Cloaky Mechanics

The mechanics of covert ops cloaks are a daily part of nullsec in general. We use them as some of the safest ways to travel considering bubbles and gatecamps. We also have to deal with the possibility of a covert ops ship tackling us in our anomalies and hotdropping on us. This is normal part of nullsec, and not what I want to talk about. I believe that covert ops cloaks and cloaking in general is in a good place right now, I don't think it's too overpowered or underpowered. But I do have a problem with it.

I suppose you could say that I think cloaks are overpowered, but that's not how I would phrase it. Let me give an example that illustrates my problem with the mechanics currently. Say you're in your home system, just chilling and minding your own business. Then one day your home system and every system near you have reds in it. And not just any reds, these reds are in stealth bombers and cloaky T3s. Suddenly you can't do what you normally would. You can't jump to your cyno generators, you can't rat at all, and you have to be wary what you undock and what you do. For the first few days you just adjust, thinking they'll get bored before too long and move on, that's how these campers usually work. But as the end of the first week of being camped nears, you start to wonder how long they will be there. The military indexes in your systems drop as time goes on. It's been a month and you haven't done more ratting than just a few DEDs, because your corpmates are scared to do even those. You are at the mercy of someone who may or may not even be at their keyboard, and it's been that way for a month.

Such a pretty ship.
This is my problem. We've had cloaky campers in and around my home system for a month now, and it's really quite frustrating. Not that I disagree with cloaky camping. If you want to put your character in a cloaky ship and do nothing else 23/7 then you should be free to do that and capitalize on other peoples' stupidity. What I do have a problem with is that you don't have to be at your keyboard to do it.

Currently, there is nothing at all that prevents you from just cloaking up and leaving your ship in space for hours. It has been discussed extensively in corp chat, and I've heard everything from removing covert ops cloaking devices to making them use large amounts of cap so you can only stay cloaked for so long. Both of those ideas are completely silly, because they remove content and change the way things currently work, and cloaky ships are in a pretty good place, as far as I can see. But my corpmates are looking at the problem from the wrong angle. There isn't anything wrong with covert ops ships themselves, it is the lack of a counter to them that makes them a problem.

But there are counters to them! Just move to the next system over, or don't be a risk-averse scrub and fight whoever drops you. Or so I've heard people say. Yet, while they aren't wrong they are also not right. Moving to the next system is a viable option for dealing with cloaky campers, unless that system is camped as well, and so is the next and the next. It's also not a counter, it's dealing with a problem instead of solving it. Counter-dropping, or getting a fleet together to kill whoever drops you is an excellent idea, and it has been used for forever to great effect. That is a counter, yes. The problem there arises that in order to counter a cloaky you need to have a fleet logged in and formed up at all times, and the cloaky can just decide to not drop or completely ignore you if s/he feels like it. And in this case, you have at least 5 people waiting on 1 person to make a mistake so they can do something about it. Counterdropping is a counter to the specific act of hotdropping, not the mechanic of covert ops cloaks.

Hopefully it is obvious that there is a problem here. Not a problem with covert ops ships, but something wrong in the balance of EVE. Covops need a counter, and we don't have one. They don't need to be nerfed into the ground, or even changed at all. But whatever counter is implemented needs to be easy enough to counter itself that suddenly covert ops ships won't be immediately destroyed when they cloak up.

Sneaky, sneaky. BOOM.
My current suggestion for this counter is to have a new kind of ship, most likely a T2 destroyer (we don't have enough of those) that can fit a special type of probe launcher. This probe launcher is the only one of it's kind that can launch the Covert Reconfigured Combat Scanner Probes. No, they're not probes that cloak, they are probes that can scan cloaked ships. These probes are like normal ones for everything except their scan time. It takes at least 15 seconds for them to scan (it's much harder to find ships that are actively trying to avoid being found by cloaking.) This long scan time allows cloaky ships more than enough time to see the probes on d-scan--if they're actually at their keyboard--and warp off to another safe. If they are not at their keyboard, it shouldn't take a scanner more than a minute to locate them and get a warp in, and pop goes the covert ops ship.

Obviously this is not the only possible solution, but it is my idea and I'm preferential to it, although open to criticisms. It doesn't punish people who are actively at their keyboard from camping, if they so choose, while giving the people being camped a way of countering that doesn't involve waiting for the cloaky to drop them.


Smeester said...

It's a tricky issue. I think your solution has possible bad implications for wormholes though. At the moment, half the fun/danger is not knowing if someone is cloaky afk in your hole. There's no local.

Having the ability to just quickly scan the hole with magic cloak probes, (not to necessarily go on to find them, but to get a 10% hit that lets you know there's something cloaky present) is a dangerous degradation to WH life in my opinion.

To my eyes, having a cloaky guy sat in local in null is just like normal procedure in WH space. In null the question isn't whether they're there or not, it's whether they're afk or not. Same result though. Go about your business carefully.

But I've never lived in null, so I'll nod to the fact there may be massive factors I'm missing.

All I'm saying is - when considering solutions that work for null, pause to think how it effects WH space!

Happy Flying o7

Elec0 said...

That is true. A original version I had for the probes was to only be able to have a scan range of around 4-8 AU or so, so that you would have to search the system for a cloaker that you knew was there, but would take time and be easy to avoid if the person was at their keyboard. I think that would be slightly less exploitable in wormholes than my current version, but it's just a concept all around.

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