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Burst damage or burst potential refers to a player's ability to deal a large amount of damage in one or two turns, allowing a player to finish off a previously damaged opponent, or deal an overwhelming amount of damage that the opponent cannot quickly recover from. It can play a role both in aggro decks, which may need burst damage to finish off the weakened opponent if the opponent is able to win back the tempo, and in control decks, which may use burst damage as the primary mechanism for killing the opponent after playing defensively for most of the game.

Burst potential stands in contrast to repeated damage done by minions while controlling the board. While such minions can do significant damage simply by staying in play and attacking over many turns, burst damage is characterized by its use of one-time effects played from the hand to generate a surge in damage output, possibly in combination with minions and weapons already in play.

A one turn kill (OTK) is a concept closely related to burst damage, describing defeating the opponent in a single turn, generally as a result of strong burst damage. The exact definition of a one turn kill varies: for some it requires taking the opponent from 30 to 0 Health in a single turn, with no cards previously played, while for others it simply requires dealing a large and lethal amount of damage in one turn.

Uses[edit | edit source]

Large amounts of burst damage often are used to damage the opponent's hero rather than minions, for several reasons. Foremost is that by the time a player has the resources to launch such an onslaught of damage, the opponent may already be close enough to dead to finish them off. Or, they may be brought low enough that the player expects to be able to force through a victory shortly thereafter. Another is that the damage combination might account for so much of the damage-dealing potential of the deck that the player is unlikely to be able to actually kill the opponent without it. Furthermore, depending on the specific combination used, it may be difficult to distribute the damage among enemy minions without wasting much of its potential, since most minions don't have double-digit health. Also, if minions produce the damage burst, hitting the enemy player is "free" in that the minions take no damage in the process, remaining as threats the opponent must address - perhaps by trading their own minions anyway. However, some high burst damage methods are more flexible and may be used efficiently to board control the enemy, depending on the situation.

Smaller amounts of unexpected damage can be highly valuable in making favorable trades. These usages are not what is primarily thought of as "burst damage", but technically even the smallest attack buff that was not visible on the board beforehand could be called "burst", since it is above and beyond the amount the opponent knew to expect based solely on known minions.

Sources[edit | edit source]

Burst may be generated from spells, minions with Charge and damaging abilities, and combinations of cards that increase each other's effectiveness. Mana acceleration and Spell Damage are common ways to enhance burst power.

Counters[edit | edit source]

Killing minions likely to be used in burst combinations is always a good idea, although damage played entirely from the hand is of course immune to this board control strategy, forcing opponents to address its threat preemptively rather than reactively. Other defenses against burst damage include Taunt minions to stop Charge, prevention of spellcasting with cards like  Loatheb or  Counterspell, and simply keeping life totals too high to die in one turn, possibly using healing or Armor effects. Keeping the opponent on the defensive, thereby forcing them to use up their damage spells on minions, may also pressure them out of accumulating enough cards to play a successful burst combination.

Examples[edit | edit source]

Listed below are some common examples of cards which provide burst damage.

Blessing of Might
Cold Blood
Lightning Bolt
Power Overwhelming
Southsea Deckhand
Mind Blast
Leeroy Jenkins
Inner Demon
King Krush