A Halo Wars guide covering details such as multiplayer experience, veterancy, light strategy, general hints, tips and trivia. Written in between 2010-2012, using the official guide, internet sources and extensive game testing as the basis of the information.
Given its age and the fact it’s written for the original Xbox 360 version of the game, some detail could vary to the final definitive PC version we have now. Best to use this as a rough guide and not take every detail or number as gospel. That said, at least 95% of the information present here is still accurate.
When playing online you will gain experience for destroying certain units and buildings. This will go towards earning a promotion. Below is how much experience you will gain for each individual unit.
When units in battle manage to survive, it isn’t uncommon that they will go up in veterancy level. This gives your units an advantage over other units without veterancy levels. Below are the bonuses of going up in veterancy. 3 being the highest veterancy level for a single unit not occupied by a Spartan. Please bear in mind, these percentages do not stack, 95% is the highest damage boost for a standard unit through veterancy.
For units to go up a veterancy level they need to gain experience. Unfortunately, the experience gained by the units is hidden and cannot be checked in-game. A unit will need to gain around 1 – 2 times the experience of its own value to gain a level. Below are two examples of how much experience a unit will need to go up in veterancy.
Upgrading a unit will also increase its damage infliction and resistance as well as give it an extra ability or buff. Each upgrade will add an additional 25% damage inflicted and resisted (Including Spartans when outside of a vehicle.) Some units will already be upgraded when arriving onto the battlefield without you having to upgrade them yourselves. For example, a Vulture has been upgraded to additional firepower and a Scarab is already fully upgraded. The only exception to these percentages of damage inflicted and resisted is Covenant leaders which can gain 200-300% additional damage inflicted/resisted (depending on your chosen leader).
Spartans are the only unit that can garrison personally controlled or enemy units. When a non-upgraded Spartan has garrisoned a non-upgraded vehicle, they add their own strengths together and display two veterancy levels above the unit. Each upgrade for either the vehicle or Spartan will create another veterancy level which will be added to the unit’s combined veterancy level. For example, a Hornet (upgraded to a Hawk) with three veterancy levels and a fully upgraded Spartan with three veterancy levels will have a combined veterancy level of 14. This is the highest veterancy possible for the UNSC. Whereas Covenant vehicles can have a maximum veterancy level of 15 when garrisoned by a Spartan, this is because certain Covenant units upgrade four times.
Below is an example of how much more damage is inflicted and resisted with a Spartan in a Grizzly Tank.
When you need to build a new building but have no room on your base or you need some extra supplies then recycling buildings is something you should consider. When you recycle a building, you will get half the amount you paid for it. Below are costs and refund amounts for each recycled building.
If a structure is still in the process of being built and it is recycled then you receive the exact amount that you paid for it.
Tips and Trivia – Experience
- No extra experience is given for destroying units with higher veterancy levels. Although it is recommended to kill them as soon as possible to stop them from gaining more veterancy levels and becoming harder to kill.
- No extra experience is given for destroying units that are more upgraded. For example, you will get the same experience from killing a group of Marines as you do from a group of ODST.
- No experience is gained or lost from destroying allied units or buildings. Though, this didn’t always use to be the case.
- A base that is in the process of being built will give you the same amount of experience as a base that is already built with no extra buildings or turrets on it.
- Enemy units killed with a disappearing energy bridge will give no experience. Even if you were responsible for them failing to reach the other side in time.
- No extra experience is gained for winning a game against someone who is a higher rank than yourself. For example, if you are a Recruit and your enemy is a General, you would not gain extra experience for defeating them.
- The lower amount of upgrades a unit obtains the faster the unit will gain veterancy levels in battle.
- If you resign or disconnect during a game, this will give you NO experience. I repeat, ZERO XP. This is the case regardless of how long you have been playing.
- Self-destructing your base will give the enemy experience equal to the amount they would gain from destroying it themselves.
Tips and Trivia – General
- If a unit is in the way of an energy wall and cannot escape, when the tower is garrisoned and the energy wall raises the unit will be destroyed (works well for the famously slow to get moving Scarabs).
- Locking your base allows you to store built units inside. This allows you to release large amounts of units when needed. This can also be used to fool the enemy into believing you have fewer or different units than what they were expecting.
- The energy bridge on the map ‘Terminal Moraine’ takes exactly one minute to appear and exactly one minute to deactivate. You’ll know when the bridge is about to fall when it slowly pulses and fades.
- UNSC have a maximum population cap of 40, whereas Covenant have a maximum population cap of 50. Although the covenant have more units, their units are weaker overall than their UNSC counterparts.
- On the map ‘Beasley’s Plateau’, you will find a Forerunner Life Support Pod. When garrisoned, this will increase your population cap by 10. A useful tip when playing multiplayer is to allow your ally to garrison the pod once you have made full use of it. This will allow all members of your team to have 10 extra units and will give you a greater advantage over your enemy.
- When giving supplies to an ally through your supply pad or warehouse they will only receive 200 resources of the 300 spent on sending them.
- On the map ‘Tundra’ you will find a Mega Turret towards the centre of the map. This turret can do serious damage long-range to tight groups of enemy units or structures. It can even be shot into the fog of war. If you find it in the hands of your enemy, disable its functions with a Disruption Bomb while you work to claim it back.
- Each individual supply crate contains exactly 30 supplies. Most crates come in groups of three and therefore you will obtain 90 supplies from all three crates.
- Any structure that is garrisoned by an enemy cannot be detected in the fog of war. The only way to find out who currently owns this structure is by pressing “A” on the structure. Within the description will be the name of the enemy that currently owns it.
- A Forerunner Supply Elevator will give you a constant flow of supplies as long as it is under your control. It will boost your economy at around the same rate as a heavy supply pad.
- Beasley’s Plateau is the only map in the game where covenant players can build UNSC turrets.
- The energy bridge on ‘Blood River’ map never deactivates.
Tips and Trivia – UNSC
- When you kill an enemy Pelican that is carrying a unit, the unit it is carrying will most likely be lost. Although in certain circumstances the unit can survive the fall and simply be dropped to the ground. You will receive no experience for destroying a Pelican. However, if you destroy the unit that it is carrying you will receive all experience normally received for that unit.
- Every time you build a reactor it will go up in price by 250 resources. The limit of resources spent on extra reactors is never-ending and will always increase.
- Although Marines can obtain a Medic upgrade this does not mean that they can always heal to full health. If one Marine/ODST is killed within the group then the Medic will only heal the remaining individuals to full health rather than reviving a Marine. For example, if two men in the group die then the Medic will only heal the Marine group to around half health. The Medic is always the last soldier to die in a group of Marines unless the Medic has not been researched yet.
- When using a specialised Sentinel (Healing, Shield or Protector type) obtained from a sentinel protector plant, you can order the sentinel to protect a unit to give them additional bonuses. Only one of these can be used for each unit with the exception of using a Sentinel on a Spartan and a Sentinel on a unit you intend to put the Spartan in. To do this, make the Spartan protected by a Sentinel enter a vehicle also protected by a Sentinel, you will then have two Sentinels using its ability on one vehicle.
- The population cap for UNSC is 40 units although sometimes you are able to go past this peek. One way of doing this is when you are at around 35 units, if you drop or build ODST excessively then often you can reach 41 out of 40 units. Another way to pass this limit is if you have the maximum number of units and your Spartans hijack vehicles, you can then have a maximum of 49 out of 40 units, this being if your Spartans hijack units worth 3 population points each.
Tips and Trivia – Covenant
- If the Arbiter uses his Rage ability on an air unit he will often hold on to the unit as if to highjack it. If you have flown over unmovable terrain when your unit is destroyed, the Arbiter will fall to his unfortunate, yet hilarious death.
- More Shield Generators built on a single base will increase its durability; once the shield is completely broken down due to heavy attack the shield will need to be given 30 seconds to regenerate, this can only occur when the base is no longer taking damage. The time that is needed for the base to start regenerating its shields can be found by entering the menu of the Shield Generator itself.
- Depending on your leader, a group of Grunts will have either an Elite or a Brute leading their squad.
- The Brute Chieftain’s leader power becomes stronger the more it is used. This is due to units being drawn into its Vortex. Once the Brute stops using his leader power the extra damage created from extended use is reset. This applies for both the Prophet of Regret and the Arbiter for different reasons.
- The Scarab uber unit is able to climb otherwise unmovable terrain to other ground units. This allows the Scarab to flank the opposition.
- You can only build one temple.
- The forerunner shield upgrade (located in the temple) doubles the speed of shield regeneration across all shielded covenant units and structures.
- When using Covenant leader powers, the experience gained towards veterancy from destroying units is drastically reduced. For example, if the Prophet was to destroy a whole rebel base and defending infantry with basic attacks, it is more than likely that he will gain a veterancy star. If he used his Cleansing Beam, however, then the chances of promotion are low.
Tips and Trivia – Flood
- On the map ‘Release’ you are able to send hoards of Flood to yourself or your enemy using the Forerunner Relics. This will cost you 300 credits for the first time and will go up by 300 each time until it costs 900, this is the maximum it will cost you to send Flood and from then on will only cost 900 each time. Each time you release Flood the number of units released will also increase.
- Flood will often infect other life forms; these life forms will live on as a Flood unit after infection. This can also happen to personal units during multiplayer gameplay.
- Flood Roots can gain veterancy and will often begin with one veteran star.
- Flood clouds cannot be destroyed but should be avoided as these can infect your infantry on contact.
Tips and Trivia – Leader Powers / Abilities
- Leader powers cannot be used in the fog of war.
- Using a leader power to destroy a unit will give you the same experience as killing it manually with a unit.
- A Carpet Bomb is more effective when a Cryo Bomb is still taking effect on the units.
- The ‘Heal and Repair’ ability will not heal a unit or building that is being attacked. You must wait for the units to be out of combat to heal successfully. This also applies to the ‘Spire of Healing’ located on certain maps.
- The more units you use Heal and Repair on, the less effective it is. For example, if you use Heal and Repair on one Marine with a red health bar it will heal him to full health in no time. But if you use ‘Heal and Repair’ on ten Marines with a red health bar they might only be healed to around half health.
- Disruption Bombs will stop any leader power. The following abilities will be stopped by the Disruption Bomb: Mac Blast, Carpet Bomb, Cryo Bomb, Heal and Repair, ODST drops, Prophet of Regret Cleansing Beam, Arbiter Rage, Brute Chieftain Vortex, Mega-Turret and using Leader Recall or teleporting units to your leader. For Pelicans, you can transport units away from a Disruption Bomb but you cannot transport units to a Disruption Bomb.
- ODST can drop up to ten in succession. Although this depends on the number of resources you have and your population cap. Each ODST costs 100 resources and one population slot, so therefore you need 1,000 resources and ten spare population slots in order to drop ten ODST.
- Cryo Bombs are extremely effective against air units and often drop them out of the sky to their inevitable death. Other units will be frozen for a certain amount of time depending on how upgraded the Cryo Bomb is.
Disclaimer, Credits and Special Thanks
As explained in the summary, all information here is now ten years old and doesn’t take into consideration any patches since 2012 that may have changed the stats, numbers or details mentioned in this guide.
- Warren Dance (SlipSlot)
- Lewis Dance (LewisLOL)
- Sam James-Lawrie (Paganist123)
- Kimberley Golds (PrincessKimby)
Andrew Williams (Vanilla Face800)
For his great wisdom and knowledge of Halo Wars. This guide would have been a lot less extensive without his input
Brian Konieczny (BKLounge686)
For proof-reading and certain inspirations for this guide.
Charlie Jenkins (Kennyoded Again)
For his thinking face when we asked him to think of clever words for the guide.
Ensemble Studios (Robot Entertainment)
For creating in our opinion, the greatest RTS game of all time, disregarded by many but loved by a passionate few. Your game won’t be forgotten and neither will your beautiful talent for creating such incredible games.
Thank you for reading, Happy Haloing!