Small Disruption Shield vs Teleporter
The Small Disruption Shield is a device that provides an extra layer of 200 rechargeable hit-points for a vehicle, while the Teleporter is an escape mechanism for displacing the vehicle to a random location when it is badly damaged during combat.
Though they are very different in function, the two can be compared because they are both normal sized modules (aka 2×2 slots in dimension), thus easily interchangeable. They will be gauged by looking at two different scenarios:
- As compliments to existing shields. This can be on any ship with more than one standard module slot.
- On their own. In this example on a Phoenix Hovercar.
Due to the poor implementation of the teleporters, and the fact it is one of several items that benefit the aliens more than X-COM, the arguments will be very pro-shield.
Scenario 1: Compliments to Existing Shields
By the time you obtain Teleporters, this will be the most common scenario. You will have ships that can stock a plentiful supply of shields. With more than one shield, you will have the luxury of deciding whether or not to swap one Small Shield out for the utility of a Teleporter, or hang on to it for the extra 200 hit points.
The extra shield merely increases the total shield destruction threshold level by an extra 200 points. That is all the extra shield does and nothing much else. In short: you can soak up a few more beams or missiles before your shields fizzle out.
By swapping a shield out for a teleporter, you will still be benefiting from the existing shields but at a lowered shield destruction point of 200 less points. The obvious benefit is that once the shields are destroyed and your vehicle sustains damage, the vehicle will be randomly teleported (theoretically) out of harms way.
This holds well for air skirmishes in Mega-Primus airspace as reach of most air battles will be limited to a small part of the city, leaving the rest of it clear. It is very effective, even if the destination and trigger of the teleport is unpredictable. This obviously fails if the destination is a few paces away from where you started.
In the Alien Dimension however, the teleporter can have disastrous results as UFOs will present in almost every part of the alien world. No matter where your craft ends up, the result would be its untimely destruction.
The only time when the teleporter would be useful in the Alien Dimension is if you regularly clean up the alien dimension fleet and are using a small force to tackle the four to five UFOs that are regenerated every week. Then again, if your fleet can easily flatten the UFO armada, there is little reason to want to flee from combat.
Keeping your shield banks safe is really a discretion issue in which you decide when it is the right time to back off from the battle to save or replenish your shields. Having one more or one less shield is generally not a big issue. This means either option will work well given wise shield management.
On the other hand, the simpler utility of the extra shield in being able to soak up a few more extra hits appears to be much beneficial and immediate in usefulness than the unpredictability of the teleporter. There are many other useful options to consider in place of the Teleporter such as the Missile Evasion Matrix or the Advanced Control System.
Scenario 2: On their Own
This example has a much clearer distinction between the two defensive mechanisms, as the previous scenario has your ship enjoying the benefit of the shields no matter the configuration. Any or all ships that can mount more than one normal module would be daft not to have at least one shield on board. The Hovercar on the other hand presents a case where it can only store one standard module at a time, and it cannot travel to the alien dimension. Here we can see the respective modules working at their own strengths.
Shields bring a new level to Hovercar combat, effectively quadrupling their hit points. The shielded Hovercar can sustain light damage but no physical damage as long as the shields hold. This translates to little to no repair time. The shields however do not allow the Hovercar to flee quickly in the event it loses the shields and needs to make a hasty retreat from a heated air skirmish.
The most common way of getting any aircraft out of trouble is to land at a nearby building. Landing a damaged Hovercar or when its shields are nearly empty puts the Hovercar in a very vulnerable position as it will not be able to evade enemy fire while it is docking with the launch tube.
Replacing the shield with a teleporter on the other hand has a more interesting effect. The Hovercar will sustain the same physical damage it used to get, but will blink away to some unpredictable location once it is badly damaged. The effect here is instantaneous and (may) put the Hovercar out of immediate danger. You have to be vigilant of when the Hovercar teleports so that you can immediately issue it an order to dock at a building. If this is not done, an aggressive Hovercar may very well fly back towards the battle.
Here, it's the same old Hovercar, but it can flee faster when things go pear shaped.
Either proposition is quite a valid choice for Hovercars, so it is harder to say which of the two systems are better. Shields work best when you are careful with your shield energy management, while the teleporter offers a high probability of saving the vehicle should things get out of hand.
Obviously much of this is comparison is mooted with the advent of the hybrid X-COM aircraft. With their capacity to arm more than one shield and carry heavier firepower, in addition to fuel-less flight, they will have completely superseded the Hovercars by the time the Teleporters are available for use.
If you are slow to phase out the hovercars, and are still using them when bombers roll around, then shields are definitely the way to go, because Disrupter Bombs (and heavy disrupters) are capable of one shotting hovercars, and a teleporter isn't going to do any good in that case.