Starfinder: Early Impressions


General Discussion

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Imbicatus wrote:
Sniper Rifles become great long range burst weapons if you have either the ability to make a full attack as a standard action, or if you have the ability to make a move action and full attack in the same round. Such as Haste.

Unwieldy means you can't full attack OR use any other method to shoot it more than once a turn.


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I have consulted the spirits, and accordingly am setting the over/under on the publication of an Envoy Unchained at 11:59pm, November 17th, 2020. Place your bets!


Mashallah wrote:

I'm very annoyed by Ioun Aeon Stones.

Sometimes, they do the same thing as in Pathfinder
Sometimes, they do an entirely different thing from Pathfinder
Starfinder Clear Spindle functions identically to Pathfinder Clear Spindle. Same for Iridescent Spindle.
But Starfinder Pearly White Spindle functions identically to Pathfinder Orange Prism, having nothing to do with Pathfinder's Pearly White Spindle.
This will cause so much confusion at tables and I see absolutely no reason for this change.

Seriously, this annoys the hell out of me. Why did naming contradictions have to be made? Are they deliberately frustrating the players?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mashallah wrote:
BretI wrote:

I must admit I'm surprised that class functions conflict in the way stated above. It is hard enough to keep bonus types straight in a normal game of Pathfinder, I do not look forward to telling someone that the Skill Focus they get as part of their class doesn't stack with something else that class gives.

That said, it seems to me a lot of these reactions seem overly negative.

It would be really nice to hear what class is best in a variety of roles and why. Are there any surprises?

To start with, who is the best at Monster ID?

Best in each of the starship roles: Pilot, Gunner, Science Officer, Engineer, Captain?

How hard is it to have a character able to fulfill two different roles, and does it require a theme to be good at one of those roles?

Who is the best at deactivating traps? I would guess it is operative given the description, but are there any surprises here?

What sort of options do the spell casters have for battlefield control? Blasting? Just plain weird stuff?

Operative is by far the most versatile non-caster class and can fill virtually all of those roles.

Out of casters, Technomancer is probably more versatile, but Mystics are better at specialising in stuff.

I did not ask for most versatile, I asked for the best.

Could you please break the answer down a little, giving the mechanics of why a certain class trounces the other options?


Disproportionate Revelations...
A.k.a how we punish players for our failure to provide good options.

Because the punishment of playing a Solarion for not recognising the class as a trap in the first place just wasn't quite enough.


BretI wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
BretI wrote:

I must admit I'm surprised that class functions conflict in the way stated above. It is hard enough to keep bonus types straight in a normal game of Pathfinder, I do not look forward to telling someone that the Skill Focus they get as part of their class doesn't stack with something else that class gives.

That said, it seems to me a lot of these reactions seem overly negative.

It would be really nice to hear what class is best in a variety of roles and why. Are there any surprises?

To start with, who is the best at Monster ID?

Best in each of the starship roles: Pilot, Gunner, Science Officer, Engineer, Captain?

How hard is it to have a character able to fulfill two different roles, and does it require a theme to be good at one of those roles?

Who is the best at deactivating traps? I would guess it is operative given the description, but are there any surprises here?

What sort of options do the spell casters have for battlefield control? Blasting? Just plain weird stuff?

Operative is by far the most versatile non-caster class and can fill virtually all of those roles.

Out of casters, Technomancer is probably more versatile, but Mystics are better at specialising in stuff.

I did not ask for most versatile, I asked for the best.

Could you please break the answer down a little, giving the mechanics of why a certain class trounces the other options?

Operatives get 10+INT skill ranks per level. There's a total of 20 skills in the game, meaning you get to cover most out of the box, without any effort.

Operatives also get a scaling bonus to all skills, making them the indisputable kings of skills.
Performing well in any of the ship roles, as far as I can tell, requires just being good at one skill specific to that role. As result of this and the above, Operatives can be great at all ship roles at the same time.
No other class comes even close to touching the Operative in all of this skill business, which answers most of your post.
I haven't read through spells yet as the CRB is massive and it's taking me time to go through it. However, looking at class features, Technomancer mostly gets general-use class features while Mystics choose one path and specialise in it.

Scarab Sages

Ikiry0 wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:
Sniper Rifles become great long range burst weapons if you have either the ability to make a full attack as a standard action, or if you have the ability to make a move action and full attack in the same round. Such as Haste.
Unwieldy means you can't full attack OR use any other method to shoot it more than once a turn.

Yeah, unwieldy was on a second line so I had overlooked it in the weapon table.


Ikiry0 wrote:

It's not new (It was in pathfinder too) but Profession seems to have basically no scaling.

2x Your roll becomes rapidly less and less valuable as you level and your WBL increases. Between 1 and 20 your earnings would just over double, as the amount that is worth is reduced to a smaller and smaller % of your WBL. To the degree at level 20 you are producing a fraction of a single percent.

There likely should have been some '% of WBL' factoring there or a non-linear scaling.

Isn't that the point, though? In order to encourage exploration and adventure, a 9-to-5 job SHOULD BE "Dead-end." If it were more simulationist and you made, say, 1% of your WBL, why would you ever risk life adventuring?


ENHenry wrote:
Isn't that the point, though? In order to encourage exploration and adventure, a 9-to-5 job SHOULD BE "Dead-end." If it were more simulationist and you made, say, 1% of your WBL, why would you ever risk life adventuring?

To increase what your WBL is, which would be very important if it was % based?

That and 'Be useless' doesn't feel like a good point for a skill design-wise. If perform wasn't worth translating over, profession wasn't likely either unless you want it to actually do stuff.


Imbicatus wrote:
Ikiry0 wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:
Sniper Rifles become great long range burst weapons if you have either the ability to make a full attack as a standard action, or if you have the ability to make a move action and full attack in the same round. Such as Haste.
Unwieldy means you can't full attack OR use any other method to shoot it more than once a turn.
Yeah, unwieldy was on a second line so I had overlooked it in the weapon table.

I guess the definition was... unwieldy to read. :)


Mechanics are the best engineers.


Mechanic could have likely done with more class skill options. With it's very small list (Tied for smallest in the game) and Int being it's primary stat it's very easy to even at chargen get all your class skills before level ups give more int or just being a human. So you kinda end up with not a whole heap of choice.


Mashallah wrote:


5. Even in a sci-fi game, Paizo felt the need to make a point that some things can only be done remotely well with magic and no mundane means can ever compete. Case in point - Healing Serums are magic and all non-magic means of healing are absolutely awful.

In sci-fi D20 I usually skin these as nanites or some sort of bio-drone (kind of a biological robot working similar to a nanite). Will probably do the same here, too. Might find a way to beef up medical healing as well; I've used several different methods in Pathfinder for such.


Ikiry0 wrote:
ENHenry wrote:
Isn't that the point, though? In order to encourage exploration and adventure, a 9-to-5 job SHOULD BE "Dead-end." If it were more simulationist and you made, say, 1% of your WBL, why would you ever risk life adventuring?

To increase what your WBL is, which would be very important if it was % based?

That and 'Be useless' doesn't feel like a good point for a skill design-wise. If perform wasn't worth translating over, profession wasn't likely either unless you want it to actually do stuff.

If i were an explorer, and My WBL were, say 10,000 credits (or whatever, I don't have book yet, but in Pathfinder terms not an unreasonable low to mid level amount)) and I could guaranteed make the equal of that every 100 days, there would be no reason to leave the safety of a spaceport. I'd make over 35,000 credits a year. So, adventure till i'm just in the low-mid levels and retire wealthy for the rest of my life! I'm generalizing figures, but in general using WBL just strikes me as not the best choice.

I've never been a fan of Profession or Craft rolls as either an income generator or the basis of a craft system, and from what I've seen it sounds like Starfinder is trying to minimize its effects.

Dark Archive

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Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

So what this something about torture related mystic ability associated with Zon-Kuthon and Devourer also being associated with Iomedae?

Like, is that a typo, or is Paizo seriously going with "LG and Torture goes together!"? :D

Iomedae granted power to that LN inquisitor in Kenabres who tortured people looking for demonic infiltrators.

The Redemption Engine featured rogue LG angels who stole evil souls and forcefully turned them into angels. The various empyreal lords maintained plausible deniability, neither condemning nor assisting.

Inflicting pain and spiritual kidnap is apparently ok for LG as long as it's in the service of good or fighting the really bad evils.

Singing kumbaya or being a peacenik hippie is more a NG or CG thing, tbh, and in a world of objective morality you can push the limits to find out where they are. There's no point in arguing about whether you think something should be evil or good, it just is. If you can torture potential demons with a certain error rate and still not slip to evil, you don't have to worry about morality, only practicality and usefulness.

I applaud Iomedae for her embrace of all eggs in the war for better omelets.

Shouldn't LG that does or allows evil actions be LN? :P


ENHenry wrote:

If i were an explorer, and My WBL were, say 10,000 credits (or whatever, I don't have book yet, but in Pathfinder terms not an unreasonable low to mid level amount)) and I could guaranteed make the equal of that every 100 days, there would be no reason to leave the safety of a spaceport. I'd make over 35,000 credits a year. So, adventure till i'm just in the low-mid levels and retire wealthy for the rest of my life! I'm generalizing figures, but in general using WBL just strikes me as not the best choice.

I've never been a fan of Profession or Craft rolls as either an income generator or the basis of a craft system, and from what I've seen it sounds like Starfinder is trying to minimize its effects.

Then perhaps it should have not been a skill. As right now it's 'It exists, it costs as many skill points as anything else and it's functionally useless'. My general philosophy is 'If you write rules for it...make it have a purpose' and Profession really isn't doing so right now.

That and a general distaste for 'This is maybe useful to start but gets progressively less so as you put more involvement into it'


rando1000 wrote:
Mashallah wrote:


5. Even in a sci-fi game, Paizo felt the need to make a point that some things can only be done remotely well with magic and no mundane means can ever compete. Case in point - Healing Serums are magic and all non-magic means of healing are absolutely awful.
In sci-fi D20 I usually skin these as nanites or some sort of bio-drone (kind of a biological robot working similar to a nanite). Will probably do the same here, too. Might find a way to beef up medical healing as well; I've used several different methods in Pathfinder for such.

Magic/Hybrid/Technological is a mechanical distinction in the game, meaning you can't just easily refluff it without any repercussions - it will affect various features that interact with the distinction.


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Huh, I just noticed. One of the Solarian class features explicitly says it's ineffective against creatures who can move faster than the speed of light. That's a rather interesting implication about what kind of creatures we can expect in Alien Archive.


Mashallah wrote:
Huh, I just noticed. One of the Solarian class features explicitly says it's ineffective against creatures who can move faster than the speed of light. That's a rather interesting implication about what kind of creatures we can expect in Alien Archive.

Tachyon ghosts?

Dark Archive

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It sounds to me that Starfinder, while eleminating a lot of Pathfinder problems which have been around since D&D 1st edition, created some very easily avoidable mistakes, which a normal player would have found while proofreading the CRB once.

While i will reserve final judgement until i have read the book myself, it feels like one or two months of additional development could have made this game a much better one.

I get that presenting something during Gen Con 50 is great for sales and all kinds of additional reasons, but two core classes out of only seven not functioning properly seems very bad.

The Pathfinder CRB has eleven core classes, of which some are argueably better than others (i dislike the bard personally), but they all function in their respective roles.

I really hope that there isn´t a significately changed 2nd printing necessary to play the Envoy and Solarion as intended...


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Marco Massoudi wrote:

I get that presenting something during Gen Con 50 is great for sales and all kinds of additional reasons, but two core classes out of only seven not functioning properly seems very bad.

On the other hand, taking the first impressions of a poster or two as absolute writ that 'classes don't function properly' is probably a bad approach.

Especially with the number of responses from others with the pdf of 'you missed XX or YY, it actually functions this way'

And a lot of the posts here are 'don't like it, so it's wrong,' rather than reasons why a rule or feature is incorrect.

There is a lot more subjective feelings than factual details in these first impressions.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It's a new system. Feelings and impressions from a lens of experience developed around pathfinder balance are going to be inaccurate.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
It's a new system. Feelings and impressions from a lens of experience developed around pathfinder balance are going to be inaccurate.

Especially considering that most of what people are basing this on is a quick read of the book and some theorycrafting. I find it hard to believe that any of the people who are saying the sky is falling have played more than a game or two (if that!) with an envoy or solarian.

Paizo Employee Designer

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It's dangerous to take too strong of an impression from one person's first impression while reading a book (either positive or negative). People are focusing on Mashallah's negative posts here mainly because they are longer and more numerous with multiple follow-up posts, but she posted several positive comments (sometimes strongly positive) as well. You might find that you don't like some of the things she liked as much as she did (perhaps you won't like themes as much as she did, though of course I'll be glad if you do), but that you do like some of the things she didn't like (maybe you'll like the solarian better than she did).

My playtest group had a really interesting and useful comparison (built independently without knowing they were doing so) in that we had a blitz soldier and a photon solarian with very similar builds, close to as equivalent as they could have been while being different classes. They were swing for swing hit for hit rush for rush on par with each other on a normal combat round, with both able to put a pretty serious beating on foes (the solarian did a bit better but we kept track of the rolls and that was because the soldier was consistently rolling badly; equal rolls would have equalized that), plus the solarian had zenith rounds which were stronger and more out of combat abilities (and the option to go gravity, which he did several times when it was advantageous and really screwed over the enemies), while the soldier had some tricky feats that allowed him to keep up pressure on foes.

But even though it's backed up with empirical data, don't take my word for that either. A lot of the way things work together changed enough that it's worth playing the game and seeing for yourself. It won't be too long now!

EDIT: OK I was ninjaed by rooneg, KoA, and Voss while typing this long post. These guys have the right idea. I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I thought weren't as good as another similar set I would have picked, and despite both those things, I completely underestimated the envoy's strength until we actually added one late in the playtest and she made the team so much more powerful. If anyone here has played Fire Emblem, it's easy to underestimate the Dancer/Heron (depending on which Fire Emblem) when you first play in a similar way "I'd have been better with another unit that could just do its own turn), but it's actually the most powerful unit because it gives you more of what you need.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

It's dangerous to take too strong of an impression from one person's first impression while reading a book (either positive or negative). People are focusing on Mashallah's negative posts here mainly because they are longer and more numerous with multiple follow-up posts, but she posted several positive comments (sometimes strongly positive) as well. You might find that you don't like some of the things she liked as much as she did (perhaps you won't like themes as much as she did, though of course I'll be glad if you do), but that you do like some of the things she didn't like (maybe you'll like the solarian better than she did).

My playtest group had a really interesting and useful comparison (built independently without knowing they were doing so) in that we had a blitz soldier and a photon solarian with very similar builds, close to as equivalent as they could have been while being different classes. They were swing for swing hit for hit rush for rush on par with each other on a normal combat round, with both able to put a pretty serious beating on foes (the solarian did a bit better but we kept track of the rolls and that was because the soldier was consistently rolling badly; equal rolls would have equalized that), plus the solarian had zenith rounds which were stronger and more out of combat abilities (and the option to go gravity, which he did several times when it was advantageous and really screwed over the enemies), while the soldier had some tricky feats that allowed him to keep up pressure on foes.

But even though it's backed up with empirical data, don't take my word for that either. A lot of the way things work together changed enough that it's worth playing the game and seeing for yourself. It won't be too long now!

Another thing I'd like to point out: I believe I mentioned several times that I like this CRB more than Pathfinder's CRB overall.

However, I do consider discussing perceived flaws an important thing, which is why I bring them up when I see them.

Sovereign Court

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Mashallah wrote:
However, I do consider discussing perceived flaws an important thing, which is why I bring them up when I see them.

I wish you would present them as perceived flaws instead of declaring things "worthless" or "unplayable" as a matter of fact.

Negative messages stick in the mind much easier than positive messages. Even if your posts are 50-50, the negative impression is much stronger.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Mashallah wrote:

Another thing I'd like to point out: I believe I mentioned several times that I like this CRB more than Pathfinder's CRB overall.

However, I do consider discussing perceived flaws an important thing, which is why I bring them up when I see them.

It's easy for people to focus on the negative and when processing it or passing it along to exaggerate it as well. For instance, looking back, your main post about solarian was that it was complicated enough that you wanted to wait for a guide to be more certain about it, but on this last page, that's made its way to people remembering that you said it was nonfunctional. This can happen in both directions and is fairly common, I've found, in internet forums, where by the time you're deep into the thread, there's a few people debating against extreme positions that they each remember the other one making when both had original ideas that were less extreme. Not that this sort of debate has quite happened here, but I'm sure we've all seen this in other threads.

EDIT: After posting this, I did find another post that said "irredeemably bad" so my point doesn't stand this time. The general case is still useful to consider though.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I thought weren't as good as another similar set I would have picked, and despite both those things, I completely underestimated the envoy's strength until we actually added one late in the playtest and she made the team so much more powerful. If anyone here has played Fire Emblem, it's easy to underestimate the Dancer/Crane (depending on which Fire Emblem) when you first play in a similar way "I'd have been better with another unit that could just do its own turn), but it's actually the most powerful unit because it gives you more of what you need.

I'm struggling to see how is that the case.

Pathfinder Bard is obviously strong and has way stronger buffing features than Envoy. 4e Warlord is blatantly extremely powerful and needs no excuses. Many buffing classes in many tabletop games are strong and useful at first glance.
However, simply comparing the offensive buffs that Envoy and Operative can provide, Envoy has only +2 to hit over Operative.
I can't imagine +2 to hit being worth all the other stuff Operative has - it's just 10% after all, especially in a game with a lesser overall number of attacks compared to Pathfinder.


Mark Seifter wrote:
...

Funny thing on the Fire Emblem comparison: the games go out of their way to make sure you can't have more than one dancer-style unit active at once. Most obviously is Fates, where giving Azura the ability to clone herself results in the duplicate not being able to give extra turns.


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This sounds like we're probably going to have a few "Kineticist situations". Going from "this class looks overpowered" to "this class sucks" to "this class is actually pretty decent" over the course of a few months. The more things change, haha.


All in all, Envoy is the weakest buffing class I've ever seen in any tabletop game I ever played. That's my issue with it.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Envoys are better than the operative at whichever skills they feel like being better at, as long as the skill comes off of this list: Bluff
(Cha), Computers (Int), Culture (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise
(Cha), Engineering (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Medicine (Int), or Sense Motive (Wis).

Sovereign Court

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Mark Seifter wrote:
EDIT: After posting this, I did find another post that said "irredeemably bad" so my point doesn't stand this time. The general case is still useful to consider though.

The loaded language has been the most annoying aspect of this review thread. I appreciate critical opinions as I'm not particularly critical myself, but they are much more useful when presented as opinion.

"I don't know how to make this great" vs. "This is awful"

One is a challenge to be met, the other just dampens that creative enthusiasm.

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Mashallah wrote:
All in all, Envoy is the weakest buffing class I've ever seen in any tabletop game I ever played. That's my issue with it.

What buffs does the Envoy give out? If you want to type it out, give a 3-level comparison with a Bard. (1, 5, 11 maybe)


KingOfAnything wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
All in all, Envoy is the weakest buffing class I've ever seen in any tabletop game I ever played. That's my issue with it.
What buffs does the Envoy give out? If you want to type it out, give a 3-level comparison with a Bard. (1, 5, 11 maybe)

It has only two offensive buffs: Get 'Em and Clever Trick.

Get 'Em gives +1 to attack rolls against one target as a move action and can be taken at level 1 with your level 1 Improvisation. It can be improved to +2 with Improved Get 'Em at level 6.
Clever Trick lets you feint as a standard action to make a target flat-footed. Flat-footed is a condition which simply reduces AC by 2 in Starfinder, it doesn't deny Dexterity bonus. It can also be taken at level 1, but you only get one Improvisation, so you can't have both before level 2. Operative can also apply this condition for the whole party while Trick Attacking for a lot of damage, meaning this isn't particularly good. You can further improve this into Clever Attack at level 4 which lets you attack while making this feint, but it's still worse than Trick Attack, which does the same, but without having to pass the feint check, and while adding damage.
Besides those, Envoy gets absolutely no offensive buffs whatsoever.

Let's compare to Bard: Inspire Courage alone is better than those two, especially since you can further improve it with other abilities, while you can't improve this. Moreover, Bard gets spells for things like Heroism or Haste.


KingOfAnything wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
EDIT: After posting this, I did find another post that said "irredeemably bad" so my point doesn't stand this time. The general case is still useful to consider though.

The loaded language has been the most annoying aspect of this review thread. I appreciate critical opinions as I'm not particularly critical myself, but they are much more useful when presented as opinion.

"I don't know how to make this great" vs. "This is awful"

One is a challenge to be met, the other just dampens that creative enthusiasm.

I don't see why you guys are surprised by this. First impression reviews full of loaded language that later go on to become canonized in meta-gamey theorycrafting threads seem to be a mainstay of the Paizo forums. This is why I typically avoid most discussions on here. I just hope this round does not poison the perceptions of the game quite as badly as it did with Pathfinder. At least try out the options before passing judgement on them.


Mashallah wrote:


However, simply comparing the offensive buffs that Envoy and Operative can provide, Envoy has only +2 to hit over Operative.
I can't imagine +2 to hit being worth all the other stuff Operative has - it's just 10% after all, especially in a game with a lesser overall number of attacks compared to Pathfinder.

Since we don't have the details, we need some context for things like this. What are the respective durations? How many targets does it effect?

What 'other stuff' does the Operative have, and what other stuff does the envoy actually have that you're just glossing over? I sincerely doubt they've got an empty progression table.

Quote:
All in all, Envoy is the weakest buffing class I've ever seen in any tabletop game I ever played. That's my issue with it.

See, this just sounds like hyperbole. Without knowing what games you've played, I don't have any idea what comparison you're drawing- it's just a flat 'this is bad for reasons I won't explain,' which isn't helpful.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I thought weren't as good as another similar set I would have picked, and despite both those things, I completely underestimated the envoy's strength until we actually added one late in the playtest and she made the team so much more powerful. If anyone here has played Fire Emblem, it's easy to underestimate the Dancer/Crane (depending on which Fire Emblem) when you first play in a similar way "I'd have been better with another unit that could just do its own turn), but it's actually the most powerful unit because it gives you more of what you need.

I'm struggling to see how is that the case.

Pathfinder Bard is obviously strong and has way stronger buffing features than Envoy. 4e Warlord is blatantly extremely powerful and needs no excuses. Many buffing classes in many tabletop games are strong and useful at first glance.
However, simply comparing the offensive buffs that Envoy and Operative can provide, Envoy has only +2 to hit over Operative.
I can't imagine +2 to hit being worth all the other stuff Operative has - it's just 10% after all, especially in a game with a lesser overall number of attacks compared to Pathfinder.

The dancer/heron comparison is to the Hurry chain specifically, which came up earlier in the thread. Giving the exact right person extra actions is extremely and subtly powerful. I highly underestimated the value of the extra move actions and was taught the error of my ways.

As to the accuracy boosts, there's a few things, but the math is long.

Long Math:
For one, the value of 10% is higher than it seems. Imagine a solarian and soldier are both triple attacking a boss at 40% chance to hit per attack (not an unreasonable situation) for 1.2 total hits each. Pure accuracy envoy is granting effectively +4 to each for 1.2 total hits added, which is already equal to a third solarian or soldier, even in this group of three, and the envoy is also firing a shot as well for more damage (maybe even with some longarm or heavy weapon proficiency in the mix). If you have more characters than three, it's even more of a force multiplier. But what about AC debilitation from an operative which I think is what you are referring to above? That can do half the +4 on its own if the operative hits the boss. I mean the operative likely will: they probably have a 70% chance to hit the same boss above with a trick attack, but that's also a 30% chance to miss. That means the operative is adding .42 total hits on average from the other two characters (.6 if the trick attack hits, 0 if it misses) so as long as the difference between the envoy's free attack and the operative's trick attack is less than .78 of a soldier or solarian hit, the envoy is up even with three characters. We already said the operative is looking at 70% chance of an operative trick attack hit, and the equivalent envoy in the same situation would have an 80% chance to hit (because she has both buffs from herself and the operative only has flat-footed). The operative's attack is going to do a lot more damage, though. The envoy probably hits maybe 80% as hard as those other two, but the operative likely hits harder with trick attack than any single hit can achieve, let's say 140% as hard as they do on each hit because I think it's usually less than that but I'm OK overestimating the operative here. So the operative is producing .98 of a soldier or solarian's single attack and adding +.42 attacks from debuffs. The envoy is producing .64 of their single attack and adding +1.2 attacks from buffs and debuffs. The envoy comes out ahead, and will come out more ahead with more party members.

Of course, if you have both in a party of four, one of the envoy's abilities doesn't stack, so you can have the envoy do something else like debuff the boss's accuracy while providing the other +2, making the operative thus more likely to stack the debuff, which is even better.

Paizo Employee Designer

The Sideromancer wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
...
Funny thing on the Fire Emblem comparison: the games go out of their way to make sure you can't have more than one dancer-style unit active at once. Most obviously is Fates, where giving Azura the ability to clone herself results in the duplicate not being able to give extra turns.

I remember that overall, though I haven't played Fates yet. Is it any good? Of course, in a SF group, you probably don't have enough characters to make the "double-dancer" strategy really powerful like you do in Fire Emblem.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

It's dangerous to take too strong of an impression from one person's first impression while reading a book (either positive or negative). People are focusing on Mashallah's negative posts here mainly because they are longer and more numerous with multiple follow-up posts, but she posted several positive comments (sometimes strongly positive) as well. You might find that you don't like some of the things she liked as much as she did (perhaps you won't like themes as much as she did, though of course I'll be glad if you do), but that you do like some of the things she didn't like (maybe you'll like the solarian better than she did).

My playtest group had a really interesting and useful comparison (built independently without knowing they were doing so) in that we had a blitz soldier and a photon solarian with very similar builds, close to as equivalent as they could have been while being different classes. They were swing for swing hit for hit rush for rush on par with each other on a normal combat round, with both able to put a pretty serious beating on foes (the solarian did a bit better but we kept track of the rolls and that was because the soldier was consistently rolling badly; equal rolls would have equalized that), plus the solarian had zenith rounds which were stronger and more out of combat abilities (and the option to go gravity, which he did several times when it was advantageous and really screwed over the enemies), while the soldier had some tricky feats that allowed him to keep up pressure on foes.

But even though it's backed up with empirical data, don't take my word for that either. A lot of the way things work together changed enough that it's worth playing the game and seeing for yourself. It won't be too long now!

EDIT: OK I was ninjaed by rooneg, KoA, and Voss while typing this long post. These guys have the right idea. I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I...

Except that (outside of FE:Heroes, which is a high lethality exception) the Dancer/Heron (not Crane) is a bad unit when you're new to the game and you can't use the rest of the units to the most/aren't good with positioning, solidly good when you have some experience, and not necessary at all when you have good mastery of how the game's mechanics work to its full extent (Just bringing 5-7 units that you overlevel without even grinding is enough to crush most challenges in many cases-or do some game exclusive shenanigans like staff abuse in FE5 or double Galeforce in FE 13)-Sure, you could do a comparison to the Rallybots in Awakening (+10 to allstats AoE effect for two unit's actions that doubles as staffbot when unneeded, which means +120 damage baseline, +48 vs dragonskin in a single round of combat with Brave weapons on both sides of the pairup, plus enabling that x4 attacks and probably surviving an enemy pack of Apotheosis Secret Waves? Hoo boy), but that game was totally broken in terms of balance.

From what I'm getting, a maximized Envoy on a teamworking party is comparatively less flexible than a 3.5 well-built Bard, who buffed everyone to hell and back plus provided a ton of side utility, plus being able to hit hard on its own.

Talking about another topic, can we hear some more about the new Hellknight Orders? (Furnace and Eclipse) Because hoooo boy those names sound rather hype-building. Nice to see that the Pike got promoted (being a consistently LG order, if minor); although it's sad to see the Pyre go (or is the Furnace the Pyre on space-flavor? Given the fire association, it's something I could see having happened).

Paizo Employee Designer

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Brew Bird wrote:
This sounds like we're probably going to have a few "Kineticist situations". Going from "this class looks overpowered" to "this class sucks" to "this class is actually pretty decent" over the course of a few months. The more things change, haha.

The only thing that helped there, having certainly watched that progression with interest, was time for people to actually play it and see what happened.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I thought weren't as good as another similar set I would have picked, and despite both those things, I completely underestimated the envoy's strength until we actually added one late in the playtest and she made the team so much more powerful. If anyone here has played Fire Emblem, it's easy to underestimate the Dancer/Crane (depending on which Fire Emblem) when you first play in a similar way "I'd have been better with another unit that could just do its own turn), but it's actually the most powerful unit because it gives you more of what you need.

I'm struggling to see how is that the case.

Pathfinder Bard is obviously strong and has way stronger buffing features than Envoy. 4e Warlord is blatantly extremely powerful and needs no excuses. Many buffing classes in many tabletop games are strong and useful at first glance.
However, simply comparing the offensive buffs that Envoy and Operative can provide, Envoy has only +2 to hit over Operative.
I can't imagine +2 to hit being worth all the other stuff Operative has - it's just 10% after all, especially in a game with a lesser overall number of attacks compared to Pathfinder.

The dancer/crane comparison is to the Hurry chain specifically, which came up earlier in the thread. Giving the exact right person extra actions is extremely and subtly powerful. I highly underestimated the value of the extra move actions and was taught the error of my ways.

As to the accuracy boosts, there's a few things, but the math is long. ** spoiler omitted **...

The entire Hurry chain seems pretty much strictly worse than just the Haste spell. Moreover, most damaging classes have "move and full attack" as class features, further devaluing it. The only interesting usage of the Hurry chain as far as I can see is spending 1 RP to grant a standard action and pretend to be a 4e Warlord, but it seems pretty underwhelming overall.

As for the math comparison:
140% of normal attacks for the Operative Trick Attacks seems about matching up with my own estimates. Envoy, however, would do extremely little damage due to using Small Arms without damage boosts - it seems very dishonest to say it would deal 80% of the other people's damage, when realistically it'd be closer to 50% due to how Small Arms work, thus skewing your math estimates there.
Furthermore, Operatives get Multi-Attack Mastery later on, further skewing the playing field quite strongly.
The lack of any new Improvisations after level 8 hurts Envoy a lot - while other classes get shiny new toys later on, Envoy just gets left in the dirt progressively more with each level.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Brew Bird wrote:
This sounds like we're probably going to have a few "Kineticist situations". Going from "this class looks overpowered" to "this class sucks" to "this class is actually pretty decent" over the course of a few months. The more things change, haha.
The only thing that helped there, having certainly watched that progression with interest, was time for people to actually play it and see what happened.

I think it's mostly that people got tired of arguing.

As far as I remember math comparisons (my memory might be rusty, though) an Expert (the NPC class) with a Composite Longbow typically deals more damage than a Kineticist.

Paizo Employee Designer

Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I thought weren't as good as another similar set I would have picked, and despite both those things, I completely underestimated the envoy's strength until we actually added one late in the playtest and she made the team so much more powerful. If anyone here has played Fire Emblem, it's easy to underestimate the Dancer/Crane (depending on which Fire Emblem) when you first play in a similar way "I'd have been better with another unit that could just do its own turn), but it's actually the most powerful unit because it gives you more of what you need.

I'm struggling to see how is that the case.

Pathfinder Bard is obviously strong and has way stronger buffing features than Envoy. 4e Warlord is blatantly extremely powerful and needs no excuses. Many buffing classes in many tabletop games are strong and useful at first glance.
However, simply comparing the offensive buffs that Envoy and Operative can provide, Envoy has only +2 to hit over Operative.
I can't imagine +2 to hit being worth all the other stuff Operative has - it's just 10% after all, especially in a game with a lesser overall number of attacks compared to Pathfinder.

The dancer/crane comparison is to the Hurry chain specifically, which came up earlier in the thread. Giving the exact right person extra actions is extremely and subtly powerful. I highly underestimated the value of the extra move actions and was taught the error of my ways.

As to the accuracy boosts, there's a few things, but the math is long. ** spoiler omitted **...

The entire Hurry chain seems pretty much strictly worse than just the Haste spell. Moreover, most damaging classes have "move and full attack" as class features, further devaluing it. The only interesting usage of the Hurry chain as far as I can see is spending 1 RP to...

If you check my math, the envoy grabbed Longarms.


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Solarion's 7th level class ability, when you might be forgiven for expecting something interesting, or moderately impressive...

...is....

...+1 to hit.
But only when full attacking.
And only for attacks with melee weapons (so you'll only get half benefit if you go for the pistol/sword combo people are expecting to be popular).

And this seemed like a great idea to someone.

*EDIT:* Turns out I was being too generous due to misreading.
It's even worse.
You get 0 benefit if comboing pistol and sword. All attacks have to be melee.


Mark Seifter wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
...
Funny thing on the Fire Emblem comparison: the games go out of their way to make sure you can't have more than one dancer-style unit active at once. Most obviously is Fates, where giving Azura the ability to clone herself results in the duplicate not being able to give extra turns.
I remember that overall, though I haven't played Fates yet. Is it any good? Of course, in a SF group, you probably don't have enough characters to make the "double-dancer" strategy really powerful like you do in Fire Emblem.

Regarding Fates: Honestly, not that much. Birthright has your standard FE plot, but the game is incredibly easy, FE8-Easymode or Awakening-normal tier. Conquest is a tough, fun challenge, particularly on Hard mode, but the story is downright terrible.

Spoiler:
Corrin is a wuss and the least proactive of all FE protagonists. EVER.
Revelations reveals the plot behind it all, but neither the story is any good, and the gameplay is more gimmicky than providing any challenge for the usual FE player.
And DLC/Grinding just breaks the balance. Also, if you can, install the patch to get the straight translation from the JP game, the localization job was downright terrible. (Saizo and Belka's C support? Turned from an interesting conversation into a bunch of "..."s spammed all the way down).

Paizo Employee Designer

Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Brew Bird wrote:
This sounds like we're probably going to have a few "Kineticist situations". Going from "this class looks overpowered" to "this class sucks" to "this class is actually pretty decent" over the course of a few months. The more things change, haha.
The only thing that helped there, having certainly watched that progression with interest, was time for people to actually play it and see what happened.

I think it's mostly that people got tired of arguing.

As far as I remember math comparisons (my memory might be rusty, though) an Expert (the NPC class) with a Composite Longbow typically deals more damage than a Kineticist.

I was in a PM chain with someone from another site about that comparison, so I know which one you're talking about, and we determined that the math was significantly off.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
I knew envoy was easy to underestimate before we even played so adjusted my expectations, and to top it off our playtest envoy chose a set of powers that I thought weren't as good as another similar set I would have picked, and despite both those things, I completely underestimated the envoy's strength until we actually added one late in the playtest and she made the team so much more powerful. If anyone here has played Fire Emblem, it's easy to underestimate the Dancer/Crane (depending on which Fire Emblem) when you first play in a similar way "I'd have been better with another unit that could just do its own turn), but it's actually the most powerful unit because it gives you more of what you need.

I'm struggling to see how is that the case.

Pathfinder Bard is obviously strong and has way stronger buffing features than Envoy. 4e Warlord is blatantly extremely powerful and needs no excuses. Many buffing classes in many tabletop games are strong and useful at first glance.
However, simply comparing the offensive buffs that Envoy and Operative can provide, Envoy has only +2 to hit over Operative.
I can't imagine +2 to hit being worth all the other stuff Operative has - it's just 10% after all, especially in a game with a lesser overall number of attacks compared to Pathfinder.

The dancer/crane comparison is to the Hurry chain specifically, which came up earlier in the thread. Giving the exact right person extra actions is extremely and subtly powerful. I highly underestimated the value of the extra move actions and was taught the error of my ways.

As to the accuracy boosts, there's a few things, but the math is long. ** spoiler omitted **...

The entire Hurry chain seems pretty much strictly worse than just the Haste spell. Moreover, most damaging classes have "move and full attack" as class features, further devaluing it. The only interesting usage of the Hurry chain as far as I
...

Oh, I missed that part of it, mostly looking at the numbers, my bad. (or was it added in an edit?)

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