I’ve been playing quite a bit of Halo Wars on my XBOX 360 lately. I mostly play the UNSC in skirmish mode, so this guide will focus on strategies I’ve found useful.
In order to have a challenging game, I generally play a two-on-two episode with the difficulty level set to Legendary. I find one-on-one can result in being a game of rushes, while three-on-three can be a massive and near instant slaughter for one side.
As the UNSC, you have three different commanders to choose from, each possessing a few different special abilities and units. Personally, I like Sergeant Forge, as I find the CYCLOPS exoskeletons to be superior to Captain Cutter’s ELEPHANT, at least in the very important beginning of the game. I have played very little with Profeesor Anders.
Build order is very important. Assuming I’m using Sergeant Forge, I first build a supply pad, then a barracks, then que another supply pad. Forge automatically builds heavy supply pads, so he allows you to jump-start infantry building. I’ll then build two marines squads and two flamethrower squads. This allows good flexibility should the enemy rush and it also allows me the needed firepower to capture the neutral bases.
Listen closely to your intelligence officer. She’ll tell you at times what kind of units your enemy is building and what his strategy appears to be. This should influence what units and upgrades you buy. Your enemy will also be trying to counter your strategy. Should he start buying JACKALS, immediately buy a turret or two and try to get some reactors built so you can produce vehicles. His JACKALS are the best anti-infantry unit for the cost and will slice any infantry you build to ribbons with their medium range carbines. Your flamethrowers, while great against infantry in their own right, are no match for JACKALS as they don’t have the range. Even expensive SPARTAN units won’t last long against massed JACKALS. On the other hand, JACKALS are virtually useless against buildings and vehicles.
If your enemy starts building lots of HUNTERS, simply build flamethrowers and try to upgrade with flashbang grenades. Flamethrowers, after stunning HUNTERS with flashbangs, turn them to piles of ash in seconds.
Unless you choose to rush your enemy (which is not as easy as with the Covenant, because you lack teleportation), I suggest capturinga neutral base toward your ally’s base. This will alow you to form a link and help each other as needed. I’ve found that when I build bases toward my enemy, the newer, weaker base has a difficult time surviving. On the other hand, if you can get a barracks up close to the enemy, you may be able to pick him apart quickly.
Remember that vehicles trump infantry, infantry trump aircraft and aircraft trump vehicles. Some units have a better value for the credit cost, and it’s hard to go wrong with marines, flamethrowers and SPARTANS. The Covenant will undoubtedly try to mass Wraith tanks against your bases. Rather than relying on turrets for most of your defense, I suggest you buy SPARTANS. They only cost 50 more credits and are much more flexible. With their ability to cybernetically jack an enemy vehicle, they can turn the tables very quickly. For instance if your enemy attacks you with three Wraiths and some infantry and you have two SPARTANS, work your SPARTANS around the edge of the battle to the tanks and jack them. If they succeed, you now have two tanks with the SPARTANS’ combat bonuses added in and your enemy will have to kill his own stuff. And even if the tank dies, the SPARTAN is still alive, though slightly more vulnerable until his shield regenerates.
In my next installment, I’ll discuss the middle-game of a HALO WARS session.