Xhiandra - Don't hold back, tell me what you really think. ;-)
Yep, as someone that knows a little about engineering, the pylons on the NCC-1701 always struck me as flimsy. I thought the NCC-1701A was a much needed upgrade. That's my fav ship to use in a tabletop or computer game. It has the right balance of offense and defense (and maneuverability).
I avoid the Excelsior in most games because it's too sluggish. However, it's my fav cruiser in STO. Most players don't realize how good a tank it can be and the younger crowd avoids it because they don't think it looks "cool". I've roleplayed with the Excelsior. It's a flying fortress with lots of room for labs.
Timelord - Most of what I've studied about the Excelsior, it could be configured as a battleship or a large science platform. They could have went either way.
The Sovereign is a beautiful ship. I will switch to it if I ever tire of the Excelsior.