|Reveal the top 5 cards of your deck. The player to your left chooses one. Discard that one and put the rest into your hand.|
Envoy is a promotional Action card. It gives +4 cards, but lets an opponent choose the worst 4 out of 5; as such, it works better in homogeneous decks where the best cards aren't much better than the average.
- If you do not have 5 cards in your deck, reveal as many as you can and shuffle your discard pile to reveal the rest.
- The player to your left then chooses one of the revealed cards for you to discard and then you put the rest to your hand.
- If you do not have enough cards left to reveal 5 cards, even after shuffling, reveal as many as you can. The opponent to your left still discards one card before you put the rest to your hand.
While Envoy is an efficient terminal draw card in terms of the net hand size increase (of three), it has one notable drawback given that your opponent's choice means you will usually draw the least desirable four out of the five revealed cards. The impact of this drawback is dependent on your deck composition, or more specifically your ratio of good cards (i.e. villages, cantrips, Travellers, etc.) to bad cards (i.e. junk such as your starting Coppers and Estates). For example, this ratio is usually high if thinning is available, and your opponent might only be able to discard one draw card out of several. Conversely, if a junking attack is present or thinning is absent, this ratio is likely to be low, and your opponent might (for example) be able to discard the only village you reveal.
Because this drawback’s impact varies over the course of the game and from Kingdom to Kingdom, the best way to use Envoy differs slightly in comparison to more reliable terminal draw cards such as Smithy, as the additional card drawn may not always make up for missing an opportunity to play a key card. While a few copies can still draw a large amount when paired with villages, Envoy is relatively more fragile when your good-to-bad card ratio is low, as your opponent can simply prevent you from finding your next village or Envoy. As such, it is usually less desirable in the early game before you’ve been able to thin much, or when you’re unable to thin at all. Occasionally, however, Envoy can function very well as a form of bulk draw, supplemented by cantrips or other ways to ensure you can also draw your most important cards.
When deciding what to discard for an opponent's Envoy, you’ll usually want to deny them whatever most helps them continue their turn. Often, this will mean discarding a village to limit their terminal space (and, likely, further Envoy plays). Other times, discarding a draw card such as Laboratory will be your best option. Occasionally, when you know that they will not be drawing any more cards (likely because they are out of terminal space) you will want to discard their strongest payload card. This might prevent them from having enough Buys for a pileout, or from hitting an important pricepoint (e.g. Province).
A few different effects can help mitigate Envoy’s drawbacks.
- Some villages can help with the problem of having unreliable access to terminal space. Villa, Coin of the Realm, or sources of Villagers allow you to simply buy more terminal space, or store it up for future turns, while Village Green is a poor target for your opponent to discard since doing so would allow you to React with it.
- Given that Envoy tends to draw worse than average cards from your deck, it synergizes with sifters (such as Warehouse) that let you exchange dead cards for better cards. Cantrips are also very helpful because your opponent usually doesn’t know what they will draw and hence won’t know whether discarding a cantrip is to their advantage or not.
- Certain effects such as Courier or Mountain Village let you access strong cards that were discarded by getting them back or playing them from the discard pile.
Envoy’s ability to draw a significant portion of your deck in the early game can be useful with effects that allow you to trash or thin multiple cards at once, such as Trade, Banish, or Cemetery. Opening with Envoy can be an effective way to access these effects quickly.
|Reveal the top 5 cards of your deck. The player to your left chooses one for you to discard. Draw the rest.||Envoy||November 2008|
| Reveal the top 5 cards of your deck. The player to your left chooses one.
Discard that one and put the rest into your hand.
|Envoy (2016 printing)||February 2017|
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This started in Intrigue. It fit with the decisions theme; you give your opponent a decision. Often that amounts to just "discard the best card," and having your opponent pick just keeps you honest. Sometimes it's a real decision though. The mechanic seemed fine, but what the card did was, it was a terminal action that drew you cards. There was enough of that already between the main set and Intrigue. And the new part to Envoy was interesting, but didn't like give you a new deck to build or anything. In your deck, it was like a Smithy. So I took Envoy out, to perhaps try in a later expansion.
Then one day Jay said, he needed a promo, could I have it say by tomorrow. I didn't want to steal a card from a future set, and also, I wanted something with as much playtesting as possible. That basically meant an outtake from the main set or Intrigue. Envoy was easily the best option.
Envoy contributes too little relative to Smithy. That's why it's not in Intrigue! It's why it's a bad promo. The premise sounds interesting, the card is not sufficiently interesting. That line has varied over time. For Intrigue, it didn't feel different enough. For the 15th expansion I'm more lenient. Advisor gets more out of the premise, hooray. It's a fine card except for being too slow.
The basic premise of promo cards is bad. I do them anyway because various entities want them. The best case scenario is, a promo actually promotes an expansion. We have just a couple of those. Prince is a good promo because it's exotic like promos like to be, but a set isn't missing it because sets don't really want actions that cost .