Q: How does combat work in Halo Wars?

A: Combat in Halo Wars is based on a Rock-Paper-Scissors model, so that one unit is countered by another unit which is countered by another. Tim Deen, the Lead Technical Designer on Halo Wars, wrote a Dev Blog that covers a great deal of ground related to the Combat System. It also includes graphs so you can see which unit counters what. Rock, Paper, Spartan Dev Blog.

Q: That’s all well and good, but I want some more details!?

A: Well it’s a good thing that Tim wrote another Dev Blog that provides more information about attack and armor types. Check it out here Under The Hood of the Halo Wars Combat System.


Q: What are the Halo Wars DLC packages and what do they contain?

A: There are two Halo Wars DLC packages, each is available for 800 MS Points on Xbox LIVE.

 Strategic Options contains three different game modes along with four Achievements. The three additional game modes are

Keepaway: Halo Wars’ version of Capture The Flag. A flying Sentinel spawns somewhere on the map and players must capture it and keep it alive to score points.

Tug of War: You and your opponent battle to see who can get the most resources, buildings and army size while fending off your enemy.

Reinforcements: Units are provided to each player every few minutes in waves, it’s up to the players to build upgrades and collect resources. Using only the units provided, players have to outwit their opponents.

Historic Battles is a pack of four maps, and also contains four achievements.

Barrens: The flood infests this windy 1v1 map, and a healing spire in the middle will give the owner a large advantage.

Blood River: The bridges over this map’s namesake river are key to victory in this 1v1 map.

Memorial Basin: This 2v2 map features a large empty middle ground with plenty of bases around the outside.

Glacial Ravine: Energy Walls and Mountains divide this map in two, giving players plenty of time to build armies before facing off. Be wary of air attacks over the terrain on this 3v3 map.

Q: I purchased and downloaded Historic Battles, but when I play multiplayer I’m not playing on the new maps, what gives?

A: In order to play on the new maps, all of the players in the match have to have the DLC. When all players in a match have the DLC map, there is a 40% chance they will get a DLC map. Otherwise a standard game map will be chosen.


Halo Wars uses a lot of jargon, abbreviations and other words that a new player might be unfamiliar with. This is a guide to some of the words that players will use in game or on the forums.

Rush: To quickly attack the other player in the beginning of the game. This is effective because often times the other player is not ready to defend against an attack. For example: building 3 Warthogs, upgrading to Gunner and sending them to your enemy’s base at the 3 minute mark is considered a rush.

Micro: Micro is short for Micromanage. Micro is used to describe using quick reflexes to individually control your units so that they are more effective in battle. For example: moving a Warthog back and forth to dodge a Wraith’s plasma shots.

Turtling: Building a strong defense at your base to repel attacks instead of building an army to explore/attack the other player. For example: Building 4 turrets and keeping strong units at your base instead of building a larger army to attack your enemy.

Booming: Building a strong economy at the expense of a military. This can pay off as you will have a very strong economy and be able to purchase upgrade and build more units later in the game, but runs the risk of having too small an army early and being vulnerable to attack until you build up forces.

Kiting: The process of moving around your unit(s) so that an attacker has to run after your units, and your unit(s) take little or no damage. For example: Warthog with upgrades drive around in circles while Brute Chieftain chases it, the Warthog won't take damage because it is out of range of the Brute Chieftain's hammer.

Hogs: UNSC Warthogs

PoR: Prophet of Regret

BC: Brute Chieftain

Fine Gentleman: A term used on the forum in place of noob/newb/nub, etc.

Hooks: The buildings or structures around maps that provide a bonus when occupied with your infantry units. For example: Reactors, Supply Elevators, Mega Turret and Energy Walls can all be occupied by infantry.

DLC: DLC stands for DownLoadable Content. In the case of Halo Wars, there are 2 DLC packs. Strategic Options is a set of 3 different game types: Reinforcements, Keep Away and Tug of War. Historic Battles is a pack of 4 new maps, two 1v1 maps, one 2v2 and one 3v3 map. They are not required for Multiplayer, but do add quite a bit to the online experience. Both are available for 800 MS Points. Check out more information on the DLC here: DLC Section


Q: How does TrueSkill™ work and how is it implemented in Halo Wars?

A: The TrueSkill™ ranking system is what Halo Wars uses to rank and match players against each other in Multiplayer. It was developed by Microsoft Research and an in- depth explanation can be found at Microsoft Research’s website ( Put simply, the formula to calculate TrueSkill™ has 2 parts. One is the player’s Skill and the second is how certain the TrueSkill™ ranking system is in that Skill level. The more a player plays, the more certain TrueSkill™ is in their ranking.

HaloWars uses TrueSkill™ for its 15 different Multiplayer Leaderboards. You can find those here under Leaderboard Type: MP Skill, then select which Game Type Leaderboard you wish to see. Each Leaderboard has its own TrueSkill™ value, and they are not shared across different Leaderboards. For example, you can have a high TrueSkill™ rating in Standard 1v1 yet have a low rating in Reinforcements 1v1.

In Halo Wars, when a player searches for a game, the matchmaking system tries to match them against another person of roughly equal TrueSkill™. In team games, the TrueSkill™ rating of each team member is blended into one Team TrueSkill™ rating then used to find a match with another team with a roughly equal rating. While searching for a game, a player or team’s TrueSkill™ is briefly displayed onscreen. If a close match is not found by the system in a short period of time, it starts to broaden its match criteria until it can find a game.

When players of very different TrueSkills™ play each other, the resulting change may not be what you’d expect. For example, if Alice (Trueskill™ of 40) plays Bob (TrueSkill™ of 10) and wins, Alice’s TrueSkill™ will increase by a tiny amount. However, if Bob were to win his TrueSkill™ would increase by a good amount, but not necessarily a huge leap, especially if both have been playing for a long time.

On Tuesday, July 28th 2009 12:00am PDT, an issue with the Xbox LIVE Leaderboards wiped all Halo Wars Leaderboards. This caused the Leaderboards to revert to a Launch Day status, where matchmaking for all players is calculated as if no games had ever been played. The Leaderboards were unable to be restored, so all games played previous to July 28th were lost. From July 28th onwards, the Leaderboards are functioning normally and matchmaking and statistics are being processed as they should.

Q: I’m having trouble playing Multiplayer games on Halo Wars or other online games.

A: Go to the XBox dashboard - My XBox | System Settings | Network Settings | Test Xbox LIVE Connection. Do you get a warning for your NAT type? A restricted NAT could cause issues with online games. Check out’s support page for this issue.

Q: I have the Strategic Options DLC, why can I not view Leaderboards in-game for DLC game types?

A: Halo Wars in-game Leaderboards do not fully support the new DLC Game Modes, but you can view the Leaderboards for Keep Away, Reinforcements and Tug of War at


Q: How does Matchmaking work in Halo Wars?

A: In Halo Wars, when a player searches for a game, the matchmaking system tries to match them against another person of roughly equal TrueSkill™. In team games, the TrueSkill™ rating of each team member is blended into one Team TrueSkill™ rating then used to find a match with another team with a roughly equal rating. While searching for a game, a player or team’s TrueSkill™ is briefly displayed onscreen. If a close match is not found by the system in a short period of time, it starts to broaden its match criteria until it can find a game.

To break it down even further, when you start playing Halo Wars for the first time, your TrueSkill™ will be 1. Don’t worry too much about your early games, the more you play, the more accurate your TrueSkill™ will be. Even if you lose your first several games (try honing your skill in Skirmish against the AI, first!), Halo Wars will still try to match you up against people around your own TrueSkill™ level.

Check out the Multiplayer Section for a more in depth explanation of TrueSkill™ and Halo Wars.

Q: Why are there only 15 Matchmaking options for Halo Wars?

A: Due to Xbox LIVE restrictions on how many different Leaderboards a game can have, Halo Wars can only have 15 different matchmaking options. We have used user feedback and game statistics to determine the best 15 to have. This means that there is not every permutation of every game type available for play. All game types are available in single player Skirmish, or in Private Matches.

Rank and Points

Q:How do Rank and Points work in Halo Wars?

A: Skill level isn't always the best way for tracking a player’s experience with the game, so we also keep a total running score of all multiplayer, matchmade games you have played. As this global score for a player goes up, we award the players various ranks to reflect their experience with the game. See the Rank section below to see what total score is needed for the various ranks. To find your score (and rank), in game go to the multiplayer menu and select Service Record | Skirmish.

Q: How do I get more points?

A: One of the best ways to boost your score per game is to complete the game (as opposed to resigning or disconnecting). While you get a 40% bonus if you win, you also get a 20% bonus if you just complete the game. On team games if you are defeated, the award happens right then - not at the end of the game - so you don't need to wait around in that game unless you want to watch the action. There is only one Rank per Player, and it is not affected by position on the Leaderboards. This chart explains the ranking system and score needed to rank up:

Rank Score Needed
Recruit Play 1 Game
Lieutenant 15,000
Captain 30,000
Major 60,000
Commander 120,000
Colonel 240,000
Brigadier 480,000
General 960,000

Q: Does Rank have anything to do with MatchMaking? I'm a Lieutenant and always getting matched against Brigadiers and Generals!"

A: No, Matchmaking does not use Rank. It uses the TrueSkill™ value of the players in the game. You can have players with low rank who have a high TrueSkill™ rating and vice versa.  If your team has 3 Recruits on it, and the other team is all Generals, it's possible your team has a higher TrueSkill.