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Gloomhaven Mindthief Guide – Cards, Builds, Perks, Enhancements & Items
Our Mindthief Gloomhaven guide will help you have success with this high skill starting character through the campaign from initial scenario until your mercenary retirement. It features details on each individual card, the associated builds, perks, card enhancements and equipment to empower your sneaky character with additional utility and damage. The Mindthief is potentially the hardest initial starting character in Gloomhaven for first time players as this class relies on a firm understanding of game mechanics although at the same time offers the highest damage potential once players can learn how to leverage their cards for maximum success. As the name of this Gloomhaven character suggests the Mindthief is a specialist of the mind and thieving that creates a unique playstyle blend for players to master.
In practice this sees player cards having the ability of invisibility, quick movement, summoning, looting and crowd control that allow you to move rapidly across the scenario battlefield while attempting to dodge any return damage given your small health pool. A recurring theme is the concept of augments that are persistent round buffs that add mechanics to the Mindthief like shield, attack, heal and other utility when you attack with melee attacks along with some minor themes of ice and dark elements. Herein lies the weakness of the Mindthief that you will need to overcome with the character being primarily a melee attacking character but one that is incapable of absorbing damage and as a result generally requires an experienced hand to use effectively or a committed beginner that is intrigued by the possibilities and complexity. To counter this the Mindthief is equipped with cards of low and high initiatives that allow many back to back to turns for you to dive in and out of the action or go invisible instead.
Visually the Mindthief is a presented as a Vermling which make recurring appearances across the wild and city scenarios of Gloomhaven as an enemy. While some do dwell in the city as inhabitants they are not the most welcome creatures and often retreat to the sewers where the smartest of them have been able to hone their psychic powers on the rat swarms located within.
If the Mindthief sounds too complex for you at this stage in your Gloomhaven adventure then refer to our Gloomhaven class guide or character tier list to select from other starting and unlockable characters.
Gloomhaven Mindthief Guide Overview
This overview section of the Mindthief guide is your template to building a flexible Mindthief that can give you an initial foundation from level 1 to 9 that is effective across scenarios for most playstyles and party compositions. While there are some personalised tweaks you can make which are discussed in the detailed section this easy to reference portion of the guide allows you to make decisions quickly when playing Gloomhaven. These selections are focused on leaning into the clear strengths of the Mindthief which is powerful single target damage that is enhanced with plenty of movement and crowd control to help us achieve our goals and provide some occasional support to our allies.
Mindthief Cards Overview
- Level 1: Remove Possession, Parasitic Influence and Withering Claw to create your starting deck of cards
- Level 2: Hostile Takeover replaces Submissive Affliction
- Level 3: Silent Scream replaces Gnawing Horde
- Level 4: Cranium Overload replaces Empathetic Assault
- Level 5: Mass Hysteria replaces Fearsome Blade
- Level 6: Dark Frenzy replaces Hostile Takeover
- Level 7: Corrupting Embrace replaces Feedback Loop
- Level 8: Shared Nightmare replaces Scurry
- Level 9: Phantasmal Killer replaces Into The Night
Mindthief Perks Priority Overview
- Remove two -1 cards (take twice)
- Replace one -2 with +0
- Replace two +1 cards with two +2 cards
- Remove four zeros
- Add one +2 ice (take twice)
- Ignore negative scenario effects
Mindthief Enhancements Priority Overview
- Add +1 range to the bottom of Perverse Edge
- Add wound or +1 attack to the top of Frigid Apparition
- Add strengthen to the bottom of Empathetic Assault
Mindthief Items Priority Overview
- Minor Stamina Potion
- Cloak of Invisibility
- Boots of Striding
- Minor Healing Potion
- Iron Helmet
Gloomhaven Mindthief Guide Detailed
This detailed section explains the why behind each of the Mindthief decisions and also explains some potential alternatives to the summary section for advanced players or specific party dynamics. The Mindthief has a number of clear decisions for most level up choices although one or two can easily go either way based on playstyle. In addition to this there are some great sideboard cards in the Mindthief’s arsenal that you’ll want to swap in from time to time depending on the scenario you are facing or as your own party evolves with retirements overtime. While making these decisions keep in mind that while the Mindthief has a range of summons and augments that offer various things your power is driven by one particular augment (The Mind’s Weakness) and summons (particularly melee ones) are a weak mechanic in Gloomhaven so these actions are best avoided although we take some cards with these due to their strong other actions. Instead as a Mindthief your focus should be on damage, crowd control, personal utility like invisibility and movement which will give you all the tools you need to be an effective party member. Given our non loss cards are already quite powerful and the smaller hand size of the Mindthief you’ll generally want to avoid building heavily around loss cards as well.
Mindthief Cards Detailed
The Mindthief cards below are in order of unlock with discussion of what makes each card strong or weak with considerations related to party or playstyle to factor in your personal Gloomhaven circumstances.
- The Mind’s Weakness (Starting): The defining card for the Mindthief and the augment that essentially makes all of our other augments obsolete given how effective it is for our build. With the ability to add 2 to all of our melee attacks which are the foundation of our damage this is an insane level 1 card that turns even our weak melee attacks into decent ones. This also applies to the default top action of our cards that essentially gives us a 4 attack on every card in our hand which can be powerful option that adds some flexibility to our playstyle when necessary. With the ability to play this early in a scenario and enhance all of our attacks it stays powerful throughout our progression as a Mindthief. An important advanced tactic to eventually work towards with any augment is opting to discard them before a rest in order to recover them. When done on a rest cycle that would have had an odd number of cards otherwise you’ll boost your longevity by a decent amount although keep in mind this is a trade off in immediate damage as you will need to spend a round to replay the augment after resting. Given augments also provide experience when played this is a nice early game method to acquire some extra experience as well.
- Empathetic Assault (Starting): A card that gives us some potential to heal ourselves while moving and helps to heal any scratches we pick up along the way from enemies which is inevitable given our melee focus. If you have a party member that already provides adequate healing you can take this card out of your deck around the mid game but if you lack a healer then consider holding onto it longer. With the low initiative this is a fantastic setup card for our round and players should be looking to avoid using the top outside of a final scenario room for experience, needed burst damage or to protect ourselves from a potentially large incoming attack with the disarm.
- Fearsome Blade (Starting): A card that can easily be slept on but remains powerful throughout level 1 to 9 given push 3 is fantastic for utilising traps within a scenario for damage or utility. Outside of these scenarios this card does lose some power as it reverts to a 4 attack (when powered by our core augment) and can be swapped out in time when appropriate. The bottom can be safely ignored as it isn’t worth a loss but does give us 2 experience to play at the end of the scenario when we do utilise this card.
- Feedback Loop (Starting): While the top provides us an augment the shield is not going to be useful to our playstyle as we want to rely on not getting hit rather than mitigating a small amount of damage. Despite this Feedback Loop is a regular addition to our Mindthief deck choice given it provides us an important jump to help position around enemies and a late initiative to create slow and then fast combos across two rounds. The muddle is also a nice touch of crowd control that can help the party out by reducing damage but important to note we do need to finish on the same hex we started on which won’t always be in our plans.
- Gnawing Horde (Starting): Our initial summoning card that allows us to call upon a rat swarm to attack the enemy. As a level 1 summon this rat swarm is actually quite durable at 6 health although the melee attack and slow movement means they’ll be unlikely to contribute much more than taking a few hits and a poison status or two. Despite this it can be a decent get of jail card when we make a mistake and an easy 2 experience at the end of the scenario if we don’t need the rat swarm to distract our enemies. The ideal usage though is to solely play the bottom for the strong 4 move and late initiative as part of our late and early turn back to back combo.
- Into the Night (Starting): A fantastic core card to our build and one we’ll be looking to hold onto for as long as it makes sense for us given it is highly flexible. From the 14 initiative to pair with something else, the ability to top loot while generating a dark element or invisibility to prevent any damage that might come our way this card can do it all. As a backup with our +2 attack augment up this also turns into a 4 attack if we currently don’t need either the bottom or top actions for our situation.
- Parasitic Influence (Starting): One of our augment cards for the Mindthief that allows us to heal with each melee attack. As a general rule in Gloomhaven we’d prefer to be dealing damage and removing enemies from the scenario game board rather than healing damage they deal to us so this isn’t an augment we want to be using over our better option. The bottom is nicely on theme of the Mindthief and will occasionally be able to score you some trap damage but isn’t consistent enough to be a strong card.
- Perverse Edge (Starting): A core card of our crowd control theme and an incredible level 1 card overall for the bottom action, initiative and easy experience acquisition. While the top gives us a quick way to deal some burst damage for a loss if there are negative conditions present it’s really about the bottom on Perverse Edge given it provides us with a reliable stun at range and empowers our important ice element at the same time that can easily be paired with Frigid Apparition.
- Scurry (Starting): A card that definitely looks weak at first glance but when buffed by The Mind’s Weakness augment turns into a decent attack with the ability to move in the same action which opens up various possibilities and why we will likely want to hold this card well beyond what you might expect. The initiative is also nice to have as we want a healthy balance of fast and slow initiative cards with the bottom loot being a good final room action to take as much gold as possible when the scenario win is in sight.
- Submissive Affliction (Starting): One of our weaker cards overall so won’t be staying in our Mindthief card build for long. When buffed by our key augment the top is a decent attack with easy experience although we won’t often get the negative conditions bonus in practice as these are uncommon even amongst our cards early on. The bottom is interesting and plays into our character theme perfectly but realistically simply isn’t much damage.
- Frigid Apparition (Starting): This card gives the Mindthief the perfect way to spend their ice element by adding stun to a melee attack which is also reusable given its a non loss card. Even if we lack ice the damage output of this card at level 1 with our favourite augment is impressive which gives us little reason to ever consider playing the bottom loss unless we are in the rare situation of desperately needing a stun to win the scenario and don’t have ice available.
- Possession (Starting): Another card that captures the theme of the Mindthief as we take control of our allies with this card. Unfortunately neither of these actions is particularly useful as we have a top loss with moderate burst at level 1 but requires several positioning conditions to be met and a bottom that lets us move an ally which is something that will rarely be required if we plan carefully ahead.
- Withering Claw (Starting): Another one of our starting augment cards that once again doesn’t compete with the raw attack power added by The Mind’s Weakness although muddle and poison aren’t terrible status effects by any means. The problem for the Mindthief though is that neither of these stop our enemy from attacking us like our stun crowd control options. The bottom also suffers from this problem with an okay crowd control in immobilise that just has limited uses for our objectives although can be combined with Scurry in a pinch.
- Hostile Takeover (Level 2): A card that gives us a useful ranged attack with great range (4) to apply immobilise that can easily prevent a melee enemy from moving towards us or an ally with the low initiative that can make the current round slightly easier. The top of this card also provides the ice element although the Mindthief actually has plenty of other generation means. The bottom is good for providing a quick default movement action or some niche uses noting that this card removes the enemy turn so is effectively a stun as well.
- Wretched Creature (Level 2): Melee summons are far from powerful cards in Gloomhaven and beyond absorbing a hit or two in a desperate situation don’t offer us much and this one is less effective in that already niche role compared to our starting summon as it has less health. The bottom is definitely tempting though but we simply lack easy dark generation to make use of the curse and the nature of curse is random compared to our other sources of guaranteed crowd control like stuns.
- Brain Leech (Level 3): With our augment active this bottom turns into a 3 attack that also strengthens us for additional damage and is accordingly a decent pickup in any Mindthief build but I do recommend the alternative level 3 card for a few reasons. Most notably bottom attacks aren’t as powerful on us as other characters as we don’t want to be in sustained fights given our goals to jump in, out and around the battlefield. The weak top loss is also practically useless as we can’t afford to play it, its a ranged attack not buffed by our main augment and gives us a heal that if playing correctly we shouldn’t need.
- Silent Scream (Level 3): This might not seem like the better option at level 3 as the top is an augment that won’t get any usage but the bottom is giving us something we actually need at this level with a reliable 3 move while further balancing out or low and high initiatives for combo rounds. A 2 push card with move is also a great addition to any scenario with traps which can even become a deadly 3 push with elemental enhancement offering great flexibility. Even without traps the ability to push everything around you unlocks a host of utility for the advanced player.
- Cranium Overload (Level 4): A ranged execution attack on a normal enemy with some area of effect attached makes this an okay loss in the right situation but hardly the reason we are taking this card. Instead we will be taking it for the fantastic initiative of 5 and a 5 move bottom that gives us plenty of movement across any scenario that comes our way.
- Pilfer (Level 4): A unique top loot action that lets us create gold from thin air if enemies are around that turns a risky play into potentially a great reward. Given we have other priorities when in the midst of combat this card is simply best skipped given the bottom loss isn’t doing much for us either.
- Frozen Mind (Level 5): An augment that turns every single attack into a stun is an interesting mechanic and even though it requires ice to take effect we actually have two ice generation options across our deck currently and a third coming in a few levels (and a fourth on the other level 5 card). For the wealthy player that is happy to throw all manner of ice enhancements on their cards and is happy to take both level 5 options by giving something else up at later you’ll actually have a deadly stunning Mindthief that is stunning something just about every turn. While no doubt fun and reasonably effective this is a bit more of a niche pathway than the standard Mindthief build path that this guide is focused around.
- Mass Hysteria (Level 5): The bottom of Mass Hysteria is one of those cards that sounds fantastic when you first read it but you quickly realise in practice it just isn’t viable because you’ll be effectively locking up 3 cards (2 augments and playing this loss) which is more than we can absorb. Despite this the top is an incredible utility card that lets us muddle 4 enemies within 4 range to reduce the damage coming towards our team. While the base damage on a single target is lacking when you factor in the multiple targets hit and the potential rolls from our attack modifier deck it can turn into something respectable while we get to generate our core ice element in the process.
- Corrupting Embrace (Level 6): Leaning into the concept of debuffing foes this card has a lot going for it and don’t be fooled by the 1 attack values that are easily buffed up to 3 each with our favourite augment. The result is a total of 7 attack when factoring in the poison that has no requirements and applies two useful debuffs on the enemy. The bottom isn’t quite as strong as we are giving up this high attack but does provide as an important jump and dark generation although be careful of overvaluing the bottom poison as its actually quite niche in use cases. A middling initiative can cause some issues when trying to play this card so be sure to carefully pair it with something with a clearer initiative.
- Dark Frenzy (Level 6): When our two elements are available and we have our augment active this is a potential repeatable 8 attack which is great burst damage and plays into our kit nicely. When we don’t have the elements available we can use the bottom instead to move, attack and generate ice with a fantastic initiative of 10. Between this level 6 card and our other level 6 card (that I recommend taking at level 7) we have two fantastic boosts to the Mindthief that help to keep our playstyle relevant and rewarding as we creep up in levels and enemies get stronger.
- Psychic Projection (Level 7): An overall odd card with the top healing us from damage we have picked up along the way and granting us a shield with the trade off being a stun to the Mindthief. If playing as intended and utilising the utility of our other cards we shouldn’t be in desperate need for the healing and the stun means lost damage potential which is our party role. The bottom might have been tempting if it wasn’t a loss as we do actually acquire some good ranged cards but as it stands just isn’t worth taking.
- Vicious Blood (Level 7): Retaliate is not a strong Gloomhaven mechanic given its reliance on enemies attacking you (which is not guaranteed) and the fact that we need to take damage in order for it to occur which we don’t have the health pool for this as the Mindthief. The bottom is a little better with a move and attack value of 4 with our augment but it’s significantly weaker than going back and grabbing our other level 6 card most of the time.
- Domination (Level 8): If this wasn’t a level 8 card it will be worth consideration as it would effectively give one of allies a 6 attack provided we have a melee ally in our party and in position. At this stage in the game though that just doesn’t cut it compared to our other level 8 option with the bottom of this card also having niche uses only.
- Shared Nightmare (Level 8): Another great initiative card that we can add to our growing number of sub 10 initiative cards that allow us to achieve our intended attack and run playstyle. This card also has two useful halves with the top allowing us to deal okay damage at a solid range of 4 against two targets while applying poison and curse provided we have the required dark. Meanwhile the bottom 5 move is also nice to have as a backup if we’ve lost some move cards during short rests or simply when we need to move quickly towards or away from battle with a shield buff that doesn’t hurt to have but is not going to play a significant factor in our decision to play this.
- Many as One (Level 9): The best of our summons the Rat King has a decent health pool that allows them to survive several hits while also having a unique damage mechanic tied to their hit point value. Unfortunately this doesn’t overcome the general weakness of melee summons in Gloomhaven and when we consider a situational loss bottom it’s easy to choose our other level 9 card.
- Phantasmal Killer (Level 9): The first real augment that we might actually swap out with our favourite level 1 card (The Mind’s Weakness) as it gives us a relatively easy way to assassinate a normal enemy although not quite as easy as other classes that have this mechanic. It’s unfortunate that this card is really the first time where you can start to live out that fantasy of swapping augments in and out for the situation at hand as intended by the Mindthief’s character design. The bottom is also a direct upgrade to Into the Night and gives us important utility with move, loot, dark generation and invisibility in one action so is the clear choice for our final level up.
Mindthief Perks Detailed
Mindthief perks are a familiar story if you’ve looked at other Gloomhaven character guides that cover perks with our goals to improve our attack modifiers as quickly as possible. This requires that we take out as many negatives and once finished with that task start to buff it with positives before taking out our zeroes to shift our damage expectations beyond just what it says on our card.
After this core is established we can look to add some ice into our deck which is always a useful element for us to have available. This can sometimes even remove the need for us to generate it with another card first which is a nice touch and comes with extra +2 rolls as well. Next we can remove those pesky negative scenario effects that can often ruin our well laid out plans and can feel particularly dangerous to the Mindthief.
Mindthief Enhancements Detailed
The Mindthief isn’t as reliant on enhancements as some other classes to be effective but they definitely help add some useful utility and improve our damage output overall. With our loot cards available it is also not too difficult to build up some early gold above that of some other characters so our first few enhancements and items generally come relatively quickly.
Adding a range to the bottom of Perverse Edge is a particular highlight giving us a much easier time stunning enemies than the two range which often falls just short of a priority target and significantly improves the usability of this card. If you’re lacking a healer or simply prefer the playstyle this can be beaten out by the strengthen on the bottom of Empathetic Assault which is a nice cost effective buff to damage output. Lastly and the lowest priority overall is the addition of wound or attack to the top of Frigid Apparition given its such a staple move and cost effective for the damage it provides over a scenario.
If you’re rich and looking for other options to enhance then cards like Shared Nightmare, Cranium Overload, Dark Frenzy, Mass Hysteria, Silent Scream and Phantasmal Killer all have something to consider although most of these are not cheap so make sure you have all your item needs met first and your party members have enough gold too.
Mindthief Items Detailed
The Mindthief item choices at prosperity level 1 are fairly straight forward with Minor Stamina Potion and Cloak of Invisibility being clear first choices for our character. This helps our longevity, creates some useful back to back combinations of cards and provides useful utility when we need to go invisible. Other prosperity 1 items are quite lacking for the Mindthief so consider if gold is better spent elsewhere at this point or directed towards allies instead. Boots of Striding are a nice early game item although once you reach mid game you’ll generally find yourself having an abundance of movement anyway and rarely using them so consider if other party members need them before buying. Otherwise at prosperity level 1 you can also look at Minor Healing Potion and Iron Helmet but aren’t major priorities for us when playing the Mindthief but do allow us to recover from mistakes or bad luck.
Past these items as you progress in prosperity you’ll want to keep an eye out for hand items that consistently power your attacks or turn them into multi target attacks as this can significantly boost your power level. Other slots can be filled with utility as you see fit with Gloomhaven having a wealth of items that can help your standard combos in small ways.