Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marco! Polo?...

or~  Null IS Just Like Wormholes…Only Completely Different…

Cyno Green
Getting comfy in the new corp, getting ok with not being a Director, getting a kill & getting killed, but… AFK Cloakers [in null] suck.

Now, you MUST understand that as a wormholer by trade and at heart, I live by the cloak. I live in a CovOps when in the hole. Unless I have to be in another ship for a reason, I am in either a Cheetah or a Hound. Without the cloak on my Mastodon, I would have never gotten the POS tower and many, if not most, of the mods, out from a station four hops deep in losec… In the hole, the Cloak, is life… but in null, in one specific use, it is badly out of balance.

AFK Cloaking:
What is an AFK Cloaker? Any ship fitted with a cloak, especially CovOps frigates, that enter a system, cloak up and remain logged on and are used to gather intel, make BMs, safes, warpins and hotdrops and wage PsyOps (Psychological Operations) and financial aggro via “Income Denial Ops". In my limited experience in null so far, PsyOps and Income Denials are moar common, but I have seen all of the above.

Income Denial Ops are tied to PsyOps in that you cannot know if the cloaky in local is just sitting there watching local and dscan or actively warping around making BMs and gathering intel on your POS(es) and what ship movements do occur while he is active or if he is actually AFK and off eating dinner with the wife and kids at MacDs or playing Tanks on another screen…

You can’t ‘know’ so you HAVE to assume he is there and just waiting to break cloak and pop a cyno and drop a fleet on you while you PvE (to make ISK [to buy the ships the PvPers wanna asplode] and loot [to sell or melt for minerals to make mods and ships to sell for PvPers to asplode] and salvage [to sell or produce rigs to sell for the ships PvPers want to asplode] or mine [produce ore for minerals to make mods and ships to sell for PvPers to asplode] on a combat/mining/exploration site… there is currently NO recourse, no way to fight back against this tactic… the AFK Cloaker is SAFE (while cloaked) as no PvE/PvPbear can ever be except when docked up in station.

We had AFK Cloakers camp our hole many times… lost ships to em, and killed a few. I never felt it was ‘unfair’ (a word badly, and incorrectly, overabused in EVE, fair = balanced, it does not = “I can’t [blank] safely!”), nuthin they could do I couldn’t. The difference in null is, in the hole as soon as we knew someone was inside, either through seeing probes or catching a lucky glimpse of a ship on Dscan… or when one (or two or three) uncloak off your starboard bow…

We responded similar to the way we do in null:
-warp to safes or a POS;
-reship ASAP to either a CovOps or a DPS ship;
-see if we could catch em, if not;
-see if we can determine where they came in from;
-if yes:
            -if we decide to fight, bubble and camp or actively try to engage;
            -if not, well…

Well, in a word here is how it is different in null, "Cyno"…
Depending the info we had gathered, we would sometimes break off activities for the night, but sometimes not, it depended on the level of perceived threat… you see, there are NO HOTDROPS in wormholes. Very often the threat assessment was ‘medium’, we knew there was say just one ship in the hole, with moar of us online we could defend, or flying solo and fully AWARE tactically (IE always aligned to a warpable and at speed while running sites or savaging; watching Dscan like it’s Svedish pron; being constantly prepared to defend and GTFO).

There are them as have made arguments against ANY changes to cloaking as it currently stands such as:

“If they're AFK, they can't hurt you.
If they're cloaked, they can't:
- Target
- Use EWAR
- Fire Weapons

So, with that said, the mechanic is balanced, quit crying and trying to get it nerfed because you obviously suck at life.”

The idea that a pilot, in null most often a cyno-alt, can come in, cloak up, stay logged on and then that player may go to work or go and play on a PvP char or a hisec ISKbear char and just check back every now and again to see if there is any activity he can hotdrop a FLEET on, is out of whack… and here is the really out of whack part, the AFK Cloaky is, while cloaked, safer than any carebears dream… this needs to be balanced.

There… I said it. Cloaking needs to be balanced. In wormholes the cloaking mechanic, as it stands now, works beautifully and by that I mean that it is balanced for both aggressor and defender. In Null due to the cyno, it is used by PvPcentric players almost… almost… to the point of abuse because with a cloaky cyno you can bring a fleet into a system via an indefensible hole. Bubbles on the gates in a system are useful but mean very little to cloaked ships. Yes they make it a little harder, but an experienced CovOps pilot can usually make it in and out even if the residents are very quick to respond… and with a cyno you do not ever need "risk" bringing in a fleet via a well defended gate… you can open a hole within 5Km of a station, right off the undock and bring in your fleet directly.

Hotdrop O’Clock!
As far as I can find out, there is only one counter to this ingame… the Cynosural System Jammer, what this Module does is (and I quote): “Creates a system-wide inhibitor field which prevents cynosural generators except covert cynosural generators from functioning.” Really? so you can jam a regular fleet but not a CovOps and Black Ops fleet? What good is that? So we put up a cyno jammer and force everyone to train up for Black Ops battleships? Oh yea… we all wanna do THAT.

This all boils down to the same age old argument… PvPbears vs PvEbears… which is a grand over-simplification. My corp and the corp I am in now, don’t really fit either type exclusively. I am beginning to believe this is probably the majority of those in EVE. Most do some of both PvP&E to some degree. But there are those who will argue vehemently for PvP to be the be all and end all of the game just as there are those who will argue just as vehemently for PvE to be the be all and end all, ya-da ya-da.

What I want… is balance. There are no pwnmobiles in EVE. There is no one ship and fit and skill set that can give anyone a very high probability of success in PvP. Every aggression mechanic has a counter, every defensive mechanic has a counter. When a mechanic favors one side of this equation, it needs to be addressed and the equation needs to be balanced.

AFK Cloaking with cyno chars does not have a counter and is therefore unbalanced in favor of aggression.

Cloaky Loki on overwatch
There have been a number of suggestions for a balancing mechanic for AFK Cloaking in the forums and on blogs, among them I have read: (NOTE: none of the following address botting issues)

Cloak needs fuel to run:
Places a limit on how long a cloak can run based on cargo [or fuel bay] capacity and ability to refuel [IE Cloaky hauler].

Cloak hunter/breaker, ship/module:
Variations on this are:
-A ship, module or probe that can transmit a system wide pulse (similar to a subhunter sonic “ping”) that will cause an active cloak to break after a number of pulses with a timer delay on the frequency of pulses. This will alert a cloaked ship it is being hunted and give the pilot time to ‘attempt’ to GTFO.
-A ship, module or probe that can transmit an area (50Km, 100Km, 1000Km radius?) pulse similar to the above.
-A POS/Station module, battery or upgrade that does the above.

Periodic (or random) popup: requiring confirmation and/or data entry for cloak to remain ‘on’.

Cloaky is removed from local: and loses access to local after a period of inactivity. Returns to local and regains access to local on ANY movement or module activation.
-Supposedly forces the cloaky pilot to be active if he wants to keep access to local intel.

[And my personal fav]
Cloaks cannot run ‘cap stable’:
Running a cloak WILL cap out ANY ship it is active on, in time (length to be determined). This effect is cumulative, cycling the cloak quickly or a quick log-off/log-on does not reset it. To reset the cloak cap-out, the cloak must remain off for a cooldown period long enough to put the pilot at risk of being dscanned or probed out or force the pilot to remain logged off for the same period (length to be determined).

I like this because it is simple and forces the AFK Cloaker to be an active player, not AFK. If you want to use a cloaky to run ‘Income Denial’ ops, cool, come on in, cloak up and you decide how much risk you want to take… (given times are just examples not recommendations):

-Stay cloaked 15 mins, cap timer resets with 2 mins downtime;
-stay cloaked 30 mins, cap timer resets with 5 mins downtime;
-stay cloaked 45 mins, cap timer resets with 9 mins downtime;
-stay cloaked 1 hour, cap reaches critical, cloak deactivates and the cap timer resets with 15 mins downtime …

Oh, and jumping through a gate or a wormhole... resets the cap timer also.

Note: I do not feel this breaks the role or usefulness of Stealth Bombers either. I am a HUGE fan of stealth bombers and feel a competent FC of a bomber group should be able to work with the 1 hour max cloaked timer, seeing to it his group has transited a gate or docked and waited out the cooldown timer or reship to a backup SB and immediately undock... who ever heard of an AFK SB fleet?

You have to BE there, actively engaged and flying your ship, if not… well, I know I can scan you down in less than 5 mins… mebbe less than 2…

I mean, the AFK Cloaky came in looking for some PvP... he should have a chance to get some, whether HE wants to or not... just like his targets.

Balance = "Risk = Reward".


Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

PS.  OK this is down in comments but I am going to add it here too as I just thought of it... 

You can fix AFK Cloaking as used for cyno'ed hotdrops in Nulll by making it so that NO ship can fit a Cyno and a Cloak at the same time.  

EDIT: 10/19/12

A few more for the suggestion box... from  A Scientist's Life in Eve, The Unseen Untouchables

1.   A new POS module which can only be used when you have Sov level IV or maybe even Sov level V.  This sends out an energy pulse maybe 30 AU in every direction which will automatically break any cloak for, say, 3 minutes.  The module will activate every hour when the POS cycles.  The module will have very large power and CPU requirements, because of what it’s doing.  This way, you could have multiple POS with this module on, all at different cycle times.  You’d have to place them around larger systems to catch all areas of course.  You own the Sov space, you should be able to break the cloaks of these people.  If they have a bot that monitors the cloak and reactivates it, then again they’d be breaking the EULA.  Ban hammer time.

[I REALLY like the Sov limited use idea.]

2.   Give the new Destroyers two special modules that can only be used by these new ships.  Let them fit some sort of probe and launcher that acts sort of like a sonar.  They can launch a probe which narrows down to a random warpable point which is between 25km and 100km from the cloaked ship.  You can then use the second module that gives a rough bearing and distance report every 10 seconds.  Hide and seek anybody?


  1. I know I've seen it somewhere and now i know where it was. The December meeting minutes from the CSM... at the end of game balance on page 22.

    "Cloak Hunters: CCP brought up the possibility of a future cloak-hunting ship or mechanic as a hypothetical; this was described as ‘more like finding a submarine than pulling a blanket off’ a cloaked ship. The CSM was cautiously positive about the idea of a cloak-hunting vessel of some kind."
    This is exactly what I was thinking about. There will never be complete invisibility so there should always be a method to get the cloaked one.
    The fact this was at least mentioned in the meeting keeps me hopeful that we will see it coming some day not too far.
    Funny thing is that in this "afk cloaking" post I can remember some WH dudes who just say, get along with it in WH we don't have a problem with them. But yes, you got it. you have no cyno either.

  2. Yea... I feel my experience in W-space is a real asset in the whole "Cloaking is broken(Y/N)" issue. AFK Cloaking is unbalanced in favor of aggression as it stands now, but for null only, as Cyno does not work in W-space, it is NOT unbalanced there. Any balancing mechanic needs to take this into account.

    This is the biggest "issue" I have run into in my short time in null and the corp I am in now is neither a pure PvE nor a pure PvP corp... we are very interested and active in both areas of the game...

    The pilots who AFK Cloak are looking for PvP hotdrop opportunities... thier targets just want a chance to fight back. If someone comes into your system, they should not be 'safe' from you... and a cloaked ship sitting at a well made safespot... is, with the current mechanic, safer than any carebears dream and IS therefore unbalanced (IE what most people mean when they say it is 'broken')...

    Maybe just make it so no ship can be fit with a Cloak and a Cyno at the same time...

    I hope we and CCP can find a solution that gives even moar opportunities for the defenders to asplode a few ships too... =]

  3. I agree afk cloakers are a pain in the ass, but its not them but cynos that need balanced. the ability to lite one and have a gang come in instantly is a bit crazy, i have always said that cynos need a 1 min warp up timer before anything can jump trough, giving the person whos about to be hot droped time to kill the cyno. Also ccp has thought about making capitals have a 30s-1min jump drive warm up before jumping, which is nice, but dosent stop titan bridges and Blops.

  4. Actually, I have been recently skooled on this. It seems Black Ops ships, of which I obviously know squat, would be nerfed into obscurity by my suggestion to sever the Cloak from the Cyno may not be workable as it will break practically the whole reason for Black Ops ships to even exist… (heck even and I want one of those one day...) =]

    Continued discussion on this is required, I was just tryin to gather in one place all I had heard so far in this particular debate sans the usual sophomoric name calling and childish slander (see above quote) that seems to be the mainstay argument (?) of so many who favor no changes AT ALL to their favorite past time…

    Actually, the moar I think on it, I am starting to wonder if the “No-Local” idea may have real merit. Ingvar Angst in his post (see link above in post) may just have a very good grip on this and this may possibly be the best BALANCED solution I have seen yet.

    His Point #3 answers balancing the hotdrop mechanic rather nicely I think, and I quote:

    “When a vessel uncloaks, there's a delay in being able to fire off a cyno for approx 15 to 30 seconds (possibly 42), depending on balancing. This prevents abuse of the hot drop mechanic by allowing the aware an opportunity to act on the fact that there's a vessel uncloaking nearby.”

    I do feel the delay should be a bit longer as Indies, Hulks etc. take considerably longer to align than 40 seconds… but I can agree you do want to cut it close so it is balanced for both aggressor and defender.

    There is much to ponder here…

  5. Yep - I can confirm that afk cloakies in 0.0 are very annoying. Something does need to be done, but I'm more of the school of a module to hunt them. I like the idea of something that maybe puts out a "sonar" pulse on the whole grid that then gives you details like rough direction and distance.

    This means that a cloaky can't just sit 200km out not moving, and if they're closer (e.g. 50km) orbitting something then they're much more likely to get caught as the pulse would be more accurate the closer you get.

    Doesn't solve the issue of somebody sitting off grid and using dscan, but then you'd need to look at maybe a corresponding pos module that could give you a location of cloakies to within 0.5 AU or something?

    IDK, ramblings, but I agree, there needs to be a reaction to the action.

  6. That's basically it... no matter the details of the balancing mechanic, I feel there needs to be a "reaction" to the "action"... well put. =]

  7. Got a lot of good ideas from this post, and I hope you don't mind I borrowed your cloaky Loki pic (with attribution and a link). Please check it out and comment!

  8. The only problem with the "AFK cloaky" "issue" is that while cloaked the only thing you can do other than move around is work probes and D-scan, make bookmarks, light a COVERT cyno, and watch people. The problem people have is the possibility of hotdropping some ridiculously huge uber fleet, yet it is impossible for a cloaked pilot to light a regular cyno, has to decloak and then light the cyno. What is the problem? If you're in null and you're not aligned just because then you fail at null because the time it takes to decloak then start the cyno is plenty of time to hit warp, unless it's a blops fleet but almost nobody cares about getting hotdropped by SB, that's what they're for. Bottom line, the cloaked neut in local more often in not isn't AFK, they are scouting, and even if they are just waiting for a target to hot drop, it won't be the uber fleet of titans that you all make it out to be without the pilot decloaking and being spotted, oh and it seems a little extreme to think that a couple PvEbears would get dropped by a titan, just saying that there needs to be a little common sense applied.

    1. LOL never said ONE word about Titans bro... not one. I love when the AFK Cloakers climb outta the crevices and defend their outta balance playstyle.

      I spent enough time in null to know this is a tactic. Yes, some of the time they are scouting, but as often they are simply using it as a Financial Interdiction tactic, cause no one is gonna have a mining fleet out there at risk of a hot drop, and that's what AFK Cloakers are for... To cause players to dock up due to the risk of a Hot Drop... and to spot targets of opportunity, setup BMs and light cynos for the drop fleet.

      It is not what you can DO while cloaked that is the issue... it is what having an enemy INSIDE your defenses does that matters. And I LOVE how all of you ignore that completely.


I have opened my blog to Anonymous Users... I hope I will not come to regret this. Please identify yourself when posting and read my Blog Disclaimer and Comment Policy.

All posts on my blog are moderated by me. I will post em as soon as I see um...