HALO Fleet Battles Unboxing – BATTLESTATIONS! BATTLESTATIONS!

Keyes snapped on the intercom.  “Lieutenant Hall, what is our repair and refit status?”

“Sir,”  she replied.  “Engines are operational, but only with the backup coolant system.  We can heat  them to fifty percent.  Archer and nuclear ordinance resupply is complete.  MAC guns are also operational.  Repairs to lower decks have just started.”

-HALO: The Fall of Reach

I’ve been a HALO fan for a while.  When I heard about the upcoming HALO Fleet Battles game from Spartan Games, I may or may not have squeed.  I’ll deny it to my dying day.

More after the break.

I received my copy of the game on the afternoon of 12 August.  I dashed home, and after dinner I opened it with eager hands.

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For those that don’t know….if that’s even possible…..HALO is the long-running flagship video game title for the X-Box.  It’s a first person shooter, wherein the exploits of a human SPARTAN II super-soldier known only as the Master Chief, or John-117, fights more or less single-handedly an evil alien military force bent on wholesale extermination of the human race.  In the games, star-ships are only used as set-pieces, or in cut-scenes.  The novels cover much more of the fluff, and in several naval actions take place to great dramatic effect.

Back to the game….

Inside the box were two smaller boxes.

Opening one at random, I  found the rulebook, campaign guide, counters, ship data sheets and two sprues of miniatures.  I also noted two pages of two-dimensional terrain.  All of the printed material is high quality.  The counters are punched cleanly, the colors are vibrant, in particular with the terrain.  All are printed on high quality, glossy paper, with an apparent coating of thin plastic.

I must admit I was impressed with the quality of the presentation.

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I opened the second box, and pulled out the sprues.  The boxed set contains enough for two fully functional fleets.

Here are example sprues:

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The sprues are cleanly cast, and the detail is good.  The scale is approximately 1/2000, but this is only by my eyeball estimation.  The part count is minimal, and easy to follow instructions were included.

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Included are enough flight stands for all of the miniatures.  Unlike their other space combat game Firestorm Armada, Spartan Games has included a novel formation feature, allowing a single stand to have a capitol ship (Cruiser or larger) and an escort (Destroyer or smaller) acting in tandem.  The bases look strong, and have fitted cardboard inserts which detail the formation, and allow for the location of two or more models on a single base.

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 At first blush, the rules seem fairly simple to follow.  The book is well laid out, with clear and concise examples for each step, and rule.  The artwork inside is solid, with a great many photographs of well painted miniatures, and ideas for terrain, and game play.  The scenario book allows for players unfamiliar with the system to work their way up to full proficiency, while enjoying the game.  The use of specific dice to perform specific tasks pertaining to game play is intuitive, and simple.  There is enough depth to the rules to allow for a great deal of strategy, and experimentation with formations, battle groups and scenario play.

There is however, one problem.

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Plural.

My boxed set was missing all of the dice needed to play the game.  I contacted Spartan Games via email.

Within six hours I had received and email response, and was informed that the error would be made right.  I was impressed.  Good customer service.  Color me satisfied.

From the Spartan Games website:

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
    • UNSC (32 models)
      • 1 Epoch-class Heavy Carriers
      • 4 Marathon-class Heavy Cruisers
      • 27 Paris-class Frigates
    • Covenant (17 models)
      • 1 ORS Class Heavy Cruisers
      • 2 CCS Class Battlecruisers
      • 14 SDV Heavy Corvettes
  • 30 custom Halo Dice
  • Fleet Commander Data Sheets
  • Flight Stands and Overlay Cards
  • Punch-out Scenery and Token sheets
  • Quick Guide reference sheets

The MSRP is 80 GBP, or approximately $120.00 USD.  Expensive, but a complete game for two players to start with at that price is hard to beat.

Thoughts:

HALO is a flagship video game title that has long been sought by wargamers for tabletop play.  The effort seen here is an excellent start.   The quality of the miniatures is good.  Details are crisp and the models seem easy to assemble.  The rules seem solid, and relatively easy to understand.

The only thing I don’t like is the thickness of the clear plastic bases used.  It tends to fog and crack when removed from the sprue.  I plan on painting mine black anyway, so this is mitigated.

The HALO universe has historically dealt primarily with ground combat.  According to internet rumor, Spartan Games has plans for a ground combat game.  The HALO universe is vast, with great room for expansion, and addition both to the space combat game, and to the possible ground combat game.  While some of the ships in the halo universe (I’m looking at you, LONG NIGHT OF SOLACE) would be impractical to see on the tabletop, it is possible to have large scale fleet battles in the HALO universe.  There are designs in the wargame that are unseen in the videogame.  Spartan Games has expressed great pleasure in dealing with 343 industries in making the miniatures a reality.

Verdict:  If you like space combat games, and HALO…this is a no brainer.

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  • Great review.

    It does look like some quality parts in there, especially the models. If ever there was a video game that would translate well to wargaming it would be HALO.

    • Sabot APFSDS-T

      I agree. I think that the potential here is massive.

  • Great review i got very excited at the thought of HALO tabletop games but I think I might hang on for the ground battles one I have a hankering to own some scorpion tanks

    • Yeah I wonder why they started with fleet battles? Maybe because X-Wing is having mainstream success.

      • Sabot APFSDS-T

        I don’t think the HALO universe focused as much on small ship combat. X-Wing, and the Star Wars franchise is all about fighter combat. Just my thoughts.

  • Bush Craft

    Dooooooooood. That looks boss, let’s see some game play soon!

    This makes me wanna bring a case of beer by your house and play HALO: ODST for an entire sunday

    • Sabot APFSDS-T

      Come on up. I’ll keep the light on for ya. First to get a Killamanjaro wins.

  • Sucks about the dice, but good to see someone reviewing this box! Halo does seem to have the perfect universe for a multi-layered play (space/ground/air)

    • I am very happy to see that Spartan’s stellar reputation for service is being upheld. I am always happy to see a company treat customers like they matter.

      • Sabot APFSDS-T

        I was totally pleased. They were very pleasant.

  • I’d be interested to see how it holds up in gameplay to Armada. I’m basically fully committed to the SW side right now, and will probably drop about $200+ when Wave 2 comes out…. *SIGH*