AI War - Cloaking
How Does Cloaking Work?
A: There are two states of cloaking:
- Fully Cloaked (ship is invisible, and unshootable except by the very rare "Counter Spy" ship that AI players sometimes have).
- Decloaked (same as any other ship without cloaking).
Note: In versions 4.021 and prior, there as a "partially cloaked" state where a lilac halo is all that shows for the ship, so players can't tell what kind of ship it is, but they can still shoot at it. Tachyon beams caused this partial cloaking state instead of the decloaked state, but this was removed because it was overly complex and didn't really accomplish much.
When a cloaked ship fires its weapons, it will have to decloak for around 8 seconds after its last fired shot. When a cloaked ship is tagged by a tachyon beam emitter, it will become decloaked cloaked for around 15 seconds.
The main benefit of cloaking is of course the surprise factor, but it is also an excellent way for ships to slip past otherwise very-difficult defenses. Even ion cannons can't fire at fully-cloaked ships. This makes cloaked ships great for deep raids, or gate-raids on planets that are otherwise troublesome. All scouts also have cloaking, which is useful for helping them to slip past enemy defenses.
Of course, the enemy will very commonly have tachyon beam emitters in place at key junctions, so this makes your job harder. To properly defend your own wormholes if the AI is using cloaked ships, you'll also want to include some sort of tachyon beam emitters at your wormholes. Otherwise your tractor beams and turrets are pretty useless, since they can't see the enemy ships to grab/shoot them.
How Do I Prevent My Cloaked Ships From Auto-Attacking Enemies?
A: Normally cloaked ships will open fire on enemies just like any other of your ships -- unfortunately, this has the side effect of making them visible, since they cannot fire while cloaked. During normal battle this is acceptable, but if you are trying to slip cloaked ships past enemy defenses this can be disastrous. To prevent cloaked ships (or any other ships, for that matter) from opening fire, put them into low-power mode. You can do this by selecting them and clicking the Low Power button, or hitting the K key. When you are ready for them to open fire, having gotten into range of their target, just take them back out of low-power mode and watch the mayhem.
How Do Cloaking Boosters Work?
A: Mark I through III scouts have a "cloaking booster" ability, which lets them work better in groups. When scouts are traveling in groups, some of them will boost the cloaks of the others, which protects the boosted scouts from being revealed by tachyon beam emitters. The scouts doing the boosting cannot themselves be boosted, which means that some of the scouts are likely to be picked off or at least damaged at every tachyon beam emitter that is passed. Higher-level scouts can boost multiple ships at once, and also have a bigger boost range.
In short, this lets some of the scouts in a group provide "perfect" protection to other members of that group, taking all the incoming shots on themselves until they are destroyed (at which time other members of the group start protecting each other). This prevents all scouts from being destroyed at once when passing through highly-defended planets or wormholes.
What is a Cloaking SuperBooster? How does that work?
A: The Cloaking SuperBooster is something only Cloaker starships have. This ability allows nearby units to be cloaked, regardless of their lack of innate cloaking ability. These are always available with a knowledge unlock (if you have the Zenith Remnant expansion enabled). Thus, you can use them in any game to launch cloaked attacks on the AI, or to move around things undetected. Also, units under a Cloaking SuperBoost are considered cloaking boosted, thus only the Cloaker Starship itself will be tagged by tachyon emitters. They are fragile though, so best to bring multiple, or destroy tachyons before attempting this.