Once upon a time, in the early days of Hearthstone, Tinkmaster Overspark was a superstar. The Classic set legendary minion that nowadays is a three-cost 3/3 with a battlecry to transform another random minion into a 5/5 Devilsaur or a 1/1 Squirrel (at random) used to have a 2/2 statline but the battlecry effect was targetable. As such, it was generally a superior form of silence.
Then, on 11 March 2014, Tinkmaster Overspark was nerfed to oblivion, or so we all thought. I was actually one of the many players who disenchanted their Tinkmaster Overspark, as it was no longer worth running over a simple silence effect.
However, times change, and with the nuances of the Standard format becoming more clear, Tinkmaster Overspark has already seen a slight return back to the metagame and there is every reason to believe that this gnome will see more play in the near future.
Why go Tinkmaster?
There are several reasons why Tinkmaster is making a comeback despite the untargetable nature of his battlecry.
Minions come back from the dead now. When Tinkmaster was nerfed, minions that died used to stay dead. This is no longer the case. With Anyfin Can Happen, N’Zoth the Corruptor, Doomcaller (with C’Thun), and Resurrect, the number of cards that bring other cards back from the dead is growing. Tinkmaster is the only answer most classes have to ensure that minions stay dead (the other options being Shaman’s Hex, Mage’s Polymorph, and in some cases Priest’s Entomb).
If you manage to transform a Murloc Warleader, the Murloc Paladin’s combo looks a lot less scary. If you transform C’Thun, Brann Bronzebeard and Doomcaller are left wondering what their purpose in life is. Tinkmaster Overspark is the one-card answer that brings classic Control Warrior to an almost even footing with the modern Doomcaller-based C’Thun Warrior, otherwise a mostly hopeless matchup. Without Tinkmaster, your only hope is to steal C’thun with Sylvanas, and if the C’Thun Warrior has set up his play properly, he can resteal it with his own Sylvanas next turn. If C’Thun is not alone, Tinkmaster is three mana cheaper than Sylvanas, which makes it easier to isolate C’Thun as its target.
There are big minions you play one at a time in the meta. Ragnaros and Ysera were such minions already back in vanilla, but there are more of these big threats now, especially C’Thun. Even Crusher Shaman has reappeared with Ancestral Spirit on Earth Elemental or Bog Creeper – something a simple silence would deal with quite nicely, but Tinkmaster does an even better job.
Silence effects are out of the meta. As silence effects were made more expensive, it was hard to find justification to run them anymore. This is even more relevant as silence also lost some of its effectiveness with all the resurrect mechanics: so you silence C’Thun once – big deal, it can just come back again. However, if you transform C’Thun once, it’s gone for good.
Conceal is back, kind of. Rogue is not exactly the hottest class on the block, but when you happen to face a Rogue, it is almost certainly a Miracle Rogue that runs Conceals and Cold Bloods. Tinkmaster does not care that the 12/4, or even just a 4/4, Gadgetzan Auctioneer is stealthed, as long as it is alone. Poof goes the card draw. Funnily enough, the pre-nerf Tinkmaster was unable to do this, as the effect was targeted.
Tinkmaster Overspark is not a card choice for every deck. If you already build a large board with minions or tokens, your own board prevents you from using Tinkmaster effectively – except perhaps against C’Thun that tends to clear the board anyway.
However, for a more control-style deck, Tinkmaster provides the answer to many of the inevitabilities that exist in the current meta. It can help a deck take the game to fatigue against the likes of C’Thun Warrior, Murloc or N’Zoth Paladin, or Crusher Shaman (but not Worgen OTK Warrior). As such, it is one of the few tools that can help a fatigue archetype survive, or perhaps give your own N’Zoth deck an edge over the opponent.