James Cutter

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James Cutter
JG Cutter.jpg
Biographical information




June 12, 2479[1][2]






185 centimetres (6 ft 1 in)[3]


88 kilograms (190 lb)[4]

Hair color:

Black, graying

Eye color:


Political and military information





Service number:


Notable info:

Commanded the first UNSC personnel to encounter the Flood


Captain James "Jim" Gregory Cutter (service number 01730-58392-JC)[5] was a senior officer in the UNSC Navy who served during the Insurrection and in the early years of the Human-Covenant War.[3] He commanded the UNSC Spirit of Fire, a Phoenix-class support vessel in Vice Admiral Preston Cole's Third Fleet.[2][6] Cutter had a wife, Mary, with whom he had a daughter on Reach;[7] he also had a mistress on Tribute, with whom he had a son, Daniel Clayton.[8]


Early career[edit]

James Cutter, captain of the UNSC Spirit of Fire

Before joining the UNSC, James Cutter earned respect for standing up to terrorists in the Epsilon Indi system. As the commanding officer of the Spirit of Fire, he was known to have walked the ship at night to check on his crew. He was so well respected that Inner Colony coffee houses gave him free coffee beans to take with him on long deployments.[9]

Cutter entered the UNSC School of the North Star on September 15, 2500, where he studied astronavigation and political science. He was then sent to the Officer Candidate School on June 19, 2504 where he was taught in command and navigation. He entered the Naval service as a lieutenant and junior navigation officer aboard the Stick, a diplomatic attaché vessel assigned to UNSC Brilliant Shores, on November 16, 2507. He was later transferred to UNSC Final Summit on January 9, 2514, whereupon he was appointed the ship's chief navigation officer. He achieved the rank of commander upon his transfer to UNSC Glasgow on August 8, 2519, a post he stayed at until his transfer to the Spirit of Fire on the sixth anniversary of his transfer to Glasgow. On May 22, 2524, he received a Bronze Star for his actions aboard UNSC Glasgow.[10] He was given the rank of captain upon his arrival aboard Spirit of Fire on August 8, 2525.

Between 2524 and 2525, Cutter had an extramarital affair with a woman on Tribute. This liaison produced a son, Daniel Clayton.[8]

In November 2530, Cutter gave his executive officer, Terrence Hood, command of UNSC Roman Blue.[8]

Before the Harvest campaign, Cutter was offered command of the Marathon-class heavy cruiser UNSC Prophecy, though he turned it down.[7]

Harvest campaign[edit]

Main article: Harvest campaign
"Five years, five long years. That's how long it took us to get Harvest back. At first it was going well. Then setback after setback... Loss after loss... Made what was going to be a quick and decisive win... Into five years of Hell. Of course, that's all Harvest really is today... It's Hell down there, but now it's ours again."
—Cpt. Cutter about Harvest campaign
Cutter, Anders and Serina observing a holographic topographical map of Harvest

With the outbreak of war with the Covenant, Cutter was handpicked by Vice Admiral Preston Cole to command the Spirit of Fire in her new role as center of repair, supply, and forward deployment operations for Battlegroup D, Third Fleet. Cutter participated in the campaign to reclaim Harvest, the first planet to fall to the Covenant, in early 2531. He developed a close working relationship with the ship's AI, Serina, but was initially suspicious of presence of Professor Ellen Anders, a civilian consultant forcibly recruited by the Office of Naval Intelligence; he suspected that there was more to her than met the eye.[11] After making a log on the "five years of hell" that led to the reclamation of the planet, Spirit of Fire remained win the Epsilon Indi system. Cutter believed that although Harvest had been reclaimed by the UNSC, it was unlikely that the Covenant would simply back down.

His belief was soon vindicated when Sergeant John Forge alerted Cutter that the Covenant had uncovered a Forerunner structure in the planet's northern polar region, with Professor Anders giving further proof of this claim. Cutter thus ordered that Alpha Base be brought back online[12] and the site be taken.[13] Upon the discovery of a Forerunner starmap inside the structure,[14] Anders determined that the map pointed to her homeworld, Arcadia, and advised Cutter to set course for the planet. His trust in Anders had been strengthened by the bravery she had displayed on Harvest,[11] so he came to agree with the professor's assessment; after informing Vice Admiral Cole of his intentions, Cutter ordered Serina to set a course for Arcadia.[15]

Battle of Arcadia[edit]

Main article: Battle of Arcadia
Cpt. Cutter, Sgt. Forge and Jerome-092 discuss how to proceed after Prof. Anders's abduction

Upon arrival at Arcadia on February 9, 2531, Serina reported to Cutter that the colony had come under attack by the Covenant and was in the midst of a full invasion. Cutter ordered Marines to the planet to evacuate civilian population centers.[15] After the Marines and Spartan Red Team evacuated Pirth City, Cutter was informed of a Covenant energy dome on the surface of the planet near an ONI facility, protecting Covenant forces searching for Forerunner artifacts and concealing their activities. Cutter ordered Anders down to the surface in order to deactivate the energy dome using plasma-based Rhino artillery tanks.[16] After clearing out Covenant forces under the dome, Anders was captured by Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee and taken aboard a Covenant destroyer. Forge was in strong favor of rescuing Anders, though Spartan Jerome-092 referred to Anders' capture as a "significant security breach" and suggested that the Covenant ship be destroyed. Cutter gave the order to pursue the enemy vessel through slipspace on to an unknown destination.[17] Though a log buoy detailing Spirit of Fire's whereabouts had been left near Arcadia, Captain Terrence Hood's desire for vengeance against the Covenant caused the log buoy to become irretrievable; as such, Cutter and Spirit of Fire were lost to the UNSC.[8]

Shield World[edit]

Main article: Battle of Shield World 0459
"If the Covenant get their hands on these ships it will mean the end of the war. We'll take our chances here, to give humanity some hope."
—Cpt. Cutter's gamble
Cutter, Anders and Serina planning the operation to destroy the shield world

Spirit of Fire arrived at an uncharted, desert planet (in reality a Forerunner shield world) on February 23; Anders' transponder signal was detected emanating from the planet's surface. Cutter sent several Marine reconnaissance teams to the planet, where a parasitic lifeform the ship's medical team believed to be a virus[18] (actually the Flood) was soon found to have infested the biosphere.[17][19] Spirit of Fire was eventually drawn downward through a chasm beneath an artificial lake, though Cutter was adamant that all groundside personnel would be recovered rather than abandoned to the Flood.[20] Once inside the artificial planet's superstructure the vessel came under attack from both the Flood and local Forerunner Sentinels; Cutter ordered response teams to the dorsal surface to keep the ship's interior from being compromised.[21]

Spirit of Fire soon emerged within the shield world's interior and almost immediately collided with a CPV-class destroyer. Spirit's reactor was severely damaged and required repairs before the ship could escape. Cutter was thus forced to coordinate a delaying action at metaphorical point-blank range while Sergeant Forge's Marines conducted repairs.[22] Anders escaped and was soon found by Sergeant Forge. She had gained knowledge of a fleet of Forerunner dreadnoughts that the Covenant planned to use against humanity.[23] She quickly devised a plan to use the Spirit of Fire's FTL reactor to cause the artificial star inside the shield world to go supernova, thus destroying the ships before the Covenant could make use of them; Cutter understood that this would limit Spirit of Fire to sublight speed, though he considered the sacrifice necessary when weighed against the possible extinction of humanity.[24] Forge and Spartan Red Team killed the Arbiter and his guards when delivering the FTL drive to its destination, although the reactor core was damaged. Forge stayed behind to manually overload the reactor. With the shield world's utter destruction eminent, the captain ordered Red Team and numerous Marines to deactivate the hard light barrier that enclosed the exit portal. Cutter ordered Serina to make a dangerous slingshot maneuver around the expanding star and the ship escaped the ensuing explosion, after which Spirit of Fire began a long journey home. Two weeks later, Cutter forced Anders into cryostasis, reassuring her that her plan had gotten everyone out of the shield world alive. As the pod closed, Anders reminded the captain that not everyone had survived. Cutter then paid his respects at the late Sergeant Forge's cryotube before making a round of the ship.[25]


Cutter inside the Spirit of Fire's cryo room

Spirit of Fire was declared "lost with all hands" on February 10, 2534, the ship having previously been classified as missing in action. The reason for this change was kept top secret. A memorial service was held for the vessel's crew, but many family members chose not to attend, holding out hope that their loved ones were still alive.[26][4][note 1]

After the Human-Covenant War's conclusion, Spirit of Fire and her crew were honored at the dedication of the living monument, along with numerous other ships that had been lost with all hands during the war.[27]

Daniel Clayton's revenge[edit]

Main article: Ambush at Oth Lodon

On March 11, 2558, the UNSC flagship Infinity recovered the civilian freighter Pilgrims Pride after intercepting a distress call from the Artesia-702 system. Several AC-220 Vultures and AV-22 Sparrowhawks emerged from the freighter and launched a short-lived Trojan horse attack inside Infinity. It was soon discovered that these craft had been previously assigned to Spirit of Fire.[28]

Despite the diplomatic risks, Lord Terrence Hood, who felt guilty over his role in the Spirit of Fire's disappearance and the loss of his former commanding officer, ordered Infinity to investigate. When they arrived at the specified coordinates near Oth Lodon, they found not the Spirit but a Covenant space station. Cutter's illegitimate son, Captain Daniel Clayton contacted Infinity, revealing himself to be aligned with the New Colonial Alliance, an Insurrectionist group. Believing Lord Hood to be responsible for his father's death, Clayton ordered his crew to attack Infinity with the station's energy projector.[8] Although Infinity was disabled by the attack, the Spartans were able to board the station and stop Clayton, delivering him and his underlings to UNSC captivity.[29]

Personality and traits[edit]

As the Captain of the UNSC Spirit of Fire Cutter was confident with those around him and was met with strong loyalty from the crew. His stance and voice identified him as an intelligent, unambiguous, and thoughtful leader. Though he looked old for his age he put forth the energy and determination of men half his age. He was almost always at attention while listening to his advisors and crew. He was constantly on the move with no need for pomp and circumstance. This lack of flourish rallied many behind him and made him the perfect leader for the battles ahead.[1]

Cutter was an officer from the start, but his demeanor was never one of a do-nothing officer like many of his class. Many officers of his class had political aspirations far beyond their potential, but Cutter found it more interesting to "talk shop" with the non-commissioned servicemen. He liked his fellow officers, but he believed in "get[ting] to know and respect your men, and they'll give you 200 percent when the time comes." This approach had good and bad sides. Though his record of service and bravery was well known within the fleet his lack of political ambition, his unwillingness to climb the ladder of the UNSC by stepping over others, kept him from far more. He could easily have been an Admiral if he had ever cared to be.[note 2][1]

The amount of assignments with missions the UNSC Spirit of Fire undertook was something that made Cutter smile behind his morning coffee.[1] He sometimes refers to ships in archaic nautical terms, although he has never seen an actual waterborne military vessel.[30]


Production notes and gameplay information[edit]

Portrayed by the prolific voice actor Gregg Berger, Cutter is the central authority figure in Halo Wars' campaign. In the skirmish and multiplayer modes Cutter acts as a hero unit with a unique set of units, abilities, and upgrades.

HWguide Cutter.png



  • Base Bonus - New bases start as Stations and the starting base is a Fortress.
  • Super Unit - ODST. Final upgrade for Marines.
  • MAC Upgrades - Medium MAC Blast (fires two rounds) - Large MAC Blast (fires three rounds) - Super MAC Blast (fires four rounds).

Strategic tips[edit]

  • The cost for his Super Unit upgrade is 1800 resources. This upgrade allows the player to use the Hot Drop Ability, which deploys ODSTs to the selected area.
  • Cutter's leader power is the slowest and most noticeable of the three (Cutter's MAC Blast, Sgt. Forge's Carpet Bomb, and Anders Cryo Bomb). It is smart to use Cutter's leader power against a Type-47 Scarab, or an enemy base.
  • Cutter's main advantage is that he can gain an early foothold in any Skirmish since his starting base is a Fortress, which makes him very good at rushing the enemy.
  • It is preferred to send a scout Warthog to see what the opponent foe is doing at the early stages of a Skirmish. However, since Cutter can produce Elephants, it is common to send an Elephant to an enemy base and continuously harass the foe with infantry while a larger force is assembled at the player's base.

Production notes[edit]

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List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Graeme Devine, the lead writer of Halo Wars, wrote several essays about Spirit of Fire to assist the game's production team; however, he admits they are "basically fanfiction" and some blatantly contradict canon. According to Devine's blog, various theories circulated throughout the UNSC as to the ship's fate, ranging from being lost during a covert mission for ONI, destroyed in orbit over Arcadia, defecting to Insurrectionist forces, or being stranded in space. When Captain Cutter's widow, Mary, was asked about the defection theory, she physically assaulted the reporter.
  2. ^ Halo Wars: Official Strategy Guide uses the term General instead of Admiral.


  1. ^ a b c d Halo Wars: Official Strategy Guide, page 20
  2. ^ a b Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 43
  3. ^ a b Halo Wars Collectors Edition Leader Cards
  4. ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia, page 71
  5. ^ a b [Halo Waypoint - James Gregory Cutter]
  6. ^ Halo Wars Official Community Site, Spirit of Fire Facts
  7. ^ a b Game Daily (defunct link)
  8. ^ a b c d e Halo: Escalation, Issue #5
  9. ^ Game Daily (defunct link)
  10. ^ Halo Waypoint - Today in Halo
  11. ^ a b Game Daily (defunct link)
  12. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Alpha Base
  13. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Relic Approach
  14. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Relic Interior
  15. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Arcadia City
  16. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Dome of Light
  17. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Anders' Signal
  18. ^ Chief Medical Officer O'Neil's Log, 26 February 2531
  19. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level The Flood
  20. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Shield World
  21. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Cleansing
  22. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Repairs
  23. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Beachhead
  24. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Reactor
  25. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Escape
  26. ^ Halo Wars Timeline Events
  27. ^ Halo Living Monument
  28. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #4
  29. ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #6
  30. ^ Halo Wars Leader Cards
  31. ^ Halo Waypoint - Today in Halo
  32. ^ a b c Halo Wars: Genesis