Card of the Week #74 - 76

Remove all Objects from play.  Lose 1 Ability for each Object that leaves

Use this card to remove any Object card from play.

Objects started out as a minor novelty in the Highlander CCG.  It wasn't until
weapon breaking became more prevalent, and the release of Watcher's Chronicle
introduced Hogg, that object-removal became a near-mandatory tactic for many
decks.  Flying Machine/Wings, and upcoming cards in Arms & Tactics, make
object-removal even more necessary.

The cards for Object-removal haven't kept up with the increasing number of
Objects, and their increasing power.  Currently there are only two cards that
actually remove Objects.  Mental Ward can prevent their play, but is easily
bypassed using Reconnaissance.  For this purposes of this column, we'll stick
with cards that actually remove Objects.

Game mechanics questions first.  Concerning Misfortune, there is very little. 
There must be a legitimate Object in play for you to play this card:  if there
is no Object, you cannot play Misfortune.  If you play it on an Object, you
must remove it.

Due to recent errata, Thief is a bit more complicated.  You lose 1 Ability for
_each_ Object removed, and you must remove _all_ Objects in play when you play
Thief.  You can play Thief even if there are no Objects in play, in which case
you take no Ability loss.

Thief has, quite frankly, been gutted by recent errata. The only time that it
is anywhere close to cost-effective to play is if your opponent is using
Objects that cause Ability loss to their owner when removed.  Currently, this
only covers Hogg and Flying Machines.  Assuming no other Objects are in play,
the best you gain here is a tradeoff.  If you remove a Hogg and a FM/Wings,
you both lose two Ability.

Otherwise, there is almost no reason to play Thief.  The increasing prevalence
of "object manipulation" cards such as Alex Johnson and Conjure mean that not
only can your opponent get his Objects out more quickly (particularly
Restricted Objects), but he can use Alex Johnson to put them back into play. 
There's nothing more frustrating than using Thief to remove all three pieces
of Khan's Armor at the cost of 3 Ability loss, only to watch him use Alex
Johnson to put them back into play over his next three turns.

If you are _really_ desperate, Thief might be a good idea.  If you fear facing
an opponent, particularly Khan, who relies on an overabundance of Objects,
Thief might be a good idea.  However, you're probably better off devoting your
resources elsewhere.  If Khan has six Objects out, and Plunder as well, you'd
be better off using Focus on Plunder during your turn, rather than playing
Thief and losing 6 Ability to prevent his successful attack from doing six
extra damage.

The other problem to keep in mind with Thief is that it doesn't discriminate. 
You also lose 1 Ability for each of _your_ Objects removed.  This was enough
of an incentive to keep Thief's use low even before the errata.  Who wants to
spend time putting out Extra Weapons and Ancestral Blades only to remove them
through the use of your _own_ Thief.  Ouch.  The Object-reliant Personas
mentioned almost never wanted to use Thief anyway:  now they won't use it at

This brings us to Misfortune.  This mainstay of the Series Edition remains the
most effective way to deal with Objects.  It's quite straight-forward:  play
Misfortune, remove an Object.  It may lack the mass-removal capability of
Thief, but there's no penalty, and it gets the job done.

The question isn't who should use Misfortune and/or Thief as much as who you
should use it against. Richie, who is best at combining Hogg and FM/Wings in
combination, might be a good choice to use Thief against.  At least you will
then have an equal tradeoff of Ability loss.

Against other Object-heavy users, Thief might be a good idea, but consider it
carefully.  These Persona include Khan, Kern, Corda & Reno, Yung Dol Kim, and
possibly Amanda (due to Ancestral Blade) and the MacLeods (due to Bagpipes).

Similar reasoning can be applied to the choice of Misfortune.  However,
Misfortune remains a better tool since it provides selective removal of
Objects, without the Ability loss.  You may care less about their Parrying
Blade, for instance, but wish to remove their Ancient Blade instead.

Misfortune is vital for dealing with Hogg and FM/Wings.  Since any deck can
potentially use these, and they can totally neutralize most attack strategies,
the inclusion of Misfortune is almost mandatory in the competitive

Currently, you can expect almost any opponent to use Objects, whether it be
Quality Blade (either version), or Ancestral Blade, or even an emergency Extra
Weapon.  So you'll rarely lack for targets to play Misfortune on.  It probably
won't even prove necessary to cycle it out (using Holy Ground/SE, Master's
Stratagem, Elizabeth Vaughn, Methos Persona or Q, etc.).  Still, cycling it
out keeps you from wasting a Special play slot.

The list of who specifically should use Misfortune is fairly small.  Slan,
since he relies heavily on Power Blowing, should almost certainly include
Misfortune to deal with Ancestral Blade. He and Luther are good choices (well,
better choices) for using Thief, since their lack of reliance on Ancestral
Blade means there is one less Object for them to own and thus penalize
themselves for by playing Thief.

Anybody who intends to Power Blow a lot and give their opponent a chance to
block should employ Misfortune as well.  This can be practically anyone under
the right circumstances.

If Fasil or Methos pursue any kind of Master's Disarm strategy, Misfortune
should go in their decks to keep an opponent from rearming via Extra Weapon. 
Ditto for Connor and Nakano using their own Master's Disarm.

In fact, Disarm-oriented deck in general need Misfortune, since Extra Weapon
remains the surest generic way to rearm.  Mental Ward is simply too easy to
bypass for you to rely on it as a defense against Extra Weapon rearming.

So overall, and covering both ends of the scale, Steve gives Misfortune a _9_
and Thief a _1_.  Thief remains simply too indiscriminate and damaging to be
an effective card under any but the most extreme of circumstances. 
Misfortune, on the other hand, is an indispensable toolbox card that becomes
more and more useful with each powerful Object that is introduced into the

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Since the advent of Hogg, object removal has become necessary in every
deck, leaving you to currently choose between Thief and Misfortune.  Thief is
probably the most controversial errata from ME (as well as the only one I
believe was intentional).  Everyone who knows anything about card games knows
that you need mass removal of some sort, or you wind up encouraging lock. 
However, the changing of Thief isn't quite as bad as it first appears, except
perhaps if you're playing against Khan.  I know I'd usually pay 3 Ability to
get rid of Richie's Wings, Hogg, and Ancestral Blade, for example.  Plus,
unlike Misfortune, Thief can still be played if there are no Objects in play
to cycle a card.  Still, it's not a great card as is. Misfortune is much more
straightforward one-for-one removal.  Slightly above average.

Hank - [Thief] Thief used to be a practical anti-Object card for decks that
used no Objects.  I usually ended up wanting Objects in most decks, though, so
it saw moderate use.  After the crippling blow it received with the release of
ME2, however, I can't see any time where I'd use Thief over Misfortune. 
[Misfortune] With powerful Objects (Hogg, Flying Machine, et al) in abundance
now, every deck I build has at least one or two Misfortunes in it.  With the
crippling of Thief, Misfortune is all that stands between me and horrible
uselessness at the hands of some of these Objects, so I consider it as
essential and Police/Remove or Ancestral Blade.

Alan - Abstain

Prodipto - Abstain

Allen - Objects are becoming more and more powerful in Highlander and will
continue to do so in the near future.  Unfortunately, Object counter-measures
aren't yet up to the task.  The new Thief, with its requisite ability loss,
isn't worth using against an opponent whose Objects you need to remove. 
Misfortune is still a good card, and is becoming required material in most
decks.  Unfortunately, with Conjure and Alex Johnson, it can't keep up with
the workload required.  You are not going to be able to keep an Object away
from your opponent.  Choose carefully when to use your Misfortune.

Bruce - To put it simply, Thief used to be too powerful, not it is so weak
that it has no place in a tournament deck.  Misfortune on the other has become
an essential card. The number of powerful Objects has increased dramatically
and a competitive deck designed entirely around them is now entirely possible.

Stealth Dave - Since the "unofficial" errata/reprint, Thief has been
completely unviable for Object removal.  If you're playing against Khan or
another Object-heavy deck, you would more likely kill yourself than hurt your
opponent's strategy.  This has had the adverse effect of making Misfortune
that much more useful, and Objects in general much more potent (ala Situations

Jonathan - [Thief] Once a fine card, the neutering of Thief has reduced it to
nearly-useless status. Certainly not worth the penalty of using it
conventionally, Thief might only find use as an emergency card if your
opponents' Objects have shut down your deck. Still, even if it were useful in
such an instance, chances are you didn't include it in your deck. [Misfortune] 
Probably the best card we can hope for in Object removal.  Misfortune has
become an essential in every attack deck. With the overnight boom in powerful
Objects, Misfortune has become more popular than the old Thief ever was. If
your strategy relies on Objects, you'd better stock some Alex Johnson in your
deck. If not, Misfortune could really ruin your day.

Charles - There are no other cards available that will remove an entire
classification of card, but the Ability-loss penalty makes this card dangerous
to use in any deck.  Unless the only Objects in play are your opponent's, and
his/her only Objects are Hogg and Flying Machine, you will have placed
yourself at a distinct disadvantage. You will have decreased your hand size to
remove cards from play. Any time you cause damage to yourself, you help your
opponent.  (Misfortune) Misfortune lacks the Object-removal power of Thief,
but it also lacks the Ability-loss penalty. This card will only affect an
Object of your choosing, so, unlike Thief, you will not lose any Objects you
have in play by playing this card.  Due to the release of various abusive
Objects (Hogg and Flying Machine) playing with Object-removal has become a
necessity in deck construction. I highly recommend using Misfortune over the
current alternative.

Ratings Overall (Thief/Misfortune):

Steve                 1/9
Jeff                  5/6
Hank                  1/9
Alan                  N/A
Prodipto              N/A
Allen                 1/7
Bruce                 1/8
Sdave                 1/7
Jonathan              2/8
Charles               2/6

Average:                1.75 for Thief
                        7.50 for Misfortune

And yes, that brings Thief in as our lowest rated card, beating out the
previous contender, Stamina, at 2.37.

While Angus is in play, you may look at the bottom card of your Endurance. 
You may make an Exertion to put that card on top of your Endurance.

Angus is one of those cards that tend to get overlooked.  For good or ill,
we'll see...

Game mechanics issues first.  The sequence for Exerting to do something to
your deck is to make the Exertion first (reshuffling as necessary if you draw
the last card of your Endurance), then doing whatever the Exertion permits. 
In the case of Angus, the Exertion moves a card from the bottom to the top of
your Endurance.

If you were forced to reshuffle due to the Exertion you made when using Angus,
you can move only the _new_ bottom card of your Endurance, after the
reshuffle.  The previous bottom card, which is now part of your Exertion,
cannot be moved by Angus.

You can use Angus to look at the bottom card as many time as you wish, without

So what use is Angus?  Obviously, in case that one card on the bottom is _the_
card that you need to complete your strategy.  If Richie is counting on that
Shooting Blade to play in conjunction with the Seduce/Nefertiri in his hand,
and it's on the bottom of his deck, Angus is just the thing.

However, whether this advantage outweighs the increased deck size, and the one
turn's play of a Special, to get Angus out, is left to the individual player. 
Not to mention the Exertion itself, which could cost you a card or five that
you were also counting on.

The Exertion cost brings us to cards that you can use to minimize the harm
done by Angus when you use him.  Master/Swordmaster and Collect are the cards
to consider here:  if you've already reduced your Exertion for other reasons,
this reduction will help you with Angus as well.  Exertion-oriented Personas
such as Katana and Fitzcairn, who may very well be using these cards anyway,
can use Angus (and Joe Dawson/pre-game - CotW #45 - as well) to give
themselves a wider range of options.

Connor MacLeod, thanks to Remembrance, may also find Angus of value.  Duncan,
thanks to Inner Strength, can use Angus as an excuse to dump five cards from
his hand _and_ gain that bottom card.

Nefertiri doesn't necessarily gain a huge advantage from Angus.  However, one
thing that should be kept in mind is that she can get that bottom-to-top card
a bit more quickly.  By Exerting on her defense phase, it comes to the top of
her deck.  Then, during her attack phase, she can play something and draw it
as her new card, or use Desperation.  Her draw-at-any-time Quickening serves
much the same purpose.

If you're using a Avery Hoskins- or Challenge/ME-type forced-Exertion deck,
and are worried about finding reasons to Exert, Angus is an Ally to consider. 
Alternately, if you're worried about coming up _against_ such a deck, Angus
can give you an alternative to making a standard Exertion.  However, it should
be noted that the Joe Dawson/pre-game card serves this function as well, and
without you having to take up space in your deck.

This brings us to the Joe Dawson/pre-game.  As mentioned in the review of that
card (CotW #45), the use of Angus in conjunction with that pre-game card can
yield significant benefits.  Make one Exertion to move your Watcher(s) to the
bottom of your deck and then another to bring them to the top.  This can be
expensive, but if used in conjunction with the Exertion-reduction measures
mentioned above, can be quite profitable.  If all Connor has to do is discard
a couple of John MacLeods and make 0-card Exertions via Remembrance to get two
Watcher/Treatments back, it's well worth the effort.

So overall, Steve gives Angus a _3_.  He doesn't do much, and as a general
emergency card he's probably not worth the space in your deck.  However, in a
deck that is already going for 0-card Exertions (including Duncan's Inner
Strength), or that is considering it, he can be a valuable addition.  Even
more so with the addition of Joe Dawson/pre-game.

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - I don't know about you, but I'm not so concerned about the bottom card
in my Endurance that I have to waste a Special for it.  Angus is a waste of my
time, even if I want to play a Watcher: Revealed / Watcher Regional HQ gimmick
deck.  In sealed, maybe, but nowhere else.

Hank - I've _never_ found a good use for this card.  If the bottom card is
good, fine, then you Exert 5 cards (or less if you're prepared) to get to it
immediately, but as soon as a bad card shows up on the bottom of your
Endurance you either need to Exert & draw the bad card to get to another or
Angus is useless.  There are better ways to get to cards, IMHO.

Alan - N/A

Prodipto - N/A

Allen - An interesting card whose required effort just doesn't seem worth it. 
Used in conjunction with the Joe Dawson PG, you can cycle a Watcher/Treatment
from your discard to the top of your Endurance.  However, do you need to? 
Cycling your Treatments to the bottom of your deck as you near the end of your
Endurance and then again after you exhaust.  You'll still get to them three
times in two passes through your deck and not have to make those Angus
Exertions.  Besides, there are plenty of other healing cards in Highlander to
fill in those lulls between Treatments.

Bruce - Angus has an interesting effect. I _like_ this card. You can do lots
of nifty things with Angus. Unfortunately, despite all of this, Angus is just
not a particularly effective card if you are looking to win tournaments.  Most
of the effects are difficult to pull off and the cost of an Exertion is pretty
steep. But it is still fun and has seen its way into many of my non-tournament

Stealth Dave - When Movie Edition came out, Angus was a fairly useless card. 
It certainly wasn't worth wasting a Special slot in your deck.  Then came
Watcher's Chronicles with Joe Dawson/pre-game, and suddenly Angus became
useful.  With upcoming sets it is possible that we may find more uses for
Angus, but right now he's a one-trick wonder, and it's only useful in a Healer

Jonathan - Angus is one of those cards where I can think of a few ways to use
it, or Situations in which it would be helpful, but would never include it in
a deck. Even after losing a game where Nexus was the last card in my deck, or
while using PG Dawson to retrieve Treatment cards, I wouldn't consider using
it. The payoff is too little, and the sacrifice too great for wasting a slot
in my deck for this. I'd just throw in Holy Ground/ME. Though I ve got to
admit, I ve never seen Angus played in a game, so all of this is idle

Charles - I do not see a adequate use for this card outside of the nearly
endless healing provided by using a healing Watcher and a Joe Dawson pre-ame.
It is possible to build a deck that utilizes this card effectively, but it
requires a lot of time to set up, and, unfortunately, there are only 30
minutes per match in a sanctioned tournament.

Ratings Overall

Steve                   3
Jeff                    3
Hank                    1
Alan                  N/A
Prodipto              N/A
Allen                   2
Bruce                   3
Sdave                   2
Jonathan                3
Charles                 2

Average:                2.38

You may now make 3-card Exertions.  You must announce whether the Exertion is
a 3-card or 5-card Exertion before you draw your first card.

Doing some of these older cards in CotW tends to bring back nostalgic
memories.  Never is this clearer than with Master/Swordmaster (or just

Upon its introduction, Master was probably one of the better Generic cards in
the game.  At least, it appeared like one of the better Generic cards in the
game.  With the introduction of the Series Edition, everyone could use Master
cards.  However, with a few exceptions (Duncan, Richie, and Amanda), no SE
Immortal _had_ Master cards.  Thus, Master was the only card Slan, Luther,
Xavier, Nefertiri, and Connor _could_ use.  That, and the fact that it was
fairly useful, helped to make it seem more important than perhaps it truly

With the release of the Movie Edition, everyone except Khan got Master cards
and five new Generic Masters were introduced.  Another card titled "Master"
was also released as a promo card.

Watcher's Chronicles seems to have sealed the fate of the original Master,
what with the release of Master Swordsman.  Or has it?  Let's take a look.

Game-mechanics questions first.  There's not a lot.  As the card specifies,
you must state the size of your Exertion before you begin making it.  This
applies to Kastagir and his Q users as well.  You may modify either the 3- or
5-card Exertion (or have it modified) by promos such as Collect and Zocchi

Master does count as a Master card.  Based on title, you cannot have more than
six of both it and the promotional +1 Ability Master in combination.  Of
course, many Personas will be limited to 5 or less of _any_ combination of
Master cards.

Master will only help you with five-card Exertions.  This means you can use it
in conjunction with a Battle Rage, but not a Berserk or Bloodlust.

So that's how works.  What do you use it for?

The primary widespread use of Master is for Power Blows and/or Power Blocks. 
These are the standard Exertions which you wish to make smaller than normal. 
Even if you're Kastagir, you rarely want to make an Exertion for a defense or
attack smaller than five cards.  There are times when this is not the case
(when you use the Nefertiri Q or Dr. Alan Neyman to put a necessary defense on
the top of your Endurance just before having to Exert.

If you anticipate or fear going up against such a tactic, typically if your
opponent is using Taunt/Katana, Master is a card you should consider in your

As well as playing against Katana, if you are going _to_ play Katana, than
Master is useful for obvious reasons.  Rather than lose five cards to an
Exertion when removing a Situation, Katana only loses three.  Ditto for
Fitzcairn when it comes time to prevent damage.

If you are using cards like pg Joe Dawson (CotW #45) or Angus (CotW #75), or
any future cards that will require Exertions, Master is a good choice.  Does
Collect make it redundant?  No.  In fact, Collect is a good enhancement tool
for Master, or vice versa.  Why use five Collects to make a 0-card Exertion
when you can use a Master and 2 Collects?

Another use for Master is in a forced Exertion deck, typically revolving
around Avery Hoskins and/or Challenge/ME.  If you want to lose less cards than
your opponent, put down a few Masters.

The only real downside of Master, but it's a big one is that, well, it's a
Master.  It counts against the total number of Masters in your deck.  Master
Swordsman (CotW #35) is a good all-around master.  Master's Advance and
Master's Stratagem remain useful cards as well, although the latter is a bit
tarnished in the wake of Methos and his buyable Quickening.

So typically, Master is really only usable in a constructed deck if it suits a
specific strategy, rather than as a general emergency card.  Master Swordsman
tends to supercede it when it comes to making emergency "cheap" Power Blows
and Blocks.  Ancestral Blade is also better for making Power Blocks.

So with that in mind, who should use it?  First of all, who shouldn't?  Its
Power Blow/Block enhancement is unnecessary for Slan, the Block aspect for
Luther, and it duplicates the Kurgan's abilities.  So no help for those

Fitzcairn and General Katana obviously stand to gain a great deal from its
use.  Three Masters on top of two Master's Blocks is a good mix of Masters.

I still find some use for Master in forced Exertion decks.  These typically
use Duncan or Connor, and Exert for Power Blows each turn. They can also make
cheap Power Blocks if their Ancestral Blades fail them.  Duncan can use Inner
Strength on those occasions when he only wishes to discard three cards rather
than five.

If you're pursuing a Battle Rage-based strategy, Master can prove useful,
causing you to lose less cards.  A Duncan Inner Strength/Battle Rage/Master
strategy can actually be somewhat formidable if you load up on extra healing
(Reporter, Lost Love) to make up for the Ability loss from Battle rage.

Other Personas should look at Master carefully and see if it fits in with a
particular strategy.  It probably won't, but there are a few out there.

Amanda is probably the only Persona who doesn't need Master.  She is already
somewhat Master-heavy anyway if she chooses to use Steal/Master Thief.  And in
this day of Lunge attacks, she's be better off using Master Swordsman. 
Ancestral Blade or her own Continuity are better bets for Power Blocking, and
Master Swordsman for making Seduce/Power Blows.

So overall, Steve gives Master/Swordmaster a _4_.  It's a so-so emergency card
that really only seems to help a small number of Personas and a then-smaller-
still set of strategies for those Personas.  Perhaps, when Tower decks
possibly make a comeback with the release of A&T, it's usefulness may increase
a bit.  But until then, it will have to remain a relatively low-rated Master
(although not as low as Master's Domain).

What Our Other Raters Say:

Jeff - Not a bad card to use as a Master.  Works best, of course, with someone
like Katana or Fitz, who need to make smaller exertions.  Doesn't work in
every deck, but there are some where it might still fit in.

Hank - Master/Swordmaster is a nice, balanced card.  It's a Master card, it's
useful without being overbearing.  I put it in some decks, not in others, and
it definitely has uses when I put it in.  I like cards like that, that promote
or support strategies without being "must put
in every deck" cards.   Not essential, but useful.

Alan - Abstain

Prodipto - While there are many Master cards out, this is one of the first,
and still one of the best.  Several Personas have abilities or cards that rely
on Exerting.  By reducing the size of their Exertions, a player can reduce the
time to Exhaustion, as well as minimizing the number of valuable cards they
throw away.  This is particularly useful for Katana or Fitzcairn, although
anybody using Scotland the Brave or Avery Hoskins can benefit from this card. 
This card is especially useful in conjunction with Collect.

Allen - If you plan to do a lot of exerting then Master/Swordmaster is a card
you should take a strong look at.  Katana and Fitz can get good use out of it,
both for their respective powers and Katana's Taunt/Thrust/Power Blow. 
Collect becomes even more useful with a Master on the table.  

Bruce - You are limited on the number of Master cards in your deck, and many
of them are very good. If you are planning on stacking your Exertions or
Exerting without searching, this is obviously one that you will include. For
any of the other deck types, this one just doesn't make the cut.

Stealth Dave - A very powerful card when used well, the ability to make small
Exertions can make or break a game.  Swordmaster can even be useful when
searching for attacks and defenses when using Dr. Alan Neyman.  Doubly useful
for Personas whose ability is tied to making Exertions, i.e. Katana,
Fitzcairn.  Mix well with Avery Hoskins and Collect/Zocchi for a fun time with
your opponent's Endurance.

Jonathan - Master\ Swordmaster has a place in several different deck types.
Previous to the release of the Zocchi promo, it was spotted mostly with Katana
or Katana Q decks, yet retains a wider variety of uses for Power Blow, and
Exertion-related strategies today. This said, M\SM takes up a Master slot that
can almost always be used for more powerful cards. It is also easily removed,
and probably not very reliable. Most decks that constantly rely on Exertion
effects (Persona powers) will find a way to get the job done for little or no
cost without M\SM. An okay card in general, but one of my least favorite
Master cards.

Charles - This card works well as a splash card if using Katana or Hugh, but
it is difficult to fit this card into a tightly constructed deck without
sacrificing either speed or damage.  This card fits well into many Avery
Hoskins/Endurance burn decks since these decks rarely rely on damage or speed.

Ratings Overall:

Steve                   4
Jeff                    6
Hank                    8
Alan                  N/A
Prodipto                7
Allen                   8
Bruce                   5
Sdave                   8
Jonathan                4
Charles                 3

Average:                5.89