First off, let me state let's try to keep this as a discussion and on topic. I already foresee people trying to make solutions to scenarios I'm presenting rather than discussing armor.
As I've started playing Distant Worlds a lot more now, with Shadows being introduced, I've really been noticing how weak armor is. Now, it's always been this way, I realize, but, now that I am seeing improved AI ship designs (good work on that improvement Codeforce!) some problems are showing up.
I did a quick comparison for my game on the differences between shields and armor in my current game:
Megatron Z4 Shield
Purchase Cost - 175
Maintenance Cost - 44
Size - 9
Purchase Cost - 68 (~ 2 1/2 times less than Megatron)
Maintenance Cost - 12 (3 2/3 times less than Megatron)
Size - 1
So, by a comparison basis, one would expect the Enhanced Armor to be about 1/3 the quality of the shielding in terms of protection given. Even though that's not taking into account the shield recharge effect, let's just keep that out for now.
From my experience, however, this is definitely not the case. Once armor starts to get hit it seems that the internal structures are damaged very quickly, and the ship doesn't last long. I've found this to be the case even when I have put large amounts of armor on ships.
Now, this causes two major issues. One, and the more serious one, it makes Rail Guns far too powerful as they completely bypass shielding. Two, it causes Armor to be next to useless except to counter rail guns.
I've been seeing multiple battles where my forces have been superior, on paper, but will get absolutely destroyed due to the fact that the enemy has rail guns. My ships go down in seconds while it takes many more to even take down one of the opposing force. Again, this even when the firepower factor is much higher on my ships than in the opposing ships.
I've tried using rail guns myself and have found similar results. Rail guns have the ability to take out enemy ships much quicker than by using weapons that must bypass shields first.
So, my thoughts here are that armor is just too weak and should be improved so as to provide adequate protection. This would make armor to be worthwhile for general protection and also make it so that rail guns are not as overpowered.
Also, I really think that an armor bar is needed so that one can see the level of armor that is left on one's ships.
Anyways, I wanted to get other people's opinions on armor. Please keep it on topic....