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Tactical Map

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Tactical map.jpg
Tactical Map
General information

Hazardous Environment Combat Unit


Target marker

Used by
Game information


"Come in, Cooper. Do you copy? Forget about Freeman. We're abandoning the base. If you have any last bomb targets, mark them on the Tactical Map. Otherwise, get the hell out of there. Repeat, we are pulling out and commencing air strikes. Give us targets or get below."
HECU commander[src]

The Tactical Map is a device used by the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit to coordinate mortar strikes[3] against targets.


The Tactical Map appears as a large piece of electronic military equipment shaped like a table with a topographic map screen set on its surface and a number of controls and panels at one side. It makes its first and only appearance at the end of the Half-Life chapter Surface Tension in the enclosed Waste Processing Area 3 situated atop a water storage tank. The device is used by Gordon Freeman to destroy a Gargantua and the sealed bunker door that blocks his progress to the Lambda Complex. Some other elements of the environment can also be damaged and destroyed, such as the transmission tower which tips over and creates a makeshift bridge. Nearby, the soldier originally manning the equipment, Cooper, is found dead surrounded by Medkits. His commander[4] can be heard through the attached radio ordering him to mark his final targets before retreating to safety. The Tactical Map is also mentioned in Opposing Force when Adrian Shephard witnesses the commander transmitting the same message heard on the other end by Gordon.

To mark a target with the Tactical Map's crosshair, two levers control the respective X and Y controllers represented as perpendicular yellow bars on the map. The middle button launches a mortar strike on the targeted location.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Unused scientist line meant for the Tactical Map's original landing field location.

The Tactical Map's original location of use was an open landing field. The objective here was identical, but there was also a rescued scientist who would tell Gordon that he needed to find a way to destroy the Gargantua and get through the bunker door to make his way to the Lambda Complex, thus leading to the map. This unused line is still present in the game files, and an early version of the map screen texture can be found in Half-Life: Day One.

The device was designed by John Guthrie who "created a remarkably cool object" while experimenting. He showed it to Gabe Newell who was "sufficiently impressed as to offer dinner at a swanky Seattle restaurant to anyone in the office who could figure out the best way to implement it into the game." Guthrie, Marc Laidlaw, Kelly Bailey, and Ken Birdwell came up with the idea of a puzzle linked to an air strike and won.[1][5] It was also planned to have the Tactical Map in a multiplayer map, allowing players to battle for control over the device, but no released levels ended up utilizing it.[5][6]

In the code, this equipment is called the "LaBuznik" mortar device[7] in reference to a Czech restaurant that was located in Seattle,[8] not far from Valve's office. This is presumably the same restaurant that Newell treated the winners of the aforementioned competition to. The file names of the radio message, c2a5_hg_lebuz, and the unused scientist line, c2a5_sci_lebuz, also acknowledge the Labuznik origins.

On the final map screen texture, a few nearly illegible messages are written on it left by Valve artist Karen Laur.[2] One reads "this is the labuznik table it has changed alot and i have no idea how this will work".




List of appearances[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Half-Life Alpha (version .61) Notes (Half Life Main v6.doc) (August 26, 1998)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Half-Life section on Karen Laur's personal website
  3. Name of the targetname entity used by the map
  4. Half-Life Audio Script
  5. 5.0 5.1 Half-Life preview on OGR.COM (archived)
  6. Half-Life preview on Gamer's Reality (1998) (archived)
  7. Half-Life SDK
  8. Labuznik restaurant’s Peter Cipra dies at 68 on The Seattle Times (December 21, 2011)