I havent played carriers. I have fought again many however, the AI truly likes them once they get to that tech. So, they are SEVERELY flawed IMO, and here is why. Carrier modules have lots of value and very good threat. However, the threat is MEANINGLESS, because the real threat are in the fighters which have already launched. Remember, there is no retreat in combat. The VALUE is MEANINGLESS as well, because if you kill the fighters, it wont have fighters next turn (i believe I have read you have to respawn them at a starbase?) and it will be easy to pursue the fleet and kill it with another fleet.
So, it pisses me off to high heaven, that when I am up against a lot of fighters, I wax them EASILY. However, once the Carriers and Capital Ships come into range, all ships direct fire on them because of their high VALUE. KILL THE FARGIN FIGHTERS! I have lost so many ships because of this, or get damaged and I have to retreat to repair. Now I havent looked that the details, but the AI Carriers have 'some' armor and weapons. I'm not sure if the devs designed their carriers this way, to be of a higher threat than and individual fighter, so again, to soak up damage while the fighters continue to nail you.
For having zero control during the game, the devs have a pretty darn good system I think. However, it is flawed as well in the fact of focus firing on weak targets that can be destroyed in 1 salvo, like fighters. If there are 10 fighters that have X threat and Y HP, and the carrier has 2X (from guns only, not the threat added from the carrier module) threat and 5Y HP, it makes sense to kill the fighters once at a time, because you reduce the overall threat quicker.
It would be a different story if you damaged weapons, etc, while you destroyed HP, but that is not the case. A ship is functional even at 1 HP. So, the proper strategy would be to eliminate the THREAT points as quickly as possible. Hence, kill the fighters.
I simply feel that in combat, the THREAT of carrier modules is meaningless, and VALUE is only valid, if its gonna be a close fight. Meaning, if you have the option to kill half the fighters, or kill the carrier, and you are going to lose anyways, its better to kill the carrier. But when you have superiority, killing the high VALUE target first is meaningless, because you kill them all in the end regardless, its just a matter of how much damage you take in the process...and you should kill fighters first. ALWAYS.