I rarely bother with armour any more:

  1. It’s so easy to slash through armour with the right weapons mix (one cruiser beam laser on each cruiser does the trick nicely,) that you barely get to reflect any damage unless you very heavily stack the armour.
  2. Which mostly just leaves us with the HP absorbed… Not much better than you get from other modules, which do other nice things too, like shoot stuff.

I don’t see much value in armouring just to stop fighters, I think it’s more efficient to field some antifighter ships - if I lose one cruiser in the process that’s still a ‘win’ compared to the cost invesment of otherwise useless armour.

Yes, this is the problem… And ‘retaliate’ orders make your ships pretty much ignore any tanks, in favour of hitting the damage dealers. Cruiser beam lasers tend to eat through even ridiculous armour fairly quickly, anyway, so I tend not to bother with ‘retaliate’ unless I’m expecting to fight a front row of tanks.

EDIT: Afoxi - yeah, that looks expensive as a antifighter escort. I’d say it’s better to have them lag behind a bit, and let them be fragile. If fighters are proving to be a big problem, and the enemy is smashing your frigates, consider fielding some antifighter cruisers instead (tractor beams and/or cruiser defense lasers can work wonders, and the enemy can’t ‘snipe’ them out of your fleet as easily as they can frigates.)

Even at $1000 / anti-fighter frigate, it’s still much cheaper than a cruiser considering that what you’re really trying to deploy is a tractor beam and some anti-fighter missiles. I always put my AF frigates behind the cruisers. Cruisers are tough, it doesn’t matter if the fighters form a cloud on a cruiser so long as the frigates behind are just in range to snatch them with the tractor beam. By being behind, the frigates benefit from cruiser anti-missile defense so you won’t need point defense on your AF frigates. By being behind, the frigates are at longer range, meaning if a cruiser wants to pick on it the choices are missiles (taken out by your cruiser AM) or cruiser plasma. (The problem here, of course, is now your frigates are not moving if you used the formation order.) Fortunately, if the enemy is trying to kill frigates with plasma, your cruisers should be able to just win the battle for you even if most of the enemy fighters end up surviving.