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The Clan Casus Belli: A Sign of Things to Come


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Intelligence Officer

Intelligence Officer


A Casus Belli (meaning "a case of war") is a staple of political discourse that is used as a justification for conflict. A Casus Belli is often openly stated alongside a declaration of war, and usually serves to establish a war goal. The most widespread usage of a Casus Belli was the from the late medieval era (circa 1443) to the late Enlightenment period (circa 1821), though it has been in use for long before and after that time frame. The idea behind it was to justify war and prevent overly aggressive expansion. This concept became popular with any nation that had accepted feudalism as an institution, but tended to fall flat among less advanced states (usually nomadic/isolated cultures).

The Casus Belli, despite being an integral part of human conflict since nations first formed, was not actually used commonly in clans until fairly recently. This is due to the lack of need to justify war between clans. So what changed? The community began using mediums of group communication like Kik and Discord (primarily the latter). With large clan community chat groups including the largest factions, criticism at random declarations of war is fairly commonplace. As a result, clans that declare war often choose to cite one or more reasons for the actual conflict. That being said, many wars in Reach and Halo 3 had stated reasons behind them. The key different between a modern Clan Casus Belli and a "reason for war" is that the latter did not require any form of evidence or reasonable circumstance. In Reach for instance, a group of Sangheili could declare war on the premise of their target clan being "heretics". UNSC clans often acted in a similar manner, though they tended to change "heretics" to "insurrectionists". In the eyes of a predominately UNSC and Sangheili community, such excuses justified conflict.

The Clan Casus Belli, on the other hand, usually requires some form of evidence to be seen as justified. Halo 5 has seen a significant fall in the trend of UNSC and Sangheili groups (due primarily to its lowered focus on the Halo lore and increased focus on competitive play), so most clans don't choose a lore specific theme. Even groups once based off of aspects of the Halo narrative (take Exodus for example) have simply changed their attitudes toward a more generic theme. As a results, the Halo lore cannot be used to justify a conflict without gaining the scorn of the community. A modern Casus Belli between two clans will generally hinge on provable damage done by one clan to another. Actions such as public insults, espionage, and member poaching often provoke a conflict, as all of these can be proven. An interesting effect of the Casus Belli is as a means of predicting the victor in a conflict. Take the Commonwealth Vs Vast war for instance. The Commonwealth declared war on Vast and cited espionage as their Casus Belli, despite being unable to prove it. Their failure to provide evidence lead the community to rally behind Vast, which arguably marked their victory before the war had even begun.

So why is a Casus Belli important? It provides a medium to open dialogue and further the role-play narrative of the general community, providing a sense of in-depth politics for the community. This makes the clan community less hostile to newer players, as established rules are present that help to govern politics. Another major benefit is that it acts as a filter for clan barbarism, preventing would-be bully clans from gaining traction within the community. To rephrase, it prevents stupid people from gaining much "power" in the clan community. Clans like Divine Angels, NRI, and SAS fail to become popular due to their refusal to "play fair" and follow clan political norms.

The Casus Belli isn't a mere construct that appeared one its own, it's a sign of greater political unity within the clan community. Another sign of this trend is the emergence of Rules of Engagement, something that was fairly rare until late Reach. While any semblance of progress is slow, it's far more evident now than in previous iterations of Halo. This is likely due to the advanced age of most major community members.

Halo CE and Halo 2, despite being the first two titles in the Halo series, didn't see any major clans. This was primarily because they didn't act as mediums for anything beyond competitive play. Halo CE didn't even have online matchmaking. Coming out in 2007, Halo 3 was the first true host of Halo clans. It saw the rise of more narrative focused clans, and even the first forms of modern community practices (like Spartan conscription). It's great map editor, player customization, and high number of lobby slots allowed for groups to play together in more facets than just competition. This was the true first generation of "clan kids". This game saw nothing significant beyond the formation of role-play groups. When Reach came on to the scene in fall of 2010, a massive boom occurred in the Halo community. Reach had everything the heart desired. The game took every aspect of Halo 3 and improved upon it. Players who had restricted to making either a meeting map, a base, or a training map, could now do all three with relative ease. Larger quantities of armor, as well as more contrasting color schemes, allowed players to create uniforms unique to their clans. Clans were no longer groups of players who held the occasional meeting, but full fledged micro-nations capable of communicating with one another, forming alliances, and declaring wars. Many would-be conquerors rose around this time, attesting to larger clans than ever before. Clan organization also became more complex, as rank systems were needed to manage ever growing numbers of clan members. Members of the first Generation quickly took on roles as leaders in the Community, while members of the second Generation often signed on under them. The first Generation pioneered clan politics, perpetually waging wars against one another. Large alliances formed due to a common interest, only to fall apart from infighting. This perpetual conflict kept the community active and exciting to members new and old, and instilled a sense of nostalgia that effects people to this day. So what happened to this Golden Age of the Clan Community? Halo 4.

Halo 4's release was a near universal disappointment, long time fans were devastated at the sheer drop in quality produced by 343i. The first Generation took the largest hit, with most members abandoning Halo altogether. Though many attempted to make their way on Halo 4, or return to Reach, the community had taken a hit that it would never truly recover from. This is where the second Generation was forced to take up the mantle. When tens of thousands of Halo fans returned to Reach, the community was hit with a shortage of leadership. The older Halo veterans were almost all gone, leaving the next wave of players to fend for themselves in the collapsing community. This sparked a new era of clan politics as the third generation of Halo players arrived, most having been introduced to Halo via Halo 4, but discovering Reach to be much more entertaining. With the community's numbers finally stable, clans began to spring up once more. Groups like Exodus and Plague were founded by members who joined the community around the second Generation, while older powers like Goldpack, the 99th Regiment, Legion of Sin, and SOH began to lose their gravitas. With first Generation community members continually leaving Halo, the second Generation was able to move in and establish the mainstream community that their predecessors had dreamed of. While MCC was released after Reach, the community didn't move to the Xbox One until the release of Halo 5. Halo 5's release marked yet another turning point in the community's evolution. Coming out with no forge, gaming breaking bugs, and overly competitive gameplay focus, clans that made the move early on quickly faded. The clans that did manage to weather the storm, however, were awarded with an early pick of the crop as updates brought both new features, and a new generation of Halo players. The key difference between this event and the events of Halo 4 was the resilience shown by the second generation. Rather than abandon the series, most second generation Halo fans endured and went on to establish the modern community. Now much older and wiser than they had been back in the early days of Reach, this wave of players established complex political systems, large scale community chat mediums, and a sense of morals in a once barbaric community. Even now these systems remain in place, as the second Generation fades, taking prominent members like Shakey Divine, Nade, and General JB with it. The third generation is slowly receiving the mantle of responsibility, and continues to advance its social concepts. While many members of the first and second generation still remain active within the community, the legacy of Halo clans inevitably falls on the younger members. It is likely that the community will continue to advance in this manner, leaving the despotic rule of many a Reach-based tyrant in the past as it moves toward a more civilized future.

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  • 9 months later...
Field Agent

Field Agent


So this is a term that describes how people evolved from early roleplay to the latter of Reach and so on...

I'm glad it was used to create the ROE/ROR stuff but it doesn't really change how people act or 'roleplay' in any aspect howsoever.

I've never heard this term before and I kinda want it to return to the diction of clans for fun.

Your favorite Sunray

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