I am a Silver member with limited funds for STO, but I have managed to get an Alt as an engineer, but given that Cruisers are very under-powered, should I go down the route of Escorts and go for total DPS, or should I go for a Cruiser Tank build and go for the Romulan threat consoles to keep the enemys pinned on me?
Try out the Mirror Assault and Mirror Patrol, and see how either go for you. The high end tac cruisers can be potent forces, even as an engineer. The Fleet Excelsior or Imperial would be the ultimate goals.
As for Escorts, what you lack in spike potential, you can make up in survivability. Take advantage of a more engi heavy escort, like the Armitage, Steamrunner, JHEC, Fleet Patrol.
that depends on your play style and what you expect from your ship in battle
if you want to blow up stuff very fast with dhcs forget the engi go tac escort
personally i have lots of fun with my engi currently.. i'm using a vesta (tac version) with plasma build and rommi consoles and stuff and i do loads of dmg too and a get to use beams and well i like it very much
especially with the latest patch where fire at will got better and with the coming nerf to go down fighting the difference between tacs and engis will be a little less
basically what you always want to have is the assimilated console and the cutting beam, mainly because of the proc of the 2 set. also the cutting beam is quite nice and in sci vessels where the number of weapon slots is limited it allows you to forget about a torpedo launcher means you get the proc and some good kinetic dmg on a 360 arc/turret.
in the end, if you ask me, the amount of dmg you do depends much more on how you fly your ship and a bit on your skills and how skilled you use them (which basically means just to constantly cycle those skills that should be cycled) than on your ship or your class or the quality of your gear
I often see guys doing 2-4k dps where i know i would do 8-10k with the same setup. Just because they are flying their ships wrong. My beam vesta does 7-9k dps in the estfs and usually that more than everybody else.
So it still depends on what you prefer, there are lots of ppl here in the forum who think cruisers and especially engis with basically every ship are useless. And maybe in a very strikt sence they may be right but i myself dont really care, I do enough dmg and can tank almost anything that comes my way be it gates cubes or both at the same time, so yeah, im quite happy with my engi right now. Maybe the only thing is that you dont want to invest in sto too much and the vesta i'm flying and loving is no cruiser but will cost you 2.5-5k zen. Normal cruisers are fun as well but well, their slowness is not everybodys thing.
My final advice would be to test the different playstyles, experiment a bit with different builds and forget about dmg until you know what kind of ship you want to fly then learn how to fly it, constantly parse your combat logs and if you get to 5-6k with standard gear then you are at the point where only investing in fleetweapons, embassy consoles and stuff is really worth it. First learn to have fun with it, then go into build optimization and stuff. If you find you need to make loads of dmg, then go tac/escort or at least engi/escort.
And maybe wait a bit save your dili and zen till more is known about the may-update and the gear that we'll get from the new tholian rep. Maybe plasma-builds will be thing of the past then.
And dont forget that engis are nice on ground too with all those quantum mortars, turrets and stuff.
Escorts are and will remain overwhelmingly superior for all solo PvE and almost all group PvE. The only place for cruisers and sci ships in this game is PvP, No-Win Scenario, and possibly Hive Space Elite. Fortunately, Engi/scort can actually be a very rewarding PvE setup, as your increased survivability is worth more in solo play where you don't have other people watching your back with heals.
That said: try everything and see what you like. Mirror-variant escorts and cruisers (RA level) are available for less than 200k energy credits on the CStore under reward packs.
If you're looking for a build, I suggest asking in the PvP forum. Most PvP builds work fine in PvE, and most PvPers also have alternate builds that they use for various PvE purposes. (As we prefer PvP to PvE, we like to rush through the PvE as quickly as possible when making a new character, and that means optimized builds.) You're also less likely to get dud builds there, because dud builds end up getting blown to tiny pieces the first time they queue up for a match, unlike in PvE, where you can get by with a surprisingly bad build against the Borg without noticing that you could be doing better.
My main is a tac escort, made a sci/sci and hated it, moved her to a destroyer and happy there. Made an engscort, hated it.. boring, made a eng cruiser that outdpses 95%+ tac scorts.. pretty happy that I can tank, debuff and damage all in one ship.
Once in a blue moon when I'm on Federation side, I always enjoy using the Science Ships over any others. (Gravity Well, Tycons Rift, etc. are devestating) You can actually deal more damage as a Sci in Science ships than you can in other ships. At least, that's what I've found.
Overall, I would heavily encourage going for whatever is fun to you. As stated, I preferred the Science Ships with Dual Beam Arrays(2) cutting beam, and regular beam array, and then however many beam arrays I can fit in the rear. Roughly the same mobility as an escort, slightly less DPS weapon wise, but holy crap can you bring the pain with the sci damaging abilities.
But if you must be an engineer, I would say whatever you enjoy. No such thing as a ship that's soly for one player class, even my Engineer KDF side running with my Guramba, I have no issues at all. Fed Side, I occasionally jump into my escort. And still put down some pain. It's ultimately up to you in whatever you want overall.
johnsteward and nicha0, could you both put up your builds? I have an engineer flying the Ambassador ship from Temporal Ambassador, but I can't do enough damage. In the Borg daily defense, my ship can take out the Borg cubes, but does not have enough firepower to destroy the Unimatrix command ship.
I'm an engie, and I use both. In fact with the buff to emergency power to weapons (and FAW even though I personally don't use it) I could be spending more time in my cruiser.
As you can tell from my sig I use mirror ships exclusively at the moment because as well as the decent paint job they are very reasonable on the exchange.
The patrol escort is peanuts right now, and it's a fantastic ship for an engineer. I use tetryon weapons with quantum torps/mines - dual beam and dual cannons up front and a few beams on the aft. With beam overload 2 and 3, and dispersal pattern beta 3 this thing can hurt!
If I feel like playing support I jump into my cruiser. It uses 6 disruptor beams and a couple of chroniton torps. I also use aceton beam, tractor beams (normal and borg) and a nice selection of shield and hull heals. The aim here is to have a ship to pin down and soften up targets while keeping me and the team in one piece, and it does it pretty well.
I know tanks or healers aren't strictly required at endgame, but all the same I enjoy playing the role and I'm sure plenty of tacs appreciate my efforts. It's a game at the end of the day, if you're having fun you've chosen the right ship.