|Type(s)||Action - Duration|
|At the start of your next turn, you may play an Action card from your hand three times.|
Mastermind is an Action-Duration card from Menagerie. Like King's Court, it plays an Action card from your hand three times, but it is delayed until the start of your next turn.
- Playing an Action card via this is optional. If you do play one, you resolve the card completely, then play it a second time, then play it a third time, without playing other cards in-between (unless told to by a card).
- Playing these Actions does not use up Action plays. For example, if you Mastermind a Bounty Hunter, you will get +3 Actions total, and be able to play 4 Action cards after that - your normal one, plus 3 more for the +3 Actions.
- If a Mastermind plays a Duration card, the Mastermind stays in play as long as the Duration card does.
- If a Mastermind plays another Mastermind, both will stay in play, and the turn after that you can play three different Action cards from your hand three times each.
- If you Mastermind a Horse, you will get +2 Cards and +1 Action, return the Horse to its pile, get +2 Cards and +1 Action, fail to return the Horse since you already did, and get +2 Cards and +1 Action a third time and fail to return the Horse again.
Other rules clarifications
- Mastermind only stays in play for longer than normal if it plays a Duration card (such as a 2nd Mastermind). If it plays a Throne Room that plays a Duration, or a Band of Misfits that plays a Duration, the Mastermind doesn't stay in play.
- If Mastermind plays a Duration (such as a 2nd Mastermind), but you remove it from play (with e.g. Way of the Horse), the Mastermind doesn't stay in play (and you'll have to remember the Duration's effects on your next turn).
Mastermind is a strong Throne Room variant that allows you to triple-play Action cards. The fact that it does this in the form of a start-of-turn Duration effect creates a few downsides: it does nothing until the turn after you play it, its available targets can be somewhat difficult to control, and chaining multiple copies has a significant disadvantage, in that at least one copy will stay in play for two additional turns rather than one. Mastermind therefore generally lacks the rapid and repeatable explosive power of King's Court, but it can still provide excellent acceleration and heavily amplify most kinds of draw and payload, while itself acting as both a village and draw.
In order to play a card with Mastermind, you need to have it in your hand at the start of your turn, so it's usually crucial to maximize your chances of finding a desirable target using one or more of the following methods:
- Thinning your deck and maintaining a relatively low density of undesirable targets, as well as cards that can't function as targets at all, such as Treasures.
- Making use of effects that can guarantee you will have a particular card in your starting hand, such as topdecking it with Scheme or setting it aside with Haven. Particularly strong examples include Artisan, which enables you to gain-and-play a Mastermind while topdecking its desired target for your next turn, and Supplies, which topdecks a Horse that you can triple-play to generate strong draw and extra terminal space.
- Other start-of-turn effects can increase your search space for a suitable target for Mastermind. These are more likely to be synergistic than a full replacement for thinning. For example, City Gate and Guide are relatively cheap additions for a solid increase in reliability. Duration draw such as Wharf, Hireling, or other Masterminds can also work, though it is worth noting that Duration draw cards are generally not the best targets for Mastermind's effect, as they force the Mastermind to stay in play longer and allow you to play it less.
These considerations mean that Mastermind is generally not best acquired too early in the game, before you have made sufficient progress in deck control to be sure of finding a good target. Once you have successfully deployed your first Mastermind, an ideal scenario is often to use the ensuing strong turn to make the increased productivity of your deck consistent, often by gaining-and-playing a second copy.
In the midgame, Mastermind's most common role is usually to generate draw at the start of your turn, enhancing your odds of drawing your deck provided that you have a suitable draw card (or even a cantrip) in hand. In contrast with other Throne Room variants, a standalone Mastermind can be used to play a terminal draw card at the start of your turn without using up your only Action, so triple-playing a terminal draw card like Smithy can be a very good choice. As your deck control improves and you become able to play multiple Masterminds each turn, it may be more beneficial to target payloard cards for one or more of your triple-plays once you have drawn enough initially.
Mastermind's role as a village can also be important throughout the game. It effectively acts as a restricted village, because your tripled card play at the start of the turn consumes no Actions and playing Mastermind itself on the previous turn consumes only one; this can also generate net +Actions if you can play a non-terminal Action. Alternating your Masterminds is especially important when it is the only village available, as your deck is likely to underperform if the only terminal you can play is a Mastermind. Given that you give up one terminal space this turn for three next turn, multiple Masterminds can often be adequate for your terminal space needs. As with Throne Room and similar cards, you can also effectively create extra terminal space even if only terminals are available as targets by using Mastermind to triple-play another copy of itself, thereby generating three triple-plays at the start of your next turn. Compared to the equivalent approach with Throne Room or King's Court, this type of chaining is slower to take effect and potentially problematic in its impact on your future turns, because a Mastermind used to triple the next copy will stay in play for another turn, possibly disrupting the stability of your alternation. Therefore, this maneuver is less automatically desirable in the case of Mastermind; however, it can still be highly impactful even if terminal space is not your limiting factor. This is particularly true towards the end of the game, when it doesn't matter that you won't be able to set up future turns since the game will have ended. Mastermind chaining in this way can be particularly helpful if you want to set up a megaturn in which you target strong payload cards, such as Inventor or Bridge, for triple-playing after drawing with your earlier Mastermind plays.
Start-of-turn draw with Mastermind is similar to Duration draw, for example in that it synergizes with certain start-of-turn effects. For instance, you have more target cards to choose from if you call Transmogrify or trigger Cathedral's trashing effect after drawing by playing a card with Mastermind.
|At the start of your next turn, you may play an Action card from your hand three times.||Menagerie||March 2020|
Other language versions
|German||Drahtzieher||Zu Beginn deines nächsten Zuges darfst du eine Aktionskarte aus deiner Hand dreimal spielen.||(2020)|
|Japanese||首謀者 (pron. shubōsha)|
Further thoughts by Donald X.
Because playing Masterminds with Masterminds can be confusing, Donald X. was asked if he would change it to "non-Duration Action card."