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Minions are persistent creatures on the battlefield that will fight for their hero. Minion cards can be recognized by their Attack (a number displayed on a yellow sword, in the bottom left corner) and Health (a number displayed on a red blood drop, in the bottom right corner). Minions are controlled by the player who summoned them, and can be commanded to attack their opponent's minions, or even the opposing hero. Minions with Taunt can act as "tanks", preventing the opponent's forces from attacking the hero directly with melee attacks until that minion is destroyed. Minions are a major element in battles between heroes, and are usually responsible for the majority of all damage dealt in a game.

While most minions are recognizable creature or character types from World of Warcraft, some, such as the legendary minion cards, depict major characters from Warcraft lore. Hearthstone also expands the Warcraft universe a little, with further exploration of established themes, and some new additions of its own.

Summoning[edit | edit source]

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Playing a minion card places that minion onto the battlefield. This process is known as 'summoning'. Each minion has a mana cost value, shown in the top left corner of the card, which shows the amount of mana you must pay to summon the minion. Successfully playing a minion card will transform the card into the minion itself, which will then appear upon the battleground represented by a portrait. Once summoned the minion will stay on the battlefield until it is destroyed or returned to the hand of its owner. Minions can be destroyed by reducing their Health to zero, or by using destroy effects such as Assassinate to remove them directly. Note that if a minion is returned to its owner's hand, or shuffled back into the owner's deck, its Attack and Health will return to their original values, and any enchantments will be removed. However, transformations will not be reversed by returning a minion to its owner's hand or deck; the transformed minion is considered an entirely different card from what it was transformed from, and that is what is "returned" to the deck.

Minion placement is sometimes significant, as certain positional effects take effect depending on position. For example, Explosive Shot deals high damage to a single target with splash damage onto adjacent minions, while Dire Wolf Alpha is a minion that provides an attack buff to adjacent minions. When summoning a minion, the player can choose where to place it. However, once a minion has been placed it cannot be moved or re-placed, although the removal of a minion will cause the minions formerly adjacent to it to become adjacent to each other. Minions summoned or taken control of through spells, minion abilities or hero powers such as Totemic Call will always appear at the right of the battlefield, for both the player and their opponent.

Each player can normally have a maximum of 7 minions on the battlefield at any time. Once 7 friendly minions are on the field, the player will not be able to summon further minions. Minion cards and summon effects such as Totemic Call will not be playable, and any minion Battlecries and Deathrattles that summon other minions will be wasted. Other means of acquiring minions such as mind control effects will also be unplayable. However, it is possible to have more than 7 minions at once through the action of certain simultaneous effects or queued events, such as the combined Deathrattles of a Cairne Bloodhoof with Ancestral Spirit, or a minion controlled by Shadow Madness returning to its previous side of the board.[1]

Minions may be played directly from the hand, or through the effects of other cards or minions, and some effects distinguish between these two types of summoning. For example, Battlecries only activate when minions are played directly from the hand, while related triggered effects usually respond regardless of how the minion was summoned. Playing cards directly from the hand is termed 'playing', while the term 'summoning' is used to refer to either method. Indirect methods of bringing minions into play are the Summon ability, where a card creates a new minion in the battlefield, put into battlefield effects, which place a minion card from the deck directly into play, and transform effects, which replace one existing minion with another. Transform effects are not considered summoning, but still act to bring new minions into play, by replacing existing minions.

Action[edit | edit source]

"Attack the hero? Or the enemy minions? Answering correctly can often turn the tide of battle." - Practice mode tip

Minions enter the battlefield in a state of exhaustion (indicated by a "zzz" above them), and they cannot attack while they are exhausted. Using a minion to attack will also exhaust it. Exhaustion lasts for one turn. Minions with Charge do not enter the battlefield exhausted. Exhaustion occurs however the minion entered the battlefield, whether through being played from the hand, a Summon effect, a put into battlefield effect, or as a result of a transform effect. Exhaustion is sometimes known as summoning sickness.

Each turn, any minion that is not exhausted can be commanded to attack one target. Minions with Windfury can attack twice. Minions can be commanded to attack enemy minions or the opposing hero. Minions can also be attacked directly by heroes, using either spells or ranged or melee attacks.

In combat between minions it does not matter which target attacked which; each minion will suffer damage equal to the Attack of the other. This damage is dealt to both targets simultaneously. If either minion's health is reduced to zero (or below) they will be destroyed and removed from the battlefield. With combat involving heroes, order of attack is important. If a hero attacks a minion, both targets will take damage equal to the Attack of the other, but if a minion attacks a hero, only the hero will take damage; any weapon equipped by the hero will not be used, and so will also not lose Durability. If a minion causes a hero's health to reach zero, the hero is destroyed, ending the game and granting victory to the surviving hero.

All minions have the innate ability to attack, except those such as Ancient Watcher which are specifically unable. Minions with 0 Attack (such as Mirror Images) cannot attack, but if their Attack reaches 1 or higher, they will become able to. Minions can also be prevented from attacking on any given round through effects that freeze or otherwise incapacitate them, such as Frostbolt. However, incapacitated minions will still defend themselves if attacked.

Many minions possess abilities which can grant them additional powers or have special effects in response to certain events. As well as being attacked, minions can also be affected by numerous friendly spells, healing their wounds, granting them new abilities, or using them to activate other cards.

Portraits[edit | edit source]

Certain abilities or properties will be reflected in a minion's portrait on the board through the addition of various features.

  • Ability to attack this turn is shown by a bright green frame
  • Exhausted minions are indicated by a "zzz" text floating up from the portrait
  • Taunt is shown by a large shield-like border
  • Triggered effects are shown by a small lightning bolt icon on the bottom of the portrait
  • Deathrattle is designated by a skull on the bottom of the portrait
  • Poison is designated by a flask of bubbling poison on the bottom of the portrait
  • Spell Damage is designated by blue magical sparks over the portrait
  • Ongoing effects are designated by a pulsing yellow glow around the portrait
  • Stealth is designated by smoke across the portrait
  • Windfury is shown by moving wind torrents over the portrait
  • Silence is shown by shining purple bands across the portrait
  • Enrage is shown by red boiling blood around the portrait
  • Freeze is shown by ice crystals around the portrait
  • Divine Shield is shown by a translucent yellow cocoon around the portrait
  • Minions which cannot be targeted by spells and hero powers are shown by yellow fog
  • Minions whose stats or abilities were magically increased have yellow magical sparks over the portrait
  • Corruption enchantment is shown by red magical sparks over the portrait
  • Power Overwhelming enchantment is shown by purple magical sparks over the portrait
  • Commanding Shout enchantment is shown by white radiating waves

Types[edit | edit source]

Overview of types in game at Hearthstone's release, as shown on the Cards

Several specific minion types[2] (sometimes called races) exist. Players sometimes also refer to them as "tribes", after the similar concept from other collectible card games. While most minions do not possess a specific type, some do, and this type can cause that minion to be affected by certain type-specific abilities. For example, Tundra Rhino grants Charge to all other beast minions while it is in play, while Murloc Warleader grants all other murlocs +2/+1. Minion type is stated at the bottom of the card.

Minion type cannot be removed by Silences, but is removed by Transform effects, since the minion is entirely replaced.[3]

Available minion types are:

  • Beast - the most common specific type of minion, Beasts are capable of quickly forming a strong offence, and are favored by hunters, with numerous synergistic effects providing strength in numbers
  • Demon - almost exclusively available to warlocks, summoning these powerful minions often comes at a price
  • Dragon - featuring more legendary cards than any other specific type, many Dragons come with powerful abilities, and with the introduction of Blackrock Mountain, now have synergy with several other cards
  • Mech - introduced with Goblins vs Gnomes, these minions have good synergy with other Mechs, often rewarding the presence of another Mech on the field
  • Murloc - typically a low-cost yet aggressive type, Murlocs benefit from having other murlocs on the field, and can quickly overwhelm an unprepared opponent
  • Pirate - favoring weapons and swashbuckling heroes ready to leap into the fray, many Pirate minions offer benefits based on the controlling hero's weapon
  • Totem - available exclusively to the shaman class, most weaker Totems are brought into play through the Totemic Call hero power, while several more powerful options can be summoned directly
  • General - the majority of minions do not possess a specific type, but are considered general minions. These minions do not benefit from any specific type effects

Speculation[edit | edit source]

In addition to those listed above, the game data contains tags for other types and races. All races playable in World of Warcraft are included, except pandaren: Blood Elf, Draenei, Dwarf, Gnome, Goblin, Human, Night Elf, Orc, Tauren, Troll, Undead and Worgen are all listed as Hearthstone minion types. The other original types were Elemental, Mechanical, Nerubian, Ogre, and Scourge. None of these types currently exist in-game, except for Mechanical, which was reworked into the Mech type with Goblins vs Gnomes.

While these types may show potential for future gameplay directions in Hearthstone, their current appearance in the game data is simply a remnant from the game's early development stages. Some of these types can be seen in early screenshots, such as this one from the game's alpha.

Minion card list[edit | edit source]

For a full list of minion cards, see Minion card list.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hearthstone Mythbusters. (2015-02-08).
  2. Yong Woo on Twitter. (2015-08-07).
  3. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-11-24).