Right now, the panzer and it's blast shield doesn't seem to be getting used much, even in team modes.
Perhaps the current team game types are not very conducive to defending. You're either scrambling for ore, a miner, or you're playing conquest. MM and Corp War are very gathering-centric. The team who gathers faster wins. This all gets people to favor ships with detection or more mobility, since being able to dodge damage is far more valuable than just taking it.
Conquest has a role for defense, but the capture points are not really in defend-able areas. You pick panzer because you'll last a few seconds longer, not because you can withstand spin-attacks for your team(something that the blast shield still struggles with).
Perhaps its more of a map thing. Would it be a stretch to say that the maps are not 100% ready for some gametypes, gameplay-wise? Allowing a chance for roles to come to life using the map itself? Panzers seemingly shine in more cramped maps, so maybe points of interest should be more cramped in some areas? How about some game modes where each team needs to defend something?
Also, the shield is somewhat cumbersome to use in a fast paced game like this. By the time it's up, a fair amount of damage can be put on you assuming a quarter second of reaction time. Maybe make it so it's a dual mode shield, with an active and passive mode, like so:
- The passive mode is a small and dim version of the shield always active in front of the panzer. It's just large enough to cover the front when looking directly at an enemy.
- When activated, it blocks all enemy damage and movement and grows to an oval 4 x 3 ship-lengths for a short period
- The active costs energy, and disables your passive shield for a short period to cool off
To compensate, the panzers speed can pitch/yaw rate can be reduced. Careless panzers should be easily punished by flying around to it's flank and letting loose
Hopefully that will allow the panzer, with intelligent play, to laugh off damage in a game where movement = life.