In the first set, it was said this card was unbeatable. There was only 1 card that could counter it, and that was "Daring Gambit". Master Manipulator went on to become the most costly card in the FMA TCG so far, hitting e-bay for over $150 at one point. Indeed he's good, probably one fo the best cards in the game. But unbeatable? Hardly. Let's review:
Mustang's Strength and Wits are very low for a level 3, so he'll likely lose in anything but an Alchemy battle. But his Alchemy is only 7. He needs to drop 3 cards to use his effect. Even with "Alchemist's Gloves" or "State Alchemist's Watch" he's still got to discard 1 card to get his effect. Enter: "Lyra's Pendant". This is the card that saves Master Manipulator from having to discard any cards. Equip it to Mustang and he's golden.....but you still have to draw it. But hey, one discard for a great effect isn't bad.
The effect itself is the most powerful thing about this Mustang. Being able to change the location is a big advantage. But, with Blood & Water, there are a couple of new cards that make Mustang lose a little bit of his pep. "A Clue for the Search" and "Catch the Train" can be a major thorn in his side. Good thing you've got "Edward Elric: Researcher", right?
I myself have beaten a Master Manipulator deck....but only because I finished the game one turn before he came out. I've never actually beaten Master Manipulator himself. Why? I play with a Roy Mustang deck, but I don't run "Administrator". I like my Mustang to be able to go forth and actually fight, no matter what kind of battle it is. But, the person I play against that has Master Manipulator DOES play Administator. So, all of my non-faction 6 cost allies, and all of my 7 cost faction allies get stuck in my hand till level 3. And then it's too late for me to make a comeback. Not because I can't get allies out and win locations. But because of Master Manipulator's most powerful ability: his ability to win in the Main Phase. I have never once lost to Master Manipulator in battle. I always lose to him in the main phase. When my opponent had 6 or 7 points and a 3 or 4 point location hits the field. *switch* "I've got 9 now." That is a devistating way to lose.
But, hey, it's cool. That's the way Master Manipulator works. He's not really built for battle, so he's got to have some kind of back-up plan. Besides, I'd rather lose to a Master Manipulator deck any day, than a Lust or Envy control deck :).
So, in conclusion, if you're playing against Master Manipulator: Try to win before he gets to level 3.
If you're playing Master Manipulator: Remember that Administrator won't really hurt anyone with an 8 Command leader, so plan accordingly; "Edward Elric: Researcher" is your friend; and remember that you can win in the Main Phase ;)
-The Frost Alchemist