I will admit that I probably had the same reaction nearly everyone else had in the community upon seeing this card for the first time. My first thought was "sweet! another form of encounter card cancellation!" followed by, "wow, exhaust a hero of a specific type as part of the cost? that's too restrictive - probably unplayable".
It is probably for this reason that it took me so long to slot Quick Ears into one of my decks. It's a good thing I did, as this card is far better than I had previously imagined. Allow me to explain by breaking this card's cost and effect down.
At first glance, the cost seems rather restrictive. However, as a long time enthusiasts of the "ranger" trait, I learned a long time ago that ranger characters tend to be high /high resource cost characters for stats that are fairly balanced across the board. If we took an average of all ranger characters, I would not be surprised if the mean were close to 2 , 2 , and 2 . What this means is that rangers are GREAT targets for action advantage, and likewise are typically over-valued if you "don't" have action advantage. So if you are running heroes with the ranger trait, you probably really should be including action advantage as well to take advantage of their balanced resource spread and the growing trait sub-theme of "exhaust ranger character to..." abilities. It is a little off putting that this particular event is restrictive to heroes rather than all characters, but the upside is that a Ranger traited hero typically has good combat stats and can add value by staying readied through the quest phase regardless of whether their exhaust is needed for an action.
The ability belongs in the very exclusive and powerful class of effects known as encounter card cancellation. Technically, there is only one other card like it, The Door is Closed!, since A Test of Will and Eleanor both technically only cancel "when revealed" effects, and not the entire card. At first glance, it appear that there isn't much net gain for the cost of a hero exhaust and one resource since you discard 1 encounter card just to replace it with another. However, I've found through play that this card is VERY useful in the following situations:
Quick Ears is great for cancelling one of my most hated types of encounter cards in the game, surging enemies. I've always thought the surge keyword is most obnoxious when it's found on enemies, because it gets you three times. A surging enemy a.) surges a new encounter card, b.) adds it's threat to staging, AND c.) ties you up in combat. Quick Ears let's you cancel them outright without triggering their surge.
It's great for cancelling enemies with horrendous "when revealed" effects, as it cancels before the "when revealed" goes off.
It's good for avoiding enemies from hell like Mumaks.
- My favorite use is to have it on hand when I've reached that point in the game where I'm saturated with about as many enemies as I can handle, and I know that one more will tip the balance and start tearing up my board state. For me, a Ranger hero at the ready and 1 resource is piece of mind knowing that I can greatly reduce the chances of having to deal with 1 more enemy this round before I am ready for it.
All in all, this card has managed to find a "1x" slot in my mono Ranger trap deck.... and sometimes 2x in scenarios with a lot of surging enemies or enemies that come with "when revealed" effects.