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Extending its shields it will absorb some of the damage that would have gone to other ships, and transfers the damage to the Iconus Guardian. It should be kept in mind that the shields from multiple Iconus Guardian's do not stack.
Its best to keep a bunch of the Guardians in another control group. This will help keep them organized and make it easier to cycle through each of them. Usually you only need a small number of them as well. The range on the ability is usually enough to encompass your whole fleet. However, while in this state they are vulnerable to focus fire. So keep them well protected against any enemies who are seen heading for them.