I will begin by saying that I had a quick look at natural healing rates, and what I found was that most ships, at Synergy 1 at least, heal between 1 and 3% of their shield per second. That means, left unmolested, ships will need between 30 seconds and a minute and a half to return to full combat readiness.
Enter my suggestion for the Engineer… note that none of these are intended to be in isolation - it’s meant as a universal change.
Give them six turrets back:
Why shall be clear shortly.
Reduce their Survivability slightly:
Engineers are not tanks. They should hit hard, but not necessarily take a hit in return.
Boost range of Nanodrome Cloud and Mass Shield Generators back up to their old ranges:
Trust me, they need them.
Change healing to a % heal rate based on health:
In other words, a Mk I Nanodrone cloud would heal 1% of the hull strength of every ship in range. A Mk II might heal 1.5%, Military 2%, Mk III 2.5% and Experimental 3%.
This means that, using the stats above, an Interceptor could heal itself from 0 to full shield in 15 seconds if within range of an Experimental Mass Shield Generator. For the record, the way I got that number is the Synergy 1 Dwarf 2 - it heals 81pts/sec, and so would heal 162pts/sec in Engineer range.
As implied above, this healing stacks with natural healing.
Okay… so this is an uber-terrible nerf! Why would anyone want this?
Because it takes fire off the Engineer.
Think about it - how much difference will that healing make in a brawl? A Plasma Web could be taking 250-300 health off a second, and bigger ships that can be focus-fired will crumble faster than ever.
But the Engineer is no longer a win-or-lose inclusion into the fleet. It’s strength stops being the ability to make people invincible, and it becomes a second line ship. It has enough firepower to ward off careless or foolish attacks, but if left unmolested in the rear line allies can rally to it and recover.
This is what I think the developers want from the Engineer - not to be a ship in the middle of a fight, but a ship you fall back to when you need support. With this healing model, the Engineer is encouraged to be close to but not in the fight.
The boost in firepower is mainly there to offset the fact that its nearest competitor - the Command Fighter - is so much more agile. Frigates then can potential cause a lot more pain, but pay for that in the fact they are also an easier (and now softer) target.