I and a friend have both rolled engineers for our fleet in order to "tank" and both of us find that we need some kind of skill to be able to taunt / pull aggro. Is there anything out there that does this effectively?
While it isn't a real "aggro", as a cruiser I tend to rush the pack first and pick up those first hits. AI ships only seem to change target after they accumulate enough damage from a target *and* that target gets close enough. Staying slightly closer than the escorts means they get to hit without taking as much damage (and if you are focusing fire, the threat level should decrease pretty quickly as targets vanish).
Get a Tac officer with High Yield Torp and prime it so you can get two HY torps off in 8 seconds in your alpha strike. That alone will draw some attention. High Yield II is good for that.
Feedback pulse helps, as you are doing damage to a group. Fire at Will and Torp Spread will do the same since they are pseudo AoE.
Best is to cycle targets and try to keep the ones that the escorts are not picking off on you. That alone is awesome! The goal is to increase your AoE damage and you do that by AoE type skills like feedback pulse, fire at will and torp spread. You can also increase your damage output with tactical team skill from the tactical officer. This will boost your torp and energy weapon skills by 18 for 30 sec. and help with boarding party problems!
And I totally agree. There needs to be a threat increasing stat for cruisers. Keep in mind you can also extend shields to allies. Pop that on your escort buddy and keep em safe =)
Enemy ships will also change targets if you do enough a significant amount of damage to them in one blow. Like with High Yield Torpedoes as mentioned above, but this problem needs to be fixed, otherwise most classes are practically the same.
(And such a skill is definitely needed, for some reason I attract a lot of attention fighting in a Science ship. Every enemy ship that sees me, apparently believes me to be guilty of some horrible transgression and decides I need to die first.)