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.