Rarity is a rough measure of the quality and scarcity of a card. Cards of higher rarity are typically more powerful and more useful, but are harder to find and more expensive to craft.
There are 5 rarities: Free, Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary. Each rarity has its own color, based on World of Warcraft's gear system, and can be recognized by the color of the gem at the bottom center of the card's portrait (see display, right). The exception is cards from the Basic set, which do not feature colored gems. When opening packs, face down cards above common quality will be displayed with an appropriately-colored glow when hovered over.
For the probability that cards from card packs are of a certain rarity, see Card pack statistics.
As a rule, rarity relates only to obtaining cards, and does not directly affect gameplay. However, there are two exceptions. Most importantly, only one copy of any given legendary card may be included in a constructed deck. Additionally, a small number of rarity-related effects do exist, such as Sneed's Old Shredder, Golden Monkey and Rend Blackhand. As of One Night in Karazhan only legendary status has been relevant to such cards. Boss and Tavern Brawl cards occasionally feature exceptions, such as Rare Spear.
Significance[edit | edit source]
Constructed[edit | edit source]
In constructed play, rarity determines the difficulty of adding a card to your collection.
- Rarity determines the amount of required Arcane Dust in order to craft a card, as well as the amount of Dust awarded for disenchanting it. For a table, see Crafting.
- For cards from expansions, and also in the Classic card set, rarity determines how likely a card is to be found in a card pack, with higher rarities occurring less often. It also determines presence in the Highest Rank Bonus chest, with higher rarities requiring a higher rank to obtain, and legendaries cards never featured.
- For cards from adventures, rarity is of less significance. Legendaries are awarded by completing wings, while all other rarities are available equally through defeating individual bosses or Class Challenges.
- Higher rarity cards also feature less often as rewards in Arena.
The main impact of this is that higher rarity cards are harder to obtain, and as a result are seen less often at lower levels, due to players having not yet collected them. However, at higher levels players have usually collected all desired cards, effectively removing the significance of rarity entirely. The only direct significance of rarity for constructed play is the limitation of one copy of each legendary per deck, and the rare presence of a rarity-specific effect such as Rend Blackhand or Confessor Paletress.
Arena[edit | edit source]
In Arena, rarity determines the likelihood of a card appearing for selection, and which cards will be offered alongside it. Higher rarity selections are offered less often, although with a high degree of variation between runs.
This makes rarity at higher levels more important in Arena than in any other type of play. While rarity always determines the possibility of including a card in the player's deck, the randomness of rarity in Arena makes it equally significant at all levels, while in constructed it is mostly significant for newer players, who have not yet collected higher rarity cards.
Rarity also affects game balance far more in Arena than in constructed. In higher level constructed play, the only impact of rarity is that legendary cards are limited to one copy per deck. At all levels of Arena, the decision of what rarity to give a card determines which options it will be matched against, and how frequently it will appear, increasing the likelihood of players having several copies of the card in a deck. For example, a legendary card may be considered poor compared to other legendaries, and thus rarely be picked in Arena; whereas if it has been made an epic card it might be found more favourable in comparison to the other options at that rarity, and thus be picked more often. Both of these factors mean rarity will directly determine how often a card shows up in Arena matches, making the rarity of certain cards a common subject of discussion for Arena players.
Uncollectible cards[edit | edit source]
In contrast to collectible cards, the rarity of uncollectible cards has practically no significance or impact on the game.[Note 1] In some cases their rarity matches that of the generating card, while in others it varies or appears to be absent. Coloured gems on Boss cards and Tavern Brawl cards are uncommon, and have no significance (or consistent reasons for their appearance).
Design[edit | edit source]
Card rarity is chosen based on several criteria. The ease of obtaining a card is obviously a factor, as well as card complexity. The designers have stated that the new player experience, Arena balance, "excitement, also just gut instinct" come into the decision as well.
Despite the stated goals, experienced Arena players have frequently disagreed with the effects of certain card rarity choices on game balance. Common cards make up the bulk of Arena decks, so the choice of assign strong cards such as Firelands Portal or Kabal Talonpriest the common rarity has drawn criticism from the community about uneven strengths between different classes.
Strategy[edit | edit source]
Rarity in Hearthstone cards serves as a rough indication of quality, but an inconsistent indication of value in play. Likewise, for Classic cards and those from expansion card sets, rarity is a consistent indicator of card scarcity and crafting cost. However, for cards in other sets, rarity may bear no relation to the difficulty of acquiring cards.
Legendary cards boast some of the most powerful effects in the game, and adding a single well-chosen legendary to a deck otherwise lacking in high rarity cards can measurably improve the deck and directly win games. Some high rarity cards may also represent improved versions of lower rarity cards, providing fairly straightforward upgrades for decks using these cards. In most beginner decks, adding almost any legendary is likely to improve the deck, and in many lower-rank games, drawing and playing a lone legendary minion can single-handedly turn the tide of battle and win the game. Low-level battles are sometimes decided by who is able to draw their Ragnaros the Firelord or Ysera first.
However, despite the undeniable power of many legendaries, rarity is not the prime determinant of victory in matches. Overall deck composition (as well as skill, luck and match-ups) is a far larger factor, and despite the power of many legendaries, most top-level players choose to include only a handful legendaries in their decks. Streamers such as Trump have demonstrated the unimportance of rarity by reaching Legend rank using no legendaries, while some such as TotalBiscuit have even constructed decks composed entirely of legendary cards, in order to demonstrate how ineffective and cumbersome such decks would be.
Ultimately, while higher rarity cards offering straight upgrades to lower rarity cards can generally be relied upon to present a superior option, the optimal deck for many deck types is often composed primarily of low and medium rarity cards, including many basic class cards. Many lower rarity cards provide essential functions and utility not found in higher rarity options, as well as low mana cost cards invaluable for early and mid game presence. As a result, a free Polymorph may very effectively counter a legendary Cairne Bloodhoof, and a common Sacrificial Pact may turn the legendary Lord Jaraxxus into a swift defeat.
Deck composition is ultimately determined by several factors, including both individual card quality and overall deck strategy. The ability of a card to serve a deck's specific needs and approach to obtaining victory will always play a greater role in determining its viability than its rarity. However, a few well-chosen high rarity cards can turn a deck from bad to reasonable, or from good to great, and can generally be relied upon to provide some exciting and game-changing options.
Free[edit | edit source]
Free is the lowest level of card rarity, below Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary.
A player's collection always starts with two copies of 88 Free cards (all 43 non-class-specific cards, and 5 class-specific cards of each class). The remaining class-specific Free cards can be obtained by advancing a hero of the appropriate class to level 10.
All Free cards are in the Basic card set, within which all collectible and most uncollectible cards are Free (a few uncollectible ones are Common instead). This makes "Basic cards" nearly - but not exactly - synonymous with "Free cards". This was not the case before the Year of the Mammoth changed a number of Basic card rarities, since approximately half of Basic cards were Common.
It is often thought that all cards without a rarity gem are Free cards. However, the absence of a gem actually indicates that a card belongs to the Basic set, so a few such cards are actually Common, albeit only uncollectible ones.
There are 133 collectible Free cards (10 per class and 43 neutral).
For a full list of all Free cards, see Free card list.
Common[edit | edit source]
Common is the second-lowest level of rarity, above Free, but below Rare, Epic and Legendary. Common cards that are not from the Basic set can be recognised by a white gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening packs do not glow when moused over. Basic common cards do not feature the white gem, but are still marked as Common cards. There are more Common cards than of any other rarity, and Common cards are obtained from card packs more frequently than any other rarity.
There are 449 collectible Common cards: 91 in the Classic set (5 in Rogue, Mage, and Warlock, 6 in other classes, and 40 neutral), 40 in the Goblins vs Gnomes set (2 per class and 22 neutral), 49 in The Grand Tournament set (3 per class and 22 neutral), 50 in the Whispers of the Old Gods set (3 per class and 23 neutral), 49 in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan set (3 per class, 3 tri-class cards and 19 neutral), 49 in the Journey to Un'Goro set (3 per class and 22 neutral), 49 in the Knights of the Frozen Throne set (3 per class and 22 neutral), 18 in the Naxxramas set (1 per class and 9 neutral), 15 in the Blackrock Mountain set (1 per class and 6 neutral), 25 in the League of Explorers set (2 per class and 7 neutral), 27 in the One Night in Karazhan set (2 per class and 9 neutral), and 3 in the Hall of Fame set (1 Rogue, 1 Mage, and 1 Warlock card).
For a full list of all Common cards, see Common card list.
Rare[edit | edit source]
Rare is the level of rarity above Free and Common, but below Epic and Legendary. Rare cards can be recognised by a blue gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening packs will display a blue glow when moused over.
There are 339 collectible Rare cards: 80 in the Classic set (5 per class and 35 neutral), 37 in the Goblins vs Gnomes set (3 per class and 10 neutral), 36 in The Grand Tournament set (3 per class and 9 neutral), 36 in the Whispers of the Old Gods set (3 per class and 9 neutral), 36 in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan set (3 per class, 3 tri-class cards and 6 neutral), 36 in the Journey to Un'Goro set (3 per class and 9 neutral), 36 in the Knights of the Frozen Throne set (3 per class and 9 neutral), 4 in the Naxxramas set (all neutral), 11 in the Blackrock Mountain set (1 per class and 2 neutral), 13 in the League of Explorers set (1 per class and 4 neutral), 12 in the One Night in Karazhan set (1 per class and 3 neutral), and 1 in the Hall of Fame set (neutral).
For a list of all Rare cards, see Rare card list.
Epic[edit | edit source]
Epic is the second-highest level of rarity, above Free, Common and Rare, but below Legendary. Epic cards can be recognised by a purple gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening packs will display a purple glow when hovered over.
There are 204 collectible Epic cards: 37 in the Classic set (3 per class and 10 neutral), 26 in the Goblins vs Gnomes set (2 per class and 8 neutral), 27 in The Grand Tournament set (2 per class and 9 neutral), 27 in the Whispers of the Old Gods set (2 per class and 9 neutral), 27 in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan set (2 per class and 9 neutral), 27 in the Journey to Un'Goro set (2 per class and 9 neutral), 27 in the Knights of the Frozen Throne set (2 per class and 9 neutral), 2 in the Naxxramas set (both neutral), 2 in the League of Explorers set (both neutral), 1 in the One Night in Karazhan set (neutral) and 1 in the Hall of Fame set (neutral).
There is strong evidence that a Pity Timer exists. As such, according to the hypothesis, an Epic card will be opened within 10 packs of the last opened Epic, for any given store-bought expansion set, including Classic set.
For a full list of all Epic cards, see Epic card list.
Legendary[edit | edit source]
Legendary is the highest level of rarity, above Free, Common, Rare and Epic. Legendary cards are indicated by an orange gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening packs will display an orange glow when moused over. Legendary cards are obtained from card packs less frequently than any other rarity. While most legendaries are extremely rare and hard to obtain, legendaries in adventure sets can be obtained relatively easily by purchasing and playing through the corresponding adventure. However, the cost of the adventure itself can be considered some compensation for this. Unlike cards of other rarities, players may only have one of each Legendary card in a deck.
In addition to the normal rarity gem, legendary cards also feature a dragon around the portrait, much like elites and rares in World of Warcraft. Playing a Legendary card prompts a short piece of unique music. In addition to being powerful and interesting cards, the characters featured in Legendary cards are typically very well-known or significant within Warcraft lore. Legendary minion cards obtained through adventures tend to depict bosses from that adventure. Each class currently has seven Legendary cards specific to their class, except hunter which has eight, with all other Legendary cards being non-class-specific. Currently, most collectible Legendary cards are minion cards, with the exception of Quest cards. There are also Legendary uncollectible non-minion cards, such as Ashbringer and Nether Portal.
There are 175 collectible Legendary cards: 31 in the Classic set (1 per class and 22 neutral), 20 in the Goblins vs Gnomes set (1 per class and 11 neutral), 20 in The Grand Tournament set (1 per class except 2 for Hunter and 10 neutral), 21 in the Whispers of the Old Gods set (1 per class and 12 neutral), 20 in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan set (1 per class, 3 tri-class cards and 8 neutral), 23 in the Journey to Un'Goro set (2 per class and 5 neutral), 23 in the Knights of the Frozen Throne set (2 per class and 5 neutral), 6 in the Naxxramas set (all neutral), 5 in the Blackrock Mountain set (all neutral), 5 in the League of Explorers set (all neutral), 5 in the One Night in Karazhan set (all neutral), and 5 in the Hall of Fame set (all neutral).
There is strong evidence that a Pity Timer exists. As such, according to the hypothesis, a Legendary card will be opened within 40 packs of the last opened Legendary, for any given store-bought expansion set, including Classic set.
For a full list of all Legendary cards, see Legendary card list.
Related cards[edit | edit source]
A handful of cards have effects that are specifically determined by card rarity. As of One Night in Karazhan, all such cards specifically relate to legendary rarity.
|Name / Desc||Rarity||Type||Subtype||Class||Cost||Atk||HP||Description|
|Frozen Champion||None||Minion||General||Mage||1||0||1||Deathrattle: Add a random Legendary minion to your hand.|
|Prince Malchezaar||Legendary||Minion||Demon||Any||5||5||6||When the game starts, add 5 extra Legendary minions to your deck. He was super excited to acquire Gorehowl at a garage sale! Then super disappointed to find out it was a foam reproduction.|
|Rotface||Legendary||Minion||General||Warrior||8||4||6||Whenever this minion survives damage, summon a random Legendary minion. Daddy! I think I made a Legendary!|
|Showing all 3 cards|
- This section contains information exclusive to Wild format.
|Name / Desc||Rarity||Type||Subtype||Class||Cost||Atk||HP||Description|
Battlecry: Replace your hand and deck with Legendary minions.
|Confessor Paletress||Legendary||Minion||General||Priest||7||5||4||Inspire: Summon a random Legendary minion. She sees into your past and makes you face your fears. Most common fear: Getting Majordomo out of Sneed's Old Shredder.|
|Rend Blackhand||Legendary||Minion||General||Any||7||8||4||Battlecry: If you're holding a Dragon, destroy a Legendary minion. Rend believes he is the True Warchief of the Horde and he keeps editing the wikipedia page for "Warchief of the Horde" to include his picture.|
|Sneed's Old Shredder||Legendary||Minion||Mech||Any||8||5||7||Deathrattle: Summon a random Legendary minion. When Sneed was defeated in the Deadmines, his shredder was sold at auction to an anonymous buyer. (Probably Hogger.)|
|Showing all 4 cards|
In development[edit | edit source]
- The developers have stated that collectible legendary weapons may be a possibility in the future.
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-13).
- JR Cook (2014-04-13). Interview with Eric Dodds and Jason Chayes, PAX East 2014.