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Cloaks
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
Posts: 1882

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:24 am    Post subject: Cloaks Reply with quote

I'm interested in other peoples opinion on cloaks. It's something we have discussed locally, and I find more of a problem for romulans than any concerns other people have about plasma.

The first thing I think of when I think of Romulans is cloak, not plasma. However, using cloaks in FedCom seems pretty rare in my experience beyond an initial approach. In many cases, once the shooting starts, cloaking is a no-no unless you are just looking to escape, and even then it may be a no-no. That seems to make romulan ships very expensive as you are paying points for something that I struggle to make much use of. Note, I'm talking Fed Com generally, not only tourney play.

When I used to play SFB many moons ago, I have memories of cloaks being very useful. I may be misremembering things given how long ago it was, or maybe those I played with used old/optional rules etc. But I seem to remember the cloak ship came off the map and used hidden movement. That made cloaks very nice, as the more impulses passed the less idea the other guy would have of where the cloaked vessel was. I also seem to remember that seekers just went 'poof' and no longer sought the cloaked ship. I can't off hand remember whether the cloaked ship had to slow down due to a rule, or whether simple power issues forced it.

Current cloak in FedCom:
Requires that the ship is still on the map.
That you slow down to 16 (with limits what you can do with accel)
Allow Seekers to continue seeking and hit, albeit for half damage.

Now, despite the 'nerf' in no hidden movement I really like the first point. I much prefer FedComs 'all in the open' style of play. I certainly wouldn't want that to change.

The speed 16 and limited accel is a bit of a pain. The main issue (as a result of the open play above) is someone sitting on top of you effectively daring you to uncloak, but I can handle (or try and handle) that for the most part. Trying to hang on top of a slow cloaked vessel is not always that easy, especially in multi ship games (which we tend to play) where there may be other romulans as well, who may have plasma armed forcing you to maintain speed, and making it all but impossible to decel enough to go as slow as the cloaker.

The killer for me is the seeker issue. Isc, Gorns, Feds, Kzinti, Klingons and Orions all have enough seekers to make cloaking problematic. Even older Fed ships with just an odd drone can become difficult in multi ship battles when they all lob out 1 drone just after you declare cloak with a ship. Of the empires with no seekers (beyond shuttles) The lyrans have the awesome 'LOL cloak' ESG, and the tholians have webs. Of course Gorn, Fed and Orion also have carronades just to rub the salt in.

Obviousy the speed 16 bit exacerbates the seeker issue, as the seekers are faster than you.

I'm not into SFB anymore. But my regular opponent has the rules and occaissonaly plays a game with someone else. Whilst talking about cloaks we pulled down his SFB rules and I had a read of the cloak stuff. Now I have to say without great knowledge of the rest of the rules it is a little hard to judge things as I'm missing a lot of context. But the thing that struck me was that cloaks did not cause seekers to go automatically 'poof', but it seems that they can be made to go 'poof' pretty quickly (and maybe straight away) via tweakyness in speed changes and sensor shifts. Even if they hit they usually do reduced damage.

The above result (but not mechanic) would be pretty simple to implement in Fed Com.

So I'm interested in what other players, romulan fans in particular think of cloaks. Am I missing something? Do you use them much beyond an initial approach?
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I seem to remember the cloak ship came off the map and used hidden movement.


Hidden cloak is optional in SFB.

In SFB, cloaking does shed all seekers. (With some few exceptions.) That was considered too powerful in FC, because it's easier to cloak. In FC, seekers are not shed but still do half damage, same as other weapons. Trouble is, in FC this tends to mean that they do MORE damage than they otherwise would, since they will mostly be shot down otherwise. If completely shed all seeking weapons is considered too good, perhaps some kind of effect like Orion stealth (roll a die, on a 4+ the seeking weapon misses completely; otherwise half damage) would work. That would, in effect, make cloaking about as effective as most anti-drone strategies. Probably a little less, since you need to launch a lot of drones to score significant numbers of hits; one or two are just getting phasered or tractored.

Or prohibiting seeker launch after fade-in is declared; but then, that may have its own problems.

Romulans are intended to be balanced against their main foes, the Federation and Gorns (and perhaps ISC). Lyrans do laugh at cloak, and so do Tholians, but the Romulans never historically fought the Lyrans and they mostly left the Tholians alone.[/b]
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:

In SFB, cloaking does shed all seekers. (With some few exceptions.) That was considered too powerful in FC, because it's easier to cloak.


Being easier to cloak does not in and of itself mean that shedding seekers must be too powerful, the game systems are too different to simply make such an assumption, it's easier for everyone to do a whole lot of things. It also depends on what mechanism you use to shed seekers - what rule that shed seekers was considered too powerful?

I can see that simply dropping all seekrs the moment you cloak would be quite potent (too powerful is debatable). That can be mitgated via a different shedding rule.

e.g. Having looked at the SFB rules (and maybe not grasping them correctly), and seeing that seekers can be shed, but not necessarily straight away, I was contemplating how you might put in a rule that simulates the result, if not the mechanic. I was thinking along the lines of at the end of turn when you dot the in flight drones that any seekers targeted at cloaked ships drop tracking. That means that seekers will drop after a 0-7 impulse delay, how long depends on when in the turn you cloaked, the time to shed seekers is deteminable, but you have to plan your turn and cloak around it. That strikes me as very useful but not particularly overpowerful, given that the use of cloak mid battle (which is effectively what we are mainly talking about) is usually short ranged, so the delay can still be a knacker if badly planned.


Quote:
perhaps some kind of effect like Orion stealth (roll a die, on a 4+ the seeking weapon misses completely; otherwise half damage) would work. That would, in effect, make cloaking about as effective as most anti-drone strategies. Probably a little less, since you need to launch a lot of drones to score significant numbers of hits; one or two are just getting phasered or tractored.


Most anti drone strategies deal with far more than half drones, unless you are dealing with just a couple of drones then a mere 50% rate is pretty terminal in many cases.

Quote:

Romulans are intended to be balanced against their main foes, the Federation and Gorns (and perhaps ISC). Lyrans do laugh at cloak, and so do Tholians, but the Romulans never historically fought the Lyrans and they mostly left the Tholians alone.[/b]


I'd accept a balanced vs Gorn and Feds (and ISC) but Gorn have seekers and carronades, and Feds have drones and plasma and carronnades. Both empires can neuter romulan cloaks quite badly. Having to handle carronades as well as launched seekers which you can't defend against is pretty grim. Gorns are one of the worst empires to cloak against.


To go back to my other question, when playing Romulans how often do you use cloak, or find it useful after the initial approach (if then).
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In SFB, once lock-on is broken the drone or plasma simply goes away. There is a chance to retain lock-on, but FC would not have anything like that: you either have lock-on or you don't. The original playtest rule had all seeking weapons targeted on the ship simply going away when you cloaked. This was considered too potent by the designer and playtesters; I don't remember all the details (it was years ago) and I wasn't part of the playtest group anyway.

My proposed die roll was in addition to the half-damage rule already in effect. This would, on average, cut damage from seeking weapons from 50% to 25%.

I think cloak is fairly useless in FC, for the most part. I believe that it needs beefing up (a little).
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
My proposed die roll was in addition to the half-damage rule already in effect. This would, on average, cut damage from seeking weapons from 50% to 25%.

I think cloak is fairly useless in FC, for the most part. I believe that it needs beefing up (a little).


That would be one way of doing it, and would be a good bit better than now. Though I'm not sure how the risky nature of it would work out in practise, e.g. If a gorn launches 2 PlS at you would you try and cloak and hope for the dice to go your way?

I was trying to simulate the delay in dropping seekers that SFB seems to have, you may get hit by the lot, or none, but you'd have a good idea up front of which it will be at any moment in time. You usually still have to fly in a way that gives you that needed time, where as the straight 50/50 dice roll means you have no interest in how you manouver as far as spoofing the seekers are concerned.

I'm always put off playing Roms due to the cloak weakness. They don't 'feel' like Roms due to that weakness and then on top of that you are effectively outpointed as a consequence - double whammy.
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Kang
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only time I have used a Rom cloak was in a published scenario - that one where there's Tholians, Kzinti, Gorn and Roms in an asteroid field. I think it might be the one where web-casters are used for the first time; certainly there were WCs in the game....

Anyway I managed to win as the Rom, including using some pretty good in-game cloaking (i.e. at sometime past Turn 1) to develop a new attack run - meaning yes, I found the cloak to be useful.

Perhaps then if the cloak is used in a scenario designed to be balanced, rather than a simple points-match duel, it's better? Granted that's only one data point but the game was a helluva lot of fun Smile
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jmt
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the discussion, it appears the issues are with a single cloaking ship.

I've found that the greatest weakness with the cloak is its difficulty to use in single duel situations - a single cloaked ship is just asking for trouble from not only seeking weapons but from ships sitting on top of the cloaked ship.

In situations where there are multiple ships, the ships can support each other better - both by running interference with seeking weapons and by keeping the enemy from sitting on your cloaked ship.

Even in a 2-ship per side duel, the efficiency of the cloak increases exponentially.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MM, Yes and No in my experience.

Certainly multi romulans help with some of the down sides, however, at least in the games I've played, multi Roms means multi opponents, and the number of seekers goes up to a level where re-cloaking is dangerous.

Where I have played romulans in the past I have tried to come with more (but hence smaller) ships than the other guy, in order to provide that extra leverage when it comes to stretching the ability of the other guy to sit on top of cloaked ships. That, however, usually means splitting up to some extent and that makes mutual coverage against seekers harder.


Last edited by storeylf on Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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JonPerry
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i agree that one on one, cloak is of very limited utility.

I also agree that it gets more useful when you have multiple ships on the board. They can address the scattered drones that are launched at you, and can certainly convince the enemy to not sit on cloaked ships.

As to how often - we haven't had a multi-ship Romulan engagement where the cloak was not used.

I also don't think we have had a single Romulan duel in which it was used.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've almost exclusively found the same to be true.

In one on one duels, very rarely is the cloak used.
In squadron actions, about 50:50 - used: not used.
In fleet battles, someone is almost always cloaked.
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Savedfromwhat
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have foud the cloak to be incredible in one on one games, it all boils down to how it gets used. If you drop to speed 0 or speed 8 you become highly maneuverable and your opponent will also have to guess your speed or fail. Against feds if he decides to fire those photons up close while cloaked the best he could do would be 32 points of damage and it will most likely be less (phasers on a cloaked ship take a pretty massive penalty). In my experiwnce with Romulans I would agree with Lee that Seeking weapons are the main problem. The system just plays too differently in Fedcom without dropping seeking weapons. I am pretty sure I have brought this up before but that was a while ago. Nice to see some others see it as well.
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Bolo_MK_XL
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The lack of NSM in FC, takes a big part of Romulan tactics away also ----
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Savedfromwhat wrote:
If you drop to speed 0 or speed 8 you become highly maneuverable and your opponent will also have to guess your speed or fail.


Whilst I hardly ever play 1 vs 1, I agree it is that ability to slow down, forced to some extent by speed 16, that makes the 'sit on top of a cloaked ship' awkward. The fact that it might uncloak and dump a big plasma at close range means most opponents are not going to be keen on speed less than 24 (as long as you have the plasma armed).

Thats why I don't mind the speed issue, but find the seeker issue tricky.

We were discussing Gorn vs Romulan campaign a while back, and were both wondering how often you'd see romulans cloak once the shooting has started, Gorns seem to the best cloak killing empire after Lyran.
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kirbykibble
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well...
a cloak can be a big advantage if used in the right situation
if going against a ship that has many seeking weapons, the cloak impairs the opponent of targeting you of any seeking weapons.

A cloak also would be a good way to escape for a successful hit-and-run
regarding that the enemy ship doesn't fire any drones or plasmas at you.

In addition, any seeking weapons already trained on your ship would have a warhead reduction by 50%.
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Kang
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kirbykibble wrote:

if going against a ship that has many seeking weapons, the cloak impairs the opponent of targeting you of any seeking weapons.

This is a very good point. A cloaked ship cannot be targeted by seeking weapons until it decloaks; this has to have value during the approach.

If the cloaked ship can get into a position outside its opponent's primary plasma arcs before it decloaks, then it's good. However, if the opponent has many drones, of course, then it ain't gonna help you to avoid the drone wave, but once they have been dealt with, you can re-cloak.

I can see that there's the potential for lots of research into flying cloaked ships and getting the best from them.
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