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Cloaking, in Eve Online, is the ability to remove yourself from other people’s visual and scanning systems, i.e. makes you invisible.  The ability to cloak is used exclusively in PVP related formats, either for intel gathering, or for first strike capacity, and also for surprise attack.  It also is used to escape such PVP dilemmas.

The Modules in Question

Currently, Eve Online has three Cloaking Modules that are in common use:

  • Prototype Cloaking Device I – A Tech 1 module that uses 30 CPU, and 1 MW power.  Upon activation, your ship speed is reduced by 90%.  Upon disactivation, you have to wait 30 seconds before you can target anything.
  • Improved Cloaking Device II – A Tech 2 module that is an improvement over the Prototype.  This unit uses 60 CPU, but only reduces your speed by 75% when active.  When the Improved Cloaking Device deactivates, you only have to wait 20 seconds before you can target another ship.
  • Covert Ops Cloaking Device II – This Tech 2 module can only be used by certain ships, such as Covert Ops frigates, Stealth Bombers, a some Recons.  It has no reduction in speed and has only a 10 second wait before you can start targeting.

All of these have some additional weakness.  For example, if you come within 2000 meters of another ship, it will decloak you.  Another is that if you are actively targeted, you cannot cloak at all.

The Issue that Divides Them

However, all three have one very nice advantage.  They can stay on indefinately.  They drain no power or fuel of any type whatsoever.  Thus, it has become a common practice for some enemy pilots to park their ship in system, cloak up, and go afk for hours at a time (or so one would think – there isn’t anything saying they can’t).  This usually disrupts operations going on in systems and definately slows down isk profitability.. and thus.. the drama is caused.

If you have ever dealt with this issue, you know that there are two sides.. and only two sides to this issue.  For some clarity on that, here are some very recent threads on the subject: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=110852 and https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=102191&find=unread just to name a very, very, very few threads that crop up out of anger and frustration.  Just for clarity, here are the two groups:

  1. The “Its Not Broken, Don’t Fix It” Group is usually made up of pirates or pirate like characters who essentially don’t want to have to try and find a new way to gank others.  Mixed in there are the ones who actually use it for strategic purposes and those generally have a pretty articulate argument that revolves around how easily it is to decloak a bomber, or how weak a bomber is in the first place.
  2. The second group, or the “Whaaaa!  You are disrupting my Bot Mining Operations” Group tend to be industrialists, mission runners, and ratters.. the majority of which just simply want to do their own thing and not be bothered anywhere (including in WHs, null-sec, and while avoiding wardecs) by this silly thing called PVP.  Imagine the audacity!  Mixed in with that group are some who see the AFK cloaking as too powerful of a mechanic because there is no way to counter it.

Myself, I have been on both sides of this issue.  Ursha’Khan, back during the days of Provi 1.0, used this almost exclusively to disrupt isk making operations.  While I didn’t care for it, the reasons behind it are legitimate.. it was to disrupt our ability to make isk for replacing our losses.  I used this tactic myself to gather intel in far off null-sec systems when we were wardeced by various alliances, so it was a useful tactic for me.

All in all though, I do find that I tend to side with the second group.  Mainly this is because I don’t think a module as powerful as a cloaking device should operate without limitations.  And once it is active, unless you are a complete imbecile or unlucky, there is no way someone is going find you.  No other module in the game acts that way.  Even the small Damage Control units have to use some cap every few seconds to keep active.  All active sensor modules, all active shield modules, all active armor modules, all E-War modules, all weapon modules require either power, or fuel, or ammunition, or a combination of them to remain active and working.  Cloaking Devices don’t have any limitations in their use, and in that respect, I think they are overpowered.

So, what have been more common ideas that have been put forth to deal with this?

Fixes and Wishes

The first, and probably most popular, is having a “Fuel Requirement”.  Basically said, the pilot would have to have some sort of fuel (predictably ice products) that would burn off while in use.  I like the fuel idea, but I can see where it really hampers long range recon when you got to fly through system after system of enemy territory.  It also would degrade their combat effectiveness when used in conjuction with Black Ops fleets.  Though, to what extent would depend highly on the how much fuel is consumed during use.

The second most common is actually one that seems to have some traction with CCP, and that is to have special Cloaky Hunter ships.  To me, this was what the Electronic Attack Frigates should have been used for.  They are currently useless and often the E-war they are paired with make them just quick and easy kills.  I like this idea, but it doesn’t really “fix” the overpoweredness of Cloaking Modules, and I’m not even sure how effective they would really be in actual use.

Personally, I’m in favor of just having the cloaking device use capacitor.  I think that on a full capacitor, using base skills, with no mods, that a Stealth Bomber or Covert Ops should be able to stay cloaked for about an hour.  This would cut down on lazy AFK cloaking, while those actively trying to get intel could make a distance safespot, warp to it when their time is almost up.  uncloak for a few minutes, then go back again.  Long distance ops can still work because you are operating with the same payload and you don’t need a “fuel” to keep you going.

We’ll have to see, I guess.  From what I understand, even the CSM isn’t very cohesive on this issue and we’re probably not likely going to see anything simple come out of CCP.. not when they could show off their art skills with new ships and modules.  So, in the meantime, go read the drama that fills the forums on this issue..  Or better yet, do some trolling of your own.  Just tell’em, Orakkus sent ya.