Jump to content

Understanding the Mastermind


Recommended Posts

Dear Masterminders, I come seeking knowledge


I’m a pretty experienced player but the one AT I have never explored in depth is the Mastermind and for my next project I would like to really commit to learning how to build and play one. To this end I have been loitering on this board for a little, trying to pick up some of the main factors which make this AT fun and different! And it seems like there is potentially a lot of fun to be had, but it also seems like the Mastermind really is quite different to what I’m used to from the other ‘core’ ATs!


What I have in mind is to build up a pretty strong Mastermind character which can be used across the range of playstyles - casual vs challenging; solo or team-based play. I think I want to play Thugs as I fancy making a character which can leverage using Gang War as often as possible, so global recharge will be a major goal. I have a ‘perma-PA’ Illusion controller and I really enjoy that so I’m thinking this could also be fun. I like the unique attacks in the Beast set too, but I’m pretty sure Thugs is going to be the one that I want. I haven’t decided on a secondary, but I would like to pick one which offers a lot of complementarity with the Thugs. Most likely I will choose one of:


  • Cold
  • Electric
  • Storm
  • Time


I haven’t played any of those sets to a high level before and I would like to try something new. I could also consider:


  • Forcefield
  • Empathy


...which I have played before but not for quite a long time.


I would welcome comments on how these sets might mesh with Thugs, in particular any special details or ‘combos’ which offer some unique or special interactions which could be leveraged to create that something extra!


But aside from the secondary I have identified the following aspects as things which need to be considered when building a Mastermind character with all the options which IOs bring. As I wrote, I’m here seeking knowledge, so I would welcome any comments on the following topics. Which are important or less-important? Perhaps a link to a thread with more information, or to point out that I am missing something relevant in my list.


Here are the ‘open questions’ which I have identified from my initial reading here:



  • Most likely I should limit the amount of Mastermind attacks selected (as the damage scalars are so low). One or perhaps even no (primary) attacks could be suitable.
  • How best to use MM ATOs? Mark of Supremacy split three ways can give A LOT of recharge, which could be part of working towards ‘perma’ Gang War.
  • The interaction between procs and pets. Which ones affect pets and which ones don’t? Are there any ‘must have’ procs for pets at different tiers, e.g. chance for KD Overwhelming Force? I have seen this topic discussed quite a lot and there seem to be different opinions on how it works and what are the good choices here. Mostly I'm looking to not 'waste' procs which don't do anything to help either the PC or the pets.
  • How to combine your buffs and debuffs the best way to optimize henchman survivability and attack power. Is it better, for example, to maximize defense for the henchmen, or to combine defense and resists and potentially debuffs to have a more balanced set of tools?
  • The powers which improve the henchmen are obviously important but what are the signature characteristics? For example, I believe that one of the Thugs will gain Tactics at some point, improving attack potential AND introducing the potential for benefitting from Gaussian’s proc? Are there other key components of the power-ups which need to be understood?
  • Understanding e.g. Bodyguard mode and how to build the Mastermind to get the most value from it, if indeed this is a good playstyle with the Thugs?
  • Understanding which IO bonuses affect pets and which affect the PC.
  • Similarly, understanding how incarnate powers affect PC and summons.
  • edit: I will add here 'is stealth useful?' Some secondary powersets offer PBAoE stealth effects and with the MM summons controls your pets can be made to ignore enemies, correct? Is it practical to 'stealth' missions with summons out? Or is that just a non-starter?


Seems like I have a lot to learn! Any tips on these topics is very much appreciated.


edit: p.s. Yes, I know I will need either binds or macros - I can see there are plenty of good options there

Edited by Metatheory
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alright. So details. 


With thugs? I would put the secondaries as follows. Traps = Time > Cold > Everything else. Traps is your offense set. It can softcap the pets and massively enhance the damage you and your team do. Time is the defensive set. Simple to use, easy to slot, and your thugs can eventually become pretty close to unkillable, but you do less damage and have less control than traps. Cold is like a mixture of the two sets. Time without a heal, traps but less offensive. Dark, nature, thermal, and storm can all go well with thugs but none of them are going to keep your thugs alive as well as traps, time, or cold in high level content. 


If you're slotting, its simple tbh. There are 6 pet unique auras. Thugs can fit them all and needs them all. You need a final powerset secondary choice to really talk too much about slotting but bottom line yeah slot for recharge and endurance recovery. 


Now specific questions


- I never take the MM primary attacks. They add a small bit of damage but outside of using like empty clips to proc FF +recharge procs, I consider the MM attacks useless. Waste of slotting that can be better used for your support sets. You do not have enough slots to slot an attack chain, your pets, and your secondary anyway. 


- Lemme go pull my damn build. Hold on. 

Villain Plan by Mids' Reborn : Hero Designer

Click this DataLink to open the build!

Jim Bob Duggar: Level 50 Natural Mastermind
Primary Power Set: Thugs
Secondary Power Set: Time Manipulation
Power Pool: Speed
Power Pool: Teleportation
Power Pool: Leaping
Power Pool: Leadership
Ancillary Pool: Heat Mastery

Villain Profile:
Level 1: Call Thugs -- SprCmmoft-Acc/Dmg(A), SprCmmoft-Dmg/EndRdx/Rchg(50), SprCmmoft-Acc/Dmg/Rchg(50), SprCmmoft-Rchg/PetAoEDef(50), SprMarofS-Acc/EndRdx(50), SprMarofS-EndRdx/+Resist/+Regen(50)
Level 1: Time Crawl -- Acc-I(A)
Level 2: Temporal Mending -- Pnc-Heal/EndRedux(A), Pnc-EndRdx/Rchg(50), Pnc-Heal/Rchg(50), Pnc-Heal/EndRedux/Rchg(50), Pnc-Heal/+End(50)
Level 4: Time's Juncture -- DarWtcDsp-ToHitDeb(A), DarWtcDsp-ToHitDeb/Rchg(50), DarWtcDsp-ToHitdeb/Rchg/EndRdx(50), DarWtcDsp-Rchg/EndRdx(50), DarWtcDsp-ToHitDeb/EndRdx(50), DarWtcDsp-Slow%(50)
Level 6: Equip Thugs -- EndRdx-I(A)
Level 8: Super Speed -- Clr-EndRdx(A), Clr-RunSpd(50), Clr-Stlth(50)
Level 10: Temporal Selection -- RechRdx-I(A)
Level 12: Call Enforcer -- HY:NeutP(A), HY:NeutP(50), HY:NeutP(50), ShlBrk-%Dam(50), TchofLadG-%Dam(50), LucoftheG-Def/Rchg+(50)
Level 14: Recall Friend -- IntRdx-I(A)
Level 16: Distortion Field -- GhsWdwEmb-Dam%(A), ImpSwf-Dam%(50), NrnSht-Dam%(50), Lck-%Hold(50), EndRdx-I(50), EndRdx-I(50)
Level 18: Gang War -- CaltoArm-+Def(Pets)(A), ExpRnf-+Res(Pets)(50), EdcoftheM-PetDef(50), SvrRgh-PetResDam(50), RechRdx-I(50), RechRdx-I(50)
Level 20: Super Jump -- BlsoftheZ-Travel(A), BlsoftheZ-Travel/EndRdx(50), BlsoftheZ-ResKB(50)
Level 22: Hasten -- RechRdx-I(A), RechRdx-I(50)
Level 24: Maneuvers -- LucoftheG-Def/Rchg+(A), LucoftheG-Def/EndRdx(50), LucoftheG-Def/EndRdx/Rchg(50), LucoftheG-Def(50)
Level 26: Call Bruiser -- SprMarofS-Acc/Dmg/EndRdx(A), SprMarofS-Dmg/EndRdx(50), SprMarofS-Dmg(50), SprMarofS-Acc/Dmg(50), OvrFrc-Dam/KB(50), SlbAll-Build%(50)
Level 28: Farsight -- LucoftheG-Def/EndRdx(A), LucoftheG-Def/Rchg(50), LucoftheG-EndRdx/Rchg(50), LucoftheG-Def/EndRdx/Rchg(50), LucoftheG-Def(50), LucoftheG-Def/Rchg+(50)
Level 30: Burnout -- RechRdx-I(A)
Level 32: Upgrade Equipment -- EndRdx-I(A)
Level 35: Bonfire -- EndRdx-I(A), PstBls-Dam%(50), ExpStr-Dam%(50), Bmbdmt-+FireDmg(50), Ann-ResDeb%(50), SuddAcc--KB/+KD(50)
Level 38: Chrono Shift -- EffAdp-EndMod(A), EffAdp-EndMod/Rchg(50), EffAdp-EndMod/Acc/Rchg(50), EffAdp-Acc/Rchg(50), EffAdp-EndMod/Acc(50), EffAdp-EndMod/EndRdx(50)
Level 41: Slowed Response -- AchHee-ResDeb%(A), ShlBrk-%Dam(50), ShlBrk-Acc/EndRdx/Rchg(50), ShlBrk-DefDeb/EndRdx/Rchg(50), ShlBrk-Acc/Rchg(50)
Level 44: Assault -- EndRdx-I(A), EndRdx-I(50)
Level 47: Vengeance -- LucoftheG-Def/Rchg+(A), LucoftheG-Def(50)
Level 49: Combat Jumping -- LucoftheG-Def/Rchg+(A)
Level 1: Punk 
Level 1: Arsonist 
Level 1: Brawl -- Empty(A)
Level 1: Prestige Power Dash -- Empty(A)
Level 1: Prestige Power Slide -- Empty(A)
Level 1: Prestige Power Quick -- Empty(A)
Level 1: Prestige Power Rush -- Empty(A)
Level 1: Prestige Power Surge -- Empty(A)
Level 1: Sprint -- Empty(A)
Level 1: Supremacy 
Level 2: Rest -- Empty(A)
Level 4: Ninja Run 
Level 2: Swift -- Run-I(A)
Level 2: Health -- Mrc-Rcvry+(A), NmnCnv-Regen/Rcvry+(50)
Level 2: Hurdle -- Jump-I(A)
Level 2: Stamina -- PrfShf-EndMod(A), PrfShf-EndMod/Rchg(50), PrfShf-EndMod/Acc(50), PrfShf-End%(50)
Level 12: Enforcer 
Level 26: Bruiser 


Here's a thugs/time for you to check out. This is about as solid a build as you can make out of this set, it pretty well chills in any content thats not a hami raid. 


I slotteed my pets in this about as best you possibly can for thugs. 

Minions - 2 pieces of one set 4 of another for 2 10% recharge

Enforcers - 3 hamis, 2 damage procs, 1 lotg

Bruiser - 4 pieces of the 2pc 10% bonus, OF kb->kd, soulbound buildup. 


- Depends on the sets you're using. Bottom line, with thugs you want softcapped defenses and heals more than anything else. Those plus the pet uniques you can keep them alive well. 


- Playstyle kinda depends a bit on secondary. Like, if you're playing thugs dark? You pull with your toggle debuff and send the thugs in at the same time. Time you send the thugs in and cast distortion field, then jump into melee once the thugs are being attacked and enemies won't focus you. Thugs/traps, you pull with seekers, send thugs in, start dropping traps starting with poison to hold everyone and lower incoming damage.  Make a final choice on what exactly you're making and can break that specific mastermind down. 


- Bodyguard - If pets are in goto, stay, or follow orders and defensive mode, and those pets are also within supremacy range, 40' or closer to you, you are in bodyguard. Master gets 2 parts damage every active pet gets 1 part. 6 pets active, 75% damage reduction through splitting. 1 pet alive, 33% damage reduction. Attack orders, aggressive or passive stance those will cancel bodyguard mode. 


- The only IO bonuses that affect pets are the pet uniques. All of the rest only go to the master. Means defensive based set bonuses are very limited in use, your pets will have aggro over you unless you build entirely around tanking with like attacks and presence pool. Tankerminding sucks ass don't do it. 


- All you need to know about incarnates in one paragraph. Musculature is the only alpha unless you badly need to fill some hole in your build. Pet damage has limited ways to increase, just take musc alpha. Judgement - Pick whatever Ions still best. Interface - Same as literally any other toon with one consideration. You can just pick reactive or degen for resistance or -max hp. But unlike every single other AT in the game who picks the core version to stack debuffs, radial is a solid choice for you. Why? MMs throw out so goddamn many individual attacks, so many aoes and random shots at whatever, that it can easily be worth taking radial because every attack has a chance of proccing the debuff and the radial version will not only still stack debuffs on a single target but absolutely deluge enemies in little interface DoTs. Other classes can't stack the debuff with radial, MMs have enough attacks that it's still easy. Barrier core destiny, support hybrid, whatever lore you choose. You should be able to slot well enough to not need ageless for endurance. 


- Stealth is useful for the master. Keeps aggro on the pets. Lets you run past content and resummon dead minons for speeding. 




People link the num pad commands I think they suck mostly. Too many buttons for me. 


Here are mine. I use this on all MMs, it works on all of them well. 


/bind Q "petcom_all aggressive$$petcom_all goto"

/Bind E "petcom_all defensive$$petcom_all goto"

/Bind R "petcom_all defensive$$petcom_all follow

/bind mbutton "petcom_all attack"

/bind shift+mbutton "petcom_all stay"


That's it. That's all you really need. Q moves thugs to a spot and they open up on everything. E moves thugs to a spot and you are in bodyguard if you are near them. R makes them follow you to wherever. Middle mouse focuses pets on an enemy to burn it down, losing you bodyguard. Shift middle mouse makes pets stand there and not run all over god's creation in response to damage patches laid down by certain enemies which still fuck up pet AI. 


A note about pet commands. Pet commands are essentially UI commands, not power executions. This means that pet commands and power executions do not cross over or interact in any way. You can cast a power and order your pets around all you want. When you switch stances there seems to be a 5 second delay before they'll start targeting things themselves. Using an attack command to get them started if you're safe to leave bodyguard can be a good idea. The only things which inhibit you from sending commands to your pets are mez, death, and "only affecting self" status that comes with like being made intangible or running afterburner or personal forcefield. If you are using the same command for example like they're in defensive, being attacked and attacking back, you can move them 15 feet with the defensive goto again and they'll just run and fight to the new location. You can pretty much just spam q and e to move pets where you want them to and either be in bodyguard or have them blasting everything nearby. In groups I often use aggressive goto and you can just move the marker you plant around and they'll follow it, attacking everything in range along the way. 


When you have a specific MM combo picked and are sure thats what you choose, I can give you more details about that specific combo. I build my MMs towards being able to survive in any content and around the idea that my pets are damage and tanking and I am a support character who keeps them alive. I max pet damage and survivability and focus on decreasing personal aggro such that bodyguard is often not needed and its mostly something I have them in when I go like drop a trap to aggro a mob and take an alpha afterwards before the pets open up and get aggro from me. There are different build philosophies but I've found that building for personal defenses limits what you can do with your secondary and building for personal attacks really weakens what you can do with your secondary. I build to be able to utterly spam my support powers and with the right sets put together like my demons/nature has soloed the ITF at +1, my thugs/traps can solo pretty close to anything, my thugs time is slow on AVs but can solo pretty close to anything, and with the emphasis on support powers I'm a serious team benefit because they're getting a support character with perma hasten and enough recovery to spam support powers endlessly. My demons/elec is pretty much unkillable in all content. Took it into a fire farm yesterday and tanked like 6 spawns at the same time successfully. Middling damage for an mm traded for immortality. But I have to spend the literal entire time keeping my demons carefully in the cage buff and spam the heal and absorb as fast as humanly possible to keep them alive.


Masterminds are an interesting class. High performance potential if you build them right, average to crap if you build them wrong. If you're looking to clear faster than a fire blaster, nah. At the same time, I can hit higher sustained DPS than a fire blaster can against like an AV. My thugs/traps's fastest pylon time has been 55 seconds no lore. They have their strengths and at the same time can be a really chill playstyle. Demons/elec? Target your T3 pet, spam buffs. Move around and put up your cage wherever you are. Thats it. So you can sit back and like watch everyone killing everything and laugh because you get through a mission without changing your target from your T3 pet the whole time unless you need to rez someone. Thugs/traps, I drop my traps and then when they're all down I have like 3-5 seconds where I could fill in with a personal attack or I can just sit back a moment and watch the magic happen before a new round of traps comes up. 


I'm a fan of sitting back and watching the magic happen. 

Edited by TheSpiritFox
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

They say 'Ask and ye shall receive...'


Amazing @TheSpiritFox ! I shall read and re-read to fully digest. I wasn't really thinking of traps for this run but I've never really made it work on a 'troller before - maybe this is the right place to try it.


I also like to sit back and watch the magic sometimes, and the flexible play of the MM is appealing. 

Edited by Metatheory
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing to keep in mind is that focusing your build on perma gang war might be very underwhelming with Traps. It's difficult to contain the gang in the FFG bubble, and Traps really doesn't have the healing to keep the gang alive - all it would take is 1-2 aoes to go through and your boys will be dead. Time can work if you can align Farsight with Gang War casts, and you have a nice AoE heal. Dark is also quite good at keeping perma Gang War alive, due to the spammed AoE heal and the heavy -hit debuffs which give the boys a chance to survive.

All in all the boys are actually not that high of a DPS - they add up to about as much as your T1 pets, or spamming a single well-procced MM attack, so permaing them is a bit of a whatever; They only deal massive DPS when combined with a Radial Interface and Hybrid Radial Assault.


  • Most likely I should limit the amount of Mastermind attacks selected (as the damage scalars are so low). One or perhaps even no (primary) attacks could be suitable.

This isn't necessarily the case, it largely depends on your build. If you have the endurance for it, some properly slotted attacks can produce about as much DPS as a T3 pet, and keeping your T3 pet out all the time is uncontroversial. But in order to achieve that DPS, you are looking for a power that can abuse damage procs, with at least 1(and optimally 2) purple damage procs, at least 3(optimally 4-5) slots dedicated on procs overall. Dual Wield is okay at that, it's fast, with an OK recharge and can be procced up with a decent amount of procs. Cross Punch is also a great example, because it can not only deliver decent damage, but also -res(leading to way higher DPS than its pure damage numbers) and +recharge(great for your perma-Gang War plan). Having enough endurance, time, and willingness(!) to spam these powers determines how good they are.

You can take some inspiration from threads like the Offender "proc monster" builds, where a class with a similarly low damage scale can output decent damage numbers by abusing procs. Also, proccing up attacks has been discussed in this forum many times already, it shouldn't be too hard to search for.


Personally, I think the most important thing is to experience MM play at first, experiment with the "basic controls", especially managing your pets, and see what works for you and what doesn't. That will really inform your builds. For example, if you can micromanage your pets well enough that you can keep them in FFG, avoid murderous AoEs and keep them alive, then Thugs/Traps can be very rewarding with its high offensive potential. On the other side of the coin, Thugs/Time's Farsight is easy to keep up on all the pets and might require a lot less micromanagement, but /Time is pretty anemic in terms of offense. Using personal attacks can boost your DPS by quite a lot, but it also draws attention away from using your support powers, and can put you in personal danger. There's a bunch of choices you can make in an MM build, primarily driven with what kind of playstyle you like, and these choices are driven by fairly unique considerations that I think require you to experience MM a bit before you can make an informed decision.

Edited by BGSacho
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Traps is a powerful set but you need to be aware it does have drawbacks. Traps really struggles in fast paced teams. The traps are static and the cooldowns and animations are just long enough to suck when mobs are just exploding.


For a single, do everything thugs MM I'd go time or cold. Time is generally the best, as it is the one set that protects against every form of damage, including psi, and also protects the MM himself. It is also one of the few defensive buffs that can benefit from Power Boost out of Mace Mastery. On top of that, it has a strong set of buffs and debuffs to go with it, including a nice AOE heal. The only thing the set lacks is a really strong -regen.  It also suffers from the downside of it's strong defense buff being on a cooldown.


Cold gives a lot of defense but is missing on Psi. It doesn't help the MM himself either. It can cast them on demand though, so if you do lose pets you never have to wait to get them rebuffed. It lacks a heal but has the amazing Sleet power. It's a massive debuff and control effect. It also has a strong -regen and AOE steath.  It lacks a heal though.


Storm is a different thing altogether. It doesn't have defensive buffs of the other two or the AOE heal of time. What it does have is strong debuffs. It has a clone of Sleet from Cold. It also has damage and control. With Storm you can bounce people all over and drop lightning storms and tornados to apply DPS.


Like I said though, time is generally the best. The one thing it lacks only matters if you are trying to solo +4 AV's or Giant Monsters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot @BGSacho& @Elthenar

Lots of good info, and very interesting that the Gang War guys don't really start being beastly until incarnates are part of the equation. I haven't tried to make any builds as yet but I assume that getting them near-perma is very difficult until recharge bonuses from Alpha, Purples and Superior ATOs are factored in anyway, so I'm expecting a character that I will ride into a lot of post-50 content anyway.


I've played cold and traps until the 30s at least on other ATs so I do have a fair amount of familiarity with the positives and drawbacks there. I kind of want to really like traps but I never quite get there, hence I'm curious if a MM might be the right AT for me in that respect.


I think what I'm going to do now is start a Thugs/Time and a Thugs/Traps and play them both up until probably the low 30s before making a final decision which one to take to the promised land. 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, Metatheory said:

Thanks a lot @BGSacho& @Elthenar

Lots of good info, and very interesting that the Gang War guys don't really start being beastly until incarnates are part of the equation. I haven't tried to make any builds as yet but I assume that getting them near-perma is very difficult until recharge bonuses from Alpha, Purples and Superior ATOs are factored in anyway, so I'm expecting a character that I will ride into a lot of post-50 content anyway.


I've played cold and traps until the 30s at least on other ATs so I do have a fair amount of familiarity with the positives and drawbacks there. I kind of want to really like traps but I never quite get there, hence I'm curious if a MM might be the right AT for me in that respect.


I think what I'm going to do now is start a Thugs/Time and a Thugs/Traps and play them both up until probably the low 30s before making a final decision which one to take to the promised land. 



Are you just dead set on making traps work? It is very powerful on a thugs MM. Probably more than most other AT's since you have superior action economy, being able to drop traps while you thugs attack. Like I said though, the problem is that the set is so static you have issues in 8 mans.


I do recommend a thug cold build while you are taking flyers. /cold is so strong it makes my ninja's MM incredible.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...