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

Misfortune
Event
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
all.

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
environment.

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
game.

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
pre-Katana).

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.

------------------------------------------------------------------