The new pair of hunters known collectively as "Colony" is the first time in the Halo Universe that we have seen the alien eelworms known as Lekgolo take control. Colony have allied themselves with the Banished and only answer to its formidable leader Atriox. On the Ark, they are responsible for all Lekgolo activities. While allied with the Banished, Colony also appears to have their own ambitions for the Ark…
In battle, the new leader aims to control the battlefield by using large numbers of Lekgolo units. Which can be healed and augmented throughout the match buying time to call in devastating hosts of reinforcements.
Hunter Captain: This powerful new hero unit is a must have essential for any Colony based tactics. This unit more so than any other hero unit acts as an excellent frontline tank for big and small engagements. Equipped with a long-range beam weapon this hero unit can be easily used to turn the tide in many battles, notably unlike the standard Hunter units the Hunter Captain can target air units giving it a significant tactical advantage over other hero units such as Kinsano's Cyclops or Honour Guard. The Hunter Captain shows its true strength however when upgraded which gives it access to its taunt ability as well as being able to siphon health away with the beam weapon. The taunt ability forces all units caught in its proximity to attack the Hunter Captain and thus can be used strategically to save the rest of your army from damage.
The large shield and health pool of the unit coupled with its siphon ability and other healing abilities available to Colony mean that quite often the unit can survive taking on entire armies and thus gain veterency more effectively. One tactic then is to send the unit in first bolstered by Engineers and Skitterers (See Below) and have the rest of your forces follow in afterwards. The unit is extremely formidable and usually, involves heavy vehicle firepower to effectively counter or anti-infantry troops such as Hellbringers can be used to take it on early in a match. Its one major downside is that it's extremely slow moving and so can't easily adapt to countering different engagements across the map or getting into a fight quickly once spawned. Notably, the Colony leader lacks the ability teleport available to other Banished leaders such as Shipmaster and thus the slow speed is something players will have to contend with.
For Blitz mode, the tank-like nature of this unit comes into its own as even without support it can hold down and contest control points quite easily. Again the slow nature of the unit, however, means that enemy players can easily avoid it should you try using it offensively rather than defensively and in the fast nature of blitz sending it across the map to contest other points or capture energy is more often than not a major waste of its strengths and abilities. At 260 energy it's also one of the most expensive cards in the game and more expensive than all other hero units.
Goliath: Ever asked yourself what would happen if two hunter forms combined into one? Well, the new Goliath unit is the answer to that question. This melee based infantry unit replaces Jump Pack Brutes in the barracks. Strong against buildings but with no air defences and only intermediate against infantry and weak vs vehicles. Out of all the new content, Goliath feels the most useless or least effective in the majority of engagements.
This is mostly due to the fact that the unit is melee based but also very slow moving meaning that it often can't get into position to attack other units and when it is close enough it will often have pathfinding issues often due to enemy players simply moving their units away should any Goliaths appear. The unit has a ramming ability similar to that of Warthogs and Choppers but the unit lacks responsiveness when issued to use it. The unit has a large health pool but this matters very little against air units and vehicles in which by itself it is easily going to lose engagements. Even in early stages of a match Goliaths seem to lack purpose as you would expect them to be great rush units due to their effectiveness against buildings. They can however easily by countered by anti-infantry units.
In the heat of a skirmish upon a base, a few goliaths could be used effectively for destroying turrets and denting the base. Attaching two Skitterers (again see below) can dispel the many downsides of this unit lessening the effects of its melee based attacks and providing some much-needed air defence. For Blitz, the tanky nature can be useful for contesting and holding down control points like the Hunter Captain, however, sending it to do other tasks is not ideal.Overall resources and energy seem better spent elsewhere.
Skitterer: These small mechanical units piloted by Lekgolo are essentially mini fast moving turrets. This unit is by far the most interesting to use and experiment with in the whole of the Colony's forces. To buy them they first needed to be unlocked in the powers circle as a passive ability, once unlocked they can be brought at the home base for 200 resources and 10 energy and so can be mass produced fairly easily. One tactic early on in matches is to swarm enemy players with a bunch of the fast moving units or build them in addition to some Grunt squads. They have some great damage output especially when upgraded but the small amount of health means it's essential to build lots of them or use them in tandem with other units. It's worthy of note that they count as vehicle units and not infantry. This means that they can be rendered less effective should players not invest in global upgrades for vehicles.
Easily the most interesting and fun use of Skitterers, however, is making use of their unique new ability which when used can attach a Skitterer to any other unit. The once grounded unit will take off and attach to the unit permanently increasing its health and providing additional fire support, As mentioned above try doing this with the Hunter Captain and Goliath who can both have two Skitterers instead of one. For other units, it still seems like a case of experimenting to see what benefits most from the additional health and fire support. One fun tactic is to attach them to the non-combative support units Engineers and Shrouds creating an airborne assault of healing, defence and damage this coupled with the new hero unit is an incredibly fun and effective strategy to utilise. The one downside really is that attaching the skitterers to other units can be finicky and time-consuming, which in the intense nature of matches that last 20+ minutes taking the time to attach them to units can leave you somewhat open to attack.
In Blitz, Skitterers are called in using a card unique to the mode Skitterer mob which calls in a small swarm of the units without deployment fatigue. The fast nature of the unit means they are great for contesting energy drops and harassing enemy controlled points with hit and run tactics.
In addition to the new units, some new unique abilities are added to the fray.
Vehicle Symbiotes: This area of effect buff calls forth Lekgolo worms to swarm over targeted vehicles increasing the armour and range of the affected units. What makes this power unique to other buffing powers is that the effect is permanent until the unit is destroyed, so applying it to vehicles and keeping them alive can give you a massive edge.
Living Barrier: Calls forth a wall of Lekgolo worms that act as a barrier on the battlefield to ground troops. Used effectively this power can be used defensively to halt the advances of entire armies in key chokepoints across the map, particularly helpful at slowing down rushes if used properly. The walls can be destroyed and after a set amount of time will blow up by themselves. Should you begin losing a fight they can be used to divide you from the enemy's forces in the heat of battle. Timing and placement are key to this ability if not used properly it can often be detrimental to you and your allies. In Blitz, it's best used to fortify key choke points or can be used aggressively to halt the advances of opponents pushes from their base.
Hunters Brand: A cheap ability that calls down three converging beams to deal damage. Can be used quickly unlike the glassing beam and has a quick cool down. Unless upgraded the ability deals little damage, however.
Colony Drop: Calls forth two veteran Goliaths. While I don't particularly rate the new unit, being able to call in reinforcements on the fly is always an added bonus.
Engineer Swarm: Calls in a swarm of engineers to heal units in the targeted area for a limited time. The healing is strong and more cost effective than that of other healing powers such as restoration drones the engineers can, however, be shot down easily by anti-air units.
Devastating Host: Calls forth a host of veteran hunters and vehicles in spirit dropships. Additionally, the vehicles are also buffed by Vehicle Symbiotes as are any other friendly vehicles caught in the radius. Costs a lot of resources and energy to call forth but being able to spawn in a small army is great for reinforcing existing pushes or protecting a base on the fly.
Combat Repair: An absolute gem of a passive ability that provides a slow healing buff to all units and buildings for the remainder of the game, additionally it works in and out of combat.
In addition to the new powers and units (not all of these are available in blitz), there are also a few unique new cards for Colony to deploy as well.The Enduring Locust (Deploys infantry when destroyed) and scarred hunters (equipped with beam weapon upgrade making them more effective than standard hunter card).
Overall Colony seems best equipped to defend the Blitz control points and use Skitterers to contest energy cores and harass enemies. Back up a deck with some offensive units for when you need to push or contest control points.
Overall Colony is a great new leader for Halo Wars 2. It adds some interesting new lore and insight into the often overlooked race so make sure to check out the new codex entries. The additional new units and abilities are far more interesting and exciting than the last batch of DLC but it remains to be seen if the leader will remain competitive moving forward. For now making use of the new hero in tandem with Skitterers and healing ability's and traditional tactics have proven to be both effective and fun across all multiplayer modes. A great addition to an already brilliant set of leaders, hopefully in the future we will see additional Banished leaders enter the fray as well executed as this.