Cloaking progression question

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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Wed 11 Apr 2018 13:39

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.


I'd assume for one that range would be very limited, only on tactical levels. Further I'd be concerned what you can do with this tech... can you modify enemy drive fields to force them through WPs? Defeat EM? Block detuning? Slip missiles past the DF?
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Fri 13 Apr 2018 00:21

Whitecold wrote:
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.


I'd assume for one that range would be very limited, only on tactical levels.


Absolutely true. I would imagine it would be most useful for manipulating combat sensor ranges, or maybe even short sensor range. Depending upon the need. If the system is large enough then it will only be used where absolutely necessary.

Further I'd be concerned what you can do with this tech... can you modify enemy drive fields to force them through WPs? Defeat EM? Block detuning? Slip missiles past the DF?


If you mean "can we come up with future tech to do any of this using the concept of a weapon that causes changes in the target drive-field?" ... the answer is: maybe. If you think about it, Tractor Beams already affect changes to enemy drive-fields, so there is precedence.

But I can promise that forcing an enemy through a WP or "slipping" anything past a DF is not going to happen. The rest, if we allow it, would be a much higher SL. Certainly past SL 20.

But to describe the technology that Procyon proposed. To come up with an analogy, think of this as someone throwing mud on the windshield of your car. It doesn't force you to go anywhere, it doesn't stop you from driving anywhere, or at any speed... it just makes sure you can't see very well while your doing it.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Dawn Falcon on Mon 16 Apr 2018 10:47

Hmm... shining a "light" on an the enemy, blinding it, might be a micromanagement hell thing, but how about a "remote cloak" ("shadow maker") module which affected friendly units? It'd be a version of your Battle Cloak, Cralis, bigger and with a lower tactical turn limit.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Mon 16 Apr 2018 12:33

I still feel turn based solutions give you the worst of both worlds. All the record keeping without any of the randomness. Detect on rolling a 1 is much neater than the cloak works for 10 turns. You don't need to keep track of all the previous results, just which units have been detected.
Also, any cloak only has a finite efficiency. Any cloak that is 'turned on' is much easier to defeat if you tracked them beforehand, so I'd very much like to encourage cloaks being always on, and not have to worry when exactly to turn them on, and what the effect is if you turn on cloaks when already detected. I'd keep it as 'detected units stay detected, until they move out of range'

I am not very fond of the idea of a 'friendly' remote cloak. It seems to make cloaking too much like an easy add on. I feel for cloaking one should take a holistic approach: If a ship is designed to cloak, that should be its primary design consideration, everything else comes afterwards.
Maybe cloak should not be a system; one could implement it as a hull type instead. This would naturally allow increasing cost for large ships, as hulls cost per HS, and it would also naturally allow for a cap on size. Fast hulls only unlock 1 EL after regular variants; cloak hulls could come some EL later.

I think the short duration obfuscation device is much better handled by EDM, or some other decoys/flares/jamming system.
An internal EDM launcher could provide a defense buff limited by ammo available, and to my knowledge nothing fundamentally prohibits such a system.

Another note on Jammers, I personally would not prohibit targeting of other units but the jammer, but simply apply a targeting malus to them. -2 to hit strongly encourages to take out the jammer first, but if you absolutely decide you need to take out a ship, you still can. Also, SRW are not suddenly turned useless if the jamming ship is out of SRW range, but other enemies are not, which I feel would be way too strong against SRW ships, especially since they are less likely to mount datalink.


Also, what is the lore explanation for LOD reducing sensor ranges? I am just curious as it runs pretty much contrary to my intuition of how sensors, fields and noise interact.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Mon 16 Apr 2018 14:35

Dawn Falcon wrote:Hmm... shining a "light" on an the enemy, blinding it, might be a micromanagement hell thing,


That's the point I brought up. If the system(s) is small and easy to use they will be deployed on lots of ships and used everywhere. This would bring about the micromanagapocalypse you (and I) fear. However, if the system(s) is large and has lots of restrictions then it may not have enough value except in very limited circumstances. We would need to tread on a very narrow path to avoid both pitfalls.

but how about a "remote cloak" ("shadow maker") module which affected friendly units? It'd be a version of your Battle Cloak, Cralis, bigger and with a lower tactical turn limit.


The ability to cloak other units is already on the futuretech list. It would only be able to cloak smaller units (at first), but I envisioned it being used to protect SRW units or squadrons. Using the battlecloak is an interesting idea (that I hadn't considered yet), and actually makes more sense...

Whitecold wrote:I still feel turn based solutions give you the worst of both worlds. All the record keeping without any of the randomness. Detect on rolling a 1 is much neater than the cloak works for 10 turns. You don't need to keep track of all the previous results, just which units have been detected.


These two concepts are not mutually exclusive. The idea behind earlier versions of CLK having a limited time would be an energy issue whether because the unit runs out of power or reaches a critical point in holding in emissions that it threatens to overload and damage the unit.

Also, any cloak only has a finite efficiency. Any cloak that is 'turned on' is much easier to defeat if you tracked them beforehand, so I'd very much like to encourage cloaks being always on, and not have to worry when exactly to turn them on, and what the effect is if you turn on cloaks when already detected. I'd keep it as 'detected units stay detected, until they move out of range'


For strategic movement you have a good point. Especially because we abstract movement, such a cloak would be much easier to use effectively if you didn't have to worry about when to turn it on or off.

The battle cloak is a little different imho. This is where the real cat and mouse gameplay will occur. The rules for CLK already address the P detection issue. But if cloaks have a time limit and we are using variable detection chances then when you turn on your cloak couldbe very important.

I am not very fond of the idea of a 'friendly' remote cloak. It seems to make cloaking too much like an easy add on. I feel for cloaking one should take a holistic approach: If a ship is designed to cloak, that should be its primary design consideration, everything else comes afterwards.
Maybe cloak should not be a system; one could implement it as a hull type instead. This would naturally allow increasing cost for large ships, as hulls cost per HS, and it would also naturally allow for a cap on size. Fast hulls only unlock 1 EL after regular variants; cloak hulls could come some EL later.


It has been suggested to change Stealth Tuners into a hull type. And it does make sense. CLK creates a field around the whole unit and it's DF so it makes more sense as a system like ? or ?d. But it is something that I will consider carefully.

I think the short duration obfuscation device is much better handled by EDM, or some other decoys/flares/jamming system.
An internal EDM launcher could provide a defense buff limited by ammo available, and to my knowledge nothing fundamentally prohibits such a system.


At the power levels we are talking about, and given that it has to place the whole ship into a reflective bubble, I'm not sure a munition or even a small craft could do this at any SL we would consider reasonable.

Another note on Jammers, I personally would not prohibit targeting of other units but the jammer, but simply apply a targeting malus to them. -2 to hit strongly encourages to take out the jammer first, but if you absolutely decide you need to take out a ship, you still can. Also, SRW are not suddenly turned useless if the jamming ship is out of SRW range, but other enemies are not, which I feel would be way too strong against SRW ships, especially since they are less likely to mount datalink.


All good points to consider.

Also, what is the lore explanation for LOD reducing sensor ranges? I am just curious as it runs pretty much contrary to my intuition of how sensors, fields and noise interact.


All energy that reaches the sensors passes through the DF first. The technical explanation for LOD includes distortions in the DF that serve to reduce the emissions going out of the DF. Those same distortions will also affect energy coming into the DF. It is this distortion and attenuation that causes sensor effectiveness to drop while using LOD.

A very similar affect occurs with detuning
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Mon 16 Apr 2018 15:24

Cralis wrote:The battle cloak is a little different imho. This is where the real cat and mouse gameplay will occur. The rules for CLK already address the P detection issue. But if cloaks have a time limit and we are using variable detection chances then when you turn on your cloak couldbe very important.

I am not convinced. You have to guess how big his best T detection range is. (Likely Yc with CNC bonus) If you guessed wrong, or you forgot to take CNC into account, he has tagged you with T already, and the cloak does nothing anymore. Going out to turn on cloak and coming back in is most likely infeasible.

At the power levels we are talking about, and given that it has to place the whole ship into a reflective bubble, I'm not sure a munition or even a small craft could do this at any SL we would consider reasonable.

I am not suggesting to put CLK into a drone. I suggest making EDM more useable, by allowing ships to carry them in internal magazines.
Overall the "battle cloak" feels to me like something that is much easier achieved with decoys and active electronic countermeasures. You are not truly trying to hide, you just want to prevent a sensor lock. Producing false targets does that, and EDM is basically a decoy. Only currently only large ships can afford to carry them, and they are very vulnerable out there on XO racks.
An EDM launcher (carries 10 EDM internally, more can be stuffed into Mg's) would make ships more survivable as long as the EDM supply lasts. To balance it, EDM could be required to be preventativly launched, instead of only being required once a target is picked. To make the launcher appealing on small units, the EDMs could be made smaller, and large units required to expend more of them for the same effect.
It is a completely different technology, but I believe the tactical result would be similar.
The suggested jammer would give you another ECM option, which also sounds like a simpler technology than the suggested battle cloak.
Overall it sounds like an overcomplicated technological solution to a tactical problem that should have easier solutions. A 1 HS Mg can hold 15 4 MSP EDMs, which probably is enough to fire one each round for an entire fight.

All energy that reaches the sensors passes through the DF first. The technical explanation for LOD includes distortions in the DF that serve to reduce the emissions going out of the DF. Those same distortions will also affect energy coming into the DF. It is this distortion and attenuation that causes sensor effectiveness to drop while using LOD.

A very similar affect occurs with detuning

I have to say I'd very much more imagine the DF itself being what is detected on long range sensors, and the DF strength being lowered for lower detection chance, which would lead to the inverse effect.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Cralis on Tue 17 Apr 2018 00:12

Whitecold wrote:
Cralis wrote:The battle cloak is a little different imho. This is where the real cat and mouse gameplay will occur. The rules for CLK already address the P detection issue. But if cloaks have a time limit and we are using variable detection chances then when you turn on your cloak couldbe very important.

I am not convinced. You have to guess how big his best T detection range is. (Likely Yc with CNC bonus) If you guessed wrong, or you forgot to take CNC into account, he has tagged you with T already, and the cloak does nothing anymore. Going out to turn on cloak and coming back in is most likely infeasible.


You have an issue with trying to guess your opponent's T detection range? And yet you want to have a "detection chance" where the best you can do is guess what he might have rolled to detect you? At least the T detection ranges are listed on a table as hard values.

Either way, we haven't decided on anything firm for CLK and related technologies yet.

At the power levels we are talking about, and given that it has to place the whole ship into a reflective bubble, I'm not sure a munition or even a small craft could do this at any SL we would consider reasonable.

I am not suggesting to put CLK into a drone. I suggest making EDM more useable, by allowing ships to carry them in internal magazines.


Ah ok. I read your statement as wanting CLK-like abilities imparted by an EDM, which is even smaller than a drone. Right now we haven't decided when EDM should become internally launched. Maybe sometime have Rh/Pth/Kh? Not sure yet.

Overall the "battle cloak" feels to me like something that is much easier achieved with decoys and active electronic countermeasures. You are not truly trying to hide, you just want to prevent a sensor lock. Producing false targets does that, and EDM is basically a decoy. Only currently only large ships can afford to carry them, and they are very vulnerable out there on XO racks.


In Solar Starfire, the EDM is only a "sorta" decoy. It doesn't lead incoming guided munitions away from their target as much as it orbits very closely to the unit that it is protecting, using it's own DF to make the target's DF appear erratic. The incoming munition has a more difficult time predicting the boundary of the target DF and either detonates too early or too late and crashes into the DF (destroying the munition).

The emissions from the DF are so powerful that electronic countermeasures are essentially ineffective. It would be like trying to divert a heatseeking missile from the exhaust heat of a jet engine by using a blowtorch. It's just not comparable. That's why you don't see "ECM" or "ECCM" anywhere in the rules.

Yes we could probably do more to make DF-down targets easier to hide or maybe introduce ECM or ECCM for LEL targets (it HAS been discussed), but for simplicity (and the fact that it would last a very short period of time) we haven't justified the time to make those rules. And we are presuming that the easier targeting solutions for LEL targets equalizes with the fact that they are harder to detect on sensors.

An EDM launcher (carries 10 EDM internally, more can be stuffed into Mg's) would make ships more survivable as long as the EDM supply lasts. To balance it, EDM could be required to be preventativly launched, instead of only being required once a target is picked. To make the launcher appealing on small units, the EDMs could be made smaller, and large units required to expend more of them for the same effect.


A separate EDM launcher? Historically (in previous versions of Starfire) the EDM was launched from missile launchers (although we could easily say there is a Pt version). I'm not sure we'd want to have a separate launcher. When we have internal EDM, they will be launched from existing launchers, but only capital or heavy versions.

It is a completely different technology, but I believe the tactical result would be similar.

The suggested jammer would give you another ECM option, which also sounds like a simpler technology than the suggested battle cloak.


Not ECM per se, but I would agree with your assessment.

Overall it sounds like an overcomplicated technological solution to a tactical problem that should have easier solutions. A 1 HS Mg can hold 15 4 MSP EDMs, which probably is enough to fire one each round for an entire fight.


This is a confusing statement to me. You say "a tactical problem" but we've discussed a number of tactical decisions that a player will face in a given battle. If you are talking about survivability in an LRW fight then the "jammer" would be a completely different solution than EDM, with different tactical advantages and disadvantages.

All energy that reaches the sensors passes through the DF first. The technical explanation for LOD includes distortions in the DF that serve to reduce the emissions going out of the DF. Those same distortions will also affect energy coming into the DF. It is this distortion and attenuation that causes sensor effectiveness to drop while using LOD.

A very similar affect occurs with detuning


I have to say I'd very much more imagine the DF itself being what is detected on long range sensors, and the DF strength being lowered for lower detection chance, which would lead to the inverse effect.


You are correct in that the DF is creating the emissions your sensors detect. DFs don't have a lot of variance in their emissions and strengths, which is why your units can tell the difference between the sizes of an enemy unit long before they can actually scan that unit to determine the characteristics of the actual hull.

To detect that enemy DF your unit(s) have to "hear" the energy emissions from the enemy DF. LOD, CLK, etc. all work by altering or capturing those emissions to reduce the overall apparent strength, but they don't reduce the actual emissions of the DF. Thus the limitations created by the work-arounds.
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Re: Cloaking progression question

Postby Whitecold on Tue 17 Apr 2018 23:59

Cralis wrote:You have an issue with trying to guess your opponent's T detection range? And yet you want to have a "detection chance" where the best you can do is guess what he might have rolled to detect you? At least the T detection ranges are listed on a table as hard values.

combat range of Ycb+CNCb outranges Rca by 9tH. Thus you might well start a tactical battle inside combat range of enemy sensors, which means they are turned on from the start. I just don't see any engaging play in determining the start of the cloaking, and because everyone can look up the range table, everyone should reliably turn on their cloak. And imagine the few cases where it does not happen it is likely because someone did not read the rulebook front to back, and did not see the bonus of CNC or something similar. 'This cloak is only effetive up to x turns at combat range' would give you almost always the same result, and in the few cases it doesn't, avoid player frustration of expensive systems being useless. (If you mess up the range with one ship, likely ALL your cloaked ships ventured too deep)


Ah ok. I read your statement as wanting CLK-like abilities imparted by an EDM, which is even smaller than a drone. Right now we haven't decided when EDM should become internally launched. Maybe sometime have Rh/Pth/Kh? Not sure yet.

A separate EDM launcher? Historically (in previous versions of Starfire) the EDM was launched from missile launchers (although we could easily say there is a Pt version). I'm not sure we'd want to have a separate launcher. When we have internal EDM, they will be launched from existing launchers, but only capital or heavy versions.

At EL6 we have (BL) available, and capital launchers, so I don't see what prevents you from building a dedicated EDM launcher at this point. Yes, it likely will be bulky, and unsuitable for smaller units, but a BB may well decide 6 HS are worth protecting their EDM into the battle.
Introducing it launched from capital weapons at that point is probably too early, as it will make them a staple in any fight. With a dedicated launcher at first, you require units to sacrifice HS for it, which makes it a tradeoff you have to consider.
Also, pure K fleets can get their own internal EDM.
Not ECM per se, but I would agree with your assessment.

I guess ECM is not the proper term. Softkill systems should catch all without inferring anything about the underlying technology.

This is a confusing statement to me. You say "a tactical problem" but we've discussed a number of tactical decisions that a player will face in a given battle. If you are talking about survivability in an LRW fight then the "jammer" would be a completely different solution than EDM, with different tactical advantages and disadvantages.

Yes, they hopefully stay different. What I am saying that other technologies can be more naturally extended to take on the tactical role of the battle cloak, for example an advanced EDM could be distributed to friendly units seems much mure feasible than a cloak for friendly units, or alternatively you could start building bigger, more capable decoys.
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