Cloaking progression question

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Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Sat 10 Feb 2018 15:31

I've got a question for ya'll... who has used the Ultra Starfire or Solar Starfire cloaking system?

When Marvin first designed the system, for balance reasons he designed the progression so that when the cloaking system got miniaturized (smaller) or when it could move faster, it would lose effectiveness for several generations. So the progression (in terms of sensor generation reduction) does this more effect, less effect roller coaster when it gets smaller. It goes something lie this: -3, -4, -5, -6, -3, -4, -5, -6, -3, -4, etc.

Question is: who would take the smaller/faster cloaking device even though it meant you were going back to the lower/lowest cloaking effectiveness ... or did you wait until you improved it?

And even if you haven't used it in the game, what do you think? Is the trade off worth it? Or should the progression try to maintain at least the same effectiveness (or at least, a much less severe loss in effectiveness) when size was reduced or speed increased?
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Xveers on Sat 10 Feb 2018 22:02

Cralis wrote:And even if you haven't used it in the game, what do you think? Is the trade off worth it? Or should the progression try to maintain at least the same effectiveness (or at least, a much less severe loss in effectiveness) when size was reduced or speed increased?


I haven't had a chance to use CLK yet, either as a design exercise or something that is deployed in a fleet, or in a tactical situation, but a few things have come to mind as at least one race I know is actively developing the technology. I'll try to comment based on what I've read and what I understand:

Resetting cloaking effectiveness:
On one hand this makes some degree of sense. Each change in size can be taken to represent a new technological solution to cloaking that is more efficient. But on the other hand, a jump from -6 to -3 is a fairly crippling change to your ability to stay concealed. This can quite literally be the difference between the enemy having Yc capability to detect you or not.

Size jumps:
And if all I'm gaining is 1 or 2 or even 3 HS, then on fairly large units (at SL10 I'm probably looking at fielding BBs at least in reasonable lots), that's just not really valuable for what I'm giving up in turn, especially if overall stealth is a key part of the design concept for the unit. The ability to reduce a target from having Ycb or Yce down to normal Y is massive strategic game changer. There's no way around that, and potentially tossing it away in exchange for a few HS overall just isn't what I would consider a good trade.

Speed penalties:
This makes more sense for me on multiple levels and also is a fairly decent nerf on cloaking overall. More experience with a kind of cloaking system enables you to run faster without compromising your cloak. Makes sense from a fluff perspective. From game balance it also means that you can't just have fleets of ships motoring around at full cloak being completely frustrating. I'd even go so far as to instead go with a strategic speed restriction/cap instead of a penalty to your tactical speed, as by the time you've rolled out cloak your small-mid size hulls have a theoretical strategic 3 or even 4 speed for some units if you choose to go that way.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Tue 13 Feb 2018 11:21

I would definitely not use ever lower sensor gen cloaking, but I think cloaking's problems are more fundamental:
- LOD is way too good. Starting with Yce you get back sH-range detection, and there is no way to counter LOD and regain sH range detection against LODed targets, no matter how good your tech advantage is.
- cloaking is perfectly deterministic. If you know the enemy's tech level, you know exactly what their detection range against you is. For me to make playing with sensors fun would be that there is a chance your units got detected, and the enemy knows all along that you are coming and is able to counter ambush you.
- the size of CLK is really not important against the HS available on an SD which are available at SL 10. At the same time it can be really punishing on a small unit, which IMHO are the ones that should be easier to cloak than large units. Cloaking is a system I'd make variable sized like the engine twig items, to make it more viable on smaller units.

[quote=Xveers]
Resetting cloaking effectiveness:
On one hand this makes some degree of sense. Each change in size can be taken to represent a new technological solution to cloaking that is more efficient. But on the other hand, a jump from -6 to -3 is a fairly crippling change to your ability to stay concealed. This can quite literally be the difference between the enemy having Yc capability to detect you or not.
[/quote]
There is no long range detection against CLK ever. You only get D detection against CLK units at Medium range
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Tue 13 Feb 2018 12:58

Thank you for your input Xveers, I was waiting and hoping I'd hear more opinions.

I completely agree about size. In fact, one of the conclusions we've come to is that cloaks are too small... we've considered making their size based on the size of the mounting unit.

So I'm looking at the primary characteristics for change being the sensor degredation (in generations) and the maximum allowed speed.

There are two primary methods to map progress in technologies.

The first is a steady progression. Capabilities generally advance slowly, often trading between which characteristic improves. S, A, point defense, and most electronics all follow this method.

The second method is a kind of yin/yang progression. A primary characteristic tracks upward, but when a secondary or tertiary characteristic is improved the primary characteristic drops a little before tracking upward again. Weapons all do this because there is a total power curve they must adhere too. So when ROF or damage increases, all of the other stats drop.

Currently the second method is how cloaking improves. Sensor degradation (cloak effectiveness) improves but when max speed or size changes, sensor degredation falls back to where it was at the beginning. And my assessment would be that the loss in cloak effectiveness invalidates the othe improvements until effectiveness comes back up. Ultimately this means that cloak improvements only matter every dozen SLs... far too long. It doesn't feel like progression.

And besides, there are other characteristics that aren't even considered...

So... does that make any sense? Does it seem like I'm looking at this wrong? If si... how and why?

Edit: Whitecold, I saw your post after I made this one! Mostly we are on the same page. Except on one particular thing: LOD. The problem with LOD is that your ships also lose long-range detection. So they can't see you, but you also can't see them. While there are tactics to work around this, they are either difficult or very situational. That does seem like an effective trade-off.

But maybe you're right and LOD, stealth tuners, cloaks, etc. are all too effective. Does anyone else think that is the case?
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Tue 13 Feb 2018 13:56

Cralis wrote:Edit: Whitecold, I saw your post after I made this one! Mostly we are on the same page. Except on one particular thing: LOD. The problem with LOD is that your ships also lose long-range detection. So they can't see you, but you also can't see them. While there are tactics to work around this, they are either difficult or very situational. That does seem like an effective trade-off.

But maybe you're right and LOD, stealth tuners, cloaks, etc. are all too effective. Does anyone else think that is the case?

From how I read D5.03.2.1 you only get a -2 sensor generation reduction. So Yce is degraded to Yca, with long range detection. Is there some other rule that states that LOD removes long range entirely?

I thought about introducing some time-based detection chance. Every day spent in standard detection range gets you x% chance with x depending on cloak and sensor generation, and number of units. (4 units get double chance, 9 triple chance, 16 4x detection chance...)
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Tue 13 Feb 2018 15:12

Whitecold wrote:From how I read D5.03.2.1 you only get a -2 sensor generation reduction. So Yce is degraded to Yca, with long range detection. Is there some other rule that states that LOD removes long range entirely?


No no, I didn't say you lose Long category detection completely (I try to use precise terminology in a case like this). The -2 sensor gens does drop the sH range of your Long detection category, and that's what I was referring to.

I thought about introducing some time-based detection chance. Every day spent in standard detection range gets you x% chance with x depending on cloak and sensor generation, and number of units. (4 units get double chance, 9 triple chance, 16 4x detection chance...)


That is certainly more realistic, but much more complicated.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Morpheus on Tue 13 Feb 2018 19:55

I've only used CLK a little bit mostly in strategic level scenarios rather then in full campaigns.

As far as HS for CLK is concerned, I'd recommend that even smaller ships should still be able to use CLK and that it's size would be proportional to the number of HS or engines or engine rooms.

As far as effectiveness of CLK, I don't really like that it's effectiveness decreases when it gets more miniaturized or allows you to have a faster safe speed. Not only that, real world procurement of a weapon system would dictate that you would never take a step backwards in capability when you decrease size of a system. Typically as you reduce size, you have a requirement that your performance be equivalent to the "older" system. I'd propose the same CLK effect and allowing the ship that contains CLK to move faster but diminish the effect of CLK with speed more dramatically with lower SL systems.

Personally, I think LOD is well balanced and the 50% reduction in the operating units sensor range is a good way to balance out the effect of LOD. I look at as analogous to when a submarine or surface vessel is running silent or in emission control and only using passive sensors.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Wed 14 Feb 2018 00:19

Morpheus wrote:I've only used CLK a little bit mostly in strategic level scenarios rather then in full campaigns.


That's more than many players have experienced it in the newest versions of Starfire! :)

As far as HS for CLK is concerned, I'd recommend that even smaller ships should still be able to use CLK and that it's size would be proportional to the number of HS or engines or engine rooms.


That is a possibility too... we'll have to consider that one. Since Cloaking really is more about effectively dampening and redirecting the gravitic emissions of the drive-field, that could even be called appropriate.

As far as effectiveness of CLK, I don't really like that it's effectiveness decreases when it gets more miniaturized or allows you to have a faster safe speed.

Not only that, real world procurement of a weapon system would dictate that you would never take a step backwards in capability when you decrease size of a system.


And THAT is precisely the wording I was trying to formulate. It doesn't seem like you would have a serious improvement if you lose a significant portion of one part of the capability in order to have a small increase in another capability. Absolutely what I'm thinking. Especially when it comes to this type of technology.

Typically as you reduce size, you have a requirement that your performance be equivalent to the "older" system. I'd propose the same CLK effect and allowing the ship that contains CLK to move faster but diminish the effect of CLK with speed more dramatically with lower SL systems.


I can see miniaturization with a lower ability, as it would add some functionality in a smaller platform. We see that all the time. What I don't understand is the "yo-yo" up and down that is in the cloak now.

I could see this as a "line" of similarly-capable cloaking systems getting smaller over time. If you take each "-x" (such as -3) and looking only at the other cloaks with the same rating, they get better over time. Then each -4, then -5, etc. could be a "product line" per se. The problem with the current implementation is that the similar rated cloaks have such huge differences in SL that they really don't mean much.

We really need to consider a better way to progress with cloaks. The trick is not to make it too poweful.

Personally, I think LOD is well balanced and the 50% reduction in the operating units sensor range is a good way to balance out the effect of LOD. I look at as analogous to when a submarine or surface vessel is running silent or in emission control and only using passive sensors.


In SSF v6.02 we changed the penalty to -2 sensor generations instead of a percentage. And I like the analogy to using passives to remain in EMCON, although in this case LOD itself trapping the drive-field emissions is blinding the sensors of the ship, functionally the effect is about the same.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Dawn Falcon on Wed 14 Feb 2018 13:23

I've always wanted to split cloak into "sneak" and "battle" - the first being bigger and far more expensive, but not quite disrupting sensors to the same degree. Battle Cloak you can afford on your line units and has a lesser effect on speed, but only moderate effect on enemy sensors.

Of course, there should always be ways to FIND cloaked units... (maybe next era? If you don't understand that, don't worry :P)
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Elminster on Thu 15 Feb 2018 07:31

The first thing I thought about the size of the CLK is: how about making it work like Life Support? Let it cover a specific number of HS and if you want to cloak a bigger unit, you have to use more of them. Obviously the other stats have to be based on this concept.

Making it based on Engine HS may be feasible, but what about the Shields? Don't they have to be cloaked, too?

We could also make a "small" CLK, wich is a little bit smaller but also less effective, available at the same SL (or maybe one higher?) as the standard CLK. In RL you can't outfit a Frigate with the same ECM-Systems you would use for a Carrier or Battleship. So you have to make it smaller so it can fit in a Frigate. But you have to invest some research to get the electronic parts small enough (so one SL higher?).
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