Is the Envoy fun to play?


General Discussion


I’ve fallen in love with Starfinder over the past few weeks, I love the classes, the setting, the races, and even the Starship system. I see the occasional flaw here and there, but nothing that couldn’t be easily fixed with a minor house rules.

However, part of the reason it took me so long to actually get into the game was an interaction I had with a former acquaintance online. It was over a year ago and I had just purchased the PDF for the Core Rulebook. I was liking what I was seeing so far and I told some of my online friends and this acquaintance about how I was enjoying the read so far. Most of my friends were unfamiliar with the game, but were happy that I was enjoying it.

However, the acquaintance had played the game a bit and went on a long rant about how much the system “sucked”, how overpowered certain classes were, how underpowered others were, and how Starship combat was impossible. In hindsight most of what he said was wrong or had been fixed in the FAQ. However his negativity kind of stuck with me and I stopped reading the book before I could even finish the skill chapter.

Now I longer associate with this person, but for reasons other than what he said about Starfinder. I’m making my way through all of the books (a lot borrowed from a friend). However, I still see a little negativity every now and then, especially regarding the classes. The Solarian is a popular target, as well as the spell casters, but after them is the Envoy. I don’t quite get it, I love the idea about them, they are skilled, and seem helpful in combat. I love the idea of a class that uses Charisma and isn’t a spell casting class.

I’m sorry that I got so much off track, but I guess the TL; DR of if it is, is the Envoy fun to play?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The envoy can be a lot of fun to play, especially by the time you get a few levels on them and can build up real options about how to use every part of the action economy.

However, the experience of playing an envoy varies a lot based on what you do with them. It's very easy to make an envoy who isn't fun to play, and uses the same minor support actions every round in combat. Between fight, even that kind of character can be fun in noncombat sections of the game, because of their large number of skills making them always able to do something... but that part can vary a lot between groups.

Also, there's the question of whether they are only an envoy. It is one of the most multiclass friendly options in Starfinder, since they rely so little on abilities scaling with class level, if you're trying to be a little more experimental.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have limited experience with envoys - but while we had one during Book 1 of Against the Aeon Throne, the player who ran Captain Patches von Ursula, Ace Pilot Skittermander Envoy was having a blast, and it was extremely helpful to have him boost up our soldiers.

Unfortunately, he ran into an extremely large sword and died, but it was glorious while it lasted. R.I.P.

As far as negativity about solarians goes, it's a lot of hot air. They are fun to play. Maybe they should have an extra skill point, but they are a reasonably well balanced class which has some really enjoyable, unique abilities, combined with the ability to hit as hard as a soldier.

Envoys generally get to be the captain in starship combat, which is fun, they get to take the lead in role-playing encounters, and they are really helpful in combat by boosting their allies and weakening their enemies.

If those are the things you want to do, go forth yon Space Bard!


I personally love Envoys; my adventure path character, Dr. Zorkfeld, a Witchwyrd, is a riot to play, and I've found lots of dynamic ways to help on the battlefield. He uses a reach weapon witb Coordinated Strike, flanks with the Operative or Solarian as needed, Inspiring Boosts, Clever Attacks, and/or applies "Get 'Em!" Well played, Zorkfeld can effectively give his colleagues a +5/6 swing on attack rolls, which makes a lot of fights much easier.

My other Envoy is Bobbobs, a skittermander with a level in Blitz Soldier who specializes in helping using Expert Advice, allowing him to give his Experise die to the designated hacker. In combat he shouts "Get Em!" and proceeds to nuke the target with heavy weapons.

Envoy is "Action Economy: The Class." There is so much you can do that you have to make tough decisions every turn, and really know your team.

Sovereign Court

I firmly believe there are no unplayable classes in Starfinder. However, it's easier to figure out how to build a satisfying character in some classes than in others.

Building a soldier or operative that works as intended is quite easy. Building a solarian or mechanic that's really satisfying is on the hard side. Mystic, technomancer and envoy are in the middle.

Wayfinders

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My -701, Charli Poshkettle, has been a blast as an envoy. I think it helps to have a character concept and to understand what you want them to be good at. Build so that you can not only help others in combat but also kick butt occasionally yourself. Make sure that you invest in some interesting skills. I have loved every minute that I have played Charli, but now am looking at some of the other Envoy options from COM to see what else I can do with the class.

A melee Envoy is now possible and a very interesting possibility... Or one can shapechange, or cast a spell or two. Fun!


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Totally subjective rant

The envoy itself is a very versatile class that has a lot to offer with a good mix of utility and combat ability (at least until level 12, after which it just breaks)

Skill wise they're good, but the operative is probably better if you need to meet a static number. Envoys can specialize in 1 or 2 skills and even then are only better when you want a high enough number as possible rather than good enough (more of a problem with the operative than the envoy though)

The problem is that peoples idea of the envoy as a spoony bard and the options that are just in the class lend itself to not being very effective. The envoys buffs don't have enough OMF that standing in the back and buffing is itself very useful or effective in combat for pulling your own weight. If you like doing that, you'll like the envoy. If your combat contribution is important to you, you won't like the cookie cutter envoy that the class seems to be telling you to build.

BUT there are a lot of envoy builds that do work. They just require going off model a bit and picking up a heavy weapon/longarm. Anyone concept that leads people in combat or fights socially as well as physically makes a great model: Drill sergeant, a general that leads FROM THE FRONT ! , captain america absolom, the man with no name, can make a lot of fun effective envoys. Standing in the back and going "not in the face not in the face.." ... well it works for you if you like it but its not really contributing much.

Envoys are a 3/4 bab class with charisma as its prime stat that get proficiency with pistols.

Pistols are just terrible in this game.
The envoy gets surprisingly little mileage out of charisma

Mechanically the best envoy builds pick up an unwieldy weapon and the ability to use them requires a high strength or dex and a merely good charisma. When you do that you have a LOT of tactical options: you provide a bonus to hit, you get your party to focus fire, you can give your allies extra moves attacks or even spells, all while making reasonable contributions yourself.

My Ysoki envoy She fires a zamboni bigger than she is, and has a What would Saranrae do T shirt


Envoys are a type of class I really enjoy playing: problem-solvers. They're typically not very flashy or popular, but that doesn't mean they're bad. The only negative thing I can say about them is that their buffs don't last long enough and you often constantly have to re-apply the same buff round after round, which can become annoying.

I built my Envoy for skills and helpfulness in combat. She doesn't do damage at all, but helps others by making things flat-footed, removing conditions, or sometimes healing Stamina. The only times when I don't feel useful is when things are going okay, as there's nothing for me to do in that case. My to-hit is crappy enough that hitting isn't all that likely, and my damage output is negligible. It's certainly a different style from most other classes, and that takes some getting used to.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Developer

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I've got a LG half-orc mercenary envoy with longarm proficiency and a flame rifle. He buffs, he heals, he's captain of the ship. Lt. Agrumol Bargorn is super fun.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

One other thing I've noticed that can contribute to feeling like you don't have enough option is missing the potential of improvisations that include an attack to be an additional vector of debuffs, even if your damage is low.

Intimidating a target so that they have a slightly higher chance of missing and are more susceptible to spells is nice.
Intimidating before also inflicting the sickened condition with a cruel weapon, or entanglement them in a net while also rendering them flat-footed or providing an untyped to hit bonus is much better. And that works even if you don't have proficiency with a big, unwieldy plasma cannon (which works great for its own reason).

Wayfinders

If I ever get my Vesk killed off, I may have try this out. As a Noob, it might not be the best choice, but with some experience playing, this sounds promising.


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The class itself? I would say a confident no.

But you can make any character fun if you're interested in him. Specially because the class has a heavy focus on out-of-combat stuff. So make a great character you wanna play and enjoy being the party face and doing other stuff and very occasionally make a meaningful difference in combat.

A big problem of the class, for me (and probably those that share the same opinion about it), is how clunky it feels. There's a lot of abilities that compete with each other for actions, you have a lot of restriction in their usage and their benefits are very minor and some are extremely niche but don't compensate in power (not only the ability rarely will come up, but when it does, your niche choice will not actually solve the issue).

Couple the bread and butter of the class being a very repetitive loop (at least for the best Improvisations) with how there's a lot of taxes the envoy has to pay, with a very weak chassis and the complete lack of +8th level features and then you have the weakest class, by far, of the system.

I just wished the Envoy had more actually cool stuff to do and had actual class features beyond 3rd level rather than having a spellcaster chassis but with no powerful spells (actually all spellcasters have better base features as well). It's not numerically BAD by any means and it also does have a lot of unique mechanics in the system (stamina healing, soon to lose it's status as unique) and its buffs are mechanically important due to how tight the math is, but fun? I would hardly say so.

I still had fun with my Envoy though. But then again, I really liked making that character and playing with it, but the mechanics of the class itself disappointed me to no end (CRB only stuff).

Fun Fact: The Operative is straight up a better skill monkey than the Envoy and still has better combat capabilities on top of very cool and fun Tricks (getting invisible, self-healing, creating clones, tons of attacks and several class paths).


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Some of my favorit characters are envoys. I am working on building the justice league and my Batman is an envoy.


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Well I appreciate everyone’s responses. I saw a lot of different opinions ranging from Yes, Yes But, and No. It’s almost like FUN is a very subjective concept. Lol

I’ll probably give the envoy a try, but I’ll try to make sure I know what the rest of my part is going to be made up of so I choose the improvisations that work best. I’m really curious to see the new options for the class in the Character Operations Manual.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I will say that Charli has been a game changer in every SFS game that she's been in. Being good with skills, especially Sense Motive, has been a very strong feature for her. Being great with medicine has made her able to keep the party alive.

Get 'em is her bread and butter, but she can and does shoot bad guys herself. I reserve inspiring boost for times when allies are in serious trouble, and it's always been appreciated, but I want to do more than just Get 'Em and Inspiring Boost in combat. I think that it's better to damage the enemy thank keep healing everyone all the time.

FOR FUTURE DIRECTIONS:

I suspect that the new combat and polymorph options for envoy will also be popular; the magical envoy looks a little too limited to be really functional, alas.

Dataphiles

The mechanically strong envoys are likely a bit stale in combat. However, my experience with myself and others playing envoys comes from their versatility in capturing the flavor of a character concept.

They are great support characters in terms of action economy handouts (though those builds can vary on fun depending on how much you enjoy playing buff characters that make others shine). Plus, I'm still looking into a build of envoy/mystic healing specialist.

All-in-all the summary is, as you stated, it depends on you, the player.


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I think it's easy to make any character fun. So you're bound to have fun with an envoy when you're being the party face involved with a lot of shenanigans. That happens with any character and concept that you're invested in... Which is mainly what people say when they claim they're having fun with their envoy.

I'm 100% sure you can have fun with any Envoy you want to build. The only thing it takes is for you to like the character you created. But it's very, very hard to claim the class is fun mechanically, which is the point I was trying to convey to OP.

There's something very wrong with a class when its features themselves start excluding synergies within itself (Demoralize path).

Envoys could use more swift actions, have less restriction and could get some "improved" (A.K.A taxes) shaved off its roster of possible choices. Having a chassis that could bring up the class up a notch would also be very welcome, which is one of the main reasons why I think Paizo should thoroughly embrace the power creep for this particular class. It desperately needs it. It can't live off of only being a party-face class.
As a GM myself, I would definitely make some house rules to smooth over the mechanics of the class a little bit, at least so that a player doesn't need to be doing the same thing over and over every round.

Dataphiles

Therein lied most of one of my points Lightning. I can happily play a character that boosts the party during their turn with maintaining the same actions over and over. But not everyone can extract fun from such things. Some (I hesitate to even say most) people have to do something in combat to enjoy it. So I would posit that the envoy is a big "depends on you", as to whether it is a fun class.

I think it is a bit overzealous to say that it is only a face. Though that is the main feature, they can easily be built otherwise. Hacker, Doctor, maybe even military officer. It would be tough to build them as a DPS that matches a soldier or solarian. But could definitely be built to hold their own.


Hmm wrote:

Being great with medicine has made her able to keep the party alive.

For non magical healing, the bang for your buck ratio with healing feats is terrible and gets worse as you level. A bucket of healing potions can usually do the same thing.

A good medicine score is good.. usually to examine bodies that were absolutely like that when you got here.


"Dr." Cupi wrote:

Therein lied most of one of my points Lightning. I can happily play a character that boosts the party during their turn with maintaining the same actions over and over. But not everyone can extract fun from such things. Some (I hesitate to even say most) people have to do something in combat to enjoy it. So I would posit that the envoy is a big "depends on you", as to whether it is a fun class.

I think it is a bit overzealous to say that it is only a face. Though that is the main feature, they can easily be built otherwise. Hacker, Doctor, maybe even military officer. It would be tough to build them as a DPS that matches a soldier or solarian. But could definitely be built to hold their own.

I really like the support role, most of the things I play either on TTRPGs or computer games, I always tend to lean towards support, which is why Envoy was the first class I wanted to try. I was disappointed at HOW it played, during several months and sessions with Starfinder, but I still enjoyed my character a lot.

I wanted a little bit of "best of both worlds", having performing the duties of being the party face/captain while also having fun in combat, but none of the abilities I choose felt really fun to use and this was after I screened those that didn't convey well what my character was (An ex-Steward Envoy that used diplomacy first to solve problems but was competent in combat, suffice enough to say that one aspect was fulfilled by the class).


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I find that, with Dr. Zorkfeld, my 8th level Witchwyrd Envoy, the rest of his party is hardened murderers of various stripes, so he honestly barely needs to do damage as long as he is facilitating the team's homicidal instincts. Every turn, I do a number of things every round to do this.

Coordinated Shot with a Reach weapon to make a "Zone of +1 to hit"
Clever Attack to make something flat-footed to attacks
Improved Get 'Em! as a move action for another +2 to hit
Flanking if I can get into position, or if I hit, my lance has a Menacing fusion on it, so I'm considered to be flanking for anyone if I hit
Attack of Opportunity (with Menacing, above, and Opportunistic fusion)

That's just an average round. I can also, as situations warrant:

Inspiring Boost to heal 22 stamina (or 30 with a Resolve) - which is a reasonable chunk of damage at this level
Demoralize as a move action to inflict Shaken
Fascinating Gaze attack to stop people in their tracks ("LOOK INTO MY EYES OF EVIL")
Unfriendly Fire bluff check, in case something misses me
Assortment of medical abilities, including the ability to give up to 12 HP back on a first aid check.

Plus, I assist other characters in technical skills, pretty much automatically, face skill like a fiend, and take situational story actions that would otherwise take our big hitters out of action for a round (Mechanic: "We need to flip that switch!" Me: "You just keep shooting, I'll get it!").

So... I really don't feel like I don't do enough in game. Dr. Zorkfeld is a riot to play (he's loosely based on Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama; somehow his profile in the Azlanti empire's computers is now: "Dr. Zorkfeld, Witchwyrd. A hack doctor"), and I'm always on the lookout for the clever solution to problems (while being mercenary as all get out).

Could Envoys be better? Sure; i'm looking forward to seeing what people do with the craziness in COM. But I don't think Envoys are bad as they are now.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Hmm wrote:

Being great with medicine has made her able to keep the party alive.

For non magical healing, the bang for your buck ratio with healing feats is terrible and gets worse as you level. A bucket of healing potions can usually do the same thing.

A good medicine score is good.. usually to examine bodies that were absolutely like that when you got here.

Medicine skill can also help with treating poison, drugging, or disease. Giving someone a +4 to the save can be very worthwhile. There are multiple SFS scenarios where having a good Medicine skill is useful for one of the skill challenges.

With COM, there is a Medic archetype that expands the capabilities or allows you to do certain takes much faster. I don’t think it will make a big difference in most games though.


warning: do not archetype your envoy.

No matter how much the theme seems to fit, for the played levels you're simply trading away most of what makes you recognizable as an envoy for what are generally some seriously niche abilities. Envoys have a heavy ability tax/good ability set up that means losing ANY abilities hurts even more than it seems to.


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In the game we have just started my character is an Envoy, an ex military officer.

She can stare down the Vesk with Intimidate

She can turn enemies into allies with Diplomacy

She's a living lie detector, competent engineer and fair battlefield medic.

She can restore 9 stamina to each character in a battle, at range (Don't tell me that little flea bite hurt, Mr Rahl !)

She can grant +2 on a reflex save as a reaction

As ex Navy I spent a feat to give her longarm proficiency so she can hold her own in a firefight

All this at level 2. What's not to love.


Vo wrote:

In the game we have just started my character is an Envoy, an ex military officer.

She can stare down the Vesk with Intimidate

She can turn enemies into allies with Diplomacy

She's a living lie detector, competent engineer and fair battlefield medic.

She can restore 9 stamina to each character in a battle, at range (Don't tell me that little flea bite hurt, Mr Rahl !)

She can grant +2 on a reflex save as a reaction

As ex Navy I spent a feat to give her longarm proficiency so she can hold her own in a firefight

All this at level 2. What's not to love.

The concept you created is very similar to mine, except that I picked the Sterwards as former allegiance.

Aside from focusing on intimidation (I'm assuming either Dispiriting Taunt or Rattling presence, that somehow exclude each other despite the obvious great synergy) everything else is pretty much what I did with my character. As I said before, I still liked to play with my character, but the class was underwhelming (to say the least) and despite your small list of benefits, it wasn't great to use the class in game and I had almost everything you did, except I picked Clever Feint.

The class is not lacking in useful abilities, the +1 it grants help. But the class doesn't feel good to play. Too many restrictions, very little benefits and compared to every other class it's underpowered. It also completely stops offering new features past 8th level. Most of the niche abilities don't offer enough power to compensate for their situational use, which means they'll never be picked by someone that is aware of the importance of each Improvisation, they're not even particularly flavorful to draw the attention to a cool niche concept. They're just situational stuff that grant a minor ability, the perfect combo to make something underused.

Also, for a spell-less class, the base features are anemic (they only have new stuff until level 3). The envoy good the short end of the stick, that's an undeniable fact.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

warning: do not archetype your envoy.

No matter how much the theme seems to fit, for the played levels you're simply trading away most of what makes you recognizable as an envoy for what are generally some seriously niche abilities. Envoys have a heavy ability tax/good ability set up that means losing ANY abilities hurts even more than it seems to.

The Medic Archetype has traits at 2nd, 9th, and 18th level. Most Envoys will probably only lose one Envoy Improvisation in their entire careers if they take Medic... in exchange for being able to add HP healing in excess of the patient's max HP to add to Stamina. This works with ANY ability or equipment that restores Hit Points, including healing serums, Treat Deadly Wounds, or Mystic Cure.

The 9th level feature lets you add your character level to Treat Deadly Wounds healing if you beat the DC by 5, basically letting you more than double your initial healing.

The 18th level feature lets you bring back the dead without magic.

Archetypes have come a long way, but honestly I've seen some pretty good Envoys with Skyfire Centurian, for example. If you get the Improvisations you need and have a pretty good schtick going, I don't see why you can't take archetypes at all... obviously the ones with traits at every even level are a problem, but not all of them are like that.


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Lightning Raven wrote:
The envoy good the short end of the stick, that's an undeniable fact.

The Envoy may be underpowered on the page, but for me the roleplaying possibilities are what makes the class.

I'm the face, the Captain of the ship.

For me, that more than makes up for a lack of combat punch.


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Vo wrote:
Lightning Raven wrote:
The envoy good the short end of the stick, that's an undeniable fact.

The Envoy may be underpowered on the page, but for me the roleplaying possibilities are what makes the class.

I'm the face, the Captain of the ship.

For me, that more than makes up for a lack of combat punch.

Role playing possibilities reside with the PLAYER, not the class.


I mean, it's not like you can't be the face and captain and have the rp opportunities of an Envoy with another class like witchwarper or operative. Those classes might actually have more RP possibilities, since they can be an envoy + can mix in additional character types.


Vo wrote:
Lightning Raven wrote:
The envoy good the short end of the stick, that's an undeniable fact.

The Envoy may be underpowered on the page, but for me the roleplaying possibilities are what makes the class.

I'm the face, the Captain of the ship.

For me, that more than makes up for a lack of combat punch.

Yes... But you can create great characters for any class. Which is why in my first post here I made the point of saying that I really liked playing my character, I was invested in his story and I had plenty of plans for later levels (He was the descendant of my first character ever, an Arcanist Tiefling, things were going to get weird). I purposefully abstracted the part about roleplaying and focused on how the mechanics of the class worked because it's what mainly answers the question of "Is the Envoy fun to play", I also focused on how it was lacking in several core departments from basic the lack of features, such as Clever Improvisations, Universal Expression, Long Range improvs and Expert attack should all have been part of an Envoy's progression, to the fact that they didn't have any Improvisations past 8th level! It was the ONLY customizable thing for the class aside from expertise(mainly focused on skills)!

All these issues mentioned were prior entering the battlefield. In battle, envoys have a lot of must-have spammable abilities that compete with each other and impair movement, these all make the class fell clunky because you don't deal much damage so you MUST use your minor abilities every round, but you're taxed until 4th/6th level where you need to get "improved" (A.K.A feat tax) versions of features you have already choose.

The Envoy would be a much better class if it had room for choices both in and outside battles since you will never pick a highly situational ability that doesn't solve the problem over a bread-and-butter ability that will always be useful.

Being the party face is nice and all, but even in this department you're outclassed by a Operative that isn't even trying as hard as you to be one. At least the skills you can use expertise you can safely say you're the best.


I guess i'm not quite so worried about class balance - I love an underdog :)


I feel like if I had to change something about the Envoy class, I would give them the choice of long-arm proficiency and advanced melee weapon proficiency at first level. In addition I would separate the Improvisations into two groups: One that has all of the improvisations that give optional actions like Clever Attack, and one that has all of the ones who modify improvisations in the first group. Then I would say Envoys gain improvisations in the first group at the normal progression, then gain improvisations from the second group at a different level progression.


Vo wrote:
I guess i'm not quite so worried about class balance - I love an underdog :)

I'm not so worried about needing a mechanical concept like a class to bolster the flavor of a person.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:


I'm not so worried about needing a mechanical concept like a class to bolster the flavor of a person.

I feel the Envoy class brings with it a certain flavour, which is backed up Expertise. The class skills and lack of direct combat punch drives you to approach situations without "combat goggles" on - talking is the focus.

I'm not suggesting other classes can't have as interesting a character as an Envoy, in fact Starfinder has so much going on I can't think of another game where so many interesting and varied characters jump out of the source material.


theelcorspectre wrote:
I feel like if I had to change something about the Envoy class, I would give them the choice of long-arm proficiency and advanced melee weapon proficiency at first level. In addition I would separate the Improvisations into two groups: One that has all of the improvisations that give optional actions like Clever Attack, and one that has all of the ones who modify improvisations in the first group. Then I would say Envoys gain improvisations in the first group at the normal progression, then gain improvisations from the second group at a different level progression.

Just remove the "Improved" Improvisations, give the base abilities the level progression that would require a new choice. Switch up some very niche abilities to swift actions or reactions, so that they're easier to squeeze in when they're needed and since this is Starfinder, you can't full attack if you used your Swift action, which keeps the character in line with what seems to be its intended balance state (use your abilities or full-attack, but not both). Along with more improvisations beyond 8th-level. That should be a good start.

While we're at it we could also incorporate some improvisations into the main chassis of the class (Clever Improvisations, Expertise attack, long range improvs, etc). It doesn't need to be ALL of them, but they certainly would make the class have almost as much tools as other classes. The class doesn't even offer any paths like Soldiers, Operatives and Mechanics and these also get a lot of features over level on top of the same amount of choices an envoy gets. I would hardly say that Expertise talents make up for it.

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