The burden of command...
Greetings, Admirals and Fleetmasters! In many a-games, from RTS to tabletop, the concept of “sub factions” is commonplace and, frankly, staple. Vanilla Sins, Halo Fleet Battles, Civilization, and many more, utilizes them to diversify play while still allowing a core balance and meta to develop. It is with this in mind, the SotP team decided to start experimenting with the idea of introducing our own version of said system.
Veteran followers of SotP’s development will remember hearing of similar ideas in the past that, ultimately, did not pan out or were otherwise dismantled. This was done for a number of reasons, mostly tied to us feeling there were not enough “sub-factions” to properly branch off with in the Halo universe. However, more recently this idea has evolved to take a different approach that feels more authentic to the Halo RTS experience, which is through leaders.
As stated, many strategy games have utilized a similar system, where you can diversify your play with a certain faction by playing as a different leader in that faction (Halo Wars players: this is right up your alley). Each leader would specialize in a certain type of play, but would be by no means constrained to it. Buffs received would have no drawbacks, meaning there would be no “tradeoff” traits for anyone involved. These buffs would be received by a linear tech path split among multiple branches of research, spanning from early to late game.
On top of unique research buffs and play style diversification, each leader would have several unique ships that either “replaces” a ship in the default roster or builds upon it. These vessels would be catered toward the playstyle of that particular leader, bolstering their tactics and strategy outside of the research menu.
As of this writing, this has been one of the next “big things” we have in the works. So with all this in mind, let’s dig in!
Why we’re doing this:
- This system introduces different playstyles into the 2 factions currently present in the mod, allowing the player to select a style that best suits their skills or interests.
- Provides a replayability booster, in that it invites players to invest in new tactics and try new styles.
- Introduces an opportunity to “step over” role overlap, having certain ships simply replace others under certain leaders.
- Allows us to reimplement cut content formerly deemed unusable.
Below is the current planned setup for 6 total leaders, each with defined styles and perks. While more leaders are certainly a possibility down the road, this is what we’ve been working with for the time being.
Vice Admiral Preston Cole
Style: Admiral Cole focuses on offensive tactics and hit-and-run engagements; living by the policy that “the best defense is a good offense”. Admiral Cole receives buffs for sniping and constantly engaging his enemies.
If you have always felt the UNSC could deal with a bit more offensive firepower, Cole is absolutely the best choice for you. In terms of UNSC leaders, none of them are nearly as straightforward or as pointedly powerful as the Vice Admiral.
- Noryang-class Carrier
- A heavily armed and nimble carrier under service with Admiral Cole’s expeditionary fleets, the Noryang augments Admiral Cole’s fleets with improved planet siege capabilities and fast moving, hard hitting fighter support.
- Phoenix-class Support Ship refit
- Mostly unchanged from the current release of the mod, however, the ship becomes unique under admiral Cole.
- Hillsborough-class Light Destroyer
- A lightly armed but versatile destroyer pulled from mothballs to serve in Admiral Cole’s hastily-formed response forces. Armed with an excess number of missile pods, the Hillsborough performs well in long, drawn out engagements.
Vice Admiral Hieronymus Michael Stanforth
Style: Vice Admiral Stanforth specializes in asymmetric warfare and electronic engagement, utilizing a variety of stealth craft and ONI-laden vessels to combat hostile fleets. Once the enemy has been softened by his prowler fleets, Stanforth uses slow but heavy-hitting attacks to crush anything left.
For those who enjoyed prowler play in previous releases, Stanforth is an excellent choice for you. Stanforth is the “curve ball” of the UNSC leaders, requiring a bit of a different approach to reach full potential. But if used properly - can be a very dangerous combatant.
- Sahara-class Prowler
- The Sahara-class has become a prowler frigate in service of Stanforth, acting as a “heavy hitter” in prowler fleets.
- Razor-class Prowler
- Nimble, but flimsy, the Razor acts as a smaller, “Prowler Paris” in Prowler fleets.
- Point-Blank-class Stealth Cruiser
- A versatile support ship and a prowler in all but name, the Point-Blank lends itself to Stanforth's clandestine activities with a number of ONI related gadgets. While a valuable support vehicle in itself, the true power behind the Point-Blank is its ability to coordinate cloaking across multiple vessels in proximity, allowing entire fleets of prowlers to move in and out of cloak in unison.
- Thanatos-class Battleship
- “Go ahead and build your new supercarrier, take it and run to wherever the hell you think you’ll go. We’ll build something to defend the Earth, to defend us, not to run away and hide.”
Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood
Style: The bulwark of the UNSC leaders, Hood is armed to the teeth with the latest in defensive technology. While not shying away from offensive play, Hood definitely specializes in keeping his own worlds safe and secure - with easily deployed logistics and improved defensive structures.
For those of the persuasion that the UNSC was not tanky enough already, Admiral Hood should be your go-to leader. Armed with the latest in defensive enhancements, what Hood lacks in offensive firepower he makes up for as a slow moving “wall of doom”. Should a skilled Hood player entrench a world, capturing it will be no easy task.
- Stalwart-class Light Frigate
- Formerly the standard AA vessel of the UNSC fleet, the Stalwart has been relegated to Admiral Hood’s lines due to its incomparable abilities in planetary defense. Armed similarly to Paris-class frigates, but with better point defense and ground deployment capabilities, no planetary defense is complete with a contingent of Stalwart-class frigates.
- Athens-class Heavy Carrier
- A slower, but dependable carrier relegated to Hood’s defensive fleets, Athens has a carrying capacity well outside of its weight class for vessels of its size, making it invaluable in supporting Hood’s fleets with large swarms of strike craft.
- Buildable proximity mines for planetary defenses.
Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee
Style: The brawler and offensive mastermind, Thel is not at home unless he’s in the enemy’s living room with an energy sword and a grumpy attitude. Thel specializes in blitzkrieg style play and overwhelming snowball tactics. As a result, however, he can be a difficult leader to get rolling.
To those who enjoyed the Covenant for their overwhelming and overpowering style of strategy, Thel will feel like a very logical progression. The Supreme Commander is only at his best if his fleets are constantly on the front lines, moving through enemy territory with little concern. While a difficult leader to stop in a prolonged campaign, if deterred, Thel ‘Vadamee is more difficult to rebuild as.
- PCS-class Fireship
- A vessel that, frankly, goes against all Covenant doctrine, no ship in the Covenant armada is so singularly devoted to combat than the PCS. Armed with an incredible amount of plasma lances, what the PCS lacks in vitality it more than makes up for in speed and sheer damage potential.
- RPV-class Light Destroyer
- A lighter, and more nimble alternative to the CPV-class Heavy Destroyer, Supreme Commander Vadamee uses these vessels to great effect in chasing down enemy warships and harassing enemy capital vessels. While fast, they are fragile.
- DAS-class Storm Cutter
- Fast, but small and incredibly fragile, the DAS supports thel’s fleets with anti-fighter interdiction and raiding capabilities.
We do have one more vessel in the works for Thel, however at this time it’s only a hypothetical, that we may or may not cut before release. For now, have but a name.
- APS-class Battleship
Imperial Admiral Xytan ‘Jar Wattinree
Style: As an explorer and guardian of Covenant space, the legendary commander Xytan specializes in strong logistics and adaptability. By far the best “turtle” Covenant leader, if such a title were to exist. As protector of the fringe, Xytan has access to ships mostly unutilized by the rest of the Covenant.
The Imperial Admiral is, by most metrics, a departure from the normal Covenant style. Admiral Xytan, protecting the vast swathes of worlds that make up the Covenant’s border space, focuses on defending his worlds and harassing enemy fortifications from a position of strength. For those who did not care for how the Covenant played in the past, or simply felt a different approach could be used, Admiral Xytan is for you.
- ADP-class Escort
- Slow, but a well armed escort against both enemy fighter craft and warships. What the vessel lacks in dexterity it more than makes up for in defensive capabilities.
- An older relative to the universally known CCS-class, the RCS supports Xytan’s fleets with several support abilities. Among these is a very powerful version of the stasis enfolder seen on smaller Covenant aircraft such as the vampire. While useful, the vessel’s age gives it sub-par weaponry and shielding for its size.
The High Prophet of Regret
Style: The noble Prophet Regret was never one to be complacent or idle, insisting he view the frontlines of the war whenever he could. Regret stands as the most well rounded leader in the Covenant roster, focusing on improving his plays both militarily and economically with political overrides and Forerunner technology appropriated for his use.
To those who want a very “vanilla” Covenant leader from previous releases, the High Prophet of Regret stands as your best choice. Regret has the unique capability to improve some of his vessels with Forerunner artifacts, bolstering his fleets with divine blessings. Regret holds no singular focus, simply opting to improve his general play and effectiveness on the field.
- OAS-class Assault Carrier/Syfon-pattern CAS-class
- The Covenant as a whole will lose their titan, and instead the OAS becomes exclusive to the High Prophet of Regret. Regret’s assault carriers lack the incredible firepower and robustness seen in the titan of previous releases, but feature a number of supportive abilities that make it far better than the run of the line CAS-class.
- DSC-class Support Carrier
- A smaller vessel that supports the fleet with modest support abilities and carrying capability. In general, what the DSC lacks in offensive potential on its own, it makes up for in its ability to improve whatever fleet it finds itself attached to.
While some of the details are subject to change, these are, in general, the approach we’ve been taking with each leader and the general style we’d like to go for. Again, this has been one of the “big things” we’ve been working on as of late, but also, again, only one of. The next release of Sins of the Prophets will feel vastly different when compared to previous releases. We hope to share more of what that entails in the coming weeks, as we exit the public downtime we entered at the beginning of this year.
More news is to come, friends, and we thank you for following us this far. We are beyond excited to show you what we think is the best release of the mod to date!
Want to talk about this awesome update with other dedicated SotP fans? Why not become one of the 2300+ fans already in our Discord server and come tell us which leader you plan to specialize in!