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Abilities are special effects, powers or behaviours found on cards. For spell cards, the ability describes the total effect of playing that card, while for minion and weapon cards, abilities are special effects or powers additional to the basic functions of the card. Abilities may be described in the card's text, or granted by enchantments.

Hearthstone features a large range of abilities. Abilities may trigger in response to certain events, provide ongoing effects to certain minions, or grant special powers or characteristics. Certain abilities are found on numerous cards, and are denoted by special keywords, while others are unique or written in full.

Minion abilities granted by card text or enchantments can be removed using the Silence ability. However, abilities granted to minions through other minions' aura effects can only be removed by neutralising the aura minion.


  • When multiple abilities are triggered simultaneously, the order of events is generally determined by the order in which the cards were played or summoned. For example, if two minions with Deathrattle die in the same combat, the minion which was summoned first will activate its Deathrattle first, followed by the minion which was summoned second. All triggered abilities will take place before the current phase of activity concludes.
  • Although some abilities are only present on cards playable by a specific hero class, these cards can be played by any hero that manages to acquire them in an ongoing game (e.g. through Thoughtsteal or Mind Vision).


Keywords are specific terms words or phrases on cards which to denote a specific power or behaviour without explicit description. Mousing over a minion card with a keyword ability will generate a text display describing the ability. For a more detailed exploration of each keyword, and a list of related cards, click on the section headings.

For a discussion of why keywords exist for some behaviours but not others, see the trivia section.


Triggers an action when the minion is played from your hand.


Enables the minion to attack on the same turn that it is summoned.

Choose One[edit]

Gives the controlling player the ability to choose between two or more effects stated in the card. Found only on druid cards.


Triggers an effect if you already played another card this turn. Found only on rogue cards.


Prevents the next enemy spell cast from taking effect. Currently the only card to use Counter is the mage spell Counterspell; see that page for details.


An ability that is triggered when the minion dies.

Divine Shield[edit]

Absorbs the first source of damage taken by the minion, removing the shield.


While damaged, this minion gains the stated effect. Healing the minion to full Health will remove the effect.


Frozen characters cannot attack the following turn.


Immune is an ability that prevents damage dealt from any source to the target, and prevents all enemy interaction with the target.


Can attack four times each turn. Currently the only card to use Mega-Windfury is the uncollectible minion V-07-TR-0N.


You have {X} less mana next turn. This effect is activated when the card is played from the hand, and typically allows a powerful card to be played for a low mana cost this round, at the price of reduced mana next turn. Found only on shaman cards.


A special type of spell card that remains hidden until its trigger condition occurs, revealing it and triggering its effect. Can only be activated during the opponent's turn.


Removes all card text, enchantments and abilities from the target minion.


Minions with Stealth may not be the target of attacks, spells or abilities until they attack or deal damage. Once they attack or deal damage, Stealth is removed. Minions with Stealth can still be affected by AoE spells such as Consecration, and randomly targeted spells such as Arcane Missiles.

Spell Damage[edit]

Increases the output of your damaging spells by X.


Summons the specified minion/s. Distinct from simply playing a minion card from the hand, this is an ability found on spell or minion cards, sometimes triggered by a Battlecry or Deathrattle.


Enemies must attack minions with Taunt before any non-Taunt characters. This includes minions and hero melee weapon attacks. Taunt is illustrated by a large shield-like border.


Changes a minion into something else irreversibly, entirely replacing the previous card.


Can attack twice each turn.

Other abilities[edit]

Card draw effect[edit]

Causes the player to draw one or more cards from their deck.


An unofficial term for a minion which has a 50% chance of attacking the wrong enemy. Clumsy is a type of triggered effect.


Copies an existing card. Usually combined with a Summon effect to summon the copy into the battlefield, or a generate effect to place it into the player's hand.

Deal damage[edit]

Deals damage to a character, attempting to reduce its Health by the stated amount.


Destroys a minion, weapon or secret without dealing damage to it.


Causes the player to discard one or more cards from their hand or deck.


Modifies the statistics or card text of one or more cards. May be temporary, permanent, or ongoing.


An unofficial term for minions which cannot be targeted by spells or hero powers, from either player.


Equips the hero with the stated weapon.


Generates a new card, and places it into the player's hand.

Mind control effect[edit]

Transfers ownership of the targeted minion.


Any minion damaged by a minion with Poison is destroyed. Poison is identified by a green bubbling flask at the bottom of the minion's portrait.

Put into battlefield[edit]

Directly places a card from the player's deck or hand into the battlefield, without triggering any Battlecries.

Put into hand[edit]

Draws cards of a specific type directly from the player's deck and places them into the player's hand.

Restore Health[edit]

Heals a character, increasing their Health by the stated amount, up to but not beyond their current maximum Health.


Returns the target minion to its owner's hand.

Shuffle into deck[edit]

Places a card into a player's unused deck, with its placement randomly determined.

Types of ability[edit]

These are rough categories of abilities that describe certain common behaviours.

Area of effect[edit]

Affects all characters of the stated type.

In-hand effect[edit]

Effects which activate while the card is in the player's hand.

On-draw effect[edit]

Effects which activate upon being drawn from the deck.

Ongoing effect[edit]

An ability which provides a specific effect on an ongoing basis.

Positional effect[edit]

Takes effect depending on the specific order and position of minions on the battlefield.

Random effect[edit]

Chooses a target or effect at random.


Used to remove minions from the board. Generally refers to destroy, transform or high-damage effects.

Triggered effect[edit]

An effect or behaviour which only activates in response to a certain event. On minions, these are denoted by a lightning bolt icon at the bottom of the portrait.


According to Ben Brode, the game's alpha featured 4 or 5 keywords which were removed from the game prior to the beginning of the beta.[1]

Keyword creation[edit]

Keywords were specifically designed by the developers to help players to quickly recognise when a large number of minions have exactly the same ability, such as minions with Taunt, saving time spent reading each individual card's text. However, while keywords make it easier in cases where they are frequently encountered, when such examples are rare, keywords can actually serve to make understanding cards harder, requiring players to mouse over cards in understand to examine their abilities. The case of the Poison ability was cited by Ben Brode as an example where the developers could have added a keyword, but chose instead to simply describe the ability in full, since it is was originally only found on 2 cards.[2]

"You know, keywords are double-edged swords. On the one hand, it really condenses information. I tell you Deathrattle and you know what it is right away. I tell somebody off the street Deathrattle and he is going to be like "What are you... selling me a snake?". They will not know what I am talking about, so it is a balance we have to reach between condensing the information and making too hard a set of vocabulary for new players to understand. It is something we continue to work on." - Senior Producer Yong Woo[3]

Ben Brode has also stated that when a keyword conveys more than one behaviour rule, it can be hard for players to remember these from just the keyword.[4] For example, Taunt and Charge immediately convey that the minion possesses a single, specific ability.[4] In contrast, the "elusive" ability is tricky because it has more than one effect,[4] protecting the minion from both spells and hero powers, but not Battlecries or attacks. Ben Brode has stated that the elusive ability was "right on the razor's edge" regarding whether or not to create a keyword for it.[4]

Yong Woo has stated that it is possible in the future that keywords may be added for currently existing abilities such as the "elusive" ability of the Faerie Dragon, Laughing Sister and Spectral Knight - should there come to be a sufficient number of minions with that behaviour in the game.[3]


  1. How a Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Card is Made. (2015-04-30).
  2. ChanManV (2014-04-24). Value Town #27 w/ ChanManV, Trump, Gnimsh, and Ben Brode Pt. 1.
  3. 3.0 3.1 GamesCom Interview: Hearthstone Observer Mode Coming Soon. (2014-08-25).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Blizzard Hearthstone Developer AMA - Ben Brode, Yong Woo and Christina Sims!. (2014-12-15).