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Abilities

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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.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • 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[edit | edit source]

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.

Battlecry[edit | edit source]

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

Charge[edit | edit source]

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

Choose One[edit | edit source]

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

Combo[edit | edit source]

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

Counter[edit | edit source]

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.

Deathrattle[edit | edit source]

An ability that is triggered when the minion dies.

Divine Shield[edit | edit source]

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

Enrage[edit | edit source]

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

Freeze[edit | edit source]

Frozen characters cannot attack the following turn.

Immune[edit | edit source]

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

Inspire[edit | edit source]

Inspire is a type of triggered effect, which activates each time the controlling hero uses their Hero Power.

Mega-Windfury[edit | edit source]

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

Overload[edit | edit source]

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.

Secret[edit | edit source]

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.

Silence[edit | edit source]

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

Stealth[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

Increases the output of your damaging spells by X.

Summon[edit | edit source]

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.

Taunt[edit | edit source]

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.

Transform[edit | edit source]

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

Windfury[edit | edit source]

Can attack twice each turn.

Other abilities[edit | edit source]

Card draw effect[edit | edit source]

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

Forgetful[edit | edit source]

A term for a minion which has a 50% chance of attacking the wrong enemy. Forgetful is a type of triggered effect.

Copy[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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

Destroy[edit | edit source]

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

Discard[edit | edit source]

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

Enchant[edit | edit source]

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

Elusive[edit | edit source]

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

Equip[edit | edit source]

Equips the hero with the stated weapon.

Generate[edit | edit source]

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

Mind control effect[edit | edit source]

Transfers ownership of the targeted minion.

Poison[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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

Put into hand[edit | edit source]

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

Restore Health[edit | edit source]

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

Return[edit | edit source]

Returns the target minion to its owner's hand.

Shuffle into deck[edit | edit source]

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

Types of ability[edit | edit source]

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

Area of effect[edit | edit source]

Affects all characters of the stated type.

In-hand effect[edit | edit source]

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

On-draw effect[edit | edit source]

Effects which activate upon being drawn from the deck.

Ongoing effect[edit | edit source]

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

Positional effect[edit | edit source]

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

Random effect[edit | edit source]

Chooses a target or effect at random.

Removal[edit | edit source]

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

Triggered effect[edit | edit source]

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.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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]

Patch changes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  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).