I've covered lots and lots of Rubicon features that I'm positive about (and there's one or two more coming), but I also want to cover one that I'm less than enthused by.
Go through the list of EVE's ship classes and you'll find that most are historical -- frigate, destroyer, cruiser, battleship, freighter. Most of those that remain are descriptive -- command ship, interdictor, stealth bomber, interceptor, logistics. It's quite arguable that only one ship class name in EVE Online is picturesque and fanciful, not describing the ship at all. That is the marauder. The first marauders were French deserters from armies of the Thirty Years War in the late middle ages. Historically, the word has has come to refer to hit-and-run bandits or thieves, particularly those operating in groups. Over time in English, the word has even picked up a slightly romanticized subtext.
So it's totally appropriate that the name be applied to a class of ships that almost always operate alone, perform tasks that couldn't be more legal or more boring, and quite often do so while completely stationary.
OK yeah, maybe that was a little off-sides. Sorry. ;-)
Anyway, when the CSM first learned that these ships were to receive a first rebalance pass, I was initially excited. For years, the only real use a marauder could be put to outside tournament play was missions. Sure, you'd see the very very occasional Kronos being used as a substitute Vindicator thanks to T2 resists. But for the most part, the ships were relegated nearly 100% to solo risk-free PvE with no other use. I was looking forward to seeing some interesting PvP use cases thrown in for this ship.
Which is why I'm much less than thrilled to see that after no less than two full series of revamps, including a brand new fitting mod, dozens of CSM posts, and thousands of player posts, they're going to be relegated nearly 100% to solo risk-free PvE with no other use. So far, I haven't heard of anyone -- small gang, medium, or large fleet -- building a doctrine around these things for PvP... with one exception that I'll talk about shortly.
That would be bad enough. But now the thing is not only relegated to risk-free solo PvE, it's completely, hilariously over-powered at it. Even in CCP tests, dropping a single one of these things into an L4 mission results in the undoing of several years of nerfs to high-sec missioning as a high-value income stream. It clears the mission with ease, never at even the slightest amount of risk, and thanks to long-range firepower does so extremely rapidly. It will be routine to do four or even five L4 missions in an hour solo in a marauder of your choice. With only one of these, you'll be able to routinely make 60-70 million ISK per hour with a return on investment of about 24 hours of play. And with two run from a single machine dual-boxing, I'm having a hard time imagining less than a 100 million ISK per hour income.
The most painful part of the process is going to be the warp from mission to mission, something that can be mitigated somewhat by having a third character request and return all missions, warping into each completed mission with an interceptor before warping the fleet composing the two marauders to the next one. That will save the marauders having to dock.
You'll certainly be able to make more ISK running havens with Vargurs and the like in null-sec and I'm sure those in deep null with good intel channels will do so. But for the rest of us, why bother? We'll have access to an unlimited, no-sharing-needed, zero-risk ISK faucet that's nearly as good.
This is going to have a few downstream effects, all aggravating. First, we're going to see a slacking off of group PvE such as low-end wormholes and incursion sites. Given that solo income is more easily available, requires less travel time and less risk, and will be capable of equivalent or near-equivalent ISK-making, why bother with group PvE? In my opinion, this is bad for the game. Second, marauders are hugely tanky, which is going to result in ships that can be pimped to levels where suicide ganking them will be extremely difficult. In my opinion, this reduction in perceived risk is also bad for the game. And third, of course these ships are only open to those that can fly tech2 battleships... in other words, the very same people who least needed the help.
Finally, if all of that wasn't bad enough, PvE isn't the only place the Bastion Module is hilariously over-powered. Oh no, for those of you who didn't see marauders in action during SCL5, just wait until the next New Eden Open. While finding a PvP niche for marauders on Tranquility is going to be challenging, in a points-governed, numbers-limited tournament match, it's going to be all marauders all the time. As I mentioned during my own wrap-up posts on SCL5, we got to see both a Golem and a Kronos hold off nearly an entire enemy team single-handedly. The rest of you will be seeing it soon. The NEO organizers will have to set the points cost of these things to an absurd number to prevent them from dominating the proceedings.
So yeah, all in all it's safe to say I'm not a fan. If you're doing solo L4 missions and you don't have one or two of these, you might want to fix that. For those of you that have them already, enjoy several months of a massive income buff!