Halo Wars: Guide to Skulls and Black Boxes

Halo Wars may contain 100% less Master Chief than the rest of the series, but hey, look on the bright side. By hiding both skulls and a new type of treasure – black boxes – the developers have generously gifted you with 100% more collectible items. Feel pretty ungrateful now, don’t you?

These items are ones you’ll definitely want to collect, too. Just as in the shooters, Halo Wars’ skulls unlock powerful cheats that can make the RTS much easier, much harder or much, much sillier. The black boxes, meanwhile, complete the game’s timeline and are necessary if you want to understand the Halo franchise’s entire history.

Instructions: Our guide is broken down by mission. For each, you’ll find a screen (with minimap) of the skull’s location, a screen (with minimap) of the black box’s location and a video showing both. Note that the skull will only appear when you’ve finished an optional enemy-killing objective.

And yeah, we know the game tells you – briefly – where the skull is hiding. With so much happening on the screen at once, we missed that alert multiple times and figured you probably would as well. Thus, the guide. Enjoy!

Skull #1: Look Daddy!
Description: When Grunts die, their methane tank always shoots off.
Requirement: Kill 100 Grunts

Finding a hundred Grunts to murder on this mission can be tricky on Normal difficulty and may be impossible on Easy difficulty. Try Heroic, then drive very carefully and slowly to make sure you don’t miss any smaller groups along the way. Inside the base, rush forward to take out as many Grunts as possible before “the support” eliminates your chances.

When you reach the magic number, order your entire army outside the base - the skull is located across the icy lake from the gate. Be quick, as the mission can end before you’re ready.

Black Box #1: Remember that last bridge you crossed before reaching Alpha Base's gate? Go back there and peek underneath. The crate is below the arch, next to an overturned Warthog. You can drive down the small ramp to the left to reach it.

Skull #2: Grunt Birthday Party
Description: Grunts explode into confetti.
Requirement: Kill 20 Jackal Snipers

The snipers are always found in pairs, sitting in towers or mountain coves. After knocking out the twentieth, head back to your original base and check the very back. Located between a glowing crater and a large door... hey, that's new!

Black Box #2: Northwest of your second base is an area blocked off by an energy shield. Destroy the power source with some infantry and both the crate and a good chunk of supplies are yours for the taking.

Skull #3: Cowbell
Description: Destruction physics magnified.
Requirement: Kill 45 Hunters

You'll need to play through most of the mission to reach your last Hunter, since the majority don't attack you until you're making your final escape up the ramp. To save time, leave a unit back at the relic (you know, the big glowing column thing where you found Forge and Anders). A skull will materialize right at the command console.

Black Box #3: Grab this one at the very beginning of the mission. Simply turn your Grizzly tanks around and head in the opposite direction of the objective arrow. You'll discover a separate pathway, winding to the northwest. At the very end, near a crashed Pelican, is the crate.

Skull #4: Wuv Woo
Description: Scarabs shoot rainbow beams made of Pure Love.
Requirement: Kill 50 Elites

In protecting the cargo ships, you should reach fifty Covenant Elites fairly easily. When you do, scroll over to the most eastern base (you can build three on this map) and find the wide staircase promenade below it. The skull is up those stairs, past the statue of a reading man and nestled amidst some lovely palm trees.

Black Box #4: Now scroll to your western most base. Directly north of it is column supporting a skyway. At the base of this column, on top of a few stairs, is the crate you seek.

Skull #5: Fog
Description: No minimap.
Requirement: Kill 5 Wraith Tanks

In the northwest corner of the map is a super powerful Covenant tower and an optional location for a base. Past those, pushing further into the northwest corner, is a two-lane glass freeway that branches off the larger roads. At the very end of this is the skull. Take an air unit to collect it.

Black Box #5: In the middle of the map, almost halfway between your original base and the northern Covenant base is a power plant-like structure that you can take over for extra supply gathering. The crate is on the grass immediately to the west of this platform, near some ferns and an infantry cover spot.


  • pearl - October 7, 2009 12:21 a.m.

    Any one notice you can access the terminal on relic interior?
  • caboose4400 - June 29, 2009 2:34 a.m.

    oh and people if u has the honur gaurd waith and your doing skirmish go to options and make it so the enemie is red and you are blue. blue makes the honur gaurd tank look a lot better than purple does
  • opal407 - April 21, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    these where useful, but it didn't have all the skullz...
  • Spybreak8 - March 23, 2009 8:57 p.m.

    @ |dreadnaugt| yea try doing that mission waiting outside the base, don't rush in and wait for the dropships to deploy more grunts. You can take down the energy barrier though.
  • ldreadnaughtl - March 22, 2009 4:47 p.m.

    on the first mission i got to 99 grunts then whent back and re-checked the whole map and couldnt find the 100th
  • Xx TDP Equinox xX - April 19, 2012 11:41 p.m.

    same here i cant find the 100th grunt
  • jackf-11 - March 10, 2009 2:43 a.m.

    Yeah, this helped a LOT. But there is one thing puzzling me, on the main menu, it says in the stats that scroll across that I have 15/17 skulls collected. Mabie a glitch considering the flaming Worthog and Honor Guard Wraith are on the same selection menu. Or mabie a Mythic and IWHBYD skulls?
  • kerfuffled_brizzle792 - March 9, 2009 12:18 a.m.

    Yes, just got the game, this guide will help so much
  • Tjoh117 - March 7, 2009 3:30 p.m.

    The Wuv Woo Skull is also a cheat in one of ensemble's earlier games, Age of mythology, it unlocks a flying rainbow hippo
  • lucashintz - March 7, 2009 5:11 a.m.

    Woohoo I've been waiting for this!
  • SushiFTW - August 31, 2009 11:23 p.m.

  • caboose4400 - June 29, 2009 2:28 a.m.

    yeah ive got all skullls yet on the bottem of the main menu screen where those hints and stuff it says i only have 15/16 skulls? oh and i have all black boxes but there are still things missing from the time line do i have to finish the game on legendary to unlock these?
  • Demonflare - May 1, 2009 3:39 a.m.

    Ha! The skulls rock! The guide here really helped me find those bloody skulls! Lol!
  • mrCrazy1 - April 16, 2009 3:41 a.m.

    Is HALO WARS tha good because i got the demo but it didnt seem all that. And yeah skulls are freakin awesome at least on halo 3. I LUV the "Grunt B-Day Party Skull"!!!!!!
  • Spybreak8 - March 23, 2009 8:46 p.m.

    Yea I really like having the missions list, being able to go in and do one specific mission without playing through the whole campaign is really nice. I've got two more missions to grab all the skulls.^^
  • lajlegz8432 - March 20, 2009 10:35 p.m.

    Don't you just love the SKULLS!!!
  • adrianjb1 - March 19, 2009 10:47 p.m.

    this thing helped alot lol
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - March 9, 2009 4:51 p.m.

    @ Spybreak8 Yes, just go to the mission select screen and look at each mission's image. The bottom right corner of the image will show an icon of the skull (if you have it) and an icon of the black box (if you have it). If you don't see those icons, you don't have 'em. Or, you can go to the main menu and look at your Service Record. It shows, mission by mission, what you've collected.
  • Spybreak8 - March 9, 2009 6:59 a.m.

    I know you can see if you have gotten the skull or not but is there a way to know which missions you need to replay to find the black boxes?
  • ricono - March 7, 2009 2:38 a.m.

    im glad they hid skulls it gave it a more halo feel

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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