Whilst it is true that my copy of Halo Fleet Battles was delivered this morning, due to our impending holiday, it’s staying firmly shut in the box until we get back next week.
Luckily, that nice Mr Mike Hobbs has put together a rules overview, for those that might be interested…
Halo – the Rules overview
This walkthrough of the rules is the result of a game I played at Spartan HQ before the game was released and some notes I took using the Quick Reference sheet and the components you get in the game. I currently don’t have access to the rule book so some of the rules might be incorrect. However this document will give you a flavour of the rules
Introduction and Fleet creation
Halo – Fleet battles is as its name suggests a spaceship game based in the Halo universe and the rules have been designed to allow for large fleet actions to be played in a relatively short period of time.
It uses a point’s based system to allow players to build their fleets and the basic building block is the ‘Element’, an Element is a 60mm x 60mm base which represents a unit of ships and these elements are grouped together into battlegroups.
Your fleet will contain many battlegroups but to give an example in the core box the Covenant player will have enough elements to create 3 battlegroups whilst the UNSC player could create 4 or even 5 battlegroups.
The rules for creating battlegroups is simple, each battlegroup must contain 1 capital ship element and 1 support ship element as a minimum. Each element also has a build rating which when added together cannot be greater than 6
In this example the Covenant Battlecruiser has a build rating of 3 whilst each Heavy Corvette element has a build rating of 1 which means the total build rating for that battlegroup is 6
As well as having a build rating each element also has a points cost and this is used to create the overall fleet. As well as using points to buy ship elements, each fleet must have a commander which have their own points cost as well as special optional units such as Spartans or Covenant Zealots (both of which are used in boarding actions)
Once players have created their fleet it’s time to work out the number of boarding craft and small craft each battlegroup can generate at the start of the battle. This is done per battlegroup using information from the Element stats cards (see below)
The number of boarding craft available to a battlegroup (plus any special boarders) are placed onto the base of an element in the battlegroup and in the game they launch from this element
Wings are worked out in a similar way with each battlegroup being able to generate a number of wing tokens
Setting up the table and wings
The game includes rules for setting up a game but generally terrain is laid out, players then decide which table edge they want to deploy on and then players alternate placing battlegroups until all battlegroups are placed on the table.
Once all battlegroups are placed the players can place their ‘Wings’ on the table up to 8” in front of the battlegroups.
These ‘Wings’ are small interceptors and bombers that are represented by tokens and fight their own battles during the game. Bombers can be used to inflict damage on larger ships whilst interceptors are used to try and negate that threat. Wings can also be placed on friendly element bases to represent close support and are useful if bombers or boarders break through the forward defences.
Once all battlegroups are placed its time to start the game
The Turn Sequence
Each turn of the game is split into 5 phases which are:-
- Orders phase
- Wing phase
- Battlegroup phase
- Boarding resolution phase
- End phase
Let’s look at these in a little more detail
Each commander in your fleet has a card which explains the orders that commander can give during a turn, these orders are represented by use of 5 special dice which are rolled during this turn and placed on the commander’s card.
The order dice have 3 symbols which are:-
The orders card shows the number of each dice symbol that is required to carry out an order and also tells you when that order can be played.
Orders dice are also used to work out initiative for the turn, with each player rolling a d6 and adding +1 for each command dice symbol on the commander’s card
The wing phase is split into sections, Move and Attack with all movement being carried out before combat is worked out.
Wings are represented on the table as a stack of tokens that are either interceptors or bombers (not a mix of both) and players alternate moving each wing. The stats cards give the movement value for each type of wing and movement for them is free flow with no movement restrictions.
If 2 enemy wings move into contact they become locked and any wings still in contact at the end of the Wing Movement phase take part in combat.
However it is possible to unlock bombers by moving a stack of friendly interceptors into base contact with the locking unit. Let me give you an example
- Player 1 activates a wing of bombers and moves them across the table
- Player 2 seeing the threat moves a wing of interceptors into base contact with the bombers locking them
- Player 1 then counters this by moving his own stack of interceptors into base contact with the locking unit, this allows the bombers to move a few inches away from the combat
- And so on.
Once all movement is completed the Attack phase is started and players work through resolving the combat for each stack of locked wings.
I’ll cover combat in more detail later but in short each wing token generates a number of attack dice and these are rolled to work out a number of hits. Each token can take a number of hits before it’s removed from play and wing combat is simultaneous. If wings remain in base contact at the end of the phase then they count as locked in the following turn.
Wings that are removed from play go into a scrap pile and some elements can launch new waves in the end phase of the turn, this means Wings are always in play and players have to continual guard against bombers
If a wing of bombers is able to get through to an element in a battlegroup during the movement phase and it’s not locked by interceptors then it can carry out a bombing run against the element.
Elements do have to ability to fight off these attacks using their point defences but these attacks if successful can be devastating as they take affect before the Battlegroup phase of the turn
These attacks use the standard combat mechanics, but more on that later
Once the Wing phase is completed its time to activate the battlegroups, player alternate and activate a battlegroup at a time, the player with initiative gets to decide who activates first. Once a player decides which battlegroup to activate the elements are moved and then combat is carried out, also during this phase boarding actions are initialised.
As you would expect movement is simple with each element having a movement value, elements can turn up to 45 degrees at the beginning and/or end of the movement dependent on their type. For example an element of UNSC Paris frigates can turn at the beginning and at the end of a movement whilst a large Epoch carrier can only make a single turn at the end of its movement. There are some special rules for movement that each faction can use and in the future some commanders of heroes might allow for other special rules to be used in game.
One golden rule is elements must move a minimum of half their movement during a turn and no, you can’t reverse
Also during movement elements can launch boarding craft at enemy ships, these use similar rules to Wings and if they get into base contact with an enemy element the craft is assumed to be boarded. Like bombers they can be shot down by point defence or attached interceptors
Once the elements in a battlegroup have moved, combat is carried out.
Each element have primary and in some cases secondary weapons and they are fired in turn, if different elements in a battlegroup share a weapon type they can combine their fire. Before any firing is carried out players have to declare what they are firing at and with what weapons for the whole battlegroup, then you work through the firing doing all primary weapons before moving onto the secondary ones. Each weapon type has a range a firing arc and an attack value.
So simply check the range (you can premeasure) check you are in arc and then total up the attack dice you’ll be rolling
Range is measured from the center to center of elements and firing arc is worked by looking at the overlay card on each elements stand
This element (a Covenant Heavy Corvette squadron) has 2 weapons, its primary arc is designated by the outer light blue circle on the card, whilst the secondary weapons arc is shown by the inner purple segment of the circle
Once you’ve work out if a weapon can fire you then add up the attack dice. So for example if 4 elements of the Heavy Corvettes are firing their plasma cannons (4 dice per element) at a single target they would generate 16 attack dice
Or you could split the fire and allocate 8 dice at 2 enemy elements and so on, but the important thing is you have to decide what you are going to fire at before any firing is carried out
The game uses special dice to speed up combat, these dice have 4 different facings which are
- Really bad Miss
- 1 success
- 2 successes
But the actual effects of the dice are determined by the firepower rating of the shot and that’s determined by a nice little sliding scale. There are 5 different firepower ratings the higher the rating the better the effects of the shooting.
For example at firepower rating 4 (which is the default) all hits count and you can reroll a dice with a Miss facing for each 2 success facing you have already rolled.
But at firepower rating 2, any 2 success rolls count as a single success and no rerolls are allowed
The firepower rating you shoot at depends on a number of things, like the range of the shot, if any terrain is in the way etc.
Once you’ve worked out the number of hits you’ve made, your opponent tries to nullify some (or all) of those hits by rolling a number of combat dice again using the firepower rating and counting successes. The number of dice rolled to save is dependent on any shields the ship may have
The defended successes are removed from the attacking successes to give you a final hit number, you then work out if you scored enough successes to cause a damage point.
Each element has a damage track and this is the number of successes needed to cause a damage point, once a ship has taken 3 damage points it’s removed from the table.
If you look at the picture above again you’ll so the Heavy Corvette element has a damage track of 4-4-3, so if you did 6 successes against it you would cause 1 damage point against it, but you did 9 successes then you would have caused 2 damage points and you only needed to do 3 successes in another attack to remove it from the table. Unused successes are not saved btw you have to score enough successes to cause a damage point, any excesses are disregarded
Other weapons like torpedoes use similar mechanics although torpedoes are vulnerable to point defence like bombers and boarding craft.
Once you’ve finished all attacks for the active battlegroup, the opposing player picks a battlegroups and carries out movement and attacks, until all battlegroups have been activated, then you move onto phase 4
Boarding resolution phase
This phase only happens if at the end of the battlegroup phase some elements have enemy boarding craft attached to them. The mechanics are nice and simple as you would expect
- Attacker rolls combat dice
- Defender rolls combat dice
- Work out who rolled higher
- Roll on the boarding result table
Step 1 the attacker works out the number of combat dice available, this is done by counting up the security detail number on each token in the boarding action and then rolls dice using the firepower rating for that unit
Step 2 the defender does the same using the security detail number for the element plus any friendly boarders he has on board
Step 3 is deciding who scored highest and what the difference is as that will affect what happens in step 4
Step 4 roll on the Boarding results table, each player rolls a d6 and the results are added together along with a modifier depending on what happened in step 3 and the results are applied.
The results on the boarding table go from ‘Vainglorious Assault’ where the boarding action fails and all board craft are expelled into space to ‘Critical Core Breach’ where the element is removed from play and other elements around it also takes hits.
Finally once all that’s done you move onto the End phase where players can try and repair damage, work out if anyone has won the game and generally tidy up ready for the next turn.
As you would expect the rules contain a lot more depth to what I’ve captured here, I haven’t mentioned things like venerable tokens, countdown tokens, MAC special rules, heroes or other concepts like that. But as you can see from this review the game has some simple mechanics and captures the style of the game beautifully