FLEET FIRST INTO HALO
GrimBrother One: Spartan Games already had an impressive tabletop pedigree coming into this project. What has been your favorite aspect of working in the Halo universe in particular? Any specific ways that the Halo sandbox has excited or challenged the SG team?
Neil Fawcett: Wow, what a question…Where to start? Can I write a few thousand words as an answer!? Personally I have been blown away by the way the team at 343/Microsoft have allowed us to literally play in their ‘sandbox’; the way we’ve been allowed to contribute to the dialogue. The close cooperation with my design team by 343 made our lives a lot smoother, and massive fun. I mean, we got access to years and years of concept work. How cool is that?!
Being able to make models of ships that have just been ‘talked about’ is something that makes my 3D artists very happy – which is always a good thing. They’re huge Halo fans and being able to realize brand new designs – the ORS Heavy Cruiser and Epoch-class Heavy Carriers being great examples – is a dream come true for them.
As to challenges, well we’ve got a fantastically well-established product and canon to live up to, with millions of fans, so we really had to lift our game to make sure we got it right. But the assistance we got, especially from folk like Kenneth [Peters] and Rick [Achberger], just made it come together. We couldn’t have done it without the entire team at 343 Industries supporting us every step along the way.
GRIM: Throughout your testing of the game internally, are there any particular strategies or play styles that have become specifically popular?
NF: UNSC players just can’t hang about. They need to Hard Burn their engines and get in close, pound the Covenant ships with MACs and get as many Vulnerable Tokens on the enemy as possible. Picking on the CCS Battlecruiser is a good thing, its lack of a Cloak makes it a prime target for Archer Missiles at long range. But don’t get too close!
As for the Covenant player: protect the CCS as it is a perfect partner for the SDV Heavy Corvettes, and when you get your ORS Heavy Cruiser in close just enjoy the mayhem! Don’t obsess with the larger vessels, if you see a large battle group of frigates, make sure you deal with them…together they can sting.
And for both players, don’t forget about your boarding actions, they’re the truly cinematic moments of the game. Just the mental image of a Spartan rampaging through a Covenant vessel after a boarding action makes me want to roll some dice.
GRIM: Time for truth… who is the best Halo: Fleet Battles player at Spartan Games?
NF: Ah, that has to be one of the core writers, Derek Sinclair….although I reckon he cheats. J Funnily enough Ricky Brewer, one of our marketing guys, hasn’t lost a game yet. Bit of a dark horse that one.
GRIM: Now that fans are finally getting the game into their hands, what are you most excited about as you turn your attention towards the community?
NF: I just want to see how folk paint their models, read their battle reports, look at their home grown scenarios and read the talk on the forums. As the game grows we will be hosting a number of cool events, and as we run them we’ll get a chance to talk to players about the game and future developments. It is very satisfying to watch a gamer play Halo: Fleet Battles, pull off some super cool battle sequence and watch the expression on their faces as they roll the dice and crush their opponent!
GRIM: Any tasty hints about what the future might hold for Halo: Fleet Battles?
NF: That question made me smile, but then again I know what is coming! We’ve made the Covenant Assault Carrier, just had Sparth sign off on our UNSC Valiant-class Super Heavy Cruiser, started the detailing work on the UNSC Trafalgar supercarrier, and the list goes on. We’re just scratching the surface of ship engagements, we’ve got decades of excitement to turn into game material. I mean, just wait till we make Infinity available, or the Phoenix-class…
We’ve got ideas for models and books up and down the Halo timeline. Plenty to keep us busy for a long time to come!