Simon "that sci-fi guy"
In my first play of Envoy (and Black Market) we played two games using the new cards - and since this will be part reivew I'll focus on Envoy here.
Setup: Played with Dominion: Intrigue using the courtyard, wishing well, baron, bridge, coppersmith, Duke, Upgrade, trading post, and of course Envoy and Black Market.
After starting with 4 coins I purchased a coppersmith on my first turn hoping to make early use of it. My opponent (this was a two player game) also had four and bought a silver. The coppersmith paid of in a number of way because it allowed me to shortly buy a gold, and also when used in conjuction with the envoy a little later in the game, became quite valuable.
Here in lies the conundrum of envoy. On the face of it getting five cards (- one) sounds great but of course it often feels as though whenever you get it one of the following happens: you get mostly victory point cards, you get great action cards (when you need coins) but have no actions left, you get the one card you were looking for but your opponent chooses to discard that one. However in my brief experience using this card, I found that it paid off often enough to be worthwhile adding to my hand, because on those few turns when it did pay off - it paid off big. With a coppersmith so doubling the coppers I had; a hand of coins, or my opponent not knowing exactly what I wanted and discarding the wrong card - all resulting in **trumpets** provinces!
Of course it's easier to remember when it doesn't work and I'm sure it was a fifty/fifty good/useless outcome split.
I had purchased the envoy much earlier than my opponent and as such was able to use it more often and to some good effect. The result was that after going for an early duke, he didn't pursue that strategy heartily enough and it didn't pay off. The resulting score being (something like) 42- 24 in my favour.
Overall, I like the envoy and will keep it in the regular rotation of kingdom cards used when we play. I can see why others may not like it though but for mine that little bit of randomness and luck of the draw added a little something to the game - a do'h or YESSS! factor.