNSC ship, you’re going to have to risk getting up close and personal.
Keeping Story in Mind
Over the years, the Halo games, novels, comics, and live-action and animated videos have created a rich, story-driven world. At its core, you have the UNSC going up against the Covenant. Along the way, you meet the heroes of these battles and the story becomes more personal. Spartan knew maintaining this story driven world was important when developing Halo: Fleet Battles.
To do this, the team went beyond making detailed miniatures of ships. It looked to give a driving force to the conflict. The starter box, called Halo: Fleet Battles, The Fall of Reach, sets the stage of battle at the fortified world of Reach, a world colonized by humans. After the Covenant learned about the existence of Reach and a powerful artifact housed there, the choice was made to go after it. Thus the battle ensued, and that’s where the campaign structured gameplay of Halo: Fleet Battles’ starter comes in.
With the help and encouragement of 343 Industries, Spartan developed a Campaign Guide for the starter that offers a slew of introductory scenarios designed to walk players through the mechanics of the game. Scenarios give diehard Halo players a story to follow that they’re familiar with and a story structure similar to the console games. For example, a scenario may require the UNSC side to take down a Covenant ships’ shields, board the craft, capture the Prophet on board, and escape with the target. Or the player may run a scenario built for them to lose, but they must complete several side missions to meet their actual win condition before being destroyed by the Covenant. “There are times when it is about how well the UNSC lose. How bravely they lose,” remarks Neil.
However, scenario play isn’t required. Traditional tabletop gamers can play their way by bringing forces to the table to demonstrate their prowess without needing a story reason. But it’s Spartan’s hope that these scenarios will bring even those not interested in the story a little closer to the universe of Halo. And don’t worry, Reach is just the beginning. More scenarios and campaigns are set for release in the future.
Choosing Sides in the Coming Battle
When it comes time, will you attempt to take Reach as the Covenant or defend it with your life as the UNSC? Beyond the story hooks, there are differences between how the two perform on the field of battle. Take a look at Spartan’s design philosophy behind the gameplay of the warring factions. While developing the game, Spartan proposed the idea of a pack of hounds taking down a bear, and 343 Industries agreed. “The Covenant is the bear, and the UNSC is the pack of hounds. If the big bear hits the hound, it is dead meat. The hound pack has to hunt them knowing they’ll take pain and casualties, but also knowing they’ll open up the weak spot to go for the jugular,” explained Neil.
The philosophy comes out in gameplay form when you look at the number of ships on the field between the two forces and their designs. UNSC is loaded down with titanium armor, which is not as defensive as the Covenant’s energy shields. However, when you have enough UNSC ships knocking at a Covenant shield, they’ll eventually get through. And that’s when the UNSC’s missiles start to do their job. But that doesn’t mean the Covenant sits idly by. While the UNSC slowly chips away at the shields, the Covenant will strike back with highly destructive force.
Spartan Games aims to launch Halo: Fleet Battles in the Summer of 2015 with continued support after that. The two-player starter comes with 49 ships and will have everything players need to start playing the game, such as a detailed rule book, a Campaign Guide, tokens, dice, and more.
Once people have the game, Spartan and 343 Industries plan to offer continued support through structured tournaments, online scenarios, and additional campaign guides. Specially designed terrain is also in the works ranging from some for the cost conscious gamers to those looking for something a little more luxurious. In the next few months, come back for a review and more news about Halo: Fleet Battles and future Halo games from Spartan Games, 343 Industries, and Microsoft.
A version of this article appeared previously in issue #20 of our sister publication Ravage Magazine.
From the announcement:
Spartan Games announced in February that we had entered into a License Agreement with Microsoft Corporation to design and produce tabletop miniatures games for Halo®. The first products are set for launch in summer 2015 and this coming weekend we will premiere Halo® at Salute, the UK’s largest wargames show.
We’re hugely excited to be giving visitors to Salute the first look at what we’ve been working on. The centrepiece will be the first Halo® product - Halo®: Fleet Battles, The Fall Of Reach, a two-player box set featuring 49 high quality plastic models, full colour rulebook, campaign guide, scenery, custom dice and more.
HFBB01 Halo: Fleet Battles, The Fall of Reach
The Halo: Fleet Battles, The Fall of Reach two player battle box is the ultimate way for fans of the Halo Universe to recreate pivotal space battles between the stalwart forces of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and the relentless Covenant armada. Developed in close cooperation with 343 Industries, The Fall of Reach puts you at the centre of the most pivotal naval conflict of the long Human-Covenant War, commanding massive fleets of deadly warships as they clash above the fortified human colony of Reach. Take humanity’s last stand to the gaming table!
The Fall of Reach box contents include:
•A full colour 100-page rulebook packed full of images and examples
•Fall of Reach campaign guide
•49 highly-detailed plastic ship models
•25 custom Halo Dice
•Fleet Commander Data Sheets
•Flight Stands and Overlay Cards
•Punch-out Scenery and Token sheets
•Quick Guide reference sheets
Halo: Fleet Battles delivers an easy to learn, lore-infused, tactically-rich gaming experience that appeals both to experienced wargamers and fans of the Halo Universe.
The Fall of Reach box will be available to pre-order from the Spartan Games Online Store later this week.
From the post:
Keyes. Cole. Stanforth. Whitcomb. Harper. Hood.
These are names that elicit memories of heroes who helped turn the tide against the seemingly irresistible might of the Covenant war machine. Incredible feats against impossible odds. Now, thanks to our partners at Spartan Games (not fitting at all, is it?), the next commander to pull off a legendary victory against a formidable fleet might just be YOU. As announced this week, 343 Industries and Spartan Games have teamed up to produce an exciting new miniatures game set within the Halo universe. While specifics regarding game mechanics and other details will be coming soon, we wanted to shed some more light on how this new entry will fit into the overall Halo narrative.
Is it canon?
The short answer is: YES! The scenarios and vessels are fully vetted by 343 Industries and the Halo Franchise team. In fact, the approvals process for this game is more rigorous than most, as Spartan Games is both visualizing previously unrealized designs and revealing details about Halo space combat known by only a handful of writers. The descriptive text and technical details will also be canon, and we are excited to have this opportunity to reveal them in proper context!
The long answer is a bit more nuanced. Think about the War Games modes within various Halo games. The armor you are wearing, the weapons you are using, even most of the environments you find yourself in – all of these are canonical entities grounded directly into the lore, even if the exact actions or outcomes of your particular simulation aren’t. It’s like in Halo 4, where your Spartan-IV used the War Games as training in order to tackle the canonical missions that took place within the Halo: Spartan Ops storyline. While Spartans hone their skills in the War Games (among many other training regimes), they aren’t the only members of the UNSC that need to stay at the top of their game. If Halo multiplayer is for Spartans, this new miniatures games is for the captains, commanders, and admirals keeping humanity one step ahead of their enemies. Think of this new adventure as a training simulator for the men and women trying to command their fleets to victory in whatever situation might be thrown their way. Outnumbered against a Covenant armada? Facing off against a formidable fleet fielded by insurrectionist forces? Commanding a Sangheili task force during the Great Schism? The scenarios are yours to design, and yours to play out. As the game grows, so do the possibilities. Ever wondered if the war might have turned out differently if the UNSC Infinity had been present at the fall of Reach? Just how many UNSC frigates does it take to knock out a supercarrier? You might just get your chance to find out.
What’s up with those new ship designs?
You may have noticed a couple new beautiful ship designs that you haven’t seen before. Spartan Games has partnered hand in hand with 343 Industries to realize ship designs that have been perhaps referenced in previous fiction, but never visualized officially, until now. Clocking in at around three kilometers (9,843 feet), the Covenant ORS heavy cruiser and the UNSC Epoch-class carrier (2563 m) are both formidable in their own ways.
Covenant ORS Heavy Cruiser
The ORS Heavy cruiser isn’t exactly the type of thing that any UNSC captain wants to see appear on their viewscreen. Boasting a variety of stealth-related advancements as well as both plasma lance and cleansing beam capabilities, the ORS Heavy cruiser takes the already-impressive destructive capabilities of the CRS (Light cruiser), CCS (Battle cruiser), and RCS (Armored cruiser) class warships and ups the ante considerably.
UNSC Epoch-class Carrier
The Epoch-class is the heaviest of the UNSC carriers, trumping both the mid-range Orion-class carrier and the post-War Poseidon-class light carrier (seen in Halo 4) in tonnage. Capable of withstanding considerable punishment, the Epoch often finds itself serving as the lynchpin of any fleet action.
How do the new designs get created?
“Though these ships have not been officially seen in canon, none of these vessels are created in a vacuum. And while we gave Spartan Games considerable freedom in creating the 3D models, the Franchise team paid very close attention to the design iteration process to ensure that the vessels fit their faction, role, and established canonical details. Lucky, we don’t have to start from a blank slate. In addition to existing designs we have an extensive archive of concept art going all the way back to the preproduction phase of Halo: Combat Evolved that we made use of. We also have some specific details laid out in the Halo design documentation that provided hard bounds on the shape of the vessels. As many of those involved on the 343 Industries side are also miniature gamers (including Spartan Games’ Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars lines) we also wanted to address aspects of the design - keeping in mind the scale - that would impact their presentation in the rules so that the “feel” of Halo naval combat was maintained.
Paris-class frigate: From the 343 Industries’ perspective this was a simple design to approve, as it was based on the highpoly model from Halo: Reach. There were almost no changes needed beyond tiny details that had to be altered for the scale and casting in plastic.
Marathon-class cruiser: This required more work than might have been expected, though we obviously had a head-start in that we could make use of the amazingly detailed model created by Blur for the remastered Halo 2: Anniversary cinematics! The first choice by Spartan Games was to use the more recognizable Halcyon-class cruisers, but unfortunately that did not work for fictional reasons (as described in Halo: The Fall of Reach). However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see the Pillar of Autumn or other Halcyon vessels in the future!
Epoch-class carrier: For the Epoch-class carrier we referenced concept art from both Halo Wars, Halo 2, and Halo 4, as well as taking a close look at the Blur concepts. This vessel went through the most changes from initial blockout model to final version, and we’re very happy with the final look of the vessel, which hints at elements of UNSC designs stretching from pre-Covenant War to the volatile antebellum period. Spartan Games does most of their “concepting” in 3D, which was helpful in that we got a better idea of the silhouettes being presented, as well as the estimated level of detail when it would be realized in plastic. There were a lot of eyeballs on this design in particular, and we’re grateful to Spartan Games for sticking with us through all the notes!
SDV corvette: Lithe and graceful, the SDV is one of our favorite designs, and the level of detail that Spartan Games captured in the final miniature was surprising. One item of note is that the initial 3D sculpts from Spartan Games were actually extremely close to the Halo: Reach ship, though it was created without reference to the original model!
CCS cruiser: One of the most iconic ship designs in Halo, we were very specific about features that had to appear – even in miniature. They nailed this classic design, and we can’t wait to see massive fleets of these ships bearing down on the hapless UNSC fleets in custom fleet livery.
ORS heavy cruiser: Quite frankly, Spartan Games “got” the design language of the Covenant, and the ORS only went through a few rounds of iteration – the basic shape of the vessel was established right off the bat in 3D blockout. The final design melds the aesthetics of the SDV, CCS, and CSO, and is the perfect bridge between predatory and utilitarian Covenant design. The ORS, more than any other, convinced us that we were working with a partner who was committed to the Halo universe and could be trusted to work in a sensitive area of the setting. We can’t wait to work with Spartan Games on the and the absolutely massive (even at this game’s scale) Long Night of Solace!”
- 343 Industries Franchise Team
How does Spartan Games feel about working in the Halo universe?
“The ORS-class Heavy Cruiser was intended to be the big brother to the CCS-class Battlecruiser, whilst simultaneously paying homage to the massive yet elegant CAS-class Assault Carrier. It was a chance to bring the aesthetics of the various vessels together and create a harmony between their slick, amphibian-like forms. The bulbous, front heavy Assault Carrier is sleek but strong and imposing - especially when viewed from above. It almost has broad shoulders and a thick neck, like some sort of monstrous space-faring titan!
“The Heavy Cruiser shares this strong, front-heavy figure but maintains the core architecture of the Battlecruiser. Details such as the iconic front fins and teardrop hull forms draw parallels to the CCS-class helping it to feel like it is a tougher, heavily reinforced variant. The Heavy Cruiser maintains the organic sweeping lines of the Covenant aesthetic. The front cowl on top of its bow tapers backward, weaving into the neck of the vessel like that of a muscle interlacing with another.
"The bold, sweeping arc on the front of the main chassis was a nod toward the exquisite looking SDV-class Corvette. This small warship is light and airy with some graceful hull forms creating voids through the ships entire lower section. A comparatively small Heavy Corvette can rest comfortably within the protective shadow of a Heavy Cruiser. Overall, the Heavy Cruiser provides a dominant and striking visual link between the intermediate sizes of the Covenant cruisers and the gigantic carrier classes.”
- Chris P – Lead Designer Covenant, Spartan Games
“The Epoch Heavy Carrier was designed to be a fusion of various UNSC ship aesthetics to document a transition from older ships in the navy to the newer post human-Covenant warships. Structurally it shares a number of unique features with the Phoenix-class carrier from Halo Wars such as its wide 'awning' panels and open ventral bay areas. However, unlike the Spirit of Fire which was a retrofitted colony ship, the Epoch is a purpose-build military craft and as such it has the slab-sided, industrial feel of the UNSC military. Its length and paneling detail hint at structural and technological features that would later be employed and improved in the construction of the Infinity while the telescoping front and layered armour panels paints this as a contemporary to the Marathon and Halcyon Classes.”
- Chris D – Lead Designer UNSC, Spartan Games
“From the moment we started the Halo tabletop projects it was key to us that we kept a mind-set of … ‘If you can do it in Halo - or would like to do it in Halo - you can do it in Halo fleet battles’ and this was the guiding principle, mantra if you will, as the tabletop game development kicked off. The partnership with Microsoft to develop the games and models has been a hugely fun process and it was very satisfying to realize our first two new ship designs with their full assistance.
“As the Spartan model makers progressed Microsoft’s input was invaluable, and when you are suddenly given the opportunity to create new ship designs you literally feel exhilarated and nervous simultaneously. Thankfully the team at Microsoft worked with us all the way, answered our myriad of questions and kept us on the right track. We still feel nervous – but now the exhilaration outweighs it.”
- Neil Fawcett – Creative Director, Spartan Games
“When we approaching the rules-design for the Halo fleet battles tabletop Game we focused on ensuring we embraced the stunning and engrossing imagery present in the Halo Universe. We needed a game engine that would allow you to steer your wings of interceptors into vicious dogfights against enemy bombers… smash enemy space craft apart with stunning volleys of fire from your Primary and Secondary weapon systems… and of course send boarding forces across the expanse of space to fight the enemy in close quarters.
"As ourselves being huge fans of the Halo games, we are delighted to be able to work in partnership with Microsoft to bring Halo to the genre of tabletop gaming, allowing us to engage with Halo fans (wargamers and video gamers alike) across the Halo Universe!”
- Derek Sinclair – Head of Game Design, Spartan Games
Needless to say, we’re not just excited for fans all over the world to get their hands on this new aspect of the Halo universe later this year, many of us at the studio are excited to get our hands on them ourselves! We may or may not have a large table in the office just begging to become a battleground when the fleets are ready to be amassed. Just saying. At any rate, we hope you are as excited to play as we are.
From the announcement:
Spartan Games has entered into a License Agreement with Microsoft Corporation to design and produce tabletop miniatures games for "Halo®", the global entertainment phenomenon. The first products will be on sale around the world through Spartan Games' sales and distribution channels in 2015.
The award winning "Halo" franchise was first seen on the Xbox in 2001, but has since transcended video games to build a worldwide fan base of millions and inspired best-selling novels, comic books, action figures, apparel and more. Now exciting tabletop miniatures games can be added to the list.
Neil Fawcett, Creative Director, Spartan Games said "Our design team are huge fans of 'Halo' and this opportunity is the icing on the cake for them. After six years of successfully creating our own games and models, we can now work with Microsoft to bring epic 'Halo' spaceship battles to gaming tables around the world. And if that's not enough, we're making fast and furious ground combat games as well. Hard to tell what is more exciting: invading Reach with our Covenant Fleet or assaulting ground defences with Spartans and UNSC Marines?"