The Almighty Mindthief Guide
The Almighty Mindthief Guide

The Mindthief is a fast-moving, versatile character that deals out high damage, but has very few hitpoints. A glass cannon, if you will. This is made much more difficult by the fact that the Mindthief is first and foremost, a melee character. That means you need to get upfront where all the action is so that the Mindthief can dish out damage but also have a strategy in place to avoid receiving damage. The room for error is minimal and you need to have a solid understanding of the tools at your disposal.

Read on, and you’ll have an ample amount of knowledge to go forth and succeed as the Vermling Mindthief. This Mindthief Guide is not just rattling off every card the Mindthief has and saying this is good/bad, I’m going to talk about larger strategy, movement, attacks, looting, items, enhancements! It’s an in-depth, very long, very detailed Mindthief Guide. 

Mindthief standing beside a massive stack of coins. "When everyone in your party wants the coins but you've got a loot card with initiative 14. Just Mindthief things"

Movement & Initiative

One of the things you’ll quickly realize, and if you’ve already started playing you’ve already found out, that the Mindthief is a delicate little butterfly. Packs a punch, but you definitely need to keep him out of danger. Our Vermling glass cannon’s situation is made particularly difficult by the fact the Mindthief isn’t great when it comes to ranged attacks, which means we need to rely heavily on movement as well as high/low initiatives.

Later on we’re going to get into specific attacks, what actions to use and when, but before we dive into specifics it’s very important that you have solid foundational knowledge of movement strategy. Dropping a killer attack on a fool is wicked fun, but unless you’ve got an exit plan, your Vermling is going to end up as roadkill and your party Brute will be scraping you off the dungeon floor…

A tried-and-true method of dishing out damage and stay alive is to go late, move in, punch the enemy in the mouth, and then go early the next turn so that you can smack him in the face one more time before you run away. In this regard, the Mindthief is endowed with some absolutely wonderful cards, and they are part of the reason this character was voted the second most fun to play. (grumble grumble $%&^*%# Cragheart, stupid paperweight)

I can’t emphasize this enough, high initiative cards (going slowly) are not a bad thing. People often talk about an initiative 86 as a negative aspect of the card, but if you know what you’re doing that just frees you up to go when you want to go! If you’re safely behind a Brute or a Cragheart when you start your turn then go slowly. Take your time, let the monsters wear themselves out on your high hitpoint comrades. Play initiative 86, move in at the end of the turn, and then play your initiative 11 to go early the next turn to get another attack in and get out of dodge. He might be very squishy, but after two melee attacks from the Mindthief, there isn’t gonna be much of that monster left…
Use the depth of high & low initiatives to your advantage.  

Opening up a new room by yourself is almost always going to end poorly. You’re gonna want to make sure that if you’re opening up the door on your turn, you’ve got the cavalry coming right behind you with very quick initiatives. Remember that after your turn is complete, any monsters in that room that have a lower initiative than you, or lower than your teammates who haven’t gone yet are gonna take a look at you and see a very tasty treat. Mindthief kicks some butt, but having a room full of baddies laying into you means you might end up hemorrhaging cards to avoid taking lots of damage. That doesn’t make for a very good day at the office. I’ve got another article about strategy for opening doors, but as far as this guide goes, just play it safe.

Best Items For Mindthief

You’re kicking off the game with 30 gold burning a hole in your pocket! But if you haven’t played a single round with the Mindthief yet, how are you going to know what will come in useful? 
Get in loser, we’re going shopping!

Boots. Of. Striding. Don’t leave home without them, this is a Mindthief staple. There are only two pairs, and you need them the most, so if your mercenary buddies are somewhat less than obliging, kindly inform them they’re wrong and your needs are greater. If you read through the section about how important movement is to the Mindthief, then this should make perfect sense. An additional 2 hexes tacked onto your movement when you need it most is not just handy, it could be the difference between dancing around your big ugly enemy OR having Vermling guts splattered all over the wall. 

If you’re just starting out then I would use your remaining 10 gold on a Minor Stamina Potion. Great to be able to pick two of your best cards back up and redo a massive attack without resting. For the price of 10 gold it is well worth it. 

Alternatively, get a Minor Healing Potion. It kinda boils down to how confident you feel about avoiding damage, and who else you have in your party. I recommend Stamina because Tinkerer and Spellweaver can cover the healing, but if you haven’t got them in your party a Healing Potion may be beneficial. Empathetic Assault will also help in that regard, but we’ll talk about that when we run through all the cards. 

The poison dagger, which is recommended in the book, does come in handy because you’ll start to have run-ins with larger, scarier enemies that have high hit points and armour. Poison is a bit of a necessity in such instances. So if you’ve got some extra cash lying around before you can purchase enhancements (if you’re looting correctly, you definitely should) then it’d be worth stopping by your local Gloomhaven Shop and picking one up. 

The Mind’s Weakness 

There’s a card worth mentioning before we actually get into the card analysis section, and that’s The Mind’s Weakness. In order to understand a lot of the strategy you need to know about this card first so behold the secret to the Mindthief’s power!

This is the Mindthief’s best card. Not “one of”. Not “up there”. This is it. Play it first and protect it at all costs. 

Because it is an augment, this superpower of a Gloomhaven move can stay in play for the entire scenario. That means you get +2 Attack on EVERY melee attack! Take a moment and think about the gravity of that. Every time you use a melee attack (Mindthief has lots of them) you add +2 to it. That’s insane. That means even if a card is hot garbage, you can still use the top action as a default attack 4. Some people argue that it’s entirely overpowered, but hey, if the creator gives you a gift Inox, you don’t look it in the mouth… 

The first Mindthief turn of every scenario starts off with “I will start off by playing…” and everyone in the party sighs and says “… the mind’s weakness…?” 

It may be predictable, but it’s also practical. 

When you start a scenario, you should definitely be hiding behind an ally, or in a corner. Somewhere safe where you won’t be the target of everything in the room and you can buy yourself some time to apply that sweet, sweet TMW. Initiative 75 is the bomb in this case. It allows you to stay behind your very healthy friends while proceedings commence, and allows the silly fools in the room to get closer to you. You then move in, apply TMW and attack them for a quick 3 right off the bat. The Attack 1 (plus the TMW 2) on the top of this card may not be glamorous, but scenarios aren’t won in a single turn, and the long term benefit has already been discussed.

As if all that wasn’t sweet enough, go ahead and give yourself an experience point. You’ve earned it, you sly devil. 

The bottom is an Attack 1 that will stay an Attack 1 because you’re not using TMW properly. A bottom attack is handy because you can pair it with our regular top attacks, but not when all your attacks have just lost all their potency. Wound helps, but this just isn’t worth it. 

Resting & Card Management

As a Mindthief, it is particularly beneficial to long rest whenever the situation allows. Oftentimes you’re going to need to wait for your party to rest up as well, so it’s definitely worth waiting because moving on while your teammates are hanging back isn’t the forte of the Mindthief. 

This will also allow us to regain the use of our Boots Of Striding, which is a major part of our strategy, and recover 2 points of health, which amounts to 33% of your total when you’re starting out. Very good call. 

It’s a fundamental principle that Gloomhaven is a game of card management. Long resting allows you to choose the card you lose, which is an incredibly valuable aspect when you’ve put loads of time and effort into picking out your 10. There’s also another small hitch the Mindthief runs into when short resting, and that is the inability to lose The Mind’s Weakness. Because that isn’t an option, if TMW is in your discard pile (we’ll discuss why that might be the case in a second) and you randomly discard a card that isn’t TMW then you can’t lose a hitpoint to choose again because the next time it could be TMW, and then you’re stuck. 

So you basically get one kick at the can when selecting a lost card on a short rest and if you don’t like the one you lose… well at least it isn’t The Mind’s Weakness. 

But why would you ever pull back TMW and have it susceptible to being picked as the lost card? 

If you’ve got an even number of cards in your discard pile when you rest, that means you’re going to have an odd number of cards after you’ve put one of them in the lost pile. Coming out of a rest with an odd number of cards means one of them is going to be left without a dance partner. You can get around this, and get an extra turn before you have to rest again by pulling back TMW anytime you’ve got an even number of cards in your discard pile. 

If you leave TMW in play with an even number of cards it will be odd after you lose one during a rest. One fewer turn.
Resting with an even number of discards will leave you with one fewer turn.
TMW is brought back to the discard pile to make an odd number of cards. Then after discarding one youll have an even number.
Discard The Mind’s Weakness to make the discard pile odd and get an extra turn before the next rest.

Squeeze every turn you can out of that little rat man! Could win you a scenario.

Mindthief Card Analysis

Without any further ado, let’s get into the analysis of the specific Mindthief cards that we’re working with. This section is just going to be Level 1 and Level X cards, so don’t worry about spoilers. The cards that are level 2 and up will be after we talk about these cards and potential enhancements. I’m going to try and put them in order of importance, but you know, different situations, different ways to play, yadda yadda. This will at least give you a sense of what to use and what to leave behind. 


This is the Mindthief card with the fewest words on it, yet it ranks amongst the very best. Cast your gaze upward friend, and behold the rarity that makes this such an awesome card… a top-half move.

Scurry isn’t flashy like the next few cards we’re going to be talking about, but it is mentioned first because it is freedom. With the +2 from TMW you are looking at a Move 3, Attack 3, and it isn’t even a burner! You get to keep using it! It’s great for those times when something is just out of reach. 

If you pair it up with one of the Move 4s the Mindthief has, and the Boots of Striding you can have a turn that amounts to MOVE 9 and then still be able to lay down an Attack 3. I would almost never recommend doing that, because you’re likely going to find yourself alone (never a good thing for MT), but if you’re behind and need to catch up, knowing that you’ve got that kind of mobility in your hand is a very good feeling. 

Like a fine wine, it pairs quite nicely with Perverse Edge. That will amount to an attack with Stun, Move 3, and then Attack 3. Not shabby at all for using 0 burner cards in that turn. Scurry is an absolute staple. You’re gonna want to bring it along with you for every campaign. 

The bottom half Loot 2 (loss) is really only going to be worth it at the end of the scenario when all the hard work is done. Apart from that you’re not going to want to burn this workhorse before then. 

The superficial downside of this card is the glaring lack of an experience point! Once you’ve played Mindthief enough you’ll start to acquire a sense of entitlement that you should get, at the very least, 1 experience point each turn, and the omission of such a detail on a card is taken as nothing less than a personal slight.

Frigid Apparition

This card is so much fun. It’s what I imagine it would be like to work demolition and blow stuff up. You are looking at an Attack 5 (TMW) and if Ice is available (it often will be) you get to stun that poor dumb slob as well! … and it isn’t even a burner card. Hang onto that stamina potion, my friend, you’re gonna want this one back! 

Apart from mowing down regular monsters with an Attack 5, allow me to shed some light on how this card will truly benefit you in the long run… shielded enemies. Whether or not you have already, you will eventually run into enemies that have high shields. Frigid Apparition is one of the tools we have in our arsenal to deal with these uncooperating individuals. This has the highest base attack of a non-burner card that the MT starts with, and is actually one of the highest of its type amongst the Starting 6. Which means not only is it a good play within our own hand, but your allies are going to be looking to you when no one else can put any damage on the shielded monstrosity in front of you. 

The initiative is lukewarm, but when you’re laying down some hurt on a fool, 29 is still manageable.

A sad story about this card is you may often find that the enemy you’re grinding into a fine dust will be dead before you even get a chance to stun him. Well fret not my friend, because if you’ve consumed ice then you can go ahead and collect that experience point anyway, even if the opponent is dead before he can be stunned. 

And if the fool does survive this massive hit and stunning, well he’s not going to be much use anyhow, is he? 

The bottom half is a good action, but as a burner card it’s just not going to be more beneficial than the top. It combines a move four, of which we already have two, and you stun wherever you stop. Nice, but not worth losing a card over. Especially when the Mindthief is likely going to have to burn a card or two to avoid taking damage, so losing cards voluntarily needs to have a great play behind it. This bottom half isn’t it. 

I can’t think of a situation where I’d leave this card behind. Play it often, and relish each use.

It’s nice to have a card that provides such great value by using ice. If only we had a useful card that could generate ice…

Perverse Edge

Woaho! Would you look at what we have here. Little ice element sitting pretty there at the bottom. But we’ll get to that in a second, let’s talk about the top. 

Attack 5, so same level that we were dealing with as Frigid Apparition, except now we’re burning a card to get it. There’s gotta be something extra thrown in there to sweeten the deal, so you can get a bonus two for every negative condition on the opponent, which can seriously get up there. If there’s a fool who’s poisoned and stunned, well then there’s an attack 9 waiting for you. 

Seems tempting, right? There are a few reasons you’re rarely going to use it. 

First of all, it’s a bit situational. Especially early on. You’ll definitely have monsters that have got negative conditions on them, but it won’t be often they have more than one, and if they do they’re likely close to death anyhow. Not worth burning a card on. 

Second of all, if you burn this card that ultra quick initiative 8 goes with it! It’s worth avoiding the top half just to keep that 8 in circulation. Such a good card for when you want to do something and do it NOW. 

Third of all, we’ve finally come across a decent bottom action that we can pair with top actions. If you hadn’t noticed, all three awesome cards that we’ve talked about so far have all been based on actions on the top half of the card. Eventually we’re going to need to have some bottom actions in our repertoire.

And on that note, let’s take a look at the bottom of Perverse Edge… 

Many young Mindthiefs… Mindthieves? Many young Vermlings may take a look at this card and think it isn’t that hot, and I wouldn’t blame them for it. A ranged attack of 1? We can’t even TMW our way up to a 3 attack on that, what gives? 

Patience, young mercenary, we’re not in it for the attack. The bottom half of this card, for all intents and purposes, is an Insta-Stun. And when we’re looking at some massive ugly enemy with an Attack 8, Perverse Edge is gonna start looking mighty handy. 

Initiative 8 means we’re going extra quick, and range 2 gives us a bit of flexibility. It’s not much flexibility, but it’s better than having to be adjacent to the enemy though (looking at you, bottom of Frigid Apparition). So the bottom of this card amounts to: you go first, pick whichever nasty monster has the most dubious plan for this round, and say “No”. Then you also infuse the ICE element and collect yourself a well earned experience point! Not bad for a bottom half. 

Another thought on a good way to maximize this card’s potential is to keep an eye out for your allies. It’s a team game after all. Range two may seem like nothing, but if you’re standing behind an ally taking the hits for you, Perverse Edge will allow you to stun the enemy in front of them so you can repay the favour. 

Shake the mindset that any ranged attack needs to be done from range. In a situation where you’re toe-to-toe with a heavy hitting goon, stun that sunnuva drake. Remember, we’re really not playing this card for the Attack 1, so if you have disadvantage when using this action who cares. This is a bottom action, so we’re likely not going to be moving this round anyway, you might as well stun the guy who’s going to lay the damage on you. 

This card pairs well with Scurry, but PE’s range is limiting. If you stun (Range 2) and then use Scurry (Move 3, Attack 3), you’re really only going to be able to use Move 1 out of the potential 3 to attack the guy you just stunned. Very practical if you’re stunning one fool and moving to attack another though. 
Highly recommend bringing Perverse Edge with you as your Stun Gun. People pay 30 Gold for a War Hammer that stuns on a melee attack. You’re getting this for free at range, why leave it behind? And being able to generate ice by yourself, which can set up Frigid Apparition for a smackdown next turn.

Feedback Loop

Another rock-solid bottom card. This is a prime example of a card that would get randomly picked as your loss card on a short rest and your heart breaks a little bit. 

But let’s take a look at the top.

That’s ugly. Like, Cinderella stepsister ugly. 

Just to be clear… this is an augment, that you need to remove The Mind’s Weakness to play, and when you melee attack you get Shield 1. As in, until the end of the current round (not until your next turn)… and this card has initiative 79… which is the end of the round. 

We’ll not spend too much time on this. Going late can be advantageous, but not when it comes to shields, you need to get those up early. And if you’re pairing this card up with a fast initiative card, you’re doing that for an Attack 1, Shield 1, and discarding the most important card you have. Up to you, but you won’t see me marching around with this augment applied. 

On the bottom half we have got the first of our movement cards. Move 4 (with Jump) is almost always enough to get you to the hex you want to be in without leaving all your allies behind. When you pair this with Boots Of Striding you’re also getting more value out of them because their additional two moves also have Jump. 

It sounds super fancy, and is the namesake of the card, but I’d recommend against using this card to Muddle enemies. This is your best movement card. Move 4 and Jump. And Muddle isn’t even that great! Also, if you’re in a situation where you can Muddle 2-3 enemies and get back to the same hex you started from… then you’re in some serious trouble. Mindthief likes to be away from that type of hex. If they’re muddled they’ll do less damage, but if you’re 4 hexes away they’ll do no damage at all. Position yourself well, that’s the Mindthief’s game, not doing something just because you can. 

Now with this freedom in our grasp and breeze beneath our wings, this card can open up the opportunity to lay a smackdown on an enemy that is otherwise blocked from our melee attack. Check out the situation here: 

This is going to come up rather frequently. You’re blocked from performing your melee attack. With a regular move you wouldn’t be able to get close to the fool holding a steak knife, but with Feedback Loop you can get yourself behind the enemy and hit him with your melee attack… and snag a coin while you’re at it (call it a service charge). 

But with great power comes great responsibility. Just because you can jump over an enemy to attack him doesn’t always mean you should. Remember that moving too far ahead of the rest of your crew is going to be a painful time for our rat friend. So there are situations when you need to hold off and wait patiently. 

This is a prime example of when Feedback Loop is very tempting… but shouldn’t be played. If you move to the same spot as last time and your initiative is lower than the Cragheart (and let’s be honest, it will be) then you’re going to be attacked by 4 enemies in one round. 
Great power. Great responsibility. 

The key to Mindthief success is positioning.

Gnawing Horde

This is a card that is widely frowned upon, but with your permission, Your Honour, I’d like to make a case for it. When mobility is your game, a Move 4 is your friend. I present to you, your second (slightly less attractive) Move card. 

I’m going to switch this section up and do the bottom first because it’s dead simple and I haven’t got much to tell you about it. Move 4, no Jump, no Muddle effect (which should be avoided). Take this card with you for the movement! It’s precious and you’ll wish you had more of them! Or at least more of the much more attractive Feedback Loop. But nonetheless the bottom of this card is very useful indeed.  

And now to the controversial bit. Not just for the Mindthief, but for all classes. Summons are tricky to work correctly, and this one has a move of 1, which means they (the rats) are going to get left behind and by the time you’re in the third room they’ve barely moved off the welcome mat. HOWEVER, I maintain that there is a very viable way for you to rock a summon and have it be useful… but the rats aren’t gonna like it. 

The primary time I’d recommend forsaking the bottom Move 4 in order to burn this card for the summon is in a time of utmost emergency. Treat it like an “In Case Of Emergency Break Glass” sort of scenario. There may come a time when you and your allies are all short on health and the next round is going to bring a whole lot of pain. You’ll look at each other, ask who’s going to step up and everyone will explain why they can’t. With no one available to tank this round, this is the Mindthief’s opportunity to once more save the day. 

The top half of this card is a Meat Shield. The rats may not be able to move around very much, but they have Health 6! In the desperate situation outlined above, taking those hits with low health is going to mean bleeding cards. This is never a good thing if it can be avoided. If you can burn one card to not bleed 2 then you’re doing it right. Even if it comes at the expense of a really handy Move 4.

Remember that by default they have a faster initiative than you do, and you can put them wherever you like, so any enemies that were going to be a major problem for you are now going to focus on the summoned rats instead. And this will also spare your allies from needing to step up, giving everyone a chance to heal up, rest if necessary and dodge some damage. Altogether a very strategic use of a burner card.

Also take note of the poison that they can lay down. Good if you need to weaken a boss or really powerful enemy, but not the primary reason I’d play this card. Use your poison dagger instead. 

Empathetic Assault

And who says the Mindthief can’t do ranged attacks! Attack 4 and Range 5, my goodness! Plus Disarm, Ice, and 2 cheeky little experience points just to top it all off! Good value there as burner cards go. 

I know I’m always harping on saying you shouldn’t burn cards, but I don’t want to put you off the idea altogether. This is a great top half card, just make sure you don’t use it too early (you’ll lose more turns that way) and when you do burn one make sure it’s good value! This card qualifies.

Disarm is almost as good as a stun, and at Range 5 you’ve got full command of the room. Attack 4 is average for us, but Ice is always helpful in teeing up Frigid Apparition. 

Putting the flashy half of the card to the side, the bottom half is your First Aid kit. I’ve spent a lot of this guide telling you to move around and dodge those hits, but realistically you’re gonna get attacked. When you’re dealing with 6 points of health, this card is a MUST to have in your repertoire.

If you have other allies that can help you in the healing department than this card becomes less mandatory, but still very good to have. If you’re in a scenario without a Tinkerer or Spellweaver then you’ll need to take Empathetic Assault. It’s your only Heal card and the ol’ hit points can be a bit of a scarce resource for our intrepid hero.

Pairs up well with pretty much any top attack card, and will also help as a tactical retreat if you do need to summon the Meat Shield. 

Initiative 11 is a really important aspect of this card because when you need to heal yourself, you don’t want to do it after all the ugly mean guys have had another turn, you want to do it NOW. Initiative 11 makes that happen.

Into The Night

My fellow Vermlings, meet your loot card. I’ve put it down low in terms of importance, but that is from the perspective of the scenario. From the perspective of the Mindthief and your enjoyment of the game, this card is highly important! Bashing in skulls is loads of fun, but the feeling of cleaning up 3+ coins in one turn is a sensation all to itself. 

There’s going to be a time and a place for this one, and you shouldn’t be deceived by the reusability of this card because in most scenarios you’re only going to get one good use of it before it gets put into your lost pile through resting. My advice would be to use it once early in the scenario, like after the first room, and try and get as much out of it as possible. 

How much use you get out of this card really depends on how you want to play the Mindthief and how well the scenario is going. Gloomhaven is such a well thought out game, and one of the mechanics that I love about it is the Loot card is often one of the first cards to be lost. If you take an unexpected bad hit, or your whole party is in over its head, that is when you’re likely going to have to jettison Into The Night. That’s because it’s going to come down to whether you want to lose your Loot card or lose your Move 4 + Jump… The choice is yours, that’s why I say it very much depends on how you want to play this Mindthief. Most of the time I would dump Into the Night. That’s why we’ve gone through 7 other cards before this one. 

Looting is important though. You’re gonna need to pay for that Poison Dagger somehow, and when Enhancements come along you will have wished you saved up for them! Gotta put cheese on the table y’know. 

Invisibility is wonderful. It is a really handy tool to have in your arsenal, and there is a very viable way to play the Mindthief where you regularly utilize invisibility to maximize your damage dealing and damage dodging. However, this strategy will not make you a rich rat because you can only use the bottom or the top of this card, and as I mentioned earlier you’re likely not going to have this one with you the entire scenario. 

I should probably do a full article on invisibility, but I’ll put some high level notes in here to get your strategic juices flowing. The first thing I’ll mention is Into The Night’s invisibility half is tough to execute in an ideal way because you can’t use it with a regular bottom-half movement. Which means you’re either going to have to use it exactly where you are, or pair it with Scurry (see what I mean about Scurry being very useful). So when you’re in the game just keep in mind that if you’re using Invisibility you likely won’t be moving that turn as well. 

Invisibility is great for higher hitpoint enemies who you’re reeeally keen to not get hit by. The general MO for the Mindthief is run in, hit, run away. But for enemies that you know are going to need multiple rounds of abuse, invisibility is a great alternative to the run away portion. The tricky part then becomes how do you move in and go invisible? 

It’s generally advantageous in this regard if an enemy moved next to you on their turn because you can go invisible, attack them (Frigid Apparition, Fearsome Blade, or Submissive Affliction), then wait there while they can’t attack you back. That will tee up your next turn quite nicely. The obvious problem there is you may get walloped before you disappear. 

There are mercenaries out there who are big fans of blocking doorways with invisibility. I think it’s an okay strategy, but not amazing. It’ll still leave you in a situation that’s tricky for a squishy character when your invisibility wears off. I wrote more about it in Strategy For Opening Doors

Initiative 14 is good. Faster than almost everything out there, and when you’re trying to rack up some coinage, or go invisible that’s the speed you want to be going at. Top half pairs well with any movement card, and bottom half pairs well with Scurry for that Move, Attack, Invisible we discussed. 

I always bring this with me, but if you’re playing a more wholesome, less greedy Vermling then this is one you’ll be able to substitute out for better higher level cards.

Submissive Affliction

By the time we’ve got to this point you’ve now realized the Mindthief has a Batman-level utility belt and a big ol’ buckle that reads Boss Hog. We have talked through cards that let you do damn near everything you’re gonna wanna do to a room full of monsters. We’ve covered off Loot, Invisible, Heal, Move, and Stun. But you need to scroll all the way back up to Frigid Apparition before you find the last time we talked about some old fashioned, honest-to-Oak monster killin’ Attacks. Fret not, young adventurer. Meet Submissive Affliction. 

The reason this card is so far down our list is not because it’s bad, but simply because it’s a bit average. This is going to be one of your work horse, vanilla flavoured Attack cards that has some sprinkles of excitement on the bottom. You’ll notice right off the bat we’re looking at an Attack 2, plus The Mind’s Weakness to make it an Attack 4. No one’s drooling over that, we have that as our default attack move anyway. And this has one of the worst Mindthief initiatives at 48. 

But the top half of Submissive Affliction adds value when the enemy you’re attacking already has a negative condition on it. Now we’re looking at Attack 5, maybe 6 that has a decent shot of finishing off an enemy (especially if they’re already feeling sick). That’s not a bad side effect for a card that you’re going to end up using anyway. 

The side effect of this card will come in handy when there’s a larger/meaner enemy causing problems, or when you’ve got allies that use AOE attacks that also put a debuff on a group of uglies. Keep your eye out for those opportunities, but overall don’t get discouraged if you’re using this as a regular Attack 4

… because you still get to take an Experience Point for your efforts. And that alone is worth not using the default Attack action. 

The bottom half of this one is the rainbow sprinkles to vanilla ice cream. Cast your gaze upon the Range and let your eyes light up as you imagine hexes on the far side of the world that are Range 5 away! Now think beyond, because if the enemy you’re controlling has a Range on their status card you can add that on to the attack. You’re looking at a potential Attack 2, Range 8+. That’s long distance dedication. 

The letdown for us is it’s an Attack 2, and there’s nothing The Mind’s Weakness can do about ranged attacks. So when we’re used to laying down a basic 4, this Attack 2 starts to feel more like a long distance kiss on the cheek. But let me tell you about two ways the bottom half of this card really pulls its weight. 

Bottom Half Attack. Just like Scurry is great for its Move action on the top half, Submissive Affliction is great because it’s a bottom half attack. When you’re not looking to move anywhere, attacking twice will seem pretty darn good regardless of whether it’s 2 damage or 4 damage. And even though ranged attacks aren’t our forte, there will be times when you can’t reach an enemy anyway, so this will be the only way to contribute. 

Enemies With Retaliate. There are some unsavoury individuals who will automatically deal damage if you attack them. One way to dodge this punishment is to attack from range. This will work most of the time, but some enemies retaliate at range as well. How do we make sure we avoid this all of the time? Get somebody else to do it… 

The most powerful application of the bottom half of this card involves having one enemy attack another enemy who is going to retaliate. Select the fool you want to damage, and have it attack the biggest meanest enemy with the highest retaliate number. Your Attack 2 might do damage to the big guy, but his retaliate will DEFINITELY do damage back. 

If your enemies have high shields this is an invaluable work around because retaliate is automatic damage, shields don’t prevent it. So if your enemy has a Shield of 3 and Retaliate 2 you can use the above method to do a guaranteed 2 damage. On a shield 3 that’s the equivalent of a successful Attack 5 and you don’t receive any retaliation. That is a FINE outcome for a bottom half action! Stamina potion that and do it again!

This may seem like a very situational tactic, but the beauty of this card is that you can stick to the top half until the situation arises. Neither half is a burner, and what you’ll find is that the further along you go the more shielded enemies you’ll run into. Keep Submissive Affliction in mind.

Fearsome Blade

Fearsome Blade. Name says it all. Another standard Attack card like we just talked about with Submissive Affliction. I put this card lower down because the bottom half on Submissive Affliction is a hidden gem, and the bottom half on Fearsome Blade is very straightforward, albeit useful. 

The top half of Fearsome Blade is another Attack 4, but this time you send this sucker flying across the room with a Push 3! That’s enough mileage to push whatever poor sap you’re attacking into any trap that’s in the same area code. And if you’re really lucky you might be able to line up two. 

Traps are going to be doing at least 3 damage, so that’s big points for this card, but sadly you’re not going to be able to milk that every round. You can definitely bank on a trap lining up with your Push once a scenario, but more than that is asking a lot. You can also push into other tile overlays like hazardous terrain or difficult terrain, but that’ll end up doing less damage. Altogether a Push 3 is incredibly useful and if you decided to take this card instead of Submissive Affliction I would totally support you as long as there aren’t any Retaliate enemies coming your way. 

With initiative 27 being very mediocre, you can view this as a very average attack card with a possible situational upside that can clear out a trap and dish out a bit of extra damage. Not bad by any means, but nothing to write home to the rats’ nest about. 

… and don’t forget to take your Experience Point for your trouble… 

The bottom half of this card is a classic combo like burgers and fries. Move and Attack. Pretty straightforward. But I’m hoping by this point in the guide you’ve learned enough to recognize that a bottom half attack can be a practical option to have. Move 4 Attack 4 is a very healthy action, especially since it will allow you to pair this up with another attack (Frigid Apparition or Submissive Affliction) to lay down a whooping after you’ve moved in from 4 hexes away. 
Of all the starting cards, this is a very viable option as a card worth burning for its action. Move 4, Attack 4, plus a pairing with a second attack is good value for one burned card, and although it isn’t the flashiest of moves with a big red X in the corner, it comes at a low opportunity cost because its top action isn’t particularly unique or critical. Empathetic Assault has a way cooler “burner” action, but then you lose your only heal card, and it’s on the top half so you’ll likely be pairing it with a Move action. Not quite as easy to use as Fearsome Blade.

Flaming Garbage Cards 

This is the point in the program where the quality of cards takes a steep drop. Actions that are random, too situational, or just too costly to be of much use. If you’ve been paying attention this whole you’ll realize that we’ve already covered off 10 cards, so luckily for you and me you’re not going to have to select any of the cards in this section. Everything we’ve gone through thus far is my official recommendation for your starting hand, but we’ll still talk through the rest. Like any grey cloud, we will of course look to find the silver lining in each so you know the pros and cons of everything in the Mindthief’s arsenal. 


Those are some big numbers sitting there on this card, but like speaking to a greasy car salesman you gotta be thinking, What’s the catch? That attack 6 is a burner, so we’re only ever going to be able to use it once… and ultimately we’re going to need attack cards that we can use multiple times if it’s going to be worth taking with us. If this was an attack that we could perform ourselves it may be a different story because we could bump it up to an Attack 8. 

The only situation that really comes to mind as to when I would like an ally to do my attack for me is when the enemy has retaliate. But if I’m a betting rat, you’re going to struggle to find a volunteer for that little science experiment. Apart from that we’ve already got an Attack 5 with Frigid Apparition, so one extra Attack point isn’t gonna sweeten the deal enough. 

The bottom half is much like a border collie getting all the sheep to move along into the next dungeon. This is the half of the card that you can reuse and recycle after a rest, but unless you’ve got an ally that has some serious bottom card attacks everyone is going to be capable of moving on their own most of the time. The idea behind this card is to be able to move your summon because it only does Move 1 by itself, but committing 2 cards out of your 10 to a summon just isn’t a good return.

The coordination of the proper use of this will also be detrimental to its effectiveness. You’re not meant to lay out your plans in elaborate detail before each turn, and moving someone 4 hexes when they weren’t expecting it could throw a monkey wrench into their intentions.  

There is one instance where this card goes from being a dumpster fire to golden ticket, and that is escort missions. When your job is to protect someone (ie. an ally) as they move through a dungeon, being able to move them back when they’re too fast or up when they’re two slow can win you a scenario.

If the scenario objective starts with “Kill…” then leave this card behind. If it starts with “Protect…” then make sure you bring it with you.

Withering Claw

Muddle & Poison on each melee attack. I can’t even say that it’s tempting. Poison is only really worth applying on massive enemies that will require a team effort to take down, so it’s more of a selective advantage than something you need applied to everyone you attack. The vast majority of the time you’re going to benefit more from doing an extra 2 damage than you are from having a poisoned enemy. And if that isn’t the case, if the enemy is just begging to be poisoned so that you and your mercenary compadres can bring down the wrath of The Great Oak then use your poison dagger

Muddle is just a garnish. You wouldn’t want to rely on it to avoid damage, but it’s better than taking a full-strength hit. You know what’s even better though? Taking no hit at all because your enemy is dead because you’ve still got The Mind’s Weakness active. 

The bottom half of this card strikes a great visual. Immobilize your enemy then leave him in the dust. This move is good to use on the back half of our usual dance, when you attack first and then move away to avoid getting hit in return. Immobilizing a melee enemy will ensure he can’t just chase after you on his turn. 

I would also recommend substituting this card into your starting line up if you’re looking to build you Mindthief around a crowd control, if-it-moves-then-stun-it kind of way. Without getting too deep into it, that sort of build would focus on preventing enemy damage (stun/disarm/immobilize) and as such the bottom half of this card would fit in quite nicely. You could sub out Gnawing Horde because Withering Claw fits the same need (just without the emergency rat swarm) or potentially Into The Night if you’re really not bothered about collecting coinage. Mo’ money mo’ problems, and all that. 

Parasitic Influence

If The Mind’s Weakness wasn’t the only really good augment card then this one would have a shot. I’ve actually used this in the past and at lower levels it’s really quite useful. The reason this card doesn’t scale well is because the 2 Health stays constant, but as you level up it will become an ever-shrinking percentage of your total health. And the monsters are going to hit harder, so this won’t mitigate as much of their impact as it does earlier on. 

If you’re looking to play an augment-style Mindthief game (as was originally intended by the creator) then this should be your #2. Getting 2 Health on every melee attack means you can regain 2 or 4 points of health per round (usually). That’s a helluva lot when you start from 6 HP total. Putting aside the fact that using this comes at the cost of +2 damage every attack, you’re also playing a very risky game when you rely on this augment. 

The advantage of having it is you don’t need to stress out about avoiding taking a hit. You can take a punch to the jaw and simply regain the health next time you attack. The problem there is we’re only playing with 6(ish) hitpoints. So if you get a really bad break and instead of avoiding a hit you take a massive blow then this strategy could end up leading to bleeding a card to avoid exhaustion. If you’re feeling brave (crazy) or experimental then give this augment a shot at some point. You can always put TMW back on afterwards (and get 1 XP each time you change). Do it for science. 

I hate the bottom half of this card. Really do. Force an enemy to take 1 step… I get it, if it’s directly beside a trap then you’re loving life. But that’s so situational and we can lay down 4 damage by default, why do we want to mess around bringing this card with us just to walk someone ONE STEP into a trap?

If you’re really hell bent on setting off traps with unintelligent individuals then use Fearsome Blade to do the job. You’ll do extra damage AND get to Push 3.

Bring this card along only if you’re interested in making different augments part of your strategy and gameplay. Apart from that leave this sucker in the dust and don’t look back. 

Inspiration for Card Combos

TMW + Gnawing Horde: Move 4 towards the enemy and then activate TMW (Attack 3 + 1 XP)

TMW + Perverse Edge: You won’t get much damage out of it, but it’ll set up TMW and Stun a fool for next time. Setting yourself up for success in Round 2.

Scurry + Submissive Affliction: Attack, Move, Attack. Great combo if you need a lot of attack with a bit of mobility in between. 

Frigid Apparition + Feedback Loop: Move 4 (Jump) to go wherever you need to and then Attack 5 with Stun if Ice is on the board. 

Empathetic Assault + Into The Night: Move 2, Heal 2, Loot 1. Great for when the enemies are dead before you move into a new room.

Mindthief Card Enhancements

Recommended Enhancements are:

+1 Attack to Frigid Apparition
This card will now pack an absolute wallop. 

+1 Range to Perverse Edge
Great for holding off range enemies while you deal with melee enemies first. 
Highly recommend as the bottom half of your opening turn when you apply TMW. 

+1 Attack to Scurry
Often used, so an Attack 4 instead of Attack 3 is highly valuable. 

Poison to Perverse Edge
Applying Poison at range is very useful if you don’t want to (or can’t) stand directly beside a high-hitpoint/armoured enemy. 

This is the order I recommend them in, but I will caveat this with the advice that you should prioritize these based on your party composition. Because my party is made up of Spellweaver, Cragheart, and Tinkerer there is a much higher need to fill that heavy-hitting role and less need for crowd control because others are better at doing that.

If your party already has a character that can dish out heaping helpings of damage then I’d recommend moving Frigid Apparition down and focusing on boosting Perverse Edge’s Range, and adding on a debuff (Disarm or Poison) to Scurry.

Higher Level Cards

– Spoiler Warning – 
We’re about to take a look at the non-starter cards. If you’re just starting out then you should stop reading this and come back when you’ve leveled up and have some decisions to make. 

Level 2

Wretched Creature

It’s another summon! Again, summons are tricky because you don’t have much control over them and this one is very fragile. As damage goes, this one is fur-ocious (this Mindthief guide is not above bad puns). Attack 3 is good for a summon, but that’s a melee attack and this Wretched Creature only has 4 health. So to get value out of him this guy needs to be on the front line, and with 4 Health it won’t be there long. 

He can tank a bit of damage, just like our Gnawing Horde, but if you’re burning a Level 2 card to do that then the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. 

Bottom half is just a self-explanatory Move 3. Darkness is rarely going to be in play as an element, so that added value won’t be cashed in very frequently. Curse can be great, but it’s a long term play, and you generally want to send 3-4 curses the enemy’s way within a scenario in order to make it more impactful. Only Cursing once in a blue moon can mean your curse card will go in and you may never see the fruits of your labour. 

85 is a nice late-round move, which is one of my favourites. Comes as a necessity for a Summon card because they can’t move on the first round and if they get summoned early they could get rinsed before they do anything. 

Don’t take this one as your Level 2 pick. 

Hostile Takeover

This is such a fun card to have in your hand! A Range 4 Attack is always a welcome option, especially when there are an overwhelming number of enemies that you need to deal with. Immobilizing an enemy who is 4 hexes away is as good as stunning them more often than not, and then you Stop. Collaborate and listen. Cuz ice is back with an oh-nine initiative. 

Initiative 09 means you’re going very ricky-tick, which is handy in the situation mentioned above. It’s also entirely necessary to get full enjoyment out of the bottom half of this card, which is where the real fun lies!

Take one enemy in Range 3 and bring him onto your team for the round! It’s what the Mindthief was made for! Take a stupid enemy, muck around with his grey matter (what limited amount there may be) and convince him he’s on your side! This is what you had in mind when you opened up that box just before the Black Barrow. 

Hostile Takeover is a great burner for the last room of a scenario and has the double benefit of getting an enemy to perform an attack on another enemy, but also that same enemy isn’t going to attack you. So pick the biggest, ugliest guy within Range 3 and use Hostile Takeover. 

What makes this card a valuable option is that it is good value for a lost card and the viability of using the other half of the card until you’re ready to use the burner side. Carrying around a card that has a useless non-burner side is just dead weight and often isn’t worth the bang at the end, so don’t fall into that trap when you see other cards with a flashy burner and a useless reusable half. This card doesn’t fall into that category, so grab it with both claws and bring it with you! 

So, which Level 2 Mindthief card should I pick? 
Answer: Hostile Takeover
Replaces: Fearsome Blade

Level 3

Brain Leech

Four for four and four. For the love of the Great Oak, that’s a lot of fours. Even the initiative is 4×4! Damn shame it’s a Level 3 card… 

I absolutely love the idea behind the top action of this card. Use a brain leech to sap 4 points of health from an enemy and add it to your own HP. Attack 4 and Heal 4 really isn’t shabby at all. This move is one that will come in handy in emergency situations when you get caught and need some healing quick. Being a Range 4 as well means it doesn’t require much planning ahead to be able to work this into your plans.

Highly useful and very flexible, two positive aspects for a burner card. 

The bottom may look bland, but it’s a rare sight to behold an attack on the bottom of a card, and will come in very useful if you’re right next to an enemy you’re close to polishing off. Generally speaking, half our turn would be dedicated towards movement, either closer to the enemy to attack, or away from them to avoid damage. This card allows you to use a regular top attack and a bottom attack, so you’re looking at an average of 7-8 damage in one go. If you’ve got an enemy that has Stun/Disarm or already has some damage on him then the bottom of this card is your “FINISH HIM” Mortal Combat move. 

Just make sure that when you’re doing your two attack actions that this one goes first. You get to buff up your Strengthen power after you do the Attack 1, but it takes effect before you do your second attack and lasts until the end of your next turn. That means you’re not only gonna rock advantage on your attack this turn, but your next one as well. I highly recommend pairing this with Frigid Apparition for maximum pain dealing potential. 

Silent Scream

Silent Scream provides us with another augment card to not choose from! If you’re one of the purists I referenced earlier who is playing an augment-based Mindthief build then this is a good offer. This augment action is the ultimate support role effect, but with one major flaw. You get to dish out healing to everyone who needs it within Range 2, so you can just sit in the back and dish out health, right? Wrong. Because all the healing you’re dishing out is contingent on you performing a melee attack. Which means you’re right up there in front my friend. 

And what do you think is going to be more useful to you while you’re up there? Healing for the whole crew when you do a melee attack or plus freaking two on that melee attack??

You can be reactive and clean up the monsters’ mess, or you can be proactive and turn those monsters into a mess! Time to redecorate those dungeons with some monster guts! 

If you’ve already got a support class in your party then there’s nothing to see here on the top of Silent Scream. 

However. Don’t go just yet, because there is a bottom action that is most certainly worthwhile. Move 3 and Push 2 is going to be useful in many cases and should seriously be considered as a selection. You’ll find that as the Mindthief levels up the temperature drops below freezing relatively frequent, so the ice element is going to be kicking around more often than not. So I wouldn’t fret too much about cashing that bad boy in for a +1 Push, especially if it’s bumping it up to Push 3. That’s some serious distance those fools are going to be covering and there’s bound to be a trap or hazardous terrain or something damage-y around. 

You won’t be able to attack whoever you’re pushing though, unless you’re doing it at range because the push has to come right after the move. This can be a massive help in crowd control because you may (but do not have to) target all adjacent enemies. That means if you have a big group of idiots and you only feel like attacking one of them (because, you know… Mindthief) you can shove all of his buddies out of the way and leave only one behind. Let’s dance, fool. 

So, which Level 3 Mindthief card should I pick? 
Answer: Brain Leech. But Silent Scream is also great, so you can’t really go wrong. 
Replaces: Submissive Affliction

Level 4

Now we’ve got a serious problem on our hands. Do you pick cookies’n cream or mint chocolate chip? Both are too good, how do you choose?!


I love this card. I really, really do. Not because it’s practical or particularly useful, but because the idea of picking the pockets of enemies in a dungeon crawler is hilarious to me. If you’re playing this game to get through it and win lots then this is just a card that has a useful burner action and an impractical other half action. That’s a pass for you. Even if you’re holding out to use the bottom half the top half isn’t going to be effective in enough situations to tie you over until then. 

And if you’re playing Gloomhaven for fun and because you love it then you should absolutely spend a pick on Pilfer. There is a way to play the Mindthief as a greedy little rodent, so you will only leave the Loot card behind in the most difficult of situations (it does happen from time to time) and it’s usually a good card to lose if you have to choose. A good Mindthief will never sacrifice the situation for coinage, but will definitely collect his fee upfront. 

You’re a mercenary, not a Gloomhaven Community Watch volunteer. 

But on the note of doing stuff that is perfectly thematic with your character and wonderfully fun to pull off in a tight situation, being able to loot everything that’s on the ground and then steal a gold off of every enemy who’s adjacent to you is pure bliss. 

And you may be (very validly) wondering, if there are loads of enemies around, is that really the right time to be looting? Answer, probably not. However! My recommendation, to both dodge major damage and appease our onlooking comrades, is to go late. Like, celebrity showing up to a party late. If you can go last (pair it up with Gnawing Horde) then you can have the enemies doing their attacks, your teammates responding, and then you nestle yourself right in there and loot absolutely everything you can get your claws on. See if one of those Living Bones was buried wearing a nice watch.

And then do what the Mindthief does best and go fast. You’ll lay down some pain, get back in the good books with your friends and get out of there while the enemies are still patting down their pockets looking for their wallets. 

Artistic. If blunt-force trauma is your game then you’ll hate it. If you play the Mindthief with poetry and all the colours of the wind, then welcome home. 

I won’t spend as much time chatting through the bottom half. Attack 4, Move 3, Attack 4 is a little rodent whirlwind! Attack, move onto the next one, attack again. Enemies are in the cafeteria line with Lunchlady Mindthief and today’s special is pain

If you thought one attack on the bottom (Brain Leech) was pretty great, just wait until there’s two! The flexibility of this card is bread and butter for us, but because you’re starting out with an attack you’re going to need to be beside the target already, or pair this up with Scurry for a turn that goes: Move 3, Attack 3 (4 if you enhanced it), Attack 4, Move 3, Attack 4. AND you’d be able to do that on Initiative 20! 

Then sit there smugly as your teammates try to figure out how you just liquified one enemy and seriously mangled another. Tell me that doesn’t sound like fun. And in the unfortunate event that there is an enemy beside you at the start of your turn you can pair this up with a regular top-half attack. That enemy won’t be there by the end of your turn. 

Cranium Overload

As fun and frivolous as that was, we now move on to a card that just flat-out explodes someone’s brain. Remember when we were talking about Hostile Takeover and I said that was the action you were hoping for when you picked Mindthief? I take that back. This is the action you were hoping for!

Soak in that top line. You pick the biggest, healthiest enemy in the room, surrounded by all his evil friends and then you explode his brain
And then everyone covered in his grey matter gets hit with Attack 2. And get an XP for each of them!

Tell me you’re not going to pick that card. That is the ideal situation for a Mindthief. Blow up their mind.
It’s just sweet. If you don’t take this card with you I don’t know why you picked the Mindthief. 

And then there’s move 5 until you’re ready to burn the card for all it’s worth. You genuinely can’t go wrong. Milk that Move 5 until you’re ready to mentally blow someone up and then cash in. Let’s see that stupid Cragheart do that.

Final Thoughts

I gotta leave it there for now. I’ll come back and continue adding in higher level cards as I unlock them, but for now I hope you’ve gotten lots of useful information and insight into how the Vermling Mindthief works. It’s a great character to play, so I hope you have fun diving into the fray and blowing up some bad guys.

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