Does anyone deny that if we gave engineers access to the four attunements, they would instantly become massively overpowered? That, or, the entire class would be re-balanced (read: nerfed) around having all those new skills? No one can, those are the only two possible conclusions to that scenario.
Elementalists and Engineers already suffer from reduced output per skill because they are meant to have as much output as the remaining classes, but spread over more skill uses. Combining engineer kits with the elementalist attunements, would just exacerbate that issue, giving elementalists so many skills that we'd end up nerfed into using a dozen skills or more for the same output the other classes get out of one. Not to mention that would basically be revamping the entire elementalist class, just to get one set of utility skills to work, an enormous undertaking and a complete waste of development time and resources.
Suggesting we "just change conjures to kits" is neither a functional nor realistic solution to their issues.
But, conjures are far from okay, they work directly contrary to the elementalists class mechanic, and we're not like thieves or warriors where the class mechanic can be a lesser or greater part of our gameplay, attuning is the mechanism by which you play and there is no way around that. The reality is, conjures need to work alongside attunements while retaining some form of accessibility control as a balance mechanism, namely cooldowns and uptime, mechanisms which kits do not have.
Over the years, I've seen quite a few suggestions on how to fix conjures that would allow us to use them without being locked out of our standard weapon skills, this list is far from exhaustive but I've compiled the ones I can remember here for everyone to consider.
Basically, using the conjure utility skill would cause the conjured weapon to overwrite the attunement you are in for the conjured weapons duration, and using the conjure utility skill again, would dispel the conjured weapon early and return the overwritten attunement. But for the conjured weapons duration, before it runs out (or you dispel it), it will be on your attunement bar, allowing you to attune into and out of it like any other attunement.
EXAMPLE: Let's say you need AoE spam. So you are in earth attunement, you cast "Conjure Frost Bow", Earth Attunement is now overwritten by the Frost Bow conjure for Frost Bows duration of 30s, you use Frost Storm, swap over to Fire, cast Meteor Shower and Lava Font, swap _back_ to Frost Bow, and use Frost Storm one more time before the 30 second duration runs out, at which time, your earth attunement comes back and frost bow goes on its 30 second cooldown. (Technically it is 60 seconds, but that is with its 30 second duration)
This method addresses conjures issues of locking us out of the attuenment system, while retaining an interesting drawback that could be used to retain balance. It also retains the ability to "drop" an environmental weapon version for other players, and is similar to how conjures work now, so it would require less work to implement and balance. The downside is, this maintains the pithy 50% uptime that a lot of people do not like about conjures. There is also a version of this suggestion where you cannot dispel the conjure early, as a drawback for greater uptime/reduced cooldowns on conjured weapons.
Similar to above, when you use the conjure utility skill, it will overwrite your current attunement with the conjured weapon, but when you attune out of the conjured weapon to another element, the conjured weapon will be "dropped" back to the utility skill bar, and will go on cooldown according to your current builds attunement cooldown, for example, 10 seconds for base ele or 8.5 second for base ele with Elemental Enchantment. The utility skill would also share the attunements global CD limitation, and, while the conjured weapon is equipped, recasting it would dispel it, allowing you to reach the skills it is overwriting.
Example: Same scenario, you need AoE Spam. You are in earth attunement, cast "Conjure Frost Bow", earth attunement is now overwritten by the Frost Bow conjure, you use Frost Storm, then swap to fire. When you swap to fire the "Frost Bow" attunement changes back to Earth Attunement and the Conjure Frost Bow utility skill goes on your attunement cooldown of 10 seconds. You cast your meteor shower and lava font, you have a second or two to wait for the attunement CD, then you cast frostbow again, overwriting your fire attunement and cast Frost Storm again.
This version solves the same issue as the previous, that you cannot use conjures and attune between the skills you need in a pinch, but it does so while removing the 50% uptime imposed by the conjures duration and cooldown. Because of the significant increases in uptime, this would require more rebalancing than the previous option, but not nearly as bad as 100% uptime and no cooldowns, like kits. I don't really see any way of retaining the dropped version of the weapon with this method, as there is no longer a duration for the dropped weapon to use, and summoning a new one every 10 seconds (or less) based off of the attunement cooldown could get out of hand really fast.
The most drastic change so far, as with the previous two versions, when cast, conjures would overwrite the attunement you are currently in, however unlike the others, you would only be able to choose to overwrite attunements when _out of combat_, and would not be able to drop attunements when in combat, basically making conjured attunements permanent build choices. Once you enter combat, the skills would "flip" to versions that allow you to cast an AoE skill, which would spawn the environmental version at the center of the AoE for players to pick up, including the elementalist.
Example: You need AoE spam, again. There are two ways you can go about this, one, prior to combat, while in earth attunement, cast your Conjure Frost Bow to overwrite your earth attunement with Frost Bow. When you enter combat, you will be able to swap between Fire and Frost Bow to cast your AoEs as if they were any of the standard two attunements. Option two, you do not cast conjure frost bow prior to entering combat, it still flips over to the AoE spell, and when you want to use Frost Storm, you cast the AoE to summon a Frost bow, pick it up, use the skill, and drop the frost bow, just as you would now.
There are a lot of ups and downs to this version, the primary thing is, by permanently overwriting an attunement with "no backsies", the devs would be able to invest the greatest amount of power in the skills, even making the conjured weapons equal in power with the standard attunements, because they would no longer be in danger of the power creep of a fifth attunement, but instead a customization choice of one of the four. This version also solves the issues with not being able to attune while using conjures, and retains the functionality of the dropped weapon to support other players or the elementalist with workable and balanced limitations.
Not a fan of this one but its been out there in the ether and people deserve to know the option, going completely in the opposite direction, some players have suggested instead of working conjures into the attunement system, you excise them from the system entirely. Under this option, conjures would have a duration and cooldown, and when you conjure a weapon it would appear on the field, where you could pick it up, use any of its skills, and put it down, however unlike now, when you put it down, it would remain there until you pick it up again, or its duration ran out. Basically, they would work like banners did before their recent rework.
Example: You need AoE Spam, you cast Frost bow while in earth attunement, switch over to fire attunement, your frostbow still in hand, cast Frost Storm, drop the frost bow, cast Meteor Shower and Lava Font, pick the frostbow back up, and cast Frost Storm again.
This version probably maintains the most similar functionality to how conjures currently work, and similar to the first option, would be most easy for the devs to implement and balance. This version sort of fixes the issue with attuning competing with conjures, by removing the interaction altogether. It does definitely have issues though, for one, you can't stay in one spot all the time, you would be at risk of being zoned away from your dropped conjure, and for two, it retains the 50% uptime that a lot of players do not like about current conjures.
Really REALLY not a fan of this one, but it was suggested back when the did just this to Guardian Tomes, and it would legitimately solve the issue. Basically, remove conjures from the base class, replace them with another skill set, and place them on an elite specialization as a class mechanic, allowing you to swap any of the elemental attunements out for a conjured attunement, no fussing with utility skills needed.
Example: Look at option 3, think that, except it would be through a unique UI element instead of through a utility skill.
As I stated I don't like this one for obvious reasons, no one likes their shiny new content actually being revamped content the devs previously removed from the game. Nonetheless, this would solve conjures issues, and with an entire elite spec dedicated to the mechanic, it would be clean, allow for conjures to retain something similar to their environmental weapon support mechanic, and give the devs to have a much more managable power bank to work with.
Q: What about the Weaver? It only attunes a half an attunement at a time. How would it work with conjures overwriting attunements?
A: Pretty simple really, attuning into and out of a conjure would just ignore that system, just how unravel works except permanently. This could actually be a useful expansion of the class, because you would now have an option of "full-attuning" to elements with clever use of the conjures.
Q: Also, what about the class mechanic for the Tempest, overloads?
A: I could see overloads going two ways, either overloads would just ignore conjures, EG attuning to a Frost Bow over Earth would allow you to use Earth Overload. Or, I could see making the conjures a part of the overload system an option, EG attuning to a frost bow over Earth would allow you to use the Water Overload.