I see a lot of people struggling with their wave 3, or the opposite: not struggling whatsoever and thus losing worker advantage, aka going too hard on value and letting the opponent get off easy, so I figured I'd do a small write-up to help prevent this. As everyone knows, Mastermind has A LOT of variety to it, so I won't cover any overtly complicated openings. If you have some favorite opening you like to do (bazooka+bone warriors etc), mention it in the comments. A lot of my example builds also aren't the most optimal as you won't get them every time. I made the guide with Mastermind in mind, but some of the openers work with just the base legions. S-tier: The best of the best. If you get the opportunity to open with these (and your future build suits it), then do open with these. Bone Crusher You start out with 4 workers, and after killing two crabs, you're at 5 workers. It also takes a long time to kill units, allowing you to get an 80-send by wave 3 easily. You can hold a 40-send on wave 2 with four Bone Warriors if you split the wave properly. Mastermind with the +3 gold allows you to get exactly 60 gold after clearing the first wave without needing to send or receive a snail. It falls off later on but the early advantage it provides is insurmountable. Weaker openings will always leak to their sends early, or are forced to go high on value. Example build: Wave 1: Only place one Bone Crusher as shown in the images below Wave 2: Add a Gargoyle in Front & a Bone Warrior to the right as shown in image Wave 3: Add two Gargoyles and a Bone Warrior if you can afford it. This should always hold a 60-send on 3, and an 80-send most of the time while still allowing you to go hard on workers early. It's just an example build, and you can replace the Gargoyles & Bone Warriors with other units. If you want to be certain of holding an 80-send, place down a 4th Gargoyle to the right of the Bone Crusher, half a tile up. This can also hold a 100-send (Brute+Fiend). 275 / 320 value. Honeyflower A little bit weaker than the Bone Crusher, but still king. You start with 4 workers, and get your 5th worker a few seconds later compared to a Bone Crusher. You'll hold wave 2 with just it if you get a 0-send, and buying literally anything (Peewee etc.) that will tank for a few seconds allows you to hold a 20-send, or a 40-send if it's two snails. You will leak to a fiend send if you don't buy enough units to kill the fiend after the Honeyflower is dead, but most of the time you'll only leak the fiend. It doesn't care about being bruted, so if you're sending into a honeyflower, sending them a fiend on wave 2 and having them miss out on its gold is probably the best you'll get this early in the game. Fiend over Lizard as well, as it has slightly more dps than Lizard. That 2 dps can affect whether the Honeyflower leaks half of a wave or none at all. Dragon turtle on 3 will just die too easily to any other defending unit like Whileshroom, so it's not usually worth sending unless the Honeyflower goes too greedy. Example build: Wave 1: Honeyflower in middle of the lane Wave 2: Gargoyle in front of Honeyflower with half a tile in between them. Holds a 40 send. Wave 3: Whileshroom behind Honeyflower This would hold any 60 send, for example. It will leak to 80 sends, however. 270 value. A-tier: These are starts that fall a little bit weaker than the S-tier on how many workers they can push early, but may prove to be more useful a few waves later. Fire Elemental Instantly loses points for only being able to start with 3 workers, and only getting 4 workers during the first round. However, it will carry you on future waves so it's still a great unit. There's a reason it's gotten nerfed two patches in a row, now. If it hadn't, I'd tell you to build it every game. It will solo-hold both waves 1 & 2, and for wave 3 it will need little help, though if you get sent a brute (which you will) you do need that help. Example build: Wave 1: Fire Elemental hugging the left wall Wave 2: Nothing, holds a 40 send. Wave 3: 3 Peewees holds a 60 send. Place 2 on the left side in front, and one on the right side to split similar to bone warriors in earlier image. 4 Peewees holds an 80 send. 265/290 value. Nightmare It is VERY easy to brute an unprepared nightmare on wave 3. A 60-or an 80-send can cause a Nightmare to leak over half the wave, yet I'm still putting this up in the A-tier. Nightmare is a great opening into waves 1, 2 and 4. It will solo-hold both waves 1&2 (even if it's sent 40 on wave 2), and it's a semi-expensive unit that will be harder to buy after the first wave, so getting it early is great. Holding wave 3 can be tricky if you get sent a brute, but with proper wave splitting and enough luck it can be done. If you haven't been sent by turn 2, make sure you have enough to hold with. Example build (the bloody Forsaken opener from 2.01): Wave 1: Nightmare Wave 2: Nothing, holds a 40 send. Wave 3: Two or three gargoyles depending on how sure you want to be. It's all fucking RNG. If your Nightmare hits the brute early, you don't leak. If it doesn't, you might still not leak on 60, but will leak on 80 if you only put down two Gargoyles. And if your Nightmare starts being hit by a Brute instantly and it goes ignored, you'll nearly always leak. 3 Gargoyles can hold a 100 send sometimes. 275 / 320 value. B-tier: Wileshroom + T1/T2 unit(s). Unlike with the violet opening, you don't rush to upgrade the Wileshroom into a Canopie, so you get to buy one or two workers on the first round. The opening doesn't really have any significant advantage to it, but at least it can prevent itself from getting bruted too hard on 3 and it's a decent build into wave 6 and 7. If you don't have a good tank vs. impact on 4 though, that wave will probably screw you over. If you can, buy a Sea Serpent for wave 4. It's great. Example build: Wave 1: Wileshroom hugging left wall, Gargoyle two tiles right and one tile up. Wave 2: Gargoyle half a tile up and one tile left from the other Gargoyle. Second Gargoyle on the same horizontal line, hugging the far right wall. Holds a 40 send. Wave 3: Second Wileshroom in front of the first one. Holds a 60 send, sometimes an 80 send. 325 value. Bazooka into Pyro on 3 If you want to do a Pyro opening, this is probably how you should do it. It'll get punished hard by a wave 2 send, so be careful. You start out by buying two workers, a Bazooka and a bunch of T1/T2 units akin to the other Bazooka start without going more than . I'm listing this separately from the other opening because it doesn't hold wave 2 with a 40-send. You want to have 34 gold saved up at the start of round 1 (or 28 if you're Mastermind), or not save early and instead send for income. You need 190 gold before wave 3 starts so you can buy your Pyro. Example build: Wave 1: 1x Bazooka 1 tile from the right wall in the middle, 2x Bone warriors hugging left wall and 2x Bone Warriors hugging right wall. Wave 2: Don't buy anything. Wave 3: Upgrade Bazooka into Pyro. 315 value, holds a 100 send and possibly more. Holds wave 4 with the same units if it's a 0 send. Despite the build's lowish value and great holding potential on 3 and its further prowess on the next few waves, I'm not placing it in the A-tier. It doesn't push workers hard enough early and requires slightly higher value to hold 3, and it also gets hard punished by a send on wave 2, leaving it vulnerable against future sends due to its lower overall value (having to sell T1/T2 units to buy Pyro). Antler Antler doesn't push early workers that great and needs help from specific units (Gargoyles) to not get overtly punished on wave 3, as well as it not being that strong into wave 4 (needing 4 hits to kill one chicken). It's still a great tank unit though, so if you roll both Gargoyle & Sea Serpent and have no other good opening, it might be worthwhile. Example build: Wave 1: Antler left side, 1 tile from wall Wave 2: Nothing (holds a 40 send) Wave 3: Gargoyle in front of antler, and another one in the far right, same line horizontally. Holds a 60 send, add a third Gargoyle for higher send holds. 290/335 value. I don't recommend opening Antler unless you have units that are great into 3 & 4 (Gargoyles & Sea Serpents). Butcher Butcher's plenty strong by itself, so unlike other buffing units you can buy it early and still do fine. Wave 3 is strong into it, but with the help of Arcane Defense units it's viable to start with it. It also allows you to start with 4 workers, so it's not totally bad. Example build: Wave 1: Butcher 1 tile away from the left side wall Wave 2: Gargoyle in front of Butcher, Bone Warrior half a tile behind and one tile right of the Butcher. Holds a 40 send, though targeting RNG might have you leak 1-2 units. Wave 3: Gargoyle hugging the right wall on the same horizontal line as the first Gargoyle, and a third Gargoyle to the right of the first Gargoyle, half a tile behind. Holds a 60 send. Add more Gargoyles to hold higher sends. 300 value. C-tier: Openers that shouldn't really be considered if any of the above openings are possible. You are too easy to punish on an early wave, or you get your workers later with no exceptional benefit. Bazooka + T1/T2 unit(s). It's an alright opener, much like with Wileshroom. Lets you get 1-2 workers depending on what T1/T2 units you have. Make sure you realize to spam Bazookas though rather than rushing to upgrade one into a Zeus, as its cost is too high to reasonably buy it before wave 5 or 6. Example build: Wave 1: 2x Bazooka in the back, Peewee in front with 4-6 tiles in between. Wave 2: 1 more Bazooka in the far back. Holds a 40 send. Wave 3: Upgrade Peewee into Veteran. Place two more Peewees aside the Veteran. Holds an 80 send. 345 value. Note: Make sure you place the Bazookas like so: It's important to make sure their auto attacks aren't in sync. If they are, the same will happen as with Aqua Spirits where half their shots are whiffed in the air. You might still get some failed shots, but at least there'll be less of them. Violet Basically, going Windhawk+T1/T2 unit(s) to tank the first wave for it. Popular choices are Gargoyle, 2-3 Peewees, 2-3 Protons or 3-4 Bone Warriors depending on whether you're expecting a Snail on turn 1. Suffers from the same issue as the Pyro build: no workers early, but it's a little bit harder to punish as its AoE isn't dependent on its attack speed and it has natural armor to resist the Brute's impact damage and better single target damage. Example build: Wave 1: Windhawk hugging left wall, one Peewee in front of the Windhawk, another one half a tile down and one tile right of the other Peewee. Wave 2: Upgrade Windhawk into Violet Wave 3: MAY hold a 60 send as it is. Very close. Buy a third Peewee to be certain and if expecting an 80 send. I've seen this build hold a 120-send as well (Brute+Fiend+Snail) if the Brute gets focused early. 315/340 value. Also holds wave 4 with a 0 send with the same units. Berserker One of my favorite openings before 2.10. It has nearly no weaknesses before wave 11, and it'll be a great unit late-game once upgraded. However, it falls flat on its face due to the current meta of saving till wave 3. Not only does it cost 220g, allowing you to only get 4 workers by the end of the first round, you can't even do that if you're being sent by any better opening. By wave 3, you will leak to a 60-send, not to speak of an 80- or a 100-send. To help prevent this, you need to save too much gold to buy a front-line for your Berserker, and then you also have to hope that it'll snipe the brute. A great unit, but the first round is not the time to buy it. Example build: Wave 1: Berserker hugging left wall at the position the Bone Crusher is shown in. Wave 2: Nothing (holds a 40 send) Wave 3: 4 Peewees similar to the Bone Crusher image above. Place Peewees where you would Gargoyles. Holds a 60 send, sometimes an 80 send. 320 value. Mudman Lets you get a semi-expensive tank unit very early on, letting you skip the worry of having tanks that turn useless come late-game, and allows you to get 4 workers at the start of the round. I'd recommend being very careful with buying a fifth worker, as it's not the strongest unit into waves 2-4. It will leak wave 2 if you leave it solo, so make sure you have a decent dps unit to back it up after the first wave. You want to prioritize building high-dps units if you start Mudman. Example build: Wave 1: Mudman left side, one tile between it and the wall Wave 2: Aqua Spirit+Proton, just place them so that the proton is between the Mudman and the Aqua Spirit. Holds a 40 send. Wave 3: Windhawk one tile left and down from the Mudman, put two Protons far right wall so that the wave gets split. Barely holds 60 without hardening. Go harder on value if you want to hold 80 without hardening. 335 value. I do NOT recommend going only an Aqua Spirit on wave 2. Why? Because it's fucking bugged. The Mudman and Aqua Spirit have very similar attack speed, so around half the time on wave 2, the Aqua Spirit will attack a target that dies mid-flight, so its auto attack doesn't do any damage nor does it bounce as the target dies before the hit arrives. If this didn't happen, Aqua Spirit+Mudman could hold a fiend send, but currently it can't. The only way to prevent this is by placing the Aqua Spirit in front of the Mudman so it attacks first, but I don't think I have to explain why that's a bad idea. D-tier: The rejects tier. Openers that you might think of, but really aren't worth it in the end, either because there's a better way of using those same units, or it's just too early to buy said units. Zeus Not really worth opening with, simply opening with Bazookas and other smaller units lets you get more workers and go a little bit lower value on waves 3&4. Turn 2 Pyro-openings Any variation of it, really. If you don't know what it is, it's buying a bazooka and some small units on the first wave, and then buying a Pyro on the second wave. I'm only mentioning this here to try and persuade people to stop doing it. It's not bad enough to end up on the F-tier, but it's pretty bad. Not being able to buy workers properly for the first two rounds is too punishing. You let the enemy greed harder for workers, and you get hard punished on specific waves because of the brute spam. F-tier: You might consider these openings, and I'm here to try my hardest to convince you not to. APS You start off with only 3 workers, and only get 4 during the first round. The unit's dps by itself is terrible, and while it's not that bad of an off-tank early, it's very long ranged. It takes time for it to be worth, so build it later. Green Devil Gargoyles are great units, and so are Green Devils. They're great. But don't start with one. The Green Devil becomes increasingly effective the more units there are hitting its target, so what you want to do is get those units first, and then get the Green Devil. Also it gets bruted easily. Banana Bunk I admit it. When I started playing, I had the same thought. "What if I leak wave 1, and then buy a banana bunk!?" Yeah. Don't do that. You'll end up behind on workers, and the amount of gold your enemies get from you leaking can be enough to let them push for an extra worker, especially now that they know you won't be sending them anything for the first five rounds. Same applies to Firelord, Lord of Death and Millenium. And probably whatever the new Atlantean T6 unit will be. There are a lot of units I didn't mention here (Disciple, Daphne etc.), and that's because I've literally never seen anyone open with those and win the game. If I had to list those units, they'd be in the F-tier. There's a near-endless amount of openings, and I'm not saying if it's not on the list it's not good, but I'm saying that I haven't ever seen it work. If you noticed something in common with the S-tier and A-tier, it's that they can both clear wave 2 while still being hard under value even if they get sent a Fiend. Other builds struggle with this in comparison. This lets you buy more workers early, letting you get anywhere from 10-30 more mythium by wave 3 depending on how long the rounds take, forcing the guy you're sending into to go harder on value. Note that I also did not use any Bone Warriors or their upgrades in builds other than the Bone Crusher. Why? Because if you have a Bone Warrior, just open with a Bone Crusher. If you have any openings you want to add to the list (haven't experimented with Sea Serpent pre-4 yet nor do I ever really use Tempest), let me know. Stop leaking now for fucks' sake.