Varric-pattern heavy cruiser

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This article may contain information based upon upcoming, unreleased, or recently-released content from the Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), and may not be fully complete. Additionally, the information may be subject to change if it is based on pre-release material. Please update it as soon as any relevant and accurate material is available.
Varric-pattern heavy cruiser
Art of an Varric-pattern heavy cruiser from the 2022 edition of the Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition). Image from Canon Fodder #117.
Production information


Primary Assembly Forges


Cruiser, Examiner[1]


Survey, compliance, command[1]

Technical specifications


3,000 meters (9,843 feet)[2]


1,451 meters (4,760 feet)[2]


200 million tonnes[1]

Power plant:

Forerunner shrine-cores[1]


Repulsor engines

Slipspace drive:


Navigation system(s):

Navigation computer

Other system(s):


Nanolaminate hull plating






Chronological and affiliation


Human-Covenant War


Covenant fleet
Joyous Exultation Covenant
Covenant remnants


The Varric-pattern heavy cruiser (UNSC three-letter classification: ORS-class heavy cruiser) by the UNSC, is a capital warship classification within the now-defunct Covenant fleet.[2] It is used for planetary occupation and naval command, as well as to support Covenant flagships.[3] Following the Great Schism, these ships have become invaluable to independent warlords.[4]

Design details[edit]

Equipped with a variety of stealth technology, an energy projector, and plasma turrets, the ORS-class is considerably more powerful than any other cruiser class used by the Covenant.[5] The "O" (for "Ordained") in the cruiser's three-letter classification code indicates that the class has been improved upon with Forerunner technology, specifically a weapons core. The "R" (for "Reverence") denotes that the cruiser is capable of conducting reconnaissance missions and is capable of excavating Forerunner artifacts. The "S" (for "Salvation") indicates that the cruiser is a dedicated warship.[6]

Power plant[edit]

Unique to this class are a number of Forerunner shrine-core power plants of various sizes. Drawing their untapped potential is a risky affair, as it can destroy the cruiser. As a result, their full power is restrained by devotional seals and interlocks, which is then harnessed by Covenant control and weapon systems. Blessed keepers in the warship's engineering section practice many strange rituals to bypass the Forerunner security systems.[1]

Crew and Complement[edit]

Compared to other Covenant warships, the ORS-class heavy cruiser is labor-intensive and difficult to operate, requiring about 1,286 hand-picked personnel to be effectively manned. These are led by sixteen Sangheili, with seventy Huragok for maintenance duties, and Menials make up the rest. The reason for this is because these cruisers are old, dating back to the Covenant's early centuries. Special interpreters and scholars are required on the warship's bridge, as many of the ship's controls and data feeds only display now-cryptic messages in an early Sangheili dialect.[1]


The ORS-class is well armed for its size, enabling its use as a flagship for small task forces. It is equipped with a Ventrax-pattern heavy plasma lance as its heaviest ship-to-ship weapon, which fires a tightly-focused stream of plasma which travels almost as fast as light. These weapons do damage via a combination of thermal and kinetic effects, and have proven capable of bisecting unshielded warships at close range. In addition, three Felo-pattern plasma beam emitters are installed. Due to power restraints, only one of these weapons can fire at once, with the ORS-class typically combining its forward-mounted projector with two plasma torpedoes.[7] For ship-to-ship combat, forty-eight Melusean-pattern heavy plasma cannons and sixteen Qur-pattern plasma torpedo silos are installed, with the plasma torpedoes being preferred because of their tracking capabilities. Defending the ship against fighters, attack ships and missiles are eighty Ferriel-pattern pulse lasers.[1]

For ground attacks, the ORS-class has two types of weapon systems to bring to bear. The first is its Phar-pattern superheavy excavation beam, which is capable of Glassing worlds in the name of the Covenant and excavating Forerunner artifacts. Sixteen Fet-pattern plasma bombardment mortars are there for smaller, more precise attacks.[1]


The ORS-class boasts a variety of stealth-related advancements, including a cloaking system[8] to mask it from enemy fleets.[5]

Operational History[edit]

The first ORS-class heavy cruisers were commissioned during the Covenant's early centuries to fight the many bloody civil wars and slaughters, which in turn typified the Covenant's Ages of Conflict and Doubt during this early period. Because of this service, each ORS-class warship is a symbol of ancient honor, and their accumulated glory reflects on the hand-picked crews. As an examiner-class vessel, ORS-class heavy cruisers were sent far across the Orion Arm, where their missions often determined the fate of entire worlds and species. Because of this prestigious assignment, only Ministries that had received approval from the Hierarchs were allowed to activate, crew, and deploy these powerful warships.[1]

A small number of ORS-class heavy cruisers participated in the Human-Covenant War, and they were assigned as flagships for small battle groups. One of these ships supported the Fleet of Valiant Prudence during the Fall of Reach, where it led a detachment consisting of SDV-class heavy corvettes and a single Ket-pattern battlecruiser. When the Great Schism erupted, these powerful capital ships were pitted against both each other and the other units of the Covenant. The heavy cruiser Incorruptible, now commandeered by Voro 'Mantakree, briefly attempted to unify the infighting Covenant fleets in order to quarantine the Flood during the Battle of Installation 05. It would later lead an armada from the Combined Fleet of Righteous Purpose to Onyx, where it was ultimately destroyed.

After the Human-Covenant War concluded, most ORS-class heavy cruisers found themselves in service of various warlords, with many disregarding or forgetting the significance of their names and achievements as they fought over what remained of the Covenant.[1] Two heavy cruisers, manned by Sangheili and Jiralhanae respectively, would be destroyed during the Carrow Conflict.[9]

Ships of the line[edit]


Halo: Fleet Battles[edit]

Covenant ORS Heavy Cruiser[edit]

  • Cost: 200 points
  • Movement: 5"
  • Damage Track: 11 • 10 • 5
  • Build rating: 4
  • Hangars: 5
  • Boarding Craft: 3
  • Security detail: 4
  • System loadouts:
  • Primary weapon: Plasma lance
    • Range: 18/32"
    • Weapon loadouts: Plasma
    • Firing arc: Forward/Port/Starboard
    • Dice: 14
  • Alternative primary weapon: Plasma beam
    • Range: 12/-"
    • Weapon loadouts: Beam/Plasma
    • Firing arc: Forward/Port/Starboard
    • Dice: 9/9/9
  • Secondary Weapon: Plasma cannon arrays
    • Range: 10/20"
    • Weapon loadouts: Plasma
    • Firing arc: Forward/Port/Starboard
    • Dice: 10

Covenant Supported ORS Heavy Cruiser[edit]

This element features one ORS - class heavy cruiser and one SDV - class heavy corvette

  • Cost: 220 points
  • Movement: 5"
  • Damage Track: 11 • 10 • 6
  • Build rating: 5
  • Hangars: 6
  • Boarding Craft: 3
  • Security detail: 5
  • System loadouts:
    • Cloaking system
    • Defense array (5)
    • Glide (3")
    • Point defense (6)
  • Primary weapon: Plasma lance
    • Range: 18/32"
    • Weapon loadouts: Plasma
    • Firing arc: Forward/Port/Starboard
    • Dice: 14
  • Alternative primary weapon: Plasma beam
    • Range: 12/-"
    • Weapon loadouts: Beam/Plasma
    • Firing arc: Forward/Port/Starboard
    • Dice: 9/9/9
  • Secondary Weapon: Plasma cannon arrays
    • Range: 10/20"
    • Weapon loadouts: Plasma
    • Firing arc: Forward/Port/Starboard
    • Dice: 12
  • Additional secondary weapon: Plasma torpedos
    • Range: 10/24"
    • Weapon loadouts: Missiles/Plasma
    • Firing arc: Forward
    • Dice: 5

Production notes[edit]

The ORS-class heavy cruiser was first identified as such in 2011's Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, though its first appearance was as the "Reverence-class" cruiser Incorruptible in 2006's Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. The class' first canonical visual appearance was in Halo: Fleet Battles. As the ORS had never appeared in any visual media prior to 2015, the class had to be designed from scratch for the game. 343 Industries' Franchise Team noted that "Spartan Games 'got' the design language of the Covenant", and so the design of the cruiser went through only a few rounds of iteration. The basic shape was decided upon immediately when the design process began.[5]

The ORS combines design features of the Ket-pattern battlecruiser, the Ceudar-pattern heavy corvette, and the Sh'wada-pattern supercarrier. The ORS class was intended to be the "big brother" of the CCS class while concomitantly paying homage to the CAS-class assault carrier (which is identical to the CSO). The heavy cruiser was designed to be an apparent visual link between Covenant cruiser and carrier classes in terms of size.[5]


List of appearances[edit]