Cloaking progression question

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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Wed 07 Mar 2018 10:25

southwestforests wrote:Way off on a tangent even though I know it is - how does one cloak the external dumping of internal heat from all those crew bodies and the climate control and the electronics and such?


The drive field has been suggested as a technobabble way to dump that heat. Of course this directly contradicts why ships with DF up are more detectable than ships with DF down.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Wed 07 Mar 2018 14:03

Whitecold wrote:Again about LOD: To my understanding you take a -2 sensor hit on the LOD ship, while the opponent takes no hit in generations, but the detection category shifts.
What my point was that there is no realistic circumstances in which a LODed ship is detected and does not know it is being detected.
Frankly, I'd remove any long range sensor limitations on cloaked and LOD ships, as I very much assume all long range sensors are passive systems, and replace it with some system of detection probabilities, to give cloaked ships the disadvantage that they don't know if the enemy knows they are there.


I completely understand where you are going with your recommendations. By not knowing if your cloaked ship(s) have been detected, you have to guess or attempt to calculate your vulnerability and recognize clues in enemy movements as to whether you are right or wrong. And the enemy, if he detects you, has to figure out how to take advantage of your unrecognized vulnerability without giving away that he's setting you up.

Being a board game, however, also makes this difficult and impractical. To do this correctly you need two separate game boards and an SM to tell you when and where your sensors detect contacts. I've always loved this because you can also use tactical intelligence and each player only sees what he has detected - simple contacts, quantities, right down to counts and types. But it makes a 3 hour game into a 3 day game as you check, recheck, and back check to make sure the fog of war is correct.. And most people only have room for one board and you see your enemy's positions because they are on the board. You subconciously make different decisions even if you try to ignore what your eyes are seeing that they shouldn't.

It would be great for a computer game, but for Starfire as a board game it doesn't work well.

As for tactical cloaks, I am not sure what they would add in terms of gameplay. They certainly would need a different kind of pseudo-physical explanation, why you can have only either-or.
What I see cloaks is as a tool for generating surprises for the opponent. As just a defensive tech, I am not convinced. We already have two stealth tech lines: No body talked about Stealth tuners so far. I'd really like to see LOD as free stealth, but correspondingly unreliable, stealth tuners as upgrade that is affordable and small enough to slap on your whole fleet, if you really want to for more tactical flexibility, and cloak as system for ships who are designed to operate under stealth the entire time.


Again it's about the type of game you want. I could see early cloak being limited in how long it lasts. Icould see a tactical cloak that isn't so much about hiding but more about obscuring tactical intelligence by shrinking the ranges of your opponents short and scan ranges. There are a lot of possible variations and reasons.

Whitecold wrote:
southwestforests wrote:Way off on a tangent even though I know it is - how does one cloak the external dumping of internal heat from all those crew bodies and the climate control and the electronics and such?


The drive field has been suggested as a technobabble way to dump that heat. Of course this directly contradicts why ships with DF up are more detectable than ships with DF down.


I've never suggested that, but I do remember discussions on the viability of the idea. Where the heat goes when the DF is off is not the biggest problem with the concept.

I've always figured that the "Theory of Everything" would enable heat engines and/or heat converters that would turn heat into an alternate power source. Why not? We can dampen or intensify momentum. It certainly isn't the most fantastical idea in Starfire.

"Heat? Pfffft. That's such an HEL 0 problem."
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby southwestforests on Wed 07 Mar 2018 14:54

Cralis wrote:I've always figured that the "Theory of Everything" would enable heat engines and/or heat converters that would turn heat into an alternate power source. Why not? We can dampen or intensify momentum. It certainly isn't the most fantastical idea in Starfire.
Now there's a point.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Dawn Falcon on Wed 07 Mar 2018 15:50

Technically possible with the right metamaterials :)

We've tended to handwave things like this unless they have an interesting gameplay effect, really. Same way we never talk about the fusion generators used for power in HEL civs.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Dawn Falcon on Wed 07 Mar 2018 15:52

Whitecold wrote:Nobody talked about Stealth tuners so far.


Oh, right I invented the modern version of those. If they don't fit whatever cloak model we come up with, I'm quite happy to dump them. The idea is they were "stealth hulls" as much as anything, which were a bit harder to detect.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Wed 07 Mar 2018 16:11

Oh I was going to say (but forgot by the end of my post), I wasn't talking about Stealth Tuners because we wanted to fit them into the new model rather than model around them...
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Sat 07 Apr 2018 11:58

So, I am trying to summarize my thoughts on cloaks a bit: First I agree that hidden maps are difficult to use, but I think we can avoid them, most of the time. At a strategic level, you likely can't do anything without a GM anyway, and movement is abstract. Detection chances for hidden units can be done in a single roll. At tactical level, you should have Detection already, so you might not know what a group of units is, but you can already represent it on a map.
I think the most important thing to know is what should stealth bring to the game that doesn't exist otherwise already. Overall I'd balance the stealth system by the squeeze they put on internal volume rather than trying to mess with the sensor ranges; small ships should mount smaller generators than large craft.

Possible use of stealth
Hiding numbers/class on approach: This could be a nasty surprise if the escorting corvettes you detected turn out to be battlecruisers. It would give new creative ways to bait enemies into an engagement.
Stealth scouts: Hiding unarmed ships is an obvious choice, and those scouts confirming a contact would be a interesting counterplay to the hiding numbers mentioned above.
Closing the distance: fast SRW ships could use a cloak to run the range of LRW ships until they are close enough to open fire, an alternative to detuning. This should definitely be probability based on how long these cloaks stay effective.
Raiding: Trade raiding and harassment would definitely benefit from being cloaked once they get past the WPs and can disperse in the depth of a system.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Tue 10 Apr 2018 01:14

Whitecold wrote:So, I am trying to summarize my thoughts on cloaks a bit: First I agree that hidden maps are difficult to use, but I think we can avoid them, most of the time. At a strategic level, you likely can't do anything without a GM anyway, and movement is abstract.


I guess it all depends upon how you play too. When we played locally it was not uncommon for us to play out the system level. Even without cloaking systems that is a challenge because of detection ranges.

Detection chances for hidden units can be done in a single roll. At tactical level, you should have Detection already, so you might not know what a group of units is, but you can already represent it on a map.
I think the most important thing to know is what should stealth bring to the game that doesn't exist otherwise already.


The game system is already designed with the idea that you will have counters on the board that represent "unknowns" ... you know something is there, as the counter is there, but you don't know anything else. So that's not a problem. Where stealth could make a difference is in the delaying of the details that allow the players to make decisions, such as reducing Q detection or T detection, or making it so you can't learn certain details (aka make tactical intelligence harder).

Overall I'd balance the stealth system by the squeeze they put on internal volume rather than trying to mess with the sensor ranges; small ships should mount smaller generators than large craft.


The reason for reducing the stealth ship's sensor ranges is three-fold: first, it is a restriction in the technology (early generations at least) that is defined by the accepted pseudo-science. Second, it prevents a player from being able to send lone scouts and have a reasonable chance of fully scouting out an opponent without being seen. Third, it simplifies gameplay to not have detection chances.

Detection chances are where you and I have already disagreed. I've played a LOT of games without detection chances. Detection chances always slow down gameplay, and the more accurate the chances are you either have to spend more time determining that chance or you have to spend more times rolling the chance. I haven't seen a way to do it yet that doesn't do this, and I've given it some thought.

That said, I can see the appeal. Not knowing if your opponent has actually detected your ship(s) means that you have to make some hard choices at times, and it gives your opponent a chance to play you back. So I've put on my long-term list the goal of making a "detection chance" set of rules that will be optional. If you have something you've put together (or will put together, in the future), I'd be more than happy to look over it. More than a few players have developed something and it has been adopted into the rules! That's how we hooked Dawn Falcon... 8-)

Hmmm... and honestly, if detection was chance-based then sensor reductions would be altered to a tiered chance modifier. There are lots of possibilities in such an alternate method of handling detection, and it can be done from the very beginning (not just with cloak). For example, terrain may provide some chance modifier to detection by default.

Possible use of stealth
Hiding numbers/class on approach: This could be a nasty surprise if the escorting corvettes you detected turn out to be battlecruisers. It would give new creative ways to bait enemies into an engagement.


This is how ECM3 works in Classic Starfire, known as "Deception Mode" if I remember correctly. So rather than stealth as in "not being detected", it is stealth as in "being detected as something else." Whether or not this ends up as being a characteristic of cloaking systems, I do like the idea of expanding this in SSF beyond (?d). And with the more detailed tactical intelligence, I think there are lots of possibilities other than just hull size that can be exploited.

Stealth scouts: Hiding unarmed ships is an obvious choice, and those scouts confirming a contact would be a interesting counterplay to the hiding numbers mentioned above.

Closing the distance: fast SRW ships could use a cloak to run the range of LRW ships until they are close enough to open fire, an alternative to detuning. This should definitely be probability based on how long these cloaks stay effective.


In this case, cloaking would be less about being undetected and more about making you hard to target. How would this be any different then EMS (?) ?

Raiding: Trade raiding and harassment would definitely benefit from being cloaked once they get past the WPs and can disperse in the depth of a system.


Agreed. That was a big part of the reason that Marvin expanded the Jump Drive into the Warp Jump Twig so it was available to every drive type.

Procyon had an additional idea: a sensor-blinding beam system that could be targeted at an enemy unit and would reduce the sensor ranges of all sensors on that unit. Game-wise it is essentially the reverse of a cloak and a really interesting idea. I just fear that with larger fleets and the fact that players tend to put sensors on most warships that this would require too much micromanagement to work. As long as any ship has unhindered sensors they can share everything with datagroup members and lots of details with everyone else in their own fleet. I mention it because it might spark on idea in one of you guys...
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Tue 10 Apr 2018 12:06

My main objection to the sensor reduction is that LOD is not as much affected as cloak, making it a better stealth system than cloak for scouts, without having any tech requisite at all. Stripping long and medium range of LOD would work as well, though I don't know how to justify that.

I entirely agree that playing without detection ranges is much easier than with detection ranges; so I assume that anyone even trying is willing to accept some dice rolls in addition to all the range lookups.

The main difference between CLK and EMS that you always want EMS. Trading off 1 HS of passives means your ship is ~20% harder to hit. With 2/3 HS per passive you win starting at ~7 HTK, which means basically every warship. On a battleship it is not a question.
The cloak would most likely only work until you open fire, which reduces the attractiveness for LRW combatants.
Also if you need to pay something like 15% HS as example for a the cloak, you would loose 4.5HS on a DD, about 1 SRW less. This also makes it more attractive to small ship, as a SD would need a massive 24HS system, or some 4 Rc less, or loose a Kc, a hit you likely don't want to take on your main battle ships

As for sensor blinding, I don't see it being very useful at long ranges. Given the directional capabilities of sensors, you should be able to still see everything that is not directly besides the jammer, and any significant fleet can simply disperse, and you have no way to know which ship mounts Yc
At short range you might blind targeting systems, but I'd assume any ship to be able to fire at the jammer. Might be useful to actively draw fire away from other units, but I expect lifetimes to be limited in a larger engagement, also would be difficult to check in which arc sensors are blocked.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Tue 10 Apr 2018 12:33

Whitecold wrote:My main objection to the sensor reduction is that LOD is not as much affected as cloak, making it a better stealth system than cloak for scouts, without having any tech requisite at all. Stripping long and medium range of LOD would work as well, though I don't know how to justify that.


The big difference, and why CLK as currently written is better than LOD, is that LOD stops working once you are detected. CLK continues to have a positive benefit well into combat ranges.

I entirely agree that playing without detection ranges is much easier than with detection ranges; so I assume that anyone even trying is willing to accept some dice rolls in addition to all the range lookups.


And that's one of the reasons why it should be optional. Plus, as I mentioned above, making other changes in the detection and tactical intelligence rules to utilize the detection system would give significant returns in the gameplay for those willing to use it.

The main difference between CLK and EMS that you always want EMS. Trading off 1 HS of passives means your ship is ~20% harder to hit. With 2/3 HS per passive you win starting at ~7 HTK, which means basically every warship. On a battleship it is not a question.


One of the changes we will probably make is that you cannot use DF altering tactics and systems while using cloak. That would include tactics like LOD, EM, and detuning, and technologies like EMS and ?d. At least, not until more advanced CLK comes along.

The cloak would most likely only work until you open fire, which reduces the attractiveness for LRW combatants.
Also if you need to pay something like 15% HS as example for a the cloak, you would loose 4.5HS on a DD, about 1 SRW less. This also makes it more attractive to small ship, as a SD would need a massive 24HS system, or some 4 Rc less, or loose a Kc, a hit you likely don't want to take on your main battle ships


Here we agree.

As for sensor blinding, I don't see it being very useful at long ranges. Given the directional capabilities of sensors, you should be able to still see everything that is not directly besides the jammer, and any significant fleet can simply disperse, and you have no way to know which ship mounts Yc


Ahhh, here the devil is ensconced in the details. Procyon's concept is a weapon that creates the same blinding effect that LOD creates in the DF, so it affects all of the unit's sensors in the same way. It's a clever idea.

At short range you might blind targeting systems, but I'd assume any ship to be able to fire at the jammer. Might be useful to actively draw fire away from other units, but I expect lifetimes to be limited in a larger engagement, also would be difficult to check in which arc sensors are blocked.


All true. Which is why I'm thinking that this would devolve into some time sucking micromanagement. Making sure you have enough jammers targeting at different ships to blind enough sensors to make it a tactic worth using. And the counter fire to stop them. What I am thinking is that it might be useful in limited circumstances where there are not a lot of targets, such as raiding or rear echelon ambushes.
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