Return to hand

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A return to hand or return effect is a card effect whereby a minion, or more rarely a weapon or spell, is returned to the controlling player's hand. The target returns to its original card form, complete with mana cost, and becomes part of the player's hand. Any damage, enchantments and Silences on the minion are removed in the process. Permanent effects such as transformations are not removed.

Return effects are distinguished from shuffle into deck effects, which place a card into the player's unused deck, and then shuffle the deck.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Return effects may be used against enemy or allied minions, although some cards may restrict it to one or the other.
  • Return effects can be used on uncollectible cards that cannot otherwise be found in a player's hand, such as the Sheep generated by Polymorph, or the Poultryizer generated by Gelbin Mekkatorque. These cards have mana costs and function just like any other card in hand.
  • Return effects return the minion to the hand of the controlling player, even if that is not the player who originally summoned the minion. For example, Shadow Madness grants the caster control of an enemy minion until the end of the turn. Using a return effect on the minion while it is controlled will place it in the caster's hand, effectively transferring control of the minion permanently.
  • If a card is returned to the controlling player's hand when the player already has 10 cards in their hand, the returning card will be destroyed. Any consequences such as Deathrattles and death-related triggered effects will take place as if the minion had died normally.[1] Because of this, return effects can be strategically used to directly destroy minions when the controlling player's hand is full.
  • Return effects remove all enchantments and other card modifications, even those which are present on cards while in the hand, such as those granted by The Mistcaller.[2]
  • There is to date only one spell return to hand effect: Headcrack. In contrast to minion return to hand effects, which move the card directly from the battlefield to the player's hand, Headcrack moves the card from the Graveyard at the end of the turn. As such it is reminiscent of a resurrection effect, but unlike that type of effect it is the original Headcrack that is returned and not a copy.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

  • Return effects are best known for allowing players to benefit from repeatedly triggering Battlecry effects. Minions with valuable battlecries can be played, then returned, then played again, in order to maximise the effect.
  • Return effects may be used to repeatedly trigger effects from other minions e.g. Southsea Deckhand may trigger Ship's Cannon or Murloc Tidecaller may be buffed with Murloc Tidehunter.
  • This is one of the only ways to move a currently active minion to another place on the battlefield, which is crucial for positional effects like that of Flametongue Totem. Other options include minion death, re-summoning, and mind control effects, but only playing the minion from the hand allows for choosing where it goes on the board.
  • Return effects can also be very effective for making use of Charge minions multiple times in a single turn. This is a key part of many finishing combos, especially for rogues.
  • Since minions lose all damage once returned to hand, return effects can be used to "heal" powerful but damaged minions, improving card efficiency. For example, a 6/7 minion which had been damaged to a 6/1 could be returned to the owner's hand and re-summoned as a fresh 6/7.

Known bugs[edit | edit source]

When a minion is returned to a full hand, it will be killed and trigger its Deathrattle; it is likely that they are intended to be considered "died" rather than discarded. However, Feugen and Stalagg do not count as "died" when killed by return effects, preventing their counterparts' Deathrattles from triggering properly.[3] It is unknown whether other death-related effects are similarly affected.

Cards[edit | edit source]

Return effects are a rogue speciality, with almost half of all such cards available exclusively to rogues.

Name / Desc Rarity Type Subtype Class Cost Atk HP Description
Bloodthistle Toxin None Spell Rogue 1 Return a friendly minion to your hand. It costs (2) less. 
Dream None Spell Any 0 Return a minion to its owner's hand. 
Sap Free Spell Rogue 2 Return an enemy minion to your opponent's hand. Rogues love sappy movies.
Vanish Free Spell Rogue 6 Return all minions to their owner's hand. 
Ancient Brewmaster Common Minion General Any 4 5 4 Battlecry: Return a friendly minion from the battlefield to your hand. Most pandaren say his brew tastes like yak. But apparently that's a compliment.
Freezing Trap Common Spell Hunter 2 Secret: When an enemy minion attacks, return it to its owner's hand and it costs (2) more. "Dang, that's cold." - appropriate response to Freezing Trap, or a mean joke.
Shadowstep Common Spell Rogue 0 Return a friendly minion to your hand. It costs (2) less. Rogue dance troops will sometimes Shadowstep away at the end of a performance. Crowds love it.
Youthful Brewmaster Common Minion General Any 2 3 2 Battlecry: Return a friendly minion from the battlefield to your hand. His youthful enthusiasm doesn’t always equal excellence in his brews. Don’t drink the Mogu Stout!
Alarm-o-Bot Rare Minion Mech Any 3 0 3 At the start of your turn, swap this minion with a random one in your hand. WARNING. WARNING. WARNING.
Gadgetzan Ferryman Rare Minion General Rogue 2 2 3 Combo: Return a friendly minion to your hand. Is it just me, or is there something fishy about that ferryman?
Getaway Kodo Rare Spell Paladin 1 Secret: When a friendly minion dies, return it to your hand. Get to da Kodo! Now!
Headcrack Rare Spell Rogue 3 Deal 2 damage to the enemy hero. Combo: Return this to your hand next turn. When all else fails, nothing beats a swift whack upside the head.
Doomerang Epic Spell Rogue 1 Throw your weapon at a minion. It deals its damage, then returns to your hand. Guaranteed to return your weapon directly to your hand! (Wear gloves. Thick ones.)
Kidnapper Epic Minion General Rogue 6 5 3 Combo: Return a minion to its owner's hand. He just wants people to see his vacation photos.
Spirit Echo Epic Spell Shaman 4 Give your minions "Deathrattle: Return this to your hand." I guess you can say they’re… “soul survivors.”
Tentacles for Arms Epic Weapon Warrior 5 2 2 Deathrattle: Return this to your hand. That's right. Garrosh just slapped you to death with a tentacle.
Clutchmother Zavas Legendary Minion Beast Warlock 2 2 2 Whenever you discard this, give it +2/+2 and return it to your hand. A bit of a snob: still refuses to drive anything with automatic transmission.
Showing all 17 cards
Bloodthistle Toxin(35290).png
Dream(561).png
Sap(385).png
Vanish(658).png
Ancient Brewmaster(572).png
Freezing Trap(99).png
Shadowstep(550).png
Youthful Brewmaster(247).png
Alarm-o-Bot(425).png
Gadgetzan Ferryman(49722).png
Getaway Kodo(49640).png
Headcrack(135).png
Doomerang(62940).png
Kidnapper(562).png
Spirit Echo(55514).png
Tentacles for Arms(33140).png
Clutchmother Zavas(55464).png

Wild format

Wild icon.png  This section contains information exclusive to Wild format.
Name / Desc Rarity Type Subtype Class Cost Atk HP Description
Time Rewinder None Spell Any 1 Return a friendly minion to your hand. 
Anub'ar Ambusher Common Minion General Rogue 4 5 5 Deathrattle: Return a random friendly minion to your hand. Originally he was called "Anub'ar Guy who bounces a guy back to your hand", but it lacked a certain zing.
Coliseum Manager Rare Minion General Any 3 2 5 Inspire: Return this minion to your hand. Meets monthly with the gladiators to discuss career goals.
Anub'arak Legendary Minion General Rogue 9 8 4 Deathrattle: Return this to your hand and summon a 4/4 Nerubian. Was actually a pretty nice guy before, you know, the whole Lich King thing.
The Skeleton Knight Legendary Minion General Any 6 7 4 Deathrattle: Reveal a minion in each deck. If yours costs more, return this to your hand. Apparently it really was just a flesh wound.
Showing all 5 cards
Time Rewinder(12368).png
Anub'ar Ambusher(7728).png
Coliseum Manager(22291).png
Anub'arak(22324).png
The Skeleton Knight(22314).png

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hearth Trolden (2014-07-09). Funny and Lucky Moments - Hearthstone - Ep. 53
  2. Whirthun on Twitter. (2015-08-16). 
  3. Rolkyr (2015-01-30). Stalagg/Feugen Bounce


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