I recently played alot of Engi and tried out the new features the latest patch brought and they breathed new life into it.
I used to play only droneless variants but i hit a wall with that, so decided to try out a minimal drone variant that supports the Engi in different ways. As it turned out it also does alot of dmg.
Coming frome the droneless build, i also wanted to make the Engi do dmg on its own and it should feel like he is getting somewhere with his own guns. You obviously cant expect MM like dmg but it should feel that it is not useless.
The skillplanner is pretty outdated on the Engi so i post the skills here in text before discussing it (+1 Helmet included):
Rapid fire 10/10 (enhanced by +3 Rapid Fire on weapon) - good to be maxed
Ghostly Strike 2/10
Construct Drone 3/10
Armor Retrofit 3/10
Sword Retrofit 3/10
Repair Drone 3/10
Medpack retrofit 2/10
Whateverpoints you have left into:
Tactical Mode 2/10 (optional)
Spider Mines 7/10
Rapid Fire and Beacon increase the use of the Guns. Rapid Fire does more damage than Multishot and can be used more often. It just needs the right weapon for it to work because everything with a high rate of fire doesnt work with it as ROF is capped around 700.
Luckily there are couple of good low rate of fire Guns.
I currently use 2 Reapers Hellrail. But Jackhammers and Chromebolters or Cannonades are good aswell. Rapid on these works perfectly and melts all kinds of mobs.
Beacon max is a given for Bosses and hard mobs. It doesnt look much percentage wise but it works wonders as it is afaik a multiplier on its own (probably hanging out together with phase).
The Engi is further supported by hastebot increasing his rate of fire and skill userate aswell and through the high phasing of the Bomberbot resutling in a 50% flat dmg increase on phased mobs. With this the Engi can already pack a punch but it is not enough.
In comes the drone. The skillset is minimal in order to get to tactical mode and medpack retrofit and have enough points left for the gun skills. So it also doesnt have many statpoints to put into weapons. So i decided for a relatively low cost Infernous because it has many advantages for it to be used in a relatively dumb ai situation. The drone often shoots in the wrong direction or at mobs that are not worth shooting at. Thats what the infernous remedies as its shots (as slow as they are) search their target and they persist and go for the next target if they killed quick - so no damage is wasted. They have a time to live which is basically the time the projectile travels the whole 40m. So if you hit at point blank the projectile sticks a long time on the target and if it kills then it travel further and searches for the next target until it runs out of travel time. The good aoe and long range comes on top of this. It doesnt look badass and has some windup time against bosses but it is a very good drone weapon (if you have enough minion dmg).
Also be sure not to put a melee weapon into the drone as you want it to shoot which it doesnt do if it is in melee and using a sword or warts leg.
Medpack retrofit is a 1 point wonder and really helps out in making the Engi situationally tankier.
Tactical mode is also good because sometimes you want the drone at a fixed place. I can’t say that you see a dmg increase or more projectiles but the drone is more focussed while in tactical mode and does a better job at shooting. One use is to trigger it then medpack and then you know exactly your action radius where you receive the heal and shield recharge.
The last skills i use are spidermines and ghostly strike. Ghostly strike is like Molotov used to be just with a bigger field - 1 point wonder. It is nice to have a big dmg field at hand. Most of the time i let the bot just shoot though.
Spidermines are nice now. The skill has a bigger cooldown now but does more dmg per skilluse. It is not a skill to be spammed as it is costly in Mana and the spiders look out for the next Mob which if not timed right might be trash. You rather use them to drop them at the feet of a big mob or densely packed mobs. And so they are fun and effective to use.
Now to equipment: and this is where things become a bit awkward. Because if you want to gun effectively with the Engi you basically need a set of MM uniques (mostly techa uniques, Duellos, Sues/Scoutshoulders) but auged with Minion damage. And that takes time and palla to get. I would say on the way to that state to focus on Minion damage, then legendary thecha gear which can drop with Minion damage on it and then start to aug the uniques. Mythic increase dmg + minion dmg items can help out in between.
I for one dont have a Maverick as it is probably next to impossible to get one with +1 and Minion damage. Best in Slot unique is the techa core as it has a huge userate and Minion damage affix and this needs to be acquired first. You can even aug another minion dmg on it. And when you do this you could also justify a Maverick without minion dmg -beware the high stat cost though.
Trinket with Minion dmg and Dmg is also good to have.
Weaponwise i went for a slot with two Reapers Hellrails auged and modded with eledam and a Vodoo to ignite/stun certain bosses but that is optional.
I also have one slot with two +3 construct drone weapons but you need to be aware that the drones skills are checked against your current skills whenever you use a portal. So if you cast your drone with the +3 weapons and enter a portal with a different weapon, you end up with a drone that doesnt have the bonus. This only happens at the port into a map. During a map the bonus persists if you change weapons. I can say this for health but assume this also applies for armor and damage which is why i have alot of mordacious mods (+ minion dmg) in my construct drone slot.
In the end you should have Minion Dmg around and above 300% (dont perk it though). My current Engi has 340% and i can basically play Churchyard without shooting only using skills.
Speaking of perks, the Engi needs alot of stats because of the costly augs which bring along alot of unwanted affixes. So you end up putting the majority of perk points into stats. But crit should be perked aswell in the end.
Now the Engi has alot of skills - 8 out of 10 slots in the hotbar are used up and they are used all the time. Beacon and rapid then a Spidermine now and then and occasionally a Ghostly strike. The drone needs to be repaired all the time which is a priority and you also want to use medpack when the going gets tough or you want to push hard. So Mana management is a thing and mana pots an inevitable result.
Some advice: get the 8% power achievement aswell as the 30 Powerpoints. Dont use Beacon on trash. And use Spidermines and especially the ghostly strike occasionally. And prepare to fill up your mana with a pot or you end up having no mana when you want to release Rapid fire.
One has to be honest though. The Engi only really shines in the end when everything comes together
and you can actually wear all the special gear. Before that either the minion dmg or the weapon dmg (depends which route you go) feels mediocre.
It is not useless but godly state comes pretty late. But it is also one of the most versatile chars with lots of skills to use which leads to many different and satisfying stunts.
P.S.: forgot to mention that you need to get a heart of darkness or preferably heart of heaven for the drones armor and remember the fact that you cant restat the drone - so be cautious with spending stat points.
P.P.S: If the complexity is too high because of the many skills in the build one can get rid of the three 1-point skills (Ghostly strike, Medpack and tactical mode) as they are highly situational, max out Spidermines and just play with a minimum of skills (Rapid, Beacon, Repair drone, Spidermines) and play similar to a MM- running and gunning and let the bots do their thing.