Ability

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For the abilities in Mercenaries, see Ability.
A selection of minions, each with its own ability. From left to right: Divine Shield, Deathrattle, a triggered effect, and Spell Damage.

Abilities are special effects, powers, or behaviors found on cards. For spell and location 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 often-used abilities are written in memorable shorthand form using bold-faced keywords on the card, such as Battlecry or Deathrattle, while other abilities are written out with their full description in the card text.

Minion abilities granted by card text or enchantments can be removed using the Silence ability. However, abilities granted to minions through aura effects generated by other cards can only be removed by neutralizing the aura-generating card.

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]

This section is about keyword abilities. For keywords used to search the collection, see Keywords (collection manager).

Keywords are specific bold-faced words or terms printed on cards which specify a unique power or behavior without any explicit description.[1] 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 respective section headings.

In almost all cases, when a new keyword and mechanic is added for an expansion set, that keyword is only used in that set. There are a handful of exceptions, like expansion keywords that have been made evergreen since their introduction such as Discover, Reborn, and Tradeable; new keywords specifically designed to be evergreen, such as Rush, Outcast, and Overheal; and existing effects being given keywords, such as Lifesteal, Poisonous, and Casts When Drawn.

For a discussion of why keywords do not exist for some often-seen behaviors in cards, see the trivia section.

Evergreen keywords[edit | edit source]

These keywords can be found across multiple card sets and are frequently given new variations and synergies.

Battlecry

A triggered effect which activates when the card is played from the hand.

Casts When Drawn

The spell card is automatically cast for no mana when drawn from the deck, and the next card in the deck is then drawn.

Charge

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

Counter

Prevents a card that was played from taking effect.

Deathrattle

A triggered effect which activates when the card is destroyed. Deathrattle is identified by a skull and crossbones at the bottom of the card's portrait.

Discover

Choose one card from three random class-appropriate cards to either add to the hand or perform another specified action.

Divine Shield

Absorbs the first source of any damage, removing the shield. Divine Shield is indicated by a yellow barrier around the character.

Dormant

The minion becomes a Permanent until certain conditions are fulfilled, preventing it from taking any action or being interacted with in any way.

Elusive

The character cannot be targeted by spells or Hero Powers from either player. Elusive is indicated by a thick yellow shimmer covering the character.

Freeze

The next time a Frozen character would be able to attack, they cannot. Freeze is indicated by blue ice covering the character.

Immune

Prevents damage dealt from any source to the target, and prevents all enemy interaction with the target. Immune is indicated by a translucent blue barrier around the character.

Lifesteal

Damage dealt by the card also restores Health to the controlling hero. Lifesteal is identified by a broken purple heart at the bottom of the card's portrait.

Mega-Windfury

Can attack four times each turn. Mega-Windfury is indicated by multiple wind-like lines around the card.

Passive

Cards that continuously provide a global effect to the game via an aura. Passive hero powers are a main source of this ability.

Poisonous

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

Reborn

The first time the minion dies, it returns to life with 1 Health remaining. Reborn is indicated by a cracked blue glow around the minion.

Rush

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

Secret

A type of spell card that is placed on the Battlefield and takes effect once triggered, with its effect hidden from the opponent. Only one of any given Secret can be in play for a given player at a time.

Silence

Removes all current card text, enchantments, and abilities from the target minion, except for auras provided by external cards in play. Silence is indicated by two pink rings around the minion.

Spell Damage

Increases the damage dealt by the player's spells by {X}. Spell Damage is indicated by blue and purple sparkles rising from the card.

Start of Game

A type of triggered effect that activates at the start of the game.

Stealth

Characters with Stealth may not be the target of enemy attacks, spells, or abilities until they attack or deal damage. Stealth is indicated by shadows covering the character.

Summoned When Drawn

The minion is automatically summoned for no mana when drawn from the deck, and the next card in the deck is then drawn.

Taunt

Prevents the opponent from attacking friendly characters that do not have Taunt. Taunt is indicated by a large shield-like border.

Temporary

The card is discarded at the end of the player's turn.

Tradeable

Instead of being played, the card can be dragged to the deck and shuffled in for 1 Mana, drawing a new card to replace it. Tradeable is indicated by a recycling icon beneath the card's mana cost.

Windfury

Can attack twice each turn. Windfury is indicated by multiple wind-like lines around the character.

Evergreen class keywords[edit | edit source]

These keywords can be found across multiple card sets, but are typically only used in one specific class.

Choose One

Choose between one of two or more effects stated on the card. Found only on druid cards.

Choose multiple

A variation of Choose One that allows the player to combine multiple options from a list. Appears as Choose Twice and Choose Thrice. Found only on druid cards.

Combo

Triggers an effect when played from the hand if another card was already played this turn. Found only on rogue cards.

Outcast

Gains an effect if it's the right-most or left-most card in the hand. Found only on demon hunter cards.

Overheal

A triggered effect which activates when the minion is healed above its maximum health. Found only on priest cards.

Overload

{X} mana crystals will be locked on the player's next turn, preventing them from being used. Found only on shaman cards.

Expansion-specific keywords[edit | edit source]

The following keywords are tied to specific expansions and only appear in those expansions.

Adapt

Choose from one of three possible upgrades from a list of ten.

Colossal

The minion comes into play with {X} token minions representing its body parts, no matter how it was summoned.

Corrupt

The card gains an additional effect if the player plays a more expensive card while it's in their hand.

Dredge

Look at the bottom three cards of the deck and put one on the top of the deck.

Echo

Adds another copy of the card to the hand after it's played that disappears at the end of the turn, allowing the card to be replayed indefinitely that turn. Echo copies cannot cost less than 1 mana.

Excavate

Adds a random treasure card to the player's hand. The more times they've Excavated this game, the better the treasure will be.

Finale

An effect that activates if the player has no unspent Mana crystals remaining when it's played.

Forge

While in the hand, the card can be dragged to the deck for 2 mana, gaining an additional effect and returning to the hand.

Frenzy

A one-time triggered effect that activates the first time the minion takes damage and survives.

Gigantify

The card generates an 8-mana 8/8 version of itself when played.

Honorable Kill

A triggered effect that activates when dealing exactly enough damage needed to kill the target.

Infuse

The card gains an additional effect if {X} friendly minions died while the card is in the hand.

Inspire

A triggered effect that activates each time the controlling hero uses their Hero Power. Inspire is identified by a blue flag that appears at the bottom of the minion's portrait.

Invoke

If a version of Galakrond was included in the deck, triggers his hero power and contributes to upgrading him.

Magnetic

Playing a Magnetic minion to the left of a Mech merges the two cards together, combining their stats and effects.

Manathirst

An effect that activates when the card is played if the player has {X} or more total Mana crystals.

Miniaturize

The card generates a 1-mana 1/1 version of itself when played.

Overkill

A triggered effect that activates when dealing more damage than needed to kill the target.

Quest

A type of spell card that is placed on the Battlefield and has a requirement to be fulfilled, granting a Reward upon completion. Each Quest is automatically included in the player's mulligan. A player can only have one active Quest or Questline at a time.

Questline

Similar to Quests, except Questlines require three steps to be completed. Each step has a minor Reward and immediately puts the next step into play, with the final step having a major Reward.

Quickdraw

An effect that activates if the card was played on the same turn that it entered the hand.

Recruit

Summons a random minion from the player's deck. A keyworded version of Put into battlefield, found only on Kobolds & Catacombs cards with this effect.

Sidequest

Similar to Quests, except Sidequests are non-Legendary and do not start in the mulligan. Only one of any given Sidequest can be in play for a given player at a time.

Spellburst

A one-time Triggered effect that does something the first time the controller cast a spell.

Titan

Instead of attacking, the minion can activate one of three abilities once per turn. Each ability can only be used once, and the minion can attack normally once all three have been used.

Tourist

While deckbuilding, the deck can include Perils in Paradise cards from a different specified class, except other cards with Tourist.

Twinspell

Casting the spell puts another copy into the hand, but without the Twinspell ability.

Keyworded mechanics and generated cards[edit | edit source]

Some uncollectible card pools use a bold-faced word for cards that generate or reference them. Some words may also be written in bold, often to reference other keywords or mechanics, even though they themselves are not functional keywords.

Bonus effect

The minion gains Taunt, Windfury, Divine Shield, Poisonous, Stealth, Rush, Lifesteal, or Reborn at random.

Corpse

Exclusive to Death Knights, Corpses are gained whenever a friendly minion dies, and are spent alongside mana to power up certain cards.

Jade Golem

Each Jade Golem summoned by a player is +1/+1 larger than the last. Found only on Druid, Rogue, Shaman, and Jade Lotus Tri-class cards.

Lackey

1 mana 1/1 minions with useful Battlecries.

Lich King

Uncollectible Death Knight cards primarily generated by  The Lich King and  Arfus.

Piece of C'Thun

The body parts of C'Thun. Playing all four will shuffle  C'Thun, the Shattered into your deck.

Spare Part

1 mana spells with minor benefits.

Other abilities[edit | edit source]

Other recurring abilities that do not have an associated keyword.

Can't attack

Prevents a card from attacking.

Can't attack heroes

Prevents a card from attacking a hero.

Cast spell

Casts a spell on behalf of the controlling player.

Change Cost to Health

Changes the mana cost of a card to reduce the player hero's health instead.

Change maximum Mana

Changes the maximum available mana crystals for the player.

Copy

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.

Corpse (Spend/Gain)

Reduces or adds to the amount of Corpses a player has stored.

Deal damage

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

Destroy

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

Disable Hero Power

Causes both players to be unable to use their Hero Power. This effect does not work against Adventure- and Mission-specific Hero Powers.

Discard

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

Draw cards

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

Enchant

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

Enrage

While damaged, this minion gains the stated effect. Prior to Patch 11.0.0.23966, Enrage appeared as a keyword, but was replaced with generic text due to its scarcity.

Equip

Equips the hero with the stated weapon.

Force attack

Forces a character to attack.

Forgetful

The card has a 50% chance of attacking the wrong enemy. Forgetful is a type of triggered effect.

Gain Armor

Causes the controlling hero to gain Armor.

Gain Mana / Gain Mana Crystals

Temporarily or permanently increases the amount of mana a player has.

Generate

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

Hero zone card

Has a non-immediate effect and appears around the player's hero.

Increment attribute

Adds or subtracts a value from something's Attack, Health, Cost, or Durability.

Joust

Reveals a random card from each player's deck. If the player who initiated the Joust produces a card with a higher mana cost, they win the Joust, activating a secondary effect. Both cards are then shuffled back into their respective decks.

Keep enchantment

Lets a card keep any enchantments over all zone transitions.

Modify cost

Alters the mana cost of another card or Hero Power.

Multiply attribute

Multiplies something's Attack, Health or Cost by some value, which so far has always been 2.

Permanent

Permanent "minions" lack Mana cost, Attack and Health, are untargetable, are immune to all effects except their own, do not count as minions for effects, and take up a space on the battlefield.

Permanent attribute

Permanently adds or subtracts a value from something's Attack, Health, Cost, or Durability.

Playerbound

Provides a permanent effect bound to the player. Similar to the aura-generation effect associated with the keyword ability "Passive".

Put into battlefield

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

Put into hand

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

Put on deck

Adds cards to the player's deck without shuffling it in the process, or changes the order of cards in the deck.

Recurring

Repeats an effect when certain conditions are met.

Refresh Mana

Refills the player's empty Mana Crystals.

Remove from game

Removes cards directly from the player's hand, deck, or battlefield.

Replace

Replace one card with another, without destroying or discarding any cards in the process.

Restore Health

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

Return

Returns the target minion to its owner's hand.

Set attribute

Via an enchantment, assigns a new value for something's Attack, Health, or Cost.

Shuffle into deck

Places a card into a player's deck with its placement randomly determined, and shuffles the deck.

Spend mana

Spends mana in addition to the normal mana cost to produce an extra effect. Currently, all cards with this ability spend all available mana, and the effect is proportional to the amount of mana spent.

Steal

Takes a card from the opposing player's hand or deck and adds it to the player's hand.

Summon

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.

Swap effects

Lets a card swap between two or more versions of its card text.

Take control

Transfers ownership of the targeted minion.

Transform

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

Transform in hand

Changes another card into something else while it is in the player's hand.

Transform when drawn

When drawn, the card immediately transforms itself into a different card.

Unlimited attacks

Allows the possessing hero to attack any number of times each turn.

Upgradable

Transforms a card into a more powerful version of itself under specific conditions.

Effect types[edit | edit source]

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

Area of effect

Affects all characters of the stated type.

Deckbuilding effect

While included in a deck, alters the way the deck is constructed.

Highlander

Has an effect when your deck has no duplicates.

In-deck effect

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

In-hand effect

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

One-time effect

Effects which activate upon in response to a certain event, only once.

On-discard effect

Effects which activate upon being discarded from the hand.

On-draw effect

Effects which activate upon being drawn from the deck.

Ongoing effect

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

Positional effect

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

Random effect

Chooses a target or effect at random.

Resurrection effect

Summons a copy of a minion that died during a game.

Triggered effect

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.

Boss and Tavern Brawl abilities[edit | edit source]

The following abilities so far only appear on cards featured in boss encounters and Tavern Brawls.

Auto-cast

Causes the Hero Power to be used automatically at the start of each turn, provided the hero has enough mana to spare.

Auto-Attack

Causes the minion to attack automatically at the end of the turn, targeting the minion or minions directly across from it. The minion cannot be commanded to attack, or prevented from attacking.

Revive

When the minion dies, it goes Dormant and is resurrected after X turns.

Shrine

Whenever the minion would be destroyed, removed from the field in any way, or Silenced, it instead becomes Dormant for 3 turns.

Battlegrounds abilities[edit | edit source]

Keyworded abilities that only appear on Battlegrounds minions and hero powers.

Avenge

A type of Triggered effect that activates after {X} friendly minions die during the same combat.

Spellcraft

Adds a temporary spell with the stated effect to your hand when the minion is played and at the start of each recruit phase.

Start of Combat

A type of Triggered effect that activates at the start of each combat round.

Venomous

The first minion that a Venomous minion damages each combat phase is destroyed.

Removed[edit | edit source]

Duels abilities[edit | edit source]

Keyworded abilities that only appeared on Duels minions and hero powers.

Allied

Including an Allied card in a Duels deck makes a Neutral Duels hero be able to use cards from that class, as well as changing their class to it.

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.[2]

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 "Destroy any minion damaged by this minion" effect was cited by Ben Brode in 2014 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.[3] Senior Producer Yong Woo explained:

"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."[4]

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.[5] For example, Taunt and Charge immediately convey that the minion possesses a single, specific ability.[5] In contrast, the "elusive" ability is tricky because it has more than one effect,[5] 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.[5]

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.[4] Other card text for which keywords were considered, and for which keywords may be added in the future, include on-draw effects and Joust.[6]

New keywords

Following its launch, the game did not see the addition of any new keywords until The Grand Tournament, when Inspire was introduced. Inspire was initially represented by the text "Whenever you use your Hero Power do X", but the developers felt that replacing it with a new keyword would both save space on cards and also highlight the new mechanic as a key feature of the new expansion. They also felt that the game had been around long enough that it was acceptable to introduce a new keyword.[7] However, the developers did not choose to make the same expansion's new Jousting mechanic into a keyword, partly because of a lack of synergy with established keywords, and partly because it is "more in depth" than other keywords.[8][9] Inspire also featured on a larger number of cards than Joust.[10]

The League of Explorers, the next major addition of cards, saw the debut of Discover. Originally intended to debut in a Tavern Brawl, the second added keyword was postponed due to technical difficulties.

A new keyword would not be added until Journey to Un'Goro, with Adapt. A few months earlier, the long-standing "Poison" ability ("Destroy any minion damaged by this minion") was formalised, with the addition of the Poisonous keyword. The change was purely cosmetic, but appears to have been due to the introduction of a number of new Poisonous cards with Un'Goro, therefore justifying the creation of a keyword for the long-standing effect.

As the game grows, the developers feel increasingly open to adding new keywords.[11] When the game was new, Ben Brode says, the developers "really wanted to keep ourselves in check as far as the number of keywords we added and how quickly we added them",[11] but since The Grand Tournament have begun adding keywords quite regularly. In 2018, Dean Ayala explained that the team tends to create keywords that are unique to specific expansions, to ensure that players don't have to learn "a hundred new mechanics" when they log into Hearthstone. As a result, new keywords tend to be introduced at around the same pace that old keywords rotate out of the Standard format. While all old keywords continue to exist in the Wild format, Wild generally has more experienced players that are able to "learn new things a little bit more over time". However, Ayala emphasizes that player feedback plays a big part in deciding which keywords to continue using in future sets and which ones should remain expansion-specific.[12]

A handful of justified exceptions exist. Mega-Windfury was added with Goblins vs Gnomes for just one minion: the uncollectible  V-07-TR-0N, summoned by  Mimiron's Head's triggered effect. However, this keyword is followed on the card by the italicized text, "(Can attack four times a turn.)", essentially negating the use of the Mega-Windfury keyword. The redundancy can be explained by the obvious similarity between Windfury and Mega-Windfury, with the use of the keyword aiding players in immediately understanding the card's ability. Choose Twice was also added for one specific card, but is obviously based on Choose One. Likewise, the Start of Game keyword only appeared on three cards at the time it was added, but is justified by its self-explanatory name. The humorous keyword "Charrrrrge" was similarly added exclusively to the card  Skycap'n Kragg with The Grand Tournament, but served only as a cosmetic variant on Charge.

Patch changes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]