I've been playing around with all 4 Defenders for the past week, and I have to say that they are absolute beasts on the table. Equipped with Engine Upgrade and an HLC they murder pretty much everybody. They are extraordinarily expensive, to be sure, but any less and they would be terribly OP.
The Defender is easily the best Cannon ship in the game at the moment. There isn't a turn where you aren't hitting somebody with your HLC/Ion, except for the 1 in 4 times when you are point blank and about to put 4 dice primaries into their face. Other ships struggle to keep ships in front of them and/or at range, the Defender does not.
The dial is amazing. No really, it is. Except for the 1 straight, it has EVERY other maneuver. The white K-Turn is very, very useful, allowing you to substitute a 180 plus boost for short turns, when the 3 turn is too large. The combination of K-Turn plus boost/barrel roll or K-Turn plus focus and hit with HLC against a stressed opponent is murderous. The full suite of high-speed maneuvers plus boost/barrel-roll makes you very unpredictable, and lets you cover tons of ground. The much maligned green selection is actually very useful, because it is hard to block everything from a 2 to a 5 straight, whereas it is relatively easy to put a single ship in a spot that would block 1, 2 straight and at least one of the 1 banks.
Too many doubters here, basing their opinion on the way past ships are played. If you treat your Defender like an Interceptor or TIE, you will be disappointed. But if you get a little practice with them and start maneuvering them like Defenders, you will be as pleased as I am.
Edited by KineticOperator, 06 June 2014 - 01:48 PM.