Leaders are characters in the real-time strategy (RTS) games Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2 who can be played as in Multiplayer, Skirmish and Blitz. Leaders offer a varied experience in Halo Wars' multiplayer aspects, bringing leader specific powers and units into the fray. In Halo Wars, the Covenant each leader has its own hero unit, while the UNSC leaders each get unique Spirit of Fire abilities such as Anders' Cryo Bomb. A player's choice of leader typically impacts on their playstyle. For instance, Cutter is more measured while Forge's playstyle is quite aggressive.
Cutter's unique unit is the Elephant mobile base, and his unique upgrade transforms Marine squads into teams of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Once this upgrade has been researched, he gains the Hero Ability to hot-drop ODSTs from HEV's anywhere on the map for the cost of training one squad. His personal weapon is the Spirit of Fire's Magnetic Accelerator Cannon, fired directly into the surface of the planet. Also, all bases receive free upgrades; newly built bases are Stations, not Firebases, and the initial home base which would usually be a Station is a Fortress.
Forge's personal attack calls in a Shortsword Bomber to Carpet Bomb an area of his choosing, and his unique unit is the Cyclops exoskeleton. His unique upgrade changes Scorpion Tanks into Grizzly Battle tanks. In addition, all UNSC Supply Pads start out as Heavy Supply pads, saving the 100 resources used to build normal supply pads. In campaign mode, Forge is available as a unit, initially riding in a Gauss Warthog, and continuing on foot armed with an M90 shotgun if his ride is destroyed.
Anders' unique unit is the Gremlin, and her unique upgrade replaces Hornets with Hawk . In addition, all upgrades are 50% cheaper and require 25% less research time, apart from Cryo Bomb and Hawks which are 25% cheaper and require 25% less research time. Her personal weapon calls in a Shortsword bomber to drop a Cryo Bomb on her enemies, which does no damage but literally freezes units solid, preventing them from taking any action. In the campaign, Anders is available as a unit, primarily useful due to her Active Ability to repair vehicles, though in emergencies she is able to protect herself with an M6D pistol.
Regret can bring down a Cleansing Beam from his ship in orbit to cause massive damage to enemy structures and units, his special forces units are Elite Honor Guard, and he personally enters the battlefield on on his hover chair, which could be upgraded to have sentinel protectors and to truly fly.
The Arbiter has the advantage of his devastatingly powerful Rage attack, and can train Suicide Grunts using his zeal to complete his mission. His personal upgrades increases his damage, reflect incoming damage back to his attackers, and even give him a permanent Active camouflage field.
The Brute Chieftain wields a mighty gravity hammer in battle, and his Vortex ability can tear units to shreds. His special forces units are Brutes, who can be equipped with jump packs, and his army uses Brute Choppers instead of Ghosts.
Hero units are strong units that have a large amount of health and usually a powerful weapon. They appear in both campaign and multiplayer, but are limited to one per player in the latter. In multiplayer, most leaders have their own unique hero unit, which can be purchased at an Armory (UNSC), Temple (Covenant) or War Council (Banished). The exception is the UNSC leaders in Halo Wars, who get unique leader powers instead of hero units.
In campaign, hero units can be revived if they are "killed", once their health has regenerated to half its maximum value. Their health will automatically regenerate if they are "killed". To revive a hero unit, move other units to their vicinity. However, in Skirmish or multiplayer if a hero unit dies, they will have to be purchased again if the player wants to continue using them.