There have been a few comments to the effect that engineless designs are unbalanced and the suggested solution is to require engines on most maps or force people to use them by combining them with reactors.
I propose another solution which retains the freedom in design, but would make it more advantageous to use engines: make engines generate power, but don’t take the reactors out. This way if you need power you can use reactors (which give you loads of energy) or engines (which give you some energy and enable you to move. Fast ships suddenly become a lot more viable because they generate all their energy without require reactors while engineless designs get an advantage i more efficient power generation, but don’t get a huge number of extra modules. A lot of designs at the moment might call for a level III and a level I reactor to power the ship as well as an engine to move. Under this scheme, you could replace the level I reactor with an engine.
Overall this should lead to faster ships and more freedom of choice and better balance rather than restricting anyone’s choice.
I personally have found plenty of use for engines, the power requirements typically don’t bother me so much as the slot requirements. A “Super” engine has a thrust of 130 whilest a “crap” engine has a 75 but most engines push out around 100. So to go fast, you can’t really just buy a better engine. You have to buy more engines. This leads to the thinking “well, I only have space for one engine, so if I’m going to be slow I might as well just put a basic engine 1 on there.”
Perhaps the “Super” engine should generate a thrust of 100 but also push out some power instead of using it, as suggested by JB. I don’t think ALL the cruiser engines should have a positive power output.
Frigates have so few slots, that it’s just a shame to take up more than one or two with engines. Perhaps all frigate engines should be net-positive with respect to power output.
Rather than weighing less, I would make them weigh more but output more thrust. Making them weigh less won’t do much because of the weight of other modules. Making the weight more while keeping the thrust to weight ratio the same means that other modules hold them back less.
A bit more thrust generally would be good. There are too many challenges where slow ships on at least one side and deployments in opposite corners mean it can take a couple of minutes even at 4x for the battle to start. And people posting challenges with slow to stationary ships so often do it on maps where engine speeds are reduced.
Well, if engines were getting a performance boost, I’d rather it was by reducing the weight because that exaggerates the effect of the weight of the other modules more - making things like low-gravity crew modules and the lighter weight weapons a bit more significant. If you merely push up the thrust, it makes everything go a bit faster, including superheavy tanks - which should be hard to make go fast.
Anyway, as mentioned, I’ve been noticing lately that a bit of speed lets you use weapons that are significantly more powerful, and reduces the accuracy of all that plasma. I think the game isn’t far off balanced in this area already. I used to field super slow fleets - huge firepower behind, big tanks in front. My fast fleets take them head on and absolutely thrash them.