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Duration: 1 hour depending on questions
Being invisible happens every time you jump through a stargate (or a wormhole). You can do it actively yourself by training for, buying and fitting a cloaking device. Cloaking isn't simple, and is easy to get wrong.
- How do I become invisible?
- What does it mean to be cloaked?
- Three (or more) different cloak devices
- Penalties to being cloaked
- Tips on how to not screw up being invisible
- Mumble registration and access - make sure you have Mumble sorted out and operational well before the class begins. Use this guide for set-up: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Mumble
- Access to the Class.E-UNI in-game chat channel
Additional information: The class will be a lecture with a Q&A afterwards.
Notes for the Teacher
- Class.E-UNI chat channel, to receive questions and post relevant links
- This wiki page
- The class slideshow: http://eveuni.org/cloaking101 or http://gdurl.com/Cgvk/viewer. Note the slideshow does not include every single piece of information on this wiki page - it is meant as a complement to listening to the class, not a replacement.
- Someone to link modules & skills for you during the class
If you notice any errors on the slideshow, or out-to-date information, or have an idea about something that should be added, please forum-PM Kivena.
This class is all about flying invisible ships. How to make your ship invisible, what exactly happens when it is invisible, and all the drawbacks you suffer whilst invisible. We'll also go over some common tips and tricks for cloaky people.
Cloaking is actually a very common thing in EVE, you do it every time you jump through a stargate. Cloaking Devices are not too difficult to train for or to fit, so you can fit one on any ship fairly easily. Actually using it effectively and benefitting from it - that is a bit more difficult.
This is a fairly short class that should last about 45 minutes with some time after for any questions you may have about the use of cloaking devices. There's a slideshow that goes with it that I'll link in Class.E-UNI.
Feel free to type any questions in the Class.E-UNI chat channel as we proceed - I will try to answer your questions as they come during the class.
The Gate Cloak
The first thing we'll cover is the cloaking everybody does whenever they jump through a stargate or a wormhole.
When you jump through a stargate, you can see the stargate flash as you leave the system. After a few seconds, you will load the system and the grid on the other side of the gate, and this stargate will flash as you arrive. When you arrive, you are cloaked.
If you zoom the camera into your ship you can see that your ship is invisible, and you can only see a translucent outline. Although you are in the system - you are in the Local channel list, assuming this is not wormhole space - you do not appear in space, you do not appear on anyone's overview, you cannot be seen on the directional scanner, and you cannot be found with combat probes. This invisibility lasts for 60 seconds, after which you will immediately appear (and your ship will seem to slowly become visible).
It's worth pointing out now that the animation of your ship that occurs when you decloak starts at the moment you actually become fully decloaked. In practice it's not a gradual thing. Similarly when you cloak, the same animation starts at the moment you actually become fully cloaked. Becoming cloaked is not a gradual effect.
In addition to all this, for the full 1 minute duration of the gate cloak, you are effectively invulnerable. You cannot be hit with any area-of-effect attacks, and you cannot be decloaked by people coming too close to you (we'll cover how decloaking works normally a bit later in the class).
This invulnerable gate cloak gives you one minute to assess the situation in this system before you are able to be found. If you jumped into a huge flashy gate camp, don't panic right away - you have 1 minute to think about what to do!
Something relevant to this is the initial 30 second invulnerability timer when you undock from a station. Although in this situation you are not cloaked, you cannot be damaged or targeted by anything until those 30 seconds have passed - or unless you intentionally break the timer early by activating modules or warping/aligning/orbiting or targeting something. You can ctrl+space to stop your ship and still be invulnerable.
The Active Cloak
To become invisible without having to jump through a gate or wormhole every time, requires the use of a cloaking device. A cloaking device is a high-slot module that can be found in the Electronics section of the market. It uses 1 MW of powergrid, and quite a lot more CPU - between 30 to 100 usually, depending on the ship and the module itself.
To be able to fit a cloaking device requires one skill, called Cloaking (link skill in class). This is actually quite an easy skill to train, as it a only has CPU Management IV as a prerequisite. This means cloaking is fairly easily doable even by complete newbros (as long as they can afford the 3.5 million ISK skillbook cost). It is also a rank 6 skill, so it can take quite a while to train. You only need level 1 to be able to fit the simplest cloaking device.
You can fit two cloaks on a ship, but there's no point because when you try to activate either one of them, this happens: (link in chat) i.imgur.com/fJplP.png
Once your cloaking device is fitted, you simply hit it once for instant invisibility. It has no cycle time, and it does not require capacitor to run. It will last indefinitely, until one of the following happens: either (a) you hit it again to deactivate the cloak, or (b) you get within 2000m of any object, which automatically decloaks you.
There are some situations in which you cannot activate your cloak.
If you are already within 2000m of any object, even if it's not on your overview, you get an error message. Very few people have corpses (listed as biomass on the settings) on their overview, for example, and they will stop you cloaking. It can be useful to have an overview tab that shows absolutely everything in space, which you can switch to if you are paranoid about being decloaked.
If anybody, be they player or NPC, is yellow-boxing or red-boxing you - that is to say, they have you targeted - you cannot cloak. In addition, if someone is targeting you with a Passive Targeter module active - which means they can target you without you seeing any yellow boxes - then you cannot cloak up.
If you are already cloaked, you cannot cloak. This becomes an issue when you have just jumped through a stargate or wormhole, and still have the gate cloak. You need to decloak before you can activate your own cloak.
What happens when you are cloaked?
When you activate your cloaking device, you effectively disappear from space entirely. It is not possible to find you without resorting to bumping into you or setting off area-of-effect weapons in close proximity, and for both of these the enemy needs a good idea of where you are already. If they see you cloak up not too far away (for instance if you just jumped through a gate into their gate camp), then all they need is a fast ship and some skill (and perhaps some luck), and decloaking you is not too difficult. This is why the moments immediately after you cloak up can be the most dangerous. Once you've cloaked up and moved away from your cloak position, unless you do something very silly you are effectively impossible to find.
If anyone was attempting to target you when you cloaked up, they will fail. Sometimes they receive the failure message before you disappear from their overview. The same message displays if you are trying to target something when it jumps out of system or is destroyed.
Cloaking does not remove you from the Local channel list. If you see someone in the local channel, and you've checked all the stations, d-scanned everything, combat-probed everything and still drawn a blank, you can bet he's cloaked up somewhere. Wormhole-space, on the other hand, doesn't have a local channel list at any time. You only appear in local if you talk in it. If you are cloaked up in wormhole-space, there's a good chance nobody knows you are there. Cloaking is very powerful when you live in wormhole-space.
Just as you were unable to cloak if an object is within 2000m of you; if there is an object within 2000m when you are cloaked, it will decloak you. You will not get a message about this, the only thing that will happen is that your cloaking device will stop pulsing green. It's very easy to not realise you are uncloaked.
Other cloaked ships will not decloak you. You can have a fleet of 30 stealth bombers all cloaked up together, for example. Of course if they are within 2000m of each other, as soon as one decloaks for any reason, they all will.
Whilst cloaked you cannot jump through gates or wormholes, and you cannot dock - you have to decloak before you can do all those things. You can however give Dock and Jump commands from range - and your ship will warp to the target as you would expect. Normally what happens is that the gate or the station then automatically decloaks you when you arrive - because you are within 2000m of it - which then means your ship can dock or jump. I'll talk more about this in the cloaking tips section towards the end.
Whilst you are cloaked you cannot activate any modules at all. Any modules that are cycling when you cloak up, will automatically deactivate at the end of their cycle - even if you decloak before they come to the end of their cycle. However, you can activate modules in the first 5 seconds after you activated your cloaking device. This can be useful for propulsion modules especially.
If you have trained thermodynamics, you can't pre-overheat modules while cloaked. But you can use the sensor recalibration delay time to pre-overheat stuff. I'll tell you what that is in a bit.
You cannot target-lock anything whilst cloaked.
Being invisible does not make you invulnerable. You can still be hit by bombs, smartbombs, ECM bursts and similar area-of-effect modules.
Different types of cloak
There are three primary types of cloak, along with a small number of faction and officer versions.
You can find cloaks in the Electronics and Sensor Upgrades section of the market. The Prototype and Improved Cloaking Devices are essentially Tech 1 and Tech 2 cloaks. The Prototype requires the Cloaking skill at level one, whereas the Improved requires Cloaking at level three. The Improved Cloak also requires twice as much CPU. These have no fitting restrictions and can be fitted to any ship.
The third type of cloak is the Covert Ops Cloaking Device. As the description explains, this is a very specialised piece of technology. It is designed for use with specific ships only and requires the Cloaking skill at level four.
You can only fit the CovOps cloak on covops frigates, stealth bombers, force recon cruisers, blockade runner industrials, and strategic cruisers - Tech 3 ships - with the Covert Reconfiguration subsystem. (link all these in chat, including a T3 & Covert Subsystem). There are four versions of these ships, one for each race.
If you look at the descriptions for each of these ships, you can see that they all provide bonuses to CPU usage. With the stealth bomber and the Tech 3 strategic cruiser, this is a role bonus, which means it is a fixed bonus. In the case of the Tech 3, that bonus is 100% reduction, so your CovOps cloak actually requires no CPU at all. The stealth bomber provides a 50% CPU reduction, so the CovOps cloak requires only 50 CPU. The other ships all have a ship bonus to CPU requirement, so the more you train up the relevant ship skill, the less CPU your cloak requires. The difference between having the relevant ship skill at one and having it at five can be huge. This is least noticeable with blockade runner transports, and most noticeable with the Force Recon ships.
You can fly most blockade runners just fine with the Transport Ships skill at only level one, although your tank will suffer. However if you have Recon Ships at only level one, your CovOps cloak will need 400 CPU. You will not be able to fit any Force Recon Ship properly when your cloak takes up over 3/4 of your CPU. Some of the best Force Recon fits are only possible with the Recon Ship skill at level five.
Now, all cloaking devices have certain drawbacks when fitted, that will prevent you doing some of the cool things (and by that I mean totally overpowered things) you might want to do with them...
Scan Resolution Penalty
The Prototype and Improved Cloaks have a scan resolution penalty. Your scan resolution affects how fast you can target-lock stuff. This penalty is active whether the cloak is on or off, and it is even active when the cloak is offline.
Fitting the Prototype Cloak will double your locking time, whereas the Improved Cloak increases it by a little less.
This increase in locking time means that you have much less chance of catching somebody when you de-cloak next to them. The sensor recalibration delay is a much bigger factor in this, and we'll come onto that in a minute.
The CovOps cloak does not have a scan resolution penalty.
Velocity & Warping
The one very large drawback of the Prototype and Improved cloaks, is that you cannot enter warp whilst they are active. To warp anywhere you need to de-cloak first. This restricts the use of a vessel using one of these cloaks to a fairly stationary role. For example, a picket scout on a stargate can cloak up and not need to move whilst they watches the gate. Alternatively, a wormhole salvager can fit a cloak to hide whilst they wait for damage-dealing ships to clear sleeper sites.
You can warp whilst cloaked, if you are using the CovOps cloak. Hopefully you're starting to see that the CovOps cloak is awesome.
The Prototype and Improved cloaks also have a velocity penalty, that is active only when the cloak is active. If your cloak is turned off, you can still move and warp as normal. For the Prototype cloak, this penalty is 90%, whilst the Improved cloak penalty is only 75%. This penalty restricts the movement of cloaked ships even further.
The Black Ops ship, a specialized Tech 2 battleship, has a ship bonus to cloaked velocity. In fact, when the Black Ops skill is trained to five, it moves faster whilst cloaked than when uncloaked.
CovOps cloaks do not have a velocity penalty - they move the same speed cloaked or uncloaked.
Cloak Reactivation Delay
When a cloak deactivates, for whatever reason - either manually or because you are within 2000m of an object - it starts two timers. The first of these is the Cloak Reactivation Delay.
This timer prevents you reactivating the cloak for its duration.
When you drop your own active cloak, be very sure it's something you want to do, because you will not be able to immediately re-cloak again.
This is why you never spam the cloak button when attempting to cloak up, for example after jumping through a stargate. If you accidentally hit it twice or more successfully, the first will cloak you, the second will immediately de-cloak you again, and you will be unable to re-cloak for a length of time.
This time depends on the ship and the cloak, and you can see all the possible times in the table on page 9 of the slideshow. I forgot to include blockade runners in this table, but they have the same cloak reactivation delay as most CovOps cloaked ships, 5 seconds. Five seconds is usually short enough such that only frigates will be able to target you before you can re-cloak again.
Stealth bombers have a longer delay of 15 seconds. This makes them slightly more vulnerable, as everything smaller than a battleship will be able to target you easily.
Prototype and Improved cloaks have the longest reactivation delay of 30 seconds. Although you might get away from some capital ships, everything else will be able to target you in that time.
Sensor Recalibration Delay
The sensor recalibration delay is a delay after decloaking in which you cannot target-lock anything. The time varies with ships and types of cloak, and is affected by your skill level in Cloaking. This penalty is what is reduced by faction and officer versions of cloaking devices. The table on page 10 shows all sensor recalibration delays, again I forgot to include Blockade Runners - they have the same delay as Force Recon ships.
This penalty is probably one of the biggest things to know about being cloaked - you cannot decloak and immediately point someone, unless you fly the right ship. There will always be a delay while your sensors are recalibrating until you can start to target-lock your target. As an example, remember you need your Cloaking skill at level four to fit a CovOps cloak. So in your covert ops frigate, force recon or cloaky Tech 3, you will have a sensor recalibration delay time of 6 seconds. You can decrease that by one second, to a 5 second delay if you train Cloaking to level five. That one second can make a difference between catching your target, and missing it.
Because stealth bombers have no sensor recalibration delay, they are the ship most often used as cloaky gankers. Stealth bombers are also your archetypal glass cannon ship - a lot of speed and firepower, but no tank whatsoever. Although Black Ops battleships also have no sensor recalibration delay, they are rarely used for this sort of thing because they cannot warp whilst cloaked. They are also battleships, and are thus fairly slow and ponderous.
Another way of avoiding this delay is to use either an interdictor or heavy interdictor. These are capable of launching warp disruption bubbles in nullsec and wormhole space, preventing anyone inside warping out and dragging anyone landing on grid into it. Activating these bubbles to trap people does not require that you target them first - and so they are usable the instant you decloak, without having to wait for any sensor recalibration delay.
Some cloaking tips
It's very easy to get being invisible wrong.
Firstly, the only thing that indicates that you are currently invisible is the green flashing cloak icon on your overview - - it's easy to not notice that this has stopped flashing green if you're concentrating on other things (probe scanning, alts, etc). Live in w-space long enough and you will come across covert ops ships sat near a wormhole apparently AFK having not noticed that they are uncloaked, like this: <<Removed link that was here>>.
Secondly, you need to remember that everything is out to decloak you. Stuff you can't see on your overview decloaks you, like corpses and wrecks if you neglected to add these to your "Everything" overview. Deadspace signatures are the things that your probes lock onto when you scan down wormholes, cosmic signatures, or what have you. They do not appear on your overview, and the ones next to wormholes will decloak you. You can jump through a wormhole, be out of decloak range of the wormhole but still unable to cloak because you are within 2000m of the deadspace signature associated with that wormhole. This can also sometimes happen on gates, where jumping through can place you right next to an object already in space. This is however very rare.
Pretty much the only thing that doesn't decloak you is other cloaked ships. And if they decloak themselves, they will promptly decloak you if you are close enough.
Jumping through gates
Jumping through wormholes or gates is the one time you need to be uncloaked when travelling, and thus is the most dangerous. Once you can use cloaking devices, it is a very good idea to use the (relative) safety of hisec to practice re-cloaking yourself after jumping. The technique is to activate your cloaking device about half a second after you start to move. (The EVE Voice will say "Warp Drive Active." When you hear the word "drive", hit your cloak.)
The act of aligning, or initiating a warp-to command, or double-clicking in space to start moving, breaks your cloak and you need to activate your cloak as soon as possible after this happens. If you activate your cloak too early you will receive an error message (because you are already cloaked). If that happens you can immediately try the cloaking device again to cloak up - but do not mindlessly spam the cloak button without checking whether it activates. If you do this, the moment you are able to cloak you will, but the next time you press the button you will decloak yourself again - and now you have the cloak reactivation timer that I already talked about to stop you cloaking again.
The other time you need to be uncloaked is when docking or undocking. Both of these are highly dangerous moments for invisible ships.
When docking, you will be decloaked within 2000m of the station, but to dock, you need to be within 200m/500m (I can't remember which). If you warp to the station itself you can sometimes land on grid too far out to dock instantly, and you will need to slowboat into the station whilst uncloaked to dock. As Aperture Harmonics demonstrate here, this can be dangerous: <<Removed link that was here>>. One way around this is to create insta-dock bookmarks, which are bookmarks inside the docking radius of a station that you can warp to, to make sure you are in docking range immediately. (link to insta-undock bookmarks)
Also worth noting is that when you are flying any ship with a covert ops cloak, giving a dock command won't necessarily result in you actually docking up. What usually happens is that you warp to the station, and your ship attempts to dock. Your ship is still cloaked, so that fails (you get an error message) which stops the dock command. The station itself then decloaks you. This leaves you floating in space, uncloaked for anyone to come along and have a pop at you, which is what happened here: <<Removed link that was here>>.
Undocking is probably slighty more dangerous, because most stations will undock you well within the zero radius, making you unable to cloak. The time taken for you to align out, warp out and only then be able to cloak is quite enough time for someone to catch you. The best way around this is to simply not dock in the first place. The second best way to avoid this problem is to make insta-undock bookmarks. These are bookmarks in line with the undock vector - because when you undock you are moving at full speed in a certain direction, warping in that direction should be instantaneous.
Finally look out for smartbombing battleships on gates (anyone been through Rancer recently? They love using them). Although cloaking makes you invisible, it does not make you invincible.
This is something that is worth mastering, to help you travel in a little more safety. It won't guarantee your safety, but it can go a long way towards avoiding ganks. It is a method of gaining speed whilst you are cloaked during one cycle of your microwarpdrive. As your MWD cycle comes to an end, you drop your cloak and warp off instantly. Ideally you will be vulnerable for less than a second as you break the gate cloak, and then the next time you drop cloak you instantly enter warp.
It's a trick that is completely pointless if you have a Covert Ops cloak. In this case you can just cloak up and warp off whilst cloaked.
To make this work, you will need an Improved Cloaking Device (the standard type of Tech 2 Cloak), and an appropriate microwarpdrive fitted to your ship - 5MN for frigates or destroyers, 50MN for cruisers or battlecruisers or industrials, 500MN for battleships. To fit a 50MN MWD on an industrial requires a ton of powergrid fitting mods. This MWD-cloak trick won't work on an Orca for reasons I'll go into an a minute. This trick will also not work with a prototype cloak, it will not work with an afterburner, and it will not work with a microwarpdrive that is too small.
The method is this: after you jumped through a stargate and loaded grid on the other side, you align to your target, which breaks your gate cloak. Immediately you activate your cloak and then microwarpdrive in quick succession.
When your microwarpdrive cycle is almost complete (with less than a second to go before it ends), drop your cloak and hit the warp-to button. You will enter warp the instant your MWD cycle finishes.
This works because the speed required to enter warp is always three-quarters of your current maximum speed. When you have a microwarpdrive and an improved cloak active at the same time, the maximum speed bonus from the MWD (+500% to +625% depending on your skills, but it also depends on the mass of the ship) and the maximum speed penalty (-75%) from the cloak combine to give a maximum speed of about 40% to 90% higher than your unbonused speed. So you accelerate towards this higher maximum speed whilst cloaked. When you drop your cloak and your MWD at the same time, your maximum speed goes down, whilst your current actual speed remains the same. This current actual speed will be more than three-quarters of your current maximum speed, and so you will instantly enter warp.
This is also why it doesn't work with prototype cloaks (their speed penalty is -90%, making your maximum speed whilst cloaked and MWDing lower than it normal) - and why it doesn't work with afterburners or wrongly-sized MWDs (their speed bonus is far less than a proper-sized MWD). It doesn't work on Orcas because their huge mass means they get a much lower speed boost from a 100MN microwarpdrive than a battleship. Rarely it can sometimes work with afterburners, although it depends greatly on the mass of the ship in question and you would definitely need to test this with your ship. I doubt afterburners would work on industrial ships because of the mass of the industrials, although I have not checked this.
It's a trick that is worth practicing in hisec in peacetime with the ship/fitting you intend to use it before you go into losec or nullsec or during a war - to check that you have the correct microwarpdrive and cloak and that it works on your ship.
And that brings us pretty much to the end of Flying Invisible Ships - hopefully you should all have a better understanding of what cloaking is and how it works, to help keep you alive and stop you doing stupid things whilst cloaked. I'll be around in this channel for a while to answer any questions you may have concerning fits and ships. If not, then thanks for coming!