Might be a bonkers idea but I've had this idea for a while – not sure if possible to create a mod for this.
Armies or transport ships can engage in space battles. ergo 40k marines boarding other ships/bases.
There would need to be restrictions as you can crazy spam armies/transports and they would also need their niche within the ship meta (which is lackluster)
Armies could only attack Starbases and Battleships. They would be a light-counter to a Battleships. lore being battleships cannot target the marine boarding ships and have plenty of space to be taken over.
Im not sure with Titans and Colossi — possibly balance-wise they would be left out.
As a battleship is being attacked by transport ships they are attaching to the hull (some are being destroyed in the process) and it is slowing the Battleships rate of fire until captured — not sure if captured immediately and contributes to your side or possibly disabled and you gain a battleship after fight.
Corvettes and Cruisers would be a hard counter for army/transport spam. lore being that they have more precision and have anti-boarder capabilities and the speed to catchup etc.
Transport/Boarder ships are still just as fragile but no longer go into the stupid circle spin when confronted with ships – ships can hunt them down easy (they might need to be slower) — performing a boarding operation against Battleships or Starbases would be a very lossy exercise and you would still need a lot of armies but you would lose a fair amount.
Another aspect in my idea is that your transport/boarder fleet would not auto-engage — you would have to choose to engage in a fight. So you could defend with your normal fleet and escape your transport fleet. once you do target a fleet with engage you would then need to follow the retreat mechanic etc.
The idea being that in the early game transports would be quite viable until Starbases are defended by at least some corvettes — middle game they would not be viable with Corvettes everywhere and Cruisers emerging (maybe sneak attack on Starbase if undefended) but then late game they become a good counter to Battleships and balance their effectiveness in relation to Cruisers. So a well balanced force would have to include Cruisers and Battleships and an all Battleship fleet would be relatively quickly decimated (cost wise) by just transport/boarding ships. Starbases as they scaleup would also lose their vulnerability to transports.
You could adjust effectiveness for different army types also obviously.
I think it would add a lot of flavor and might make ship combat more interesting as you would have two different types of fleets you are playing off with — ie you can you slip your transports by to attack a naked Starbase early on. You can have specialised fleets for taking out transport/boarder fleets quickly while keeping your battleship fleet separate.
Using armies for Space battles would be costly – more so to warscore – so you would need to balance up whether to save armies for land warfare as usual or utilise strategically for a Space Battle.
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