By the current universe’s rules, a cloak shields a ship through increased missrate, but can’t be used while firing. Simply put, it’s an extremely logical thing to have on when equipped with shorter range weapons or more specialized weapons than your targets. The whole ‘cloak and repair’ thing is really just a secondary use in light of this - Camouflage is for approaching and screening.
I think the cloak would work very well as a craft supplement if it didn’t have those duration shutoffs. Additionally, it’s very hard to think of any simple ruleset to have the AI make proper use of a cyclic device. Why not do away with that entirely?
The required behavior for a non cyclic cloaking device is quite simple - if not firing, the ship should be trying to maintain a cloak. How fast the ship achieves/exits cloak and what level of evasion the cloak provides become the main points of balance.
I also think either the recently underperforming Empire or Alliance should get a similar module for frigates. Empire is the tech side, with frigates larger than some race’s cruisers… and hiding AA tractor or ion ambushes seems like a perfectly spidery thing for Alliance to want to do.
I can get behind both points in the first post. I will admit that watching some ships cloak and decloak is confusing as hell. Somehow cloaking right in the middle of a raging firefight strikes me as the spaceship equivalent of putting your hands over your eyes and screaming “YOU CAN’T SEE ME!!”
Sounds simple enough for ships with a cloak: if you’re not shooting, then cloak. If you’re close enough to use your combat orders, decloak and start shooting. Though I admit I kind of like the notion of a cloak that can only be maintained for a limited time, just giving the “shoot-or-hide” order setup would pretty much take care of it. Except if you wanted to have carriers hanging back and cloaked all the time. Hmmm …
And Empire and Alliance already have a precedent, since both of them have race-specific weapons. Make 'em like the Tribe and give 'em something special for the module slots. The Tribe can fix damn near everything - make Empire and Alliance hide damn near everything.
Giving some thought to the cloak for some reason, and I keep coming to one conclusion: the Cloaking Shield really does not work quite as advertised. Follow along please.
I have based this conclusion on two main points:
Every shot in GSB is targeted. That is, if a weapon fires, it is pointed at a particular vessel. If the shot hits, it will only hit its designated target.
Whenever I watch a ship cloak in the midst of a furball, the volume of explosions along its hull does not seem to diminish. By point 1, these cannot be “accidental” hits (aimed at something on the far side of the invisible ship).
If the cloak really provided a serious increase of miss chance, I would expect the volume of successful shots to at least slack off noticeably once the ship disappeared. Instead, we go from explosions all over a ship to an apparent carpet-bombing of a cruiser-shaped empty space. I have to assume that the cloak just isn’t all that effective. So here’s my thoughts:
I like this as the base rule for cloak use. Absent other orders (we’ll get to that in a moment) this is exactly how the ship should behave. If there is a valid target in range by the ship’s engagement orders, it decloaks and starts shooting. Otherwise, it maintains the cloak as long as possible.
I also like the idea of a second layer of orders dictating cloak use, similar to the Cautious order; i.e., when the ship has sustained a specific amount of damage, it cloaks to give itself some breathing space for repair. A ship would ignore this order if a) it had no functioning repair modules with supplies remaining and/or b) it had no functioning cloaking modules. Thus you could give this order to pretty much everyone, and most ships would simply ignore it as irrelevant. This order would also trump the Cautious order as long as it remains valid.
A few problems with this setup:
It requires the cloak to actually hide the ship from being a valid target, thus eliminating the constant damage that prevents repair modules from functioning.
The cloak has to have cycle of activity and downtime - else you could make a cloaked ship with no weapons and no engagement orders that would hang around and stay cloaked forever, allowing you to make every combat a stalemate.
Assuming the above issues were ironed out, it would let you make cruisers with short-range weapons that can sneak into their range without being constantly showered with missiles, harassed by fighters, etc. And if that seems a bit unbalancing (it well might be), well, the cloak isn’t the cheapest module around now, in terms of cost, power or crew. And there would be no problem adjusting any or all of those to make it inconvenient to just make all of your cruisers into trap door spiders.
Not a very useful cloak then. If it doesn’t prevent at least, say 90% of the shots, then it’s about as effective as hanging a sheet over the ship and assuming the enemy will ignore it as a result.
And I really think the cloak is useless if a simple laser pointer (i.e., target painter) can completely overcome it as indicated in the post you indicated (thanks for that, by the way; I don’t get to a lot of the older threads).
The cloaking device does need tweaking. One of the problems is that the hit chance of weapons is determined at fire time, so it seems that all the lasers blasts and missiles still hit, because that was pre-determined. On the other hand, as a ship decloaks, missiles fired at it then, will also likley be missing, but often you only notice it when a cloaked ship is on it’s last legs anyway…
i think there is an argument for the cloak effect drastically reducing the hit chance, almost to zero. It’s only a temporary effect, so it wouldn’t be an ultimate defence, just a quick breather for repair systems to engage or the ship to change facing.
Right now, I don’t see people using cloaks in challenges, which is a pity…
This would certainly seem more in line with what most SF settings consider a basic cloak, and would make it considerably more useful. Right now, with ships still having a decent chance to hit a cloaked ship, it really amounts to a module that allows your ship to stop shooting at the enemy. Since it will still be hit - often through the entire time it remains cloaked - the “hide and repair” tactic (which would be a very useful one) simply doesn’t work.
If the current cloak did so reliably (at 75%), I’d probably use it - it might even be overpowered. It’s useful then as an approach tool and as a means of mitigating damage on a specialist (AA or other close support, maybe ranged units that get deadzoned) especially if I need them parked somewhere.
As a player, I’m very focused on the various defense systems. A cloak/repair combo is simply too late to fit in my fleet philosophy - I’m more interested in something that prevents losing all my shields and armor first.
A fair point, but I kind of like to have variety in the approaches I can use. I’d like to know if cloak/repair could have a use, possibly for some sort of specialized cruiser, but I really can’t tell because as things stand it simply doesn’t work.
I did put a cloaking shield on one of my carrier designs based on the idea of keeping the carrier out of combat as long as possible, but I don’t recall if I actually deployed that carrier at any point before I got so disillusioned with the cloak. And yes, it would definitely be a point in favor of using the cloak if your fighters could dock - or a consideration in not using the cloak if they can’t.