Created By: StarSword on June 3, 2013 Last Edited By: StarSword on June 6, 2013
Troped

Boarding Pod

A vehicle fired at other vessels to board them.

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Page Type:
Trope

Rolling Updates

"I braced myself for the ripple of impacts, but instead of the explosions I'd expected, I felt no more than the faintest of tremors through the soles of my boots, as the fast-moving projectiles impacted without detonating against the adamantium hull plates. 'They didn't go off!' I said, buoyed up by a sudden surge of relief, which dissipated almost at once as the obvious explanation occurred to me. 'They must be--'
"'Prepare to repel boarders,' Gries voxed through the ship's internal speakers, confirming my conclusion before I could voice it."
-- Ciaphas Cain, The Emperor's Finest

Boarding another vessel to capture or sabotage it in the heat of battle is an old standby of science fiction, since like so many of other space tropes it happened on the high seas first. Sometimes, though, the usual methods for getting your troops to the other ship won't work. Maybe there's a Teleport Interdiction field in place, and the enemy's Space Fighter screen would prevent boarding by shuttle. Perhaps their Deflector Shields are still up so you can't dock at an airlock, and the enemy's security teams probably have the airlocks covered anyway.

Fear not, for Trope Co. has come to the rescue with the Boarding Pod, which allows an enterprising commander to stuff some troopers into a hollow missile and shoot them at the enemy. Boarding pods are usually single-use weapons that penetrate the target ship's hull by brute force, bypassing defenses and unloading Space Marines in unexpected places.

Subtrope of Boarding Party, and the ship-to-ship version of a Drop Pod. May be part of a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet. Contrast Escape Pod, which is when the pod is for getting off the ship.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comic Books]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In Ciaphas Cain: The Emperor's Finest Cain is aboard a Space Marine cruiser tracking a genestealer-infested space hulk. They come out of the warp at one point and are immediately attacked by orks, who board the ship with pods.
  • The Mote in God's Eye. After the Imperial battlecruiser MacArthur is taken over by Motie miniatures, the battleship Lenin's cutter is used to get a boarding party onto the MacArthur by ramming through its Langston Field and into the ship.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • In Stargate SG-1 Replicator ships are known to board other vessels by firing a projectile composed entirely of Replicator blocks, which then rearrange themselves into combat forms.
  • They're called "breaching pods" in Babylon 5, and in "Severed Dreams" President Clark's forces use them when attempting to retake the station from the heroes. They turn up a couple other times as well.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), when the entire Galactica was used as one to board a Cylon colony.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • Flying Buffalo's Berserker board game, based on Fred Saberhagen's Berserker stories. The Human player has ram ships which can pierce the hull of a Berserker ship and release boarding parties inside it.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Space Marines launch small shuttlepods at spaceships they wish to board. These things attach to the other vessel's outer hull and create a breach that allows the troops to enter through it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • X3: Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude allow missile frigates to fire boarding pods. This has both advantages and disadvantages over spacewalk boarding: on the one hand it requires less mechanical skill for your marines to penetrate the hull, and the pods are a good 200 times faster than jetpacks which makes release position almost a non-issue. On the other hand you now have to distract the enemy's point-defense in addition to keeping their shields lowered, and then there's the logistics issues since there's no factories available to build your own pods.
  • A specialty of the Zuul (whose species name means "pirate" in their own language) in Sword of the Stars. Other species can research them but only specialized ships can carry them, while the Zuul mount them on other ship classes and get the tech for free.
  • Used by the Covenant in Halo. They first appear in the opening level of the first game, Halo: Combat Evolved where they are, naturally enough, deploying troops onto our heroes' ship. They repeat this in Halo 2, boarding three of the space stations in Earth's orbital defense grid to blow them up and open a hole for the Prophet of Regret.
  • In the the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, at least two flashpoint missions ("The Black Talon" and "The Esseles") feature the players defending against boarding pods or boarding other ships via boarding pods.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]] [[/folder]]

Indexes: Military and Warfare Tropes, Spacecraft, Speculative Fiction Tropes, Trope Co., Tropes in Space

Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • June 4, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
    • The Mote In Gods Eye. After the Imperial battlecruiser MacArthur is taken over by Motie miniatures, the battleship Lenin's cutter is used to get a boarding party onto the MacArthur by ramming through its Langston Field and into the ship.

    Tabletop Games
    • Flying Buffalo's Berserker board game, based on Fred Saberhagen's Berserker stories. The Human player has ram ships which can pierce the hull of a Berserker ship and release boarding parties inside it.
  • June 4, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • June 4, 2013
    Bisected8
  • June 4, 2013
    Lumpenprole

  • June 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Glad to see I underestimated how prevalent this was. Thoughts on the description?
  • June 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • A speciality of the Zuul (whose species name means "pirate" in their own language) in Sword Of The Stars. Other species can research them but only specialized ships can carry them, while the Zuul mount them on other ship classes and get the tech for free.
  • June 4, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    I like the writeup enough to give it a hat right away. I started reading expecting "this is about any shuttlecraft", but the description perfectly and unambiguously narrows the scope.
  • June 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Webcomics
  • June 4, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Added, and I dug up a page quote, too.
  • June 5, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Tabletop Games

    In the Warhammer40000 universe, Space Marines launch small shuttlepods at spaceships they wish to board. These things attach to the other vessel's outer hull and create a breah that allows the troops to enter through it.
  • June 5, 2013
    arbiter099
    Used by the Covenant in Halo. They first appear in the opening level of the first game, Halo Combat Evolved where they are, naturally enough, deploying troops onto our heroes' ship.
  • June 6, 2013
    Arivne

  • June 6, 2013
    StarSword
    I had two hats earlier. Why did whoever it was remove it?
  • June 6, 2013
    Buraindo
    In the the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, at least two flashpoint missions (The Black Talon and The Esseles) feature the players defending against boarding pods or boarding other ships via boarding pods.
  • June 6, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    ^^ Wasn't me; I still like the writeup.
  • June 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Well, now we have four, so yay.

    @Chernoskill: I'm just curious: is this the type of ship you're talking about in your example?
  • June 6, 2013
    StarSword
    I'm gonna launch at 7PM EST. Last call for examples or comments. (And if anybody says Just Launch It Already, I'll hit them with a Macross Missile Massacre.)
  • June 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Fwoosh.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=oxkrlainystvut4nwnzgei1s&trope=BoardingPod