The beauty of Hearthstone is that we don’t know what we don’t know. We can speculate for ages how such-and-such will crater the meta, but until that card is released, our postulations are simply that. It’s a fact that covers every corner of professional competition. Thoughtful sportswriters around the country inked reams of analysis on how Kevin Love would mesh into the Cavaliers system creating an unstoppable offense.
That hasn’t happened. We don’t know what we don’t know. The new stuff has to be witnessed in order to be truly appraised. I find it reassuring that even the smartest minds in the business get things wrong. There’s breathing room between the numbers and conventional thinking, keeping us on our toes.
Case in point, I didn’t read many people pointing to the Antique Healbot as the most game-changing card coming out of the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion pack. It’s a lowly 3/3 for five mana, sporting a useful, if fairly ordinary battlecry that restores eight health to your face. In a new set that brought us such insane effects like, say, that nine mana 9/7 Mal’Ganis that buffed your other demons +2/+2 and made your hero immune, you probably weren’t riding the five drop that can’t trade with a Dark Cultist as the game-changer.
We were wrong, and it feels so good to be wrong. Somehow we underestimated the ability to put a combined +16 health into a deck. Hearthstone unexpectedly became a game where you were asking your opponent to deal a combined 46 damage to your opponent’s face. Bolt on those Healbots to a couple Healing Touches? Now you’re talking 62 lifepoints. Attach them to the standard Control Warrior and all of a sudden they become even more invincible. It filled a niche that we didn’t necessarily know existed. A standard, class-neutral health injection that makes way more of an impact than the hapless Earthen Ring Farseers we used to run.
Part of Antique Healbot’s breakout is certainly tied to how new the rest of Goblins vs. Gnomes is. As a rule, in deckbuilding players generally start their experiments with cards that do things as soon as they’re dropped in the board. It didn’t take too long to understand that healing for eight, when you’re trying to stabilize, is a pretty solid option. But it also puts to rest (or at least buries) this idea that healing is overrated in Hearthstone.
Maybe that’s because that opinion popped up before the rise (some would say infestation) of Face Hunter, but running Healbots is primarily fun because it gives us more hope. You’ve fallen behind against Hunter, you’ve got maybe six health left, but you’ve stabilized! Unfortunately you have to dodge Kill Command and even if you do, you’re still three turns from dead thanks to Steady Shot. This was an unwinnable situation before Goblins vs. Gnomes, but now there’s the off-chance we draw our Healbot and immediately inject ourselves back into the game.
I’ve complained before about how the new Goblins vs. Gnomes cards haven’t led to a more diverse meta, and that’s still true in the larger scale, but it’d be insane to say the Antique Healbot hasn’t made an impact. At it’s most utilitarian, it’s a stabilizing fixture that props up heavy control decks, but it’s also the card that makes Fatigue Mage and Mill Druid possible. That’s all from a fairly rudimentary effect that never ever seemed capable of branching the game in a new direction.
Never underestimate ordinary looking cards, and never underestimate how much we don’t know about the game of Hearthstone.
Image via Blizzard