February 2, 2009

A Field Trip to Harvest

February is Halo Wars month which means a new Halo Wars feature every day until the game releases. Today, we take a look at at the planet that takes the main focus of the game, courtesy of our friends at Halopedia.

Planet Statistics


Star, Position

Epsilon Indi






Unknown, Likely circa 38% of Earth Normal



Technology Tier

Tier 3


Harvest was the seventeenth colony world, and one of the most remote. The colony was founded in 2468 by the UNSC Skidbladnir. Located in the Epsilon Indi System, the planet had the unfortunate distinction of being the first human planet discovered by the Covenant. After disastrous First Contact, the planet was subsequently glassed by the Covenant during the First Battle of Harvest, but most of its population managed to escape in freighters.
Harvest was one of the UNSC's more productive and more peaceful colonies. Within two decades of its founding it had the highest per capital agricultural manufacture of any inner colony. Major crops, such as corn, wheat, watermelon, peaches, apples, grapes, and numerous other foodstuffs nourished the inhabitants of more than half a dozen other colonies. The population of Harvest was three hundred thousand but most were killed by the Covenant in 2525 by invasion and orbital bombardment. The capital city and its largest population center was Utgard, also home to Harvest's seven space elevators connected to the Orbital Space Station, Tiara.

Harvest was a small planet, approximately one-third the size of Earth with only a 4,000 kilometer (2,484 mile) equatorial diameter, slightly smaller than the Sol planet Mercury. In terms of surface area, Harvest possessed ~50 million km², roughly one-tenth the surface area of Earth. Harvest orbited Epsilon Indi extremely quickly, much faster than most other UNSC colonies, at roughly 150,000 km/h, or ~41km/sec (by comparison, Earth orbits Sol at roughly 30 km/sec). Harvest had no natural satellites. Out of a total of five planets in the Epsilon Indi System, Harvest was the only habitable planet, as well as being fertile for farming. The super-continent Edda dominated the planet, taking up roughly 67% of its surface. Two low-salinity seas covered the remainder of the planet, Hugin to the north, and Munin to the south. Almost 86% of Edda is within 500 meters of sea level, the only major change in elevation is the, an escarpment that "cuts" Edda in half. Harvest's surface was once beautiful, covered in grassland and forests, lush fields and rolling hills, and a thousand lakes swarming with fish. The orchards with luscious crops. At night, bats filled the skies. After being glassed, the surface was reduced to a layer of melted glass, the destruction visible from orbit. The environment suffered a catastrophic blow as a result, the once glorious landscape turning into a nearly frozen tundra, causing most species to quickly go extinct. Soon, all that remained of Harvest's original ecosystem were the scavengers, feeding off the rotting remains of the planet's once abundant wildlife, and even they perished before long.

In 2502, Avery Junior Johnson was involved in the assassination of Jerald Mulkey Ander, the head of the People's Occupation Government on Harvest as part of the ORION Project's Operation: KALEIDOSCOPE. Harvest was the first colony to be attacked by the Covenant and the first human world to be glassed. It was also the first place humanity officially made contact with the Covenant, after the incidents on This End Up and Minor
Transgression. In 2524, Staff Sergeant Johnson returned to Harvest along with Staff Sergeant Byrne and Captain Ponder, all survivors of Operation: TREBUCHET. They were to train a Colonial Militia and, unbeknown to them, fend off what UNSC had believed to be Insurrectionist attacks on ships in the systems. On February 3rd, 2525, the Harvest orbital platform, the Tiara, made long-range radar and spectroscopic contact with Rapid Conversion. Contact with Harvest was lost thereafter.

The citizens of Harvest soon found themselves in the middle of the first battle between the Covenan and humanity, using their newly trained Militia to herd hundreds of thousands of civilian survivors from Gladsheim, Vigrond and other locations to the Utgard Space Elevators to escape the planet. During the first Covenant attack on Harvest about +250,000 humans managed to escape the planet by packing into 236 freight containers which were then loaded into seven elevator depots in Utgard. Every five to seven minutes, seven pairs of freight containers were loaded into the Space Elevator. Loaded ahead of these freight containers were seven "grease buckets", maintenance containers, two which were loaded with Johnson's men and Jilan al-Cygni. The other five were decoys rigged with claymore mines which were used to soften the Brutes, Grunts and Drones which had boarded and taken control of Tiara. While the other two "grease buckets" holding Johnson and Co. stopped and they were fighting off the Covenant, the number seven strand of the Space Elevator snapped a few thousand kilometers above its anchor due to the stress caused by the load becoming unbalanced. There were 11 pairs of freight containers on the strand when it snapped, killing around 40,000 people. The remaining freight containers carrying the survivors of Harvest continued up the elevator, out into space, where they met up with propulsion pods that Sif had placed previously. Once Johnson and Co. finished fighting the Covenant on the Tiara, they joined the survivors and used the propulsion pods to enter Slipspace.

By April 12th,2525, the Colonial Military Administration sent the scout ship Argo to investigate. Other then confirming its arrival at Harvest no other transmissions were sent, and Argo was presumed MIA. On October 7th, Fleet Command assembled a battle group to investigate, due to the fact that the Harvest situation was deemed to have become serious. The battle group consisted of the destroyer Heracles, commanded by Captain Veredi, as well as the frigates Arabia and Vostok. They entered the Harvest system only to find the planet's surface almost entirely melted down to glass. While there, the battle group encountered an unknown alien vessel. This vessel immediately fired on the inferior human vessels, and the Vostok and Arabia were lost with all hands. The Heracles managed to jump out of the system, but took several weeks to return to Reach due to damage sustained in the battle. Vice Admiral Preston Cole fought and barely won the Second Battle of Harvest in 2531, six years later. This battle was the single most titanic battle ever fought by the two opposing forces before the Fall of Reach in 2552, and resulted in the creation and implementation of the Cole Protocol. The UNSC was able to retake the planet but with the massive loss of 2/3 of their fleet even then they had outnumbered the covenant. Soon after Admiral Cole's victory, the UNSC Spirit of Fire arrived in the system and found the Covenant had once again returned to the planet's surface, and more shockingly, had uncovered previously unknown Forerunner relics.

Fun Facts
  • A day on Harvest lasts only 17.5 hours.
  • The "nuclear winter" effect caused by the Covenant weapons fire was the first snow the planet had ever seen. By the events of Halo Wars, the poles have completely frozen over.
  • Many of the population of Harvest is of U.S. Midwestern descent.
  • Harvest is inspired by Norse and Scandinavian culture. The landmasses and oceans are inspired by Norse mythology.
  • The Prophets mistranslated a Forerunner glyph meaning "reclaimer" to read "relic" and therefore began to destroy all the humans on Harvest who they thought were hiding relics from them. In reality, the glyph was representing each human on the planet. The Covenant, therefore, were from then on mislead to believe there was a relic at every location there was a reclaimer.

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