Lock and Load: Marines in Eve Part 1

2021-03-26

Header art by Redline XIII

Station bashing must end. We need a new mechanic; we need Marines.  World War Bee has reached something resembling a stalemate. Since the fall of M2-XFE, tactical actions for both parties have primarily involved bashing stations – in Delve, Catch, Immensea etc. This is boring, monotonous gameplay, especially when done uncontested, or worse, incontestable.

What we need are Boarding Actions. Now, before you discount it, I do not propose capturing enemy stations nor do I want to reinvent Dust 514. Rather, this mechanic can add a different dimension to the invasion of an enemy empire, add another tactic to help destroy a station, and break up the grind of shooting empty stations, which takes five days.

This first part will propose the Marine Boarding Actions and their use in a tactical context. The second part of this series will look at generating those marines from a new form of Planetary Interaction. 

Imagine you are a marine. Born and trained on 1DQ1-A, Planet V, or “Home” as you know it. You have been called to service to fight for the Imperium, the alliance that rules your planet. In their time of need, you and millions of others have answered the call-to-arms. Now, you sit – weapon in hand – aboard a shuttle set for launch. The shoulder restraints hold you firmly in place as the small vessel blasts from the hangar of the Nyx that you had been living on these past weeks. You look at the overview as the distance to target counts down. Red and blue icons flash as your brothers and sisters, on other boats, are tackled by Interceptors and shot down during their approach. “10 SECONDS!” shouts your squad leader. You load your weapon and offer a quick prayer to Bob the Almighty as the boarding craft aligns into the superstructure of your objective.

Many posts, on both Reddit and Eve forums, have introduced boarding actions and the hostile takeover of stations; many were dreams of a Dust 514 revisited. So, this proposal is not completely new ground, but I am not proposing an FPS linked to Eve. Far from it. But, as the war drags on, many fights are incontestable, leaving us devoid of the content we all crave. 

The Proposal

EVE marines, created by PI, will infiltrate and subdue structures.

Players will gain the ability to “Board” an enemy station, if a state of war exists between the two corporations or alliances. This can be done in all parts of space, but marines can only be generated by PI in nullsec. They will attack via one of two types of boarding systems:

  • Assault Fighters. These will be launched from a carrier’s fighter bay and behave in a similar manner. They will have shorter range and will be unable to warp. Upon contact with a station, they will deliver their cargo of marines and return to their parent craft. 
  • Assault Transports. A new ship class, designed to deliver a large quantity of marines into the fray. They will be fast and difficult to destroy, but when they reach their destination, they will be vulnerable while docking. 

Boarding Actions can only occur during the armor timer on a reinforced structure, under the presumption that a station’s shields would prevent hostile boarding craft. Any marines, either attacker or defender, that are on the structure when it is destroyed will be lost. 

When Marines are successfully delivered onto their target, the owner is able to assign them a specific task that cannot be altered. If attacking marines outnumber the defending marines, they will be achieve their objectives. The tasks and results are as follows:

  • Offline the Core. This will remove tether from the station and prevent repairs being conducted. 
  • Sabotage Weapons. This will disable all weapon systems including PDS and Doomsdays.
  • Seize the Bridge. By taking control of the bridge, marines will remove the delay between the armor and hull timer, allowing the attacker to destroy the station in the same action.
  • Set Demolitions. These cause damage to the structure.

Inside the station the marines fight those of the opposing side inside the station – the defenders can station their own marines inside the “garrison.” There is a Boarding Counter displayed around the alliance symbol where you can see the progress of a boarding action (similar to the progress on an iHub/TCU). This is visible to all; therefore, both sides will know whether to reinforce their marines. When the bar moves fully in one direction – and after a timer elapses – then that side is victorious and either the objective is complete, or the invading marines have failed and are lost. 

Defending the Station

Ships swooping in to unload their cargo: attacking marines.

Boarding Actions present a large advantage to an attacker, not only by speeding uncontested structure bashes, which allows their forces to conduct other missions; they can also negate some defensive advantages on contested fights. Therefore, there needs to be a counter. New modules would be made available that enhance the defenses of a station. These would include the following possible options:

  • Cyno-Jammer Disruption Field. Yes! You heard it. The ability to block a cyno-jammer in an area around your station (Keepstar only). This move would enable defenders to contest their most valuable structures. However, this module would not enhance defenses to boarding, leaving the marines without enhancements. 
  • Reinforced Bulkheads. These would slow the attacker’s progress, but not provide any marines. The would be useful during subcap contests, allowing the defenders to attrit the attack for longer. 
  • Station Garrison. These would provide a number of marines that are permanently assigned to the station. They would provide a natural counter to an attacker that favors boarding actions above fleet fights. 
  • Security Systems. This module adds percentage bonus to the effectiveness of a defender’s marines. Useful for smaller structures to prevent constant boarding actions when the defender can’t contest. 

These additional modules would go a long way toward balancing a boarding assault, but they also present the defender with interesting choices. If they want the ability to cyno in a fleet to defend the station, then they will weaken it to a boarding assault. If they reinforce their garrisons in stations, then they may be locked out of the system by onlining a cyno-jammer (as we are seeing now in Delve). 

There are, of course, risks to boarding and garrisoning a station. If you attacked with 20,000 marines and failed to break its armor during the timer, those marines would be lost. Equally, defending with 20,000 marines and having the station get destroyed would also cause the defending marines to become space dust. 

These ideas are raw and the numbers are not set. But new mechanics and tactics can only help to revitalize stale gameplay. As much as the pilots of both warring coalitions will sound their horns about their latest station kill, we all know that bashing stations is boring and monotonous. These proposed mechanics give the attacker the tactics to change their manner of assault, and the defender the option to defend its structures. In brief, the game gets more strategic, less “F1 monkey,” and more fun to play.

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Comments

  • Rammel Kas

    Careful with what you wish for. This isn’t the first time around and the last iteration where people suggested we get some small entity type of way to influence nullsec it ended up with Fozziesov and the bigger fleets simply blapping the entosis ships with a blob on landing.

    The thing making the grind boring is simply when people use other game mechanics to make it near impossible or blatantly just stupid to even get there. Which is what turns it into a PVE dungeon of little risk and even less engagement except perhaps the one or two guys who ordered the fleet out and most often aren’t even there on grid.

    March 26, 2021 at 9:35 AM
  • Vertigoe

    Ummmm, no

    March 26, 2021 at 1:15 PM
  • So long as I get orbital bombardment.

    March 26, 2021 at 3:22 PM
  • Jacob Reynoso

    I like the idea of having boarding actions, but I’m a bit iffy on the suggestions in the article.

    Was actually thinking about Project Nova (which, if memory serves, was depicting a boarding action) some time ago, and that the idea of boarding, while cool, might not…’feel’ great for the game, esp. not for ships and their players. Player structures? I dunno.

    Unless there’s an interesting/’engaging’ gameplay element, beyond more modules/stuff to buy or build, I dunno if boarding would be good.
    For the proposed added complexity, just setting a set of basic commands to boarding units seems…lacking? My mind first went to FPS, but…eh, too much. Then to squad-based tactical stuff (e.g., Red Solstice for variable-speed, XCOM for turn-based)…probably doable.
    Then I remembered EVE’s hacking mini-game, maybe something akin to that, w/ a timed element? (ehh…too simple, tho’?)
    What I’d probably ‘settle’ for (lol): a full 3D, ‘x-ray’ visual/representation of a structure, that would have its multi-level layout mapped out: corridors, rooms, bays, open areas, key locations (something like: administration, primary/secondary/tertiary/etc. engineering, internal/external security, etc.). Then units could just be coloured icons. And there’d be real-time controls, but not too complex (e.g., have a unit ‘hold position’ at a corridor, and have another unit ‘attack move’ toward Engineering or Administration, and maybe have queued orders, too). Players doing this should be vulnerable, tho’. Maybe have a ‘reconnect’ function , like those for probes/drones, if the commander has to warp out or something, with the units ‘disconnected’ only doing last issued commands.

    Getting troops from PI seems…ok? Null-only is iffy. Why that limit? Wouldn’t make sense thematically. The PI + Null (or ‘stuff’ from wormhole space?) requirement I’d put for specialized troops that would, for example, be frowned upon by the empires/CONCORD (e.g., immortal infantry, like those in DUST 514 and Empress Jamyl’s Templars). Harder to ‘build’, so larger initial investment, and maybe have a ‘per resurrection’ cost, but more effective in the long run (I dunno, maybe put in an experience mechanic?).
    The option to straight out buy/hire ‘marines’ should be available, tho’ (I mean, you already can in the market, yes?).
    Maybe less about hiring people, but equipping and ‘modifying’ them, then?
    (it’s been years since DUST 514, but weren’t most of the expenses weapons and armour? Gear sets?)

    Also, why not allow for the capture of stations? If the boarding action/s can be countered or have its effects mitigated by a garrison and/or modules…why bother? Just bring more battleships/HACs, instead? (I’ve never been in a bash against a keepstar; just a few that used Jackdaws at the smallest, and Baltecs at the largest)
    Targets of opportunity (e.g., structures that aren’t used often w/ minimal/no modules)?
    I dunno.
    I’d argue for a capture mechanic. Maybe throw in more work/cost to capture a structure: make it tie down the marines used for a certain amount of time, require a separate bunch of specialists that you insert after winning the boarding action (e.g., engineers to secure the station), and maybe also have the structure be extra vulnerable to both a hostile boarding action and regular attack (I dunno…reduced resists, along w/ existing damage dealt by the force attacking it? maybe have it also act as uncored until the engineers finish securing it? maybe give the defenders an option to eject the core while they still have structure control, giving them a chance to take it away, and forcing the attackers to either attempt to secure that core or bring their own?)

    TL;DR:
    I want DUST 514 remastered & expanded for PC.
    (honestly didn’t like what was shown for Project Nova)
    Also, boarding is interesting.

    March 27, 2021 at 7:36 AM