Halo is an interesting franchise. The space war series is best known for the seemingly endless range of video games, in which one sole super-soldier takes on a horde of alien villains. 343 Industries, the people behind the games, have made sure that it’s a proper franchise. There are books, movies, toys and comics based in the world of this militaristic future. With Halo Ground Command, there is now a table-top war game.
This is a very traditional style miniatures war game. None of the models are pre-prepared, and they have to be assembled and painted. The bulk of the models are made from pewter, with the bases and vehicles being cast out of resin. Both the Warthog and Ghost vehicles look ace and are fun to paint. The scenery provided includes two thick plastic bunkers with cardboard decals, as well as assorted crates and obstacles. The core set is designed as a starter, so it comes with plenty of pieces for both the UNSC and Covenant forces. This is a 1/100th (aka 15mm) scale game; the pieces look nothing like other space games out there and the different scale adds to the unique feel of the game. With plenty of models and scenery, it becomes quite easy to emulate the ‘full scale war’ feel of the franchise.
Gameplay wise, this is a rapid, easy to pick up battle game. It works easily as a small skirmish game, but it doesn’t slow down as you add models. Pieces are split into battle groups, so designing your force at the start is a game in its own right. You’re essentially fielding squads of troops, ducking and dashing across the board to achieve their objective. Meanwhile, the super soldiers on both sides stride across the table like gods of war, battering the heck out of each other.
One of the innovations is that rather than the traditional “I go, you go” turn order you normally find in these games, there’s a ‘reaction’ rule that allows you to interrupt an action. It requires a skill roll, and if you fail, you waste an action. Succeed and you get the jump on the enemy. This changes the strategy substantially. Much of the UNSC game depends on correctly using your Spartan super trooper correctly. Much like the video game, the Spartans are the heroes.
Like its space-ship combat sister game, Halo Fleet Battles, this is a slickly designed game with custom dice and solid counters. It’s very much a war gamer’s game though; if you like modelling and painting, then you’ll love the value and quality of this set. It’s also a strong introduction to this sort of gaming for those who like their future space war with a very specific flavour.
HALO GROUND COMMAND - BATTLE FOR REACH / DESIGN: NEIL FAWCETT, DEREK SINCLAIR / ARTISTS: JONATHAN LA TROBE-LEWIS, CHRISTOPHER PEACEY / PUBLISHER: SPARTAN GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW