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Were the Covenant Ever Scary? - RANT

OP Archon Vaxal

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Ado Ulamee wrote:
True, but the Sangheili were in charge of military matters, not the san shyuum. We saw they disliked the idea of the Unggoy joining the armed forces as proper foot soldiers after the Unggoy rebellion.However, the Writ of Union decreed that military matters were not their job, thus they relented. As for their reputation, would say as others have and that it just depends on the Sangheili at the time. You will have warriors like Fal 'Chavamee who wiped out an army, to Vil 'Kthamee, whose talent laid with Huragok communication and being more keen with observations. Outside of that he appeared pretty average.
What I mean by "reputation" is what the people in-universe say about the Elites and what they do when it comes to Elites.

Given everything that's been said so far: I would have to find it utterly laughable that ONI and Parangosky ever felt the need to sabotage Sanghelios with Kilo-5 and that Irukan bio-weapon stuff. Because, apparently, all you have to do is drop ten Spartans with a single knife at their disposal on Sanghelios, and they'll conquer the planet in three weeks or less.
Hell, drop two marine platoons on Sanghelios and they'll get the job done in a month, according to FordFalcon1997.

In The Mona Lisa, the marines talk a lot about not taking chances with unarmored, unarmed Sangheili, with one of them even commenting that such an Elite can easily overpower anyone... but then there's the Arbiter's fight with Johnson and Miranda in Halo 2, where Thel seems like he's more in-line with an Orc from Lord of the Rings.
You have Yevgenny from Dirt, in Evolutions, stating Spartan-IIs and Elites to be "equals"... but then there's Headhunters in the same book... and the Spartan-IIIs in SPI armor making it look downright leisurely in Ghosts of Onyx... and the cutscene where Ripa gets made a joke of and three Spartans stonewall dozens of Elites... and where John crushes a Spec-Ops Elite's skull with his hand (completely out-of-the-blue and where he'd shown no ability to do so previously, by the way), in The Flood...

Everyone in the Halo universe seems to talk the Elites up something fierce, but nothing actually happens to lend any of that a single shred of credence. If anything, all of that praise should be getting thrown at the Brutes, for everything we've been shown. But it doesn't. The UNSC and ONI get themselves up in a tizzy over winning over the Swords of Sanghelios and/or keeping the Elites at-arms-reach, but given everything that's been said, one struggles to wonder why! Are the Elites dangerous or not? Are they in the ballpark of Spartans, or are they glorified ODSTs? All of the characters act and talk as though it's the former, but things always end up displaying the latter!
You're forgetting the fact that every Elite has more or less the same childhood and upbringing. All are trained the same way, and their skillets are expressly made uniform as a means of ensuring meritocracy. A poor showing on one Elite's part kind of has to be a poor showing for the entire species, or at least that Elite's entire Clan.

And by this, I don't mean to suggest that genes and biology play no part in a person's overall success level, but the whole of Sanghelios has been embroiled, at least for a thousand years, in an arms race against each other, even during the Covenant's rule. When the ability to mate is predicated on one's success on the battlefield, both in terms of survival, and in culture, you'd think that that would have thinned out the incompetent a long time ago.

My point about the Elite/Brute rivalry wasn't about how they stack up against each other, and the point about "glassing form orbit" is erroneous when one remembers that the Brutes joined willingly. When the Hierarchs and the High Council are watching things proceed and have all of the information at their fingertips, it makes no sense that they'd put the Brutes lower than Elites on the totem pole, when Brutes (seem to) repeatedly outperform Elites at every turn. If the matter is over which group would best serve the Great Journey and the Covenant's military needs, the leaders of the Covenant must have been just as oblivious as literally everyone else in the Halo universe not to notice that the Brutes (apparently) Roflstomp Elites in combat, every time.

My issue is: if everything you're saying is correct, you'd think that the characters in the actual universe would point that out. Or at least hint at it, beyond just blatant insults and biased opinions.
Halo has a big problem, in this regard. It says one thing, does the opposite, and makes no attempt to reconcile the conflicting messages. It feels like a lot of the writers seem to repeatedly forget the maxim "show don't tell".
That hardly matters when the cultural and military mindset of the Sangheili are that of warriors, not soldiers. A Sangheili may have been trained since childhood in the art of war, but in terms of military discipline, adherence to protocol, cooperation and other areas that the marines, navy, army and air force exemplify, there have been cases where the Sangheili have been found lacking in these areas. In a one on one fight a Sangheili outclasses marines by a significant margin in physical prowess, but in terms of operating a gun or leading a team, the difference in the two's skill set is far less drastic. In addition to this, you are treating the Sangheili as being nothing more than a planet of hats, where individuals differ little from one another when the reality of the situation is that the Sangheili vary significantly as a species, just like how we, humans, differ significantly from one another. Some of us are great at problem solving while others have better memory retention. Some of us are good at gymnastics while others are bodybuilders, or athletes. The same very much applies to the Sangheili as a species. Now when looking at Spartans, they are the pinnacle of human ability if not outright superhuman in some of these cases before augmentation enhanced those abilities even further. Honestly, it's not even fair to compare Elites with Spartans, considering that Spartans are the cream of the crop in terms of ability and thus have a far smaller range and far higher overall ability compared to the Sangheili Joe Smoe. The only thing the two could be considered a match in is physical strength, and even that is debatable considering that Spartans are punching you with the mass of half a metric ton behind them, while an Elite weighs a mere 130-180 kilos.

You'd think, but the San'Shyuum have been manipulating the Sangheili right down to their cultural core for thousands of years, and the Covenant care much more about obedience than martial capabilities. Take Atriox for example, who was marked for assassination by his Sangheili commander and the Prophet of Truth himself because he was too good at his job. And this wasn't a once-off occurrence considering that Imperial Admiral Xytan Jar 'Witinree was exiled for the same reason. The Covenant has proven that it cares little for competence and individual ability, especially when it comes into conflict with the people's obedience to Covenant military/religious doctrines. When you look at how the Covenant treated the Unggoy as mere cannon fodder despite their incredible ability to absorb and retain information, threw the powerful Jiralhanae on the frontlines naked and gave the Kig-Yar mainly pistols and a handheld shield, what makes you think the Sangheili (who are effectively synonymous with the Covenant in this context) would be any different?

I'm going to need a source that the Jiralhanae joined up with the Covenant willingly and not put up any fight whatsoever, considering both Halo: Contact Harvest and the Jiralhanae's own universe entry here on waypoint clearly prove otherwise: https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/universe/species/jiralhanae
Quote:
THE FIRST IMMOLATION
Prior to their incorporation into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae underwent a brutal decade-long civil war which set their planet ablaze and almost brought them to extinction. Historically, this event is referred to as ‘The First Immolation,’ a nuclear holocaust of such magnitude that it drove them back several hundred years in science and machinery. While the Jiralhanae are, at their base, divided into a vast number of pack-like clans, nearly all these fell into one of two major social divisions or skeins: the Rh’tol or the Vheiloth. These skeins were profoundly different in culture, philosophy, and most importantly their pursuit of power. Eventually they collided when a protracted territorial dispute took a sudden and violent turn. Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
Again, you are ignoring the political and cultural context of the situation. The Sangheili have been the Covenant's ruling military caste since it's very inception, and dictate all matters relating to the Covenant military. This fact had remained unchanged for thousands of years and after the induction of many species including the Unggoy, Lekgolo, Yanme'e, Kig-Yar and more. The introduction of the Jiralhanae (at first) did little to change things in the political arena, and it was only after decades of war and Truth's machinations had risen far beyond their station and began replacing the Sangheili in military matters.

We have had characters in-universe question the effectiveness of Covenant troops even as early as 2526, such as when Sergeant Avery Jr Johnson was debriefed by two UNSC admirals and Dr Halsey on his encounters with the Covenant, and how the Covenant, in comparison to marines and other human military personnel, aren't as skilled or as disciplined as one would expect and it is a flaw that the UNSC had been aware of and have exploited on a number of occasions.
Thel does easily beat Miranda and Johnson unarmed though, suffering only a few bullet wounds. With Ripa, he was pretty much toying with Forge. He could have ended the fight with a single punch, but prolonged it for his own enjoyment. Red team facing off against the stealth sangheili was nothing but pure "yay spartan" moment.You have one side with guns, the other charging with spears and lacking shields. I am not surprised at how that one ended.

As for the head hunters, they were the best of their group facing off against sub-par covenant, something they muse on during the book. They were also noted by one Sangheili to be "assassins" compared to warriors. We see what happens to Spartan III on open battlefields, they are crushed/glassed/vaporized. Also a tad curious on the quote for chief crushing a sangheili skull.

What was the page of that one? Honestly I think one of the main problems when it comes to this is that the view changes too much on the human side. What a marine/odst sees in a Sangheili during combat/told by others will be different then what a headhunter/spartan III will see. Both of these too will be vastly different for spartan II who have to be augmented to match the higher ranked commanders.
Ado Ulamee wrote:
Well the fact is this matter is a lot more complicated than simply the physical prowess of individual Elites and Brutes. Before we discuss that, I should point out to you that a fundamental flaw in your argument is that you are comparing an entire species who range in a variety of traits and characteristics - and thus skill and ability - with a group of developed super soldiers taken from the "cream of the crop" when it comes to the range of human ability. The average Elite is no match for a Spartan in terms of skill and ability on the battefield - especially when a firefight is determined more by tactics, effective use of resources, marksmanship, and so on far more than who's bigger and can punch harder. Now contrasting an Elite with a marine, it's obvious that the Elite has many tactical advantages over the marine, but have a squad of marines, and you'd find that the marine's teamwork and efficiency would allow them to hold their own against even a dozen Elites for one fundamental reason: Elites are more warriors than soldiers, and this is especially true when the average Elite isn't that much different from a marine in skill and ability on the battlefield (marksmanship, use of tactics, etc.). Sure, Elites are bigger and stronger, but again that means little on the battlefield where a marine with a sniper rifle in his hands could put a bullet in-between the eyes of an angry Elite with an energy sword. This BTW applies to all species in the Covenant, not just the Sangheili. The Covenant may have superior technology and numbers, but their culture and ideologies, as well as the lack of proper training and treatment for species like the Unggoy and Jiralhanae that holds back the Covenant's military prowess from reaching it's full potential.

This doesn't mean that the claim that the Sangheili were the "iron heart of the Covenant" is -Yoink-. That fact has always been the case as the Covenant military is entirely Sangheili dominate and is reflective of the Sangheili's cultures and ideologies. It's the Covenant who are leading the Unggoy on the ground just as the Sangheili are cleansing planets from high orbit, and this has been the case for almost the entirety of the Covenant's existence, and we have seen on many occasions of very capable Sangheili that can rival, if not outmatch even humanity's Spartans in skill, ability and battlefield performance. Take Thel 'Vadam, or Rtas 'Vadum who are very capable warriors in their own right. But do not mistaken these characters as merely representations of their species when these individuals are considered remarkable amongst the rest of the Sangheili.

As for the Sangheili/Jiralhanae relationship, the Sangheili have been the leading military caste in the Covenant since it's very foundation. In comparison, the Jiralhanae have only been part of the Covenant for 60 years before it's collapse and when they were inducted into the Covenant the Brutes weren't united nor had the military power to fight them off or have much sway on the Covenant's political arena. Thus, the Sangheili could use the Jiralhanae anyway they saw fit. It didn't matter if the Brutes can punch Elites across the room when the Elites can glass them from orbit and leverage their far superior technology against them (energy shields, active camo, weapons that can blow off limbs, crystal shards that track its targets). It is only after nearly three decades of war and the machinations of the Prophet of Truth that the political position of the Jiralhanae has changed so drastically that they were considered near equals with the Elites - and eventually supplanted them as the leading military caste in the Covenant.

Well it seems that you and I have different opinions on the Jiralhanae as a race in the Halo universe.
But the Prophets make up 50% of the High Council. Half is half, and the Prophets have always been portrayed as the more pragmatic half of the Covenant leadership.
I can't tell if this line is serious or not. The Sangheili, who oversee the entire Covenant military, have always been more pragmatic over the Covenant's religious and political caste species. In fact, it's the San'Shyuum's politics and religious dogma that has on numerous occasions come into conflict with the Sangheili's military matters on more than one occasion. Take the Battle of Installation 04, where a San'Shyuum minister overruled Thel 'Vadam's order to destroy the Pillar of Autumn when it arrived at Alpha Halo (Halo: The Flood), or how in Halo: Silent Storm the San'Shyuum minister overseeing the initial campaigns against humantity was far more interested in his personal gain and the Covenant religion that he was constantly in conflict with the Covenant fleet's Fleet Admiral and a Silent Shadow operative.

"Prophets have always been portrayed as the more pragmatic half of the Covenant leadership" my -Yoink-.
That hardly matters when the cultural and military mindset of the Sangheili are that of warriors, not soldiers. A Sangheili may have been trained since childhood in the art of war, but in terms of military discipline, adherence to protocol, cooperation and other areas that the marines, navy, army and air force exemplify, there have been cases where the Sangheili have been found lacking in these areas. In a one on one fight a Sangheili outclasses marines by a significant margin in physical prowess, but in terms of operating a gun or leading a team, the difference in the two's skill set is far less drastic. In addition to this, you are treating the Sangheili as being nothing more than a planet of hats, where individuals differ little from one another when the reality of the situation is that the Sangheili vary significantly as a species, just like how we, humans, differ significantly from one another. Some of us are great at problem solving while others have better memory retention. Some of us are good at gymnastics while others are bodybuilders, or athletes. The same very much applies to the Sangheili as a species. Now when looking at Spartans, they are the pinnacle of human ability if not outright superhuman in some of these cases before augmentation enhanced those abilities even further. Honestly, it's not even fair to compare Elites with Spartans, considering that Spartans are the cream of the crop in terms of ability and thus have a far smaller range and far higher overall ability compared to the Sangheili Joe Smoe. The only thing the two could be considered a match in is physical strength, and even that is debatable considering that Spartans are punching you with the mass of half a metric ton behind them, while an Elite weighs a mere 130-180 kilos.

You'd think, but the San'Shyuum have been manipulating the Sangheili right down to their cultural core for thousands of years, and the Covenant care much more about obedience than martial capabilities. Take Atriox for example, who was marked for assassination by his Sangheili commander and the Prophet of Truth himself because he was too good at his job. And this wasn't a once-off occurrence considering that Imperial Admiral Xytan Jar 'Witinree was exiled for the same reason. The Covenant has proven that it cares little for competence and individual ability, especially when it comes into conflict with the people's obedience to Covenant military/religious doctrines. When you look at how the Covenant treated the Unggoy as mere cannon fodder despite their incredible ability to absorb and retain information, threw the powerful Jiralhanae on the frontlines naked and gave the Kig-Yar mainly pistols and a handheld shield, what makes you think the Sangheili (who are effectively synonymous with the Covenant in this context) would be any different?

I'm going to need a source that the Jiralhanae joined up with the Covenant willingly and not put up any fight whatsoever, considering both Halo: Contact Harvest and the Jiralhanae's own universe entry here on waypoint clearly prove otherwise: https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/universe/species/jiralhanae
Quote:
THE FIRST IMMOLATION
Prior to their incorporation into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae underwent a brutal decade-long civil war which set their planet ablaze and almost brought them to extinction. Historically, this event is referred to as ‘The First Immolation,’ a nuclear holocaust of such magnitude that it drove them back several hundred years in science and machinery. While the Jiralhanae are, at their base, divided into a vast number of pack-like clans, nearly all these fell into one of two major social divisions or skeins: the Rh’tol or the Vheiloth. These skeins were profoundly different in culture, philosophy, and most importantly their pursuit of power. Eventually they collided when a protracted territorial dispute took a sudden and violent turn. Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
Again, you are ignoring the political and cultural context of the situation. The Sangheili have been the Covenant's ruling military caste since it's very inception, and dictate all matters relating to the Covenant military. This fact had remained unchanged for thousands of years and after the induction of many species including the Unggoy, Lekgolo, Yanme'e, Kig-Yar and more. The introduction of the Jiralhanae (at first) did little to change things in the political arena, and it was only after decades of war and Truth's machinations had risen far beyond their station and began replacing the Sangheili in military matters.

We have had characters in-universe question the effectiveness of Covenant troops even as early as 2526, such as when Sergeant Avery Jr Johnson was debriefed by two UNSC admirals and Dr Halsey on his encounters with the Covenant, and how the Covenant, in comparison to marines and other human military personnel, aren't as skilled or as disciplined as one would expect and it is a flaw that the UNSC had been aware of and have exploited on a number of occasions.
You say that I'm treating the Elites like a planet of hats, but now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that that's been the case on the part of Halo's writers for a very, very long time. And it still doesn't change the fact that the Elites have Stormtrooper syndrome. "Supposedly ultra-competent, and every blurb of lore and exposition says so, but demonstrably fodder in every appearance they make". There's a reason they say "show, don't tell", and no amount of testimony is going to matter if the exact opposite is shown to the audience time, and time, and time, again.

The First Immolation has nothing to do with the Covenant, whatsoever. It is stated numerous times, even on Waypoint, that the Jiralhanae's conversion to the Covenant was swift and easy, and that they took to the new religion with fervor and eagerness. How do you not know that?

But Johnson never commented on Elites, did he? He talked about Grunts, Jackals, and Brutes. I can't recall him saying anything one way or the other about Elites, at any rate.

I don't think you have any evidence of the San'Shyuum manipulating "every facet of Sangheili culture". The one example that comes to mind was the defacing of the station of Arbiter, and even then, that was expressly done for the sole, pragmatic purpose of creating a long line of useful scapegoats. You even point out that the Covenant cares little for competence and/or effectiveness, so long as everyone's obedient, so why would they meddle with Sangheili culture? The Elites were the founding half of the Covenant, and were the vanguards of the Great Journey- there is nothing to manipulate.

And if Fal 'Chavamee and his friends had the presence of mind to realize something was wrong, I doubt that that fact has gone unnoticed by too many people.
Ado Ulamee wrote:
Well the fact is this matter is a lot more complicated than simply the physical prowess of individual Elites and Brutes. Before we discuss that, I should point out to you that a fundamental flaw in your argument is that you are comparing an entire species who range in a variety of traits and characteristics - and thus skill and ability - with a group of developed super soldiers taken from the "cream of the crop" when it comes to the range of human ability. The average Elite is no match for a Spartan in terms of skill and ability on the battefield - especially when a firefight is determined more by tactics, effective use of resources, marksmanship, and so on far more than who's bigger and can punch harder. Now contrasting an Elite with a marine, it's obvious that the Elite has many tactical advantages over the marine, but have a squad of marines, and you'd find that the marine's teamwork and efficiency would allow them to hold their own against even a dozen Elites for one fundamental reason: Elites are more warriors than soldiers, and this is especially true when the average Elite isn't that much different from a marine in skill and ability on the battlefield (marksmanship, use of tactics, etc.). Sure, Elites are bigger and stronger, but again that means little on the battlefield where a marine with a sniper rifle in his hands could put a bullet in-between the eyes of an angry Elite with an energy sword. This BTW applies to all species in the Covenant, not just the Sangheili. The Covenant may have superior technology and numbers, but their culture and ideologies, as well as the lack of proper training and treatment for species like the Unggoy and Jiralhanae that holds back the Covenant's military prowess from reaching it's full potential.

This doesn't mean that the claim that the Sangheili were the "iron heart of the Covenant" is -Yoink-. That fact has always been the case as the Covenant military is entirely Sangheili dominate and is reflective of the Sangheili's cultures and ideologies. It's the Covenant who are leading the Unggoy on the ground just as the Sangheili are cleansing planets from high orbit, and this has been the case for almost the entirety of the Covenant's existence, and we have seen on many occasions of very capable Sangheili that can rival, if not outmatch even humanity's Spartans in skill, ability and battlefield performance. Take Thel 'Vadam, or Rtas 'Vadum who are very capable warriors in their own right. But do not mistaken these characters as merely representations of their species when these individuals are considered remarkable amongst the rest of the Sangheili.

As for the Sangheili/Jiralhanae relationship, the Sangheili have been the leading military caste in the Covenant since it's very foundation. In comparison, the Jiralhanae have only been part of the Covenant for 60 years before it's collapse and when they were inducted into the Covenant the Brutes weren't united nor had the military power to fight them off or have much sway on the Covenant's political arena. Thus, the Sangheili could use the Jiralhanae anyway they saw fit. It didn't matter if the Brutes can punch Elites across the room when the Elites can glass them from orbit and leverage their far superior technology against them (energy shields, active camo, weapons that can blow off limbs, crystal shards that track its targets). It is only after nearly three decades of war and the machinations of the Prophet of Truth that the political position of the Jiralhanae has changed so drastically that they were considered near equals with the Elites - and eventually supplanted them as the leading military caste in the Covenant.

Well it seems that you and I have different opinions on the Jiralhanae as a race in the Halo universe.
But the Prophets make up 50% of the High Council. Half is half, and the Prophets have always been portrayed as the more pragmatic half of the Covenant leadership.
I can't tell if this line is serious or not. The Sangheili, who oversee the entire Covenant military, have always been more pragmatic over the Covenant's religious and political caste species. In fact, it's the San'Shyuum's politics and religious dogma that has on numerous occasions come into conflict with the Sangheili's military matters on more than one occasion. Take the Battle of Installation 04, where a San'Shyuum minister overruled Thel 'Vadam's order to destroy the Pillar of Autumn when it arrived at Alpha Halo (Halo: The Flood), or how in Halo: Silent Storm the San'Shyuum minister overseeing the initial campaigns against humantity was far more interested in his personal gain and the Covenant religion that he was constantly in conflict with the Covenant fleet's Fleet Admiral and a Silent Shadow operative.

"Prophets have always been portrayed as the more pragmatic half of the Covenant leadership" my -Yoink-.
Admittedly, that's a bit of a gray area, but my viewpoint on it is: Elites are pragmatic on the battle field, and sanctimonious in politics; while the Prophets are sanctimonious on the battlefield (especially in the presence of anything Forerunner), while ruthlessly pragmatic in terms of organization and politics.

The Prophets handle everything political and religious, and they're even in charge of how the "lower races" are dealt with, hence the blunder that lead to the Grunt Rebellion. There's a lot more going on than strictly "Elites handle military; Prophets handle religion". A society that adheres too strongly to that principle won't be able to function.
Ado Ulamee wrote:
Thel does easily beat Miranda and Johnson unarmed though, suffering only a few bullet wounds. With Ripa, he was pretty much toying with Forge. He could have ended the fight with a single punch, but prolonged it for his own enjoyment. Red team facing off against the stealth sangheili was nothing but pure "yay spartan" moment.You have one side with guns, the other charging with spears and lacking shields. I am not surprised at how that one ended.

As for the head hunters, they were the best of their group facing off against sub-par covenant, something they muse on during the book. They were also noted by one Sangheili to be "assassins" compared to warriors. We see what happens to Spartan III on open battlefields, they are crushed/glassed/vaporized. Also a tad curious on the quote for chief crushing a sangheili skull.

What was the page of that one? Honestly I think one of the main problems when it comes to this is that the view changes too much on the human side. What a marine/odst sees in a Sangheili during combat/told by others will be different then what a headhunter/spartan III will see. Both of these too will be vastly different for spartan II who have to be augmented to match the higher ranked commanders.
In The Flood, near the end of the book, as John is making his way to through the wreckage of the Pillar of Autumn, he encounters multiple squads of Spec-Ops soldiers.

It is on page 334, of the Definitive Addition, the one with all of the added-in artwork.

Honestly, as I was reading it for the first time, it caught me off-guard because of how oddly-written the sequence was. I was almost certain that Dietz must had a mental lapse of some sort because it... became really clunky for some reason. It almost seemed like someone else took over when writing that portion of the chapter.

This takes place after John has been fighting non-stop throughout Halo, through the Library, and all that, and he's markedly exhausted by the time this happens.

At the beginning of the book, as the Pillar of Autumn is being boarded, John gets in a close-quarters fight with a Minor/Major Elite, and the text on page 42 literally says: "He continued the climb up the flight of stairs, and came nearly eye-to-eye with another Elite. The alien roared, charged forward, and attempted to use his plasma rifle like a club. The Master Chief evaded the blow--he'd fought Elites hand-to-hand before, and knew they were dangerously strong-- and backed away".

Now... given that 343 is so insistent that Elite Combat Harnesses enhance the wearer's strength, you'd think that a Spec-Ops Sangheili would have better equipment than a Minor or Major. But apparently not, I guess!!

As to Thel's fight with Johnson and Miranda, I would disagree a fair bit. If the testimony from The Mona Lisa, and Dirt, and Buck in New Blood, and ONI's paranoia when it comes to trying to keep the Elites down and out of their luck means anything: one, if presented with all of the exposition and all of the theoretical knowledge before watching that cutscene, would think that Thel was somehow handicapped or crippled. Because, frankly, I would call it a very poor showing on Thel's part. I am honestly shocked that Miranda's wrist and/or hand wasn't broken or disjoined from her arm when Thel took the SMG from her.
I'm also shocked that her neck wasn't outright snapped when she was smacked across the face.

My head canon is: Thel must have been fasting since failing at Halo, and must have been starved since he was branded with the Mark of Shame. He is very skinny in Halo 2(A), especially in comparison to other Elites and his appearance in Guardians. Must have been out-of-shape, or something.
Quote:
THE FIRST IMMOLATION
Prior to their incorporation into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae underwent a brutal decade-long civil war which set their planet ablaze and almost brought them to extinction. Historically, this event is referred to as ‘The First Immolation,’ a nuclear holocaust of such magnitude that it drove them back several hundred years in science and machinery. While the Jiralhanae are, at their base, divided into a vast number of pack-like clans, nearly all these fell into one of two major social divisions or skeins: the Rh’tol or the Vheiloth. These skeins were profoundly different in culture, philosophy, and most importantly their pursuit of power. Eventually they collided when a protracted territorial dispute took a sudden and violent turn. Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
You say that I'm treating the Elites like a planet of hats, but now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that that's been the case on the part of Halo's writers for a very, very long time. And it still doesn't change the fact that the Elites have Stormtrooper syndrome. "Supposedly ultra-competent, and every blurb of lore and exposition says so, but demonstrably fodder in every appearance they make". There's a reason they say "show, don't tell", and no amount of testimony is going to matter if the exact opposite is shown to the audience time, and time, and time, again.

The First Immolation has nothing to do with the Covenant, whatsoever. It is stated numerous times, even on Waypoint, that the Jiralhanae's conversion to the Covenant was swift and easy, and that they took to the new religion with fervor and eagerness. How do you not know that?

But Johnson never commented on Elites, did he? He talked about Grunts, Jackals, and Brutes. I can't recall him saying anything one way or the other about Elites, at any rate.

I don't think you have any evidence of the San'Shyuum manipulating "every facet of Sangheili culture". The one example that comes to mind was the defacing of the station of Arbiter, and even then, that was expressly done for the sole, pragmatic purpose of creating a long line of useful scapegoats. You even point out that the Covenant cares little for competence and/or effectiveness, so long as everyone's obedient, so why would they meddle with Sangheili culture? The Elites were the founding half of the Covenant, and were the vanguards of the Great Journey- there is nothing to manipulate.

And if Fal 'Chavamee and his friends had the presence of mind to realize something was wrong, I doubt that that fact has gone unnoticed by too many people.
I'm going to give you a minute to reread the First Immolation section of the Jiralhanae Universe entry here on waypoint. In fact, I'll shorten the quote to it's most relevant section:
Quote:
Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
The Jiralhanae waypoint entry explicitly tells us that the Jiralhanae had fought the Covenant upon their discovery of the species and their homeworld.

On the topic of Covenant machinations, the conversion of the role of Arbiter is the most obvious example of the San'Shyuum's manipulations of Sangeili society and culture, however we know for a fact that this is not the only example of such, nor are the Sangheili the only example of such. Look at the dynamic between the San'Shyuum and the Sangheili in Covenant society, where the San'Shyuum were the ones in charge of developing and maintaining technology (with use of the Huragok) while the Sangheili served as the Prophet's military arm. Throughout the 3,000 years of the Covenant's existence, the Sangheili have been molded further and further into the warrior race we see in the games, putting aside the need of Sangheili doctors, scientists and engineers and leaving those roles to the San'Shyuum. This in turn leads to the Sangheili becoming more and more reliant on the San'Shyuum for technological and scientific matters in addition to religious matters and politics. While there have been some Sangheili who had a vested interest in science or practising medicine, but such traits weren't highly regarded in Sangheili society and some are even looked down upon because of those professions. Doesn't that seem a little too convenient for the San'Shyuum to be in charge of nearly all non-military matters for the entire species? I doubt this is a coincidence.

Think about it this way: if the San'Shyuum were so readily able to manipulate the very symbol of the Sangheili race from a position of prestige to one of disgrace, only care about loyalty and obedience of their subjects above all else and had nearly 3,000 years to integrate themselves into a position of power over all other species, why wouldn't they exploit that opportunity to manipulate other aspects of Sangheili society to make them more compliant, to be more reliant on their San'Shyuum masters for guidance and purpose?
Quote:
THE FIRST IMMOLATION
Prior to their incorporation into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae underwent a brutal decade-long civil war which set their planet ablaze and almost brought them to extinction. Historically, this event is referred to as ‘The First Immolation,’ a nuclear holocaust of such magnitude that it drove them back several hundred years in science and machinery. While the Jiralhanae are, at their base, divided into a vast number of pack-like clans, nearly all these fell into one of two major social divisions or skeins: the Rh’tol or the Vheiloth. These skeins were profoundly different in culture, philosophy, and most importantly their pursuit of power. Eventually they collided when a protracted territorial dispute took a sudden and violent turn. Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
You say that I'm treating the Elites like a planet of hats, but now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that that's been the case on the part of Halo's writers for a very, very long time. And it still doesn't change the fact that the Elites have Stormtrooper syndrome. "Supposedly ultra-competent, and every blurb of lore and exposition says so, but demonstrably fodder in every appearance they make". There's a reason they say "show, don't tell", and no amount of testimony is going to matter if the exact opposite is shown to the audience time, and time, and time, again.

The First Immolation has nothing to do with the Covenant, whatsoever. It is stated numerous times, even on Waypoint, that the Jiralhanae's conversion to the Covenant was swift and easy, and that they took to the new religion with fervor and eagerness. How do you not know that?

But Johnson never commented on Elites, did he? He talked about Grunts, Jackals, and Brutes. I can't recall him saying anything one way or the other about Elites, at any rate.

I don't think you have any evidence of the San'Shyuum manipulating "every facet of Sangheili culture". The one example that comes to mind was the defacing of the station of Arbiter, and even then, that was expressly done for the sole, pragmatic purpose of creating a long line of useful scapegoats. You even point out that the Covenant cares little for competence and/or effectiveness, so long as everyone's obedient, so why would they meddle with Sangheili culture? The Elites were the founding half of the Covenant, and were the vanguards of the Great Journey- there is nothing to manipulate.

And if Fal 'Chavamee and his friends had the presence of mind to realize something was wrong, I doubt that that fact has gone unnoticed by too many people.
I'm going to give you a minute to reread the First Immolation section of the Jiralhanae Universe entry here on waypoint. In fact, I'll shorten the quote to it's most relevant section:
Quote:
Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
The Jiralhanae waypoint entry explicitly tells us that the Jiralhanae had fought the Covenant upon their discovery of the species and their homeworld.

On the topic of Covenant machinations, the conversion of the role of Arbiter is the most obvious example of the San'Shyuum's manipulations of Sangeili society and culture, however we know for a fact that this is not the only example of such, nor are the Sangheili the only example of such. Look at the dynamic between the San'Shyuum and the Sangheili in Covenant society, where the San'Shyuum were the ones in charge of developing and maintaining technology (with use of the Huragok) while the Sangheili served as the Prophet's military arm. Throughout the 3,000 years of the Covenant's existence, the Sangheili have been molded further and further into the warrior race we see in the games, putting aside the need of Sangheili doctors, scientists and engineers and leaving those roles to the San'Shyuum. This in turn leads to the Sangheili becoming more and more reliant on the San'Shyuum for technological and scientific matters in addition to religious matters and politics. While there have been some Sangheili who had a vested interest in science or practising medicine, but such traits weren't highly regarded in Sangheili society and some are even looked down upon because of those professions. Doesn't that seem a little too convenient for the San'Shyuum to be in charge of nearly all non-military matters for the entire species? I doubt this is a coincidence.

Think about it this way: if the San'Shyuum were so readily able to manipulate the very symbol of the Sangheili race from a position of prestige to one of disgrace, only care about loyalty and obedience of their subjects above all else and had nearly 3,000 years to integrate themselves into a position of power over all other species, why wouldn't they exploit that opportunity to manipulate other aspects of Sangheili society to make them more compliant, to be more reliant on their San'Shyuum masters for guidance and purpose?
I concede to the point about Jiralhanae fighting the Covenant, and in all honesty, I never thought that it was entirely peaceful, but I will still contend that (at least, relatively speaking) their joining of the Covenant was significantly less tumultuous than other species. That's actually quite embarrassing, though- I should have read your replies more thoroughly.

I don't see that as exploitation. It strikes me more as a natural course of the Sangheili allowing themselves to slack on the RnD department. The San'Shyuum had a good head-start on reverse engineering Forerunner tech, and all accounts say that they're brilliant scientists and technicians, so why wouldn't the Sangheili let the Prophets do the desk work, so that they could focus on what they were good at?
Broken Circle would corroborate me, I think.
The entire Writ of Union made it clear that the Covenant was an equal partnership, else the High Council wouldn't have been half Sangheili and half Prophet. Elites handle the military, Prophets handle the religion.

Is it bad that the Elites have slacked on RnD? Yes. But I really don't think it was at all egged on by the Prophets. It was probably just a result of the Elites getting too comfortable in their position and getting too complacent about their infrastructure.
Quote:
THE FIRST IMMOLATION
Prior to their incorporation into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae underwent a brutal decade-long civil war which set their planet ablaze and almost brought them to extinction. Historically, this event is referred to as ‘The First Immolation,’ a nuclear holocaust of such magnitude that it drove them back several hundred years in science and machinery. While the Jiralhanae are, at their base, divided into a vast number of pack-like clans, nearly all these fell into one of two major social divisions or skeins: the Rh’tol or the Vheiloth. These skeins were profoundly different in culture, philosophy, and most importantly their pursuit of power. Eventually they collided when a protracted territorial dispute took a sudden and violent turn. Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
I'm going to give you a minute to reread the First Immolation section of the Jiralhanae Universe entry here on waypoint. In fact, I'll shorten the quote to it's most relevant section:
Quote:
Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
I concede to the point about Jiralhanae fighting the Covenant, and in all honesty, I never thought that it was entirely peaceful, but I will still contend that (at least, relatively speaking) their joining of the Covenant was significantly less tumultuous than other species. That's actually quite embarrassing, though- I should have read your replies more thoroughly.

I don't see that as exploitation. It strikes me more as a natural course of the Sangheili allowing themselves to slack on the RnD department. The San'Shyuum had a good head-start on reverse engineering Forerunner tech, and all accounts say that they're brilliant scientists and technicians, so why wouldn't the Sangheili let the Prophets do the desk work, so that they could focus on what they were good at?
Broken Circle would corroborate me, I think.
The entire Writ of Union made it clear that the Covenant was an equal partnership, else the High Council wouldn't have been half Sangheili and half Prophet. Elites handle the military, Prophets handle the religion.

Is it bad that the Elites have slacked on RnD? Yes. But I really don't think it was at all egged on by the Prophets. It was probably just a result of the Elites getting too comfortable in their position and getting too complacent about their infrastructure.
It's fine, we all make such blunders. Though while we are still on the topic, the Jiralhanae at the time of the Covenant's arrival were a broken civilisation, having only recently emerged out from a nuclear war with each other and with rival skiens still in conflict with one another. With that in mind, it's not far fetched to assume that the Jiralhanae couldn't put up much of a fight against the Covenant and were swiftly inducted into the Hegemony.

You say that as though the two are mutually exclusive concepts, when you could argue that the position the Sangheili were in were due to both the San'Shyuum's machinations and the Sangheili being content with their position. And while the Writ of Union technically said that the two species were equal, we know that there are individuals who seek to further their own personal position and consolidate further power for themselves. There's no better proof of this than the Hierarch's discovery of humanity being the reclaimers of the Forerunner legacy, which threatened no only the very foundation of the Covenant's existence, but also the Prophet's own position as the religious and political leaders of the Covenant Empire. If the Prophets were exposed as liars, or that humanity were the true voices of the Forerunners, their influence over the other races would no longer be absolute.

Again, looking at the history of the Covenant and the eventual positions the San'Shyuum and Sangheili would hold, it's far too convenient for almost every aspect of Covenant society to favour the San'Shyuum to be a mere coincidence.
Quote:
THE FIRST IMMOLATION
Prior to their incorporation into the Covenant, the Jiralhanae underwent a brutal decade-long civil war which set their planet ablaze and almost brought them to extinction. Historically, this event is referred to as ‘The First Immolation,’ a nuclear holocaust of such magnitude that it drove them back several hundred years in science and machinery. While the Jiralhanae are, at their base, divided into a vast number of pack-like clans, nearly all these fell into one of two major social divisions or skeins: the Rh’tol or the Vheiloth. These skeins were profoundly different in culture, philosophy, and most importantly their pursuit of power. Eventually they collided when a protracted territorial dispute took a sudden and violent turn. Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
I'm going to give you a minute to reread the First Immolation section of the Jiralhanae Universe entry here on waypoint. In fact, I'll shorten the quote to it's most relevant section:
Quote:
Though most carnage was brief, the aftereffects collapsed all of Jiralhanae society. Both sides would bear survivors, who would later come to fight the Covenant upon its arrival.
I concede to the point about Jiralhanae fighting the Covenant, and in all honesty, I never thought that it was entirely peaceful, but I will still contend that (at least, relatively speaking) their joining of the Covenant was significantly less tumultuous than other species. That's actually quite embarrassing, though- I should have read your replies more thoroughly.

I don't see that as exploitation. It strikes me more as a natural course of the Sangheili allowing themselves to slack on the RnD department. The San'Shyuum had a good head-start on reverse engineering Forerunner tech, and all accounts say that they're brilliant scientists and technicians, so why wouldn't the Sangheili let the Prophets do the desk work, so that they could focus on what they were good at?
Broken Circle would corroborate me, I think.
The entire Writ of Union made it clear that the Covenant was an equal partnership, else the High Council wouldn't have been half Sangheili and half Prophet. Elites handle the military, Prophets handle the religion.

Is it bad that the Elites have slacked on RnD? Yes. But I really don't think it was at all egged on by the Prophets. It was probably just a result of the Elites getting too comfortable in their position and getting too complacent about their infrastructure.
It's fine, we all make such blunders. Though while we are still on the topic, the Jiralhanae at the time of the Covenant's arrival were a broken civilisation, having only recently emerged out from a nuclear war with each other and with rival skiens still in conflict with one another. With that in mind, it's not far fetched to assume that the Jiralhanae couldn't put up much of a fight against the Covenant and were swiftly inducted into the Hegemony.

You say that as though the two are mutually exclusive concepts, when you could argue that the position the Sangheili were in were due to both the San'Shyuum's machinations and the Sangheili being content with their position. And while the Writ of Union technically said that the two species were equal, we know that there are individuals who seek to further their own personal position and consolidate further power for themselves. There's no better proof of this than the Hierarch's discovery of humanity being the reclaimers of the Forerunner legacy, which threatened no only the very foundation of the Covenant's existence, but also the Prophet's own position as the religious and political leaders of the Covenant Empire. If the Prophets were exposed as liars, or that humanity were the true voices of the Forerunners, their influence over the other races would no longer be absolute.

Again, looking at the history of the Covenant and the eventual positions the San'Shyuum and Sangheili would hold, it's far too convenient for almost every aspect of Covenant society to favour the San'Shyuum to be a mere coincidence.
Well, in either case, I'd say that this discussion has gone off the rails a fair bit. I'm not even entirely certain what your stance on any of this is, in the first place.

My position, throughout all of this, has been: the Elites and the Covenant in general has an egregious case of Stormtrooper Syndrome, where every piece of declarative information we have on them portrays them in a much more threatening light than their actual "on-screen" performance would suggest. The games and the books have a bad habit of playing fast and loose with the rules and power-levels that the "official statements" (whether from in-universe characters, or game manuals) provide.
To be fair, Bungie's game Reach did completely violate the book The Fall of Reach.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV_89X3xdQc

I believe this link will dispel most of that notion, I think.
No, the Covenant is in disarray. In Halo Reach and CE, the Covenant was at it's strongest. Then they started to crumble. Halo 5's Covenant are under Jul 'Mdama and he dies in a cutscene.
No, the Covenant is in disarray. In Halo Reach and CE, the Covenant was at it's strongest. Then they started to crumble. Halo 5's Covenant are under Jul 'Mdama and he dies in a cutscene.
We're all aware of that. But this thread isn't strictly about the New Covenant. This is about how the Covenant has always been made to look incompetent, even in material where they're at their "height".
No, the Covenant is in disarray. In Halo Reach and CE, the Covenant was at it's strongest. Then they started to crumble. Halo 5's Covenant are under Jul 'Mdama and he dies in a cutscene.
We're all aware of that. But this thread isn't strictly about the New Covenant. This is about how the Covenant has always been made to look incompetent, even in material where they're at their "height".
I think one of the bigger misconceptions from a gameplay perspective is that typically we play as the augmented Spartan, one of the only formidable opponents to the Covenant species. Play on heroic or harder, marine AI survivors is a rare thing. Combine that with 5 games against the Covenant, they simply get commonplace. I know by Dead Space 3, necromorphs were no longer scary.

Overall, I don't necessarily see a difference in competency, its more that I'm just used to fighting them. I recall being terribly intimidated with Prometheans when Halo 4 first came out, but now even on legendary they aren't so tough these days, the noob combo is even effective on them.

I opted not to expand on the lore outside of the games, it could turn into a terribly long post. Great thread.

Cheers,
Brad
No, the Covenant is in disarray. In Halo Reach and CE, the Covenant was at it's strongest. Then they started to crumble. Halo 5's Covenant are under Jul 'Mdama and he dies in a cutscene.
We're all aware of that. But this thread isn't strictly about the New Covenant. This is about how the Covenant has always been made to look incompetent, even in material where they're at their "height".
I think one of the bigger misconceptions from a gameplay perspective is that typically we play as the augmented Spartan, one of the only formidable opponents to the Covenant species. Play on heroic or harder, marine AI survivors is a rare thing. Combine that with 5 games against the Covenant, they simply get commonplace. I know by Dead Space 3, necromorphs were no longer scary.

Overall, I don't necessarily see a difference in competency, its more that I'm just used to fighting them. I recall being terribly intimidated with Prometheans when Halo 4 first came out, but now even on legendary they aren't so tough these days, the noob combo is even effective on them.

I opted not to expand on the lore outside of the games, it could turn into a terribly long post. Great thread.

Cheers,
Brad
I've always played on Heroic, and I'm not strictly referring to just the games. The books and comics and everything else, too- even in there, the Covenant's soldiers look so underpowered that it's a wonder that ONI is so paranoid about any of them, post-war.
This does make me wonder, how many times have we had a battle truly taking place from a normal human standpoint compared to Chief or other fancier soldiers? I do recall in Evolution we have a sangheili who dented the hull of a ship by just punching it. On the other hand, we had those commandos in The Flood who were burned to death by Silva and his men. Starting to see what you mean...
Ado Ulamee wrote:
This does make me wonder, how many times have we had a battle truly taking place from a normal human standpoint compared to Chief or other fancier soldiers? I do recall in Evolution we have a sangheili who dented the hull of a ship by just punching it. On the other hand, we had those commandos in The Flood who were burned to death by Silva and his men. Starting to see what you mean...
I am gratified to see this, and know that I am not entirely delusional.
Given the responses I've gotten, so far, I was beginning to think that I was just going through some sort of mania.
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well after the covenant civil war were the sanghelios fought the covenant for some reason as you can see in halo 4 and 5 the brutes resigned so the lack of high ground soldiers made the covenant very weak but actually the covenant were never really scary to begin with the only thing really scary is the flood
This isn't strictly about the New Covenant, or how the Covenant and the Flood stack up against each other. it's the plot-armor and Stormtrooper Syndrome.
im afraid i have to ask but what the heck do stormtroopers have to do with it this is halo not star wars
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