game play is usually lasts an hour or so I'd say
Gameplay lasts as long as it takes to finish the game unless you're playing at a tournament. If all players are seasoned vets that know their lists and the rules that all the cards on the table are employing well it can take an hour, otherwise who knows? I've had 100 point games take well into the 2-3 hour mark at times based on game knowledge or just whether or not new and adventurous things are being tested.
The movement planning for big ships does seem like it wold take time to get good at.
Movement of ships in X-Wing takes time to get good at too, and depending on your squad build can be anywhere from painstakingly difficult to driving a bus down an empty 5 lane highway. I'm just not interested in the movement mechanic of large ships in Armada.
Are there more special characters or "aces" in x-wing? It seemed like there are "aces" (of sorts) in Armada too (i.e. special characters with special powers and boosts, etc).
If you've seen the new movie, think about Poe. He's an ace. A lone ship, whipping around the enemy's fighters wreaking havoc and doing all the sweetest maneuvers doing it. Both systems have special characters and fluffy ways of building your squadrons, but there's something specifically satisfying about having lone ships just rip through the enemy lines without being touched (Soontir Fel, Whisper, Darth Vader, Tycho Celchu, Jake Farrell, that sort of thing). I don't think I would ever describe the pilot team of a large ship as aces despite them even potentially being the best at their jobs.
However, Armada has Star Destroyers.
Have you taken in the Imperial Raider for X-Wing? We still get massive ships that move uniquely and use totally different rules and even the same play area. Not to mention it comes with a TIE Advanced and some awesome pilots for it plus an absolute ton of rockin' upgrade cards. There's even still a large planning ahead factor to the X-Wing huge ships in that you have to plan your energy use; something I find way more thematic for big ships.
I've never been too much into skirmish games, as I usually live by the maxim if a little is good, more is better. However, with my current time and budget limitations, a skirmish game might be more realistic for me. But... then there's my love of huge fleets and the fact that you get to play with Star Destroyers!
This sounds like you want people to convince you to play Armada because that's the game you actually like.
I'm a sucker for playing a whole fleet -vs- a single squadron (even if you imagined it was part of a fleet). The scale for x-wing would make large capital ships impractical.
This is what my girlfriend and I do all the time. She has the Raider and a contingent of TIEs and a Decimator ('cuz we don't have a Gozanti yet) and I play all small base Rebel ships. Sometimes I'll bring the YT1300/2400 to the party but I really like certain builds and they tend to fit together certain ways. X-Wing will never have capital ships but there's still tons of fleet play, albeit at a higher financial and storage requirement.
This leaves only one game system capable of slaking my capital ship thirst. No surprise here...
Again, it sounds like you just want to play Armada. What's really the point of this thread?
I wonder if in the end, after you've purchased all the available ships for both game systems, if the cost is similar?
Given that both systems are ever expanding and that Disney now has a hand in how it's released: there will always be more to buy.
Start proxying cards you want to try out for either system. Print them off (all available card's graphics are easily findable online, FFG doesn't hide their rules) or just write the effects down on a piece of paper, but don't fall into the trap of buying ships because they have absolutely key cards for certain ships (Starviper for Autothrusters and the K-Wing for Twin Laser Turret spring to mind, though they are both fun ships to play in my opinion).