Random effect

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Yogg-Saron, arguably the most random card ever released

Random effects are effects which include some degree of randomness or 'RNG' (random number generation).

Random effects introduce an element of chance into Hearthstone. They can be interesting, fun, frustrating or rewarding, but their outcome is always uncertain. For a discussion of the role of randomness in games, see RNG.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Effects which draw randomly from a pool of cards are influenced by game format, with only cards valid in the current format being eligible for selection. All other random effects are unaffected by game format or game mode.
  • Random effects without specific influencing factors are "truly random" and offer balanced chances of all possible outcomes,[1] regardless of circumstantial details such as which minions are currently on the board or which cards are currently in the player's hand. Random outcomes are also not affected by game mode, such as Tavern Brawls (unless specifically stated).[2] However, some effects are limited by clearly relevant factors, such as  Totemic Call, which will only summon a totem that is not already present, or card draw, which can only draw cards that are remaining in the player's deck.
  • Random effects do not always feature the word 'random' in their description. Game Designer Ben Brode explains that the general strategy is to explicitly state 'random' for effects that take place in "visible zones" such as the battlefield or the player's hand; and not to explicitly state 'random' for effects that take in "hidden zones" such as the opposing player's hand, or either player's deck. However, Brode acknowledged that not all cards follow this convention, stating that "the word 'random' just feels better on [some] cards", while in other cases adding the word 'random' would simply complexify card text too much.[3] Players must therefore expect that effects which affect hidden zones will be random, even if this is not specifically stated on the card. In addition, Deathrattles and triggered effects are never targetable, and so are always random, whether or not this is stated.
  • When a card has "a 50% chance to attack the wrong enemy", it is unofficially known as "forgetful". More details on this type of randomness can be found on that page.
  • One of the design reasons behind random effects of all kinds is to add variety, ensuring that each match feels different. This is also one reason for the limit of 2 copies per card in a deck, and the relatively small number of card draw effects in the game, preventing the cards available to players from being too consistent across games.[4]

Random damage[edit | edit source]

Random damage comes in a few forms. Some cards, commonly Shaman cards, deal a random amount of damage (within a certain range) to one creature or each one of multiple creatures. Other cards deal an exact amount of damage to a random target, or multiple random targets.

The most complicated case is cards such as  Arcane Missiles and  Mad Bomber that deal a total amount of damage distributed or "split" randomly. These effects are best thought of as a set of one-damage "hits" being randomly targeted one at a time: Each point of damage is considered a separate instance of damage dealt, meaning that cards like  Gurubashi Berserker and  Frothing Berserker will trigger multiple times even if the points of damage came from the same spell or effect, and Divine Shields will be removed by a single point of damage, allowing the protected minion to be damaged by further "hits" from the same effect. Furthermore, damage will never be distributed to a minion that has already been brought to 0 health by previous hits from the same effect.

This concept has some exceptions. Deathrattles and other death effects from any destroyed minions occur "simultaneously" after all the damage is dealt, which means that minions summoned by Deathrattles (e.g.  Damaged Golem) cannot be hit by the same effect that destroyed their "parents" (e.g.  Harvest Golem), and that damage may be "wasted" on targets that would have died anyway from the Deathrattle of another dying minion (e.g.  Abomination). Also, for spells which distribute damage between multiple targets, each point of Spell Damage adds one additional randomly targeted "hit", thus increasing the total damage dealt by one, rather than increasing the damage of each hit by one.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

Some RNG elements within Hearthstone can be minimised by controlling the prevailing situation. For example,  Deadly Shot destroys one random enemy minion. When faced with several enemies, this can prove extremely random; however, when faced with only a single fearsome enemy its RNG element is removed, and it becomes a simple and effective removal spell.

Order of play is often important when dealing with RNG in target selection. Players may wish to first remove non-desirable targets for abilities such as  Arcane Missiles and  Cleave, to ensure that only the ideal targets remain available. More often though, players will generally want to use RNG abilities early in the round, in order to plan the rest of their actions around the resulting situation.

The uncertainty of RNG elements causes many players to avoid them whenever possible, preferring guaranteed effects which can be relied upon to achieve their intended goals, and RNG options are often considered to be slightly poorer than their average effect, due to the undesirability of their randomness, which also makes planning for their use much harder. However, the satisfaction of a successful roll of the dice can be very gratifying, and to some degree form a reward in itself for attempting a risky play. The seeming unfairness of being defeated by an opponent due almost entirely to luck or chance can be particularly exasperating for the loser, and particularly entertaining for the victor. Some players also choose to use cards with strong RNG elements (such as  Gelbin Mekkatorque) in order to add variety, unpredictability and fun to the game.

Card draw itself is inherently a randomised process, and cards granting card draw can also be considered to provide players with random effects.

Cards[edit | edit source]

For Wild format listings, see Random effect/Wild format.

This section lists Hearthstone cards and Hero Powers with random effects. Note that card draw, shuffle into deck and Discover effects are not listed here, but can be found on the linked pages.


Swipe left or right to see the cards.
TTN 721t.png
TTN 002t30.png
YOG 516t2.png
ETC 367.png
TOY 700t13.png
TTN 002t44.png
TTN 858t1.png
TTN 800t3.png
TTN 415t.png
TTN 075t3.png
TTN 429t3.png
ULD 209t.png
CORE KAR 009.png
WW 412.png
GVG 110t.png
TOY 604t.png
YOG 514.png
TOY 801t.png
JAM 001.png
ETC 104.png
TOY 510.png
TTN 860.png
TOY 601t.png
DEEP 022.png
ETC 375a.png
DEEP 999t1.png
TOY 803.png
CORE UNG 912.png
CORE REV 923.png
TOY 351t.png
ETC 375.png
RLK 039.png
DEEP 003.png
YOG 524.png
WW 378.png
TTN 736.png
AT 132 SHAMANe.png
CORE KAR 069.png
TOY 307t.png
ETC 535.png
CORE GIL 580.png
CORE UNG 020.png
ETC 833.png
ETC 536.png
JAM 015t4.png
WW 408.png
WW 380.png
TOY 643.png
WW 327.png
UPCOMING 99221.png
JAM 015t3.png
WW 006.png
CORE CFM 790.png
ETC 077.png
TTN 833.png
TTN 450.png
TTN 454.png
UPCOMING 101369.png
TTN 951.png
TTN 951t.png
TOY 352.png
WW 379.png
TTN 719.png
RLK 511.png
UPCOMING 100284.png
JAM 003.png
WW 900.png
WW 333.png
ETC 098t.png
ETC 418.png
TOY 359.png
WW 001.png
TTN 955A.png
TTN 955.png
UPCOMING 98744.png
CORE EX1 082.png
CORE BOT 533.png
UPCOMING 100191.png
WW 348.png
TTN 852.png
TTN 735.png
TOY 350.png
ETC 350.png
TOY 605.png
JAM 015t2.png
JAM 015.png
TOY 387.png
JAM 015t.png
WW 416.png
DEEP 018.png
TOY 822.png
TTN 803.png
UPCOMING 101874.png
ETC 105.png
UPCOMING 101950.png
TTN 456.png
HERO 02bp.png
UPCOMING 100291.png
YOG 507.png
CORE SCH 160.png
TTN 039.png
TTN 039t.png
CORE NEW1 031.png
CORE RLK 087.png
WW 044t.png
ETC 072.png
TTN 753t.png
JAM 012t3.png
JAM 012t2.png
TOY 814.png
JAM 033t.png
JAM 000t.png
ETC 364.png
TOY 390.png
UPCOMING 101376.png
CORE EX1 617.png
ETC 317.png
ETC 427t.png
DEEP 002.png
TOY 507.png
JAM 032.png
TOY 897.png
WW 431.png
ETC 427.png
ETC 339.png
DEEP 035.png
JAM 012t4.png
ETC 528.png
WW 433.png
JAM 012t.png
TOY 373t.png
TTN 734.png
JAM 000t2.png
ETC 422.png
TTN 920.png
RLK 570t1t3.png
RLK 570tt1.png
RLK 570t1t2.png
RLK 570t1t1.png
RLK 570t1t4.png
TTN 477t1.png
TTN 477.png
JAM 000t3.png
TTN 460.png
ETC 085t4.png
ETC 085t2.png
JAM 000t4.png
JAM 033t4.png
TOY 520.png
UPCOMING 101549.png
TOY 517.png
CORE TRL 124.png
WW 352.png
WW 334.png
JAM 000.png
JAM 033.png
JAM 012.png
ETC 121.png
JAM 033t3.png
TOY 943.png
ETC 200.png
UPCOMING 100178.png
TTN 712.png
CORE KAR 077.png
TOY 916.png
WW 400.png
TTN 718.png
ETC 089.png
TTN 468.png
TTN 482.png
TOY 307.png
UPCOMING 101975.png
TTN 485.png
TOY 882.png
DEEP 029.png
UPCOMING 103462.png
JAM 033t2.png
TOY 641.png
TOY 603.png
YOG 510.png
JAM 024.png
TOY 500.png
TOY 642.png
WW 402.png
ETC 318.png
TOY 604.png
WW 810.png
TOY 391.png
TOY 388.png
TOY 801.png
TOY 913.png
TOY 801a.png
TOY 824.png
DEEP 009.png
TTN 490.png
TTN 490t.png
CORE DRG 256.png
WW 417.png
CORE LOOT 211.png
WW 405.png
DEEP 033.png
DEEP 027.png
JAM 035.png
ETC 334.png
ETC 400.png
ETC 832.png
ETC 111.png
CORE RLK 740.png
WW 442.png
CORE LOOT 309.png
WW 419.png
UPCOMING 104999.png
ETC 540.png
UPCOMING 101939.png
UPCOMING 99957.png
WW 332.png
DEEP 027a.png
TTN 725.png
RLK 223.png
WW 001t24.png
DEEP 999t5.png
WW 001t26.png
WW 001t23.png
TTN 715.png
TOY 370.png
ETC 205.png
TOY 522.png
TOY 376.png
TTN 463.png
JAM 018t.png
CORE BAR 551.png
ETC 838.png
ETC 428.png
CORE EX1 407.png
WW 002.png
WW 351.png
TOY 602.png
TTN 741.png
CORE EX1 310.png
JAM 018t3.png
TOY 820.png
TOY 524.png
CORE DMF 734.png
ETC 026.png
WW 401.png
TOY 504.png
TOY 355.png
TTN 842.png
ETC 329.png
TOY 351.png
WW 420.png
JAM 018.png
JAM 018t2.png
ETC 071.png
TOY 806.png
WW 814.png
JAM 002.png
ETC 376.png
YOG 519.png
TTN 723.png
TTN 855.png
TTN 855t.png
JAM 018t4.png
WW 415.png
TTN 458.png
TTN 458t.png
UPCOMING 101875.png
DEEP 031.png
TTN 716.png
TTN 800.png
GIFT 01.png
TTN 415.png
ETC 328.png
TOY 531.png
CORE RLK 505.png
WW 429.png
TTN 075.png
DEEP 005.png
TOY 506.png
TTN 481.png
TOY 511.png
CORE EX1 016.png
UPCOMING 102028.png
TOY 606.png
UPCOMING 100285.png
TOY 829.png
TTN 857.png
ETC 349.png
TTN 721.png
TTN 429.png
TTN 858.png
CORE DAL 422.png
UPCOMING 100546.png
CORE DAL 721.png
TTN 700.png
TOY 808.png
TTN 480.png
CORE KAR 076.png
CORE BT 334.png
CORE LOOT 507.png
ETC 370.png
TOY 812.png
TTN 090.png
TOY 879.png
CORE GIL 598.png
ETC 409.png
TOY 356.png
RLK 222t2.png
TOY 703.png
CORE DRG 026.png
WW 392.png
TOY 519.png
TOY 607.png
ETC 419.png
CORE EX1 298.png
TTN 441.png
ETC 208.png
WW 440.png
TOY 372.png
TOY 906.png
TOY 884.png
CS3 034.png
CORE RLK 122.png
YOG 516.png
CORE VAN EX1 572.png
ETC 840.png
ETC 210.png
CS3 036.png
TOY 601.png
UPCOMING 101876.png
TOY 378.png
WW 373.png

History[edit | edit source]

In the build-up to Curse of Naxxramas, the adventure's class cards were revealed to players one by one, many of which featured Deathrattle effects, with text that did not specify that the effects were randomly targeted. This led to widespread confusion over the function of the effects. In a special forum post, Ben Brode explained that by omitting the word 'random', card text could be shortened. By establishing the rule that Deathrattles were never targetable, the developers would not have to explicitly state this on each card, which could eventually allow for the development of more "strategically deep" card effects, due to having more card space in which to describe them, potentially otherwise a limiting factor. Brode stated that "setting expectations now that triggers never allow choices allows us to make cards that otherwise would have too much text",[5] explaining that the omission of explicit statements to this effect "lays the groundwork for shortening the text."[6]

However, in the face of player confusion and preference for random effects to be explicitly described as such, the policy was altered, and the word 'random' added to several Naxxramas cards.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Gnomes are known for the unpredictability of their inventions, and many gnome cards in Hearthstone feature random effects.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-05-23). 
  2. Ben Brode on Twitter (X). (2016-06-11). 
  3. Ben Brode (2014-06-05). The word "random" in card text. (official forums)
  4. Ben Brode on the official forums. (2017-02-02). 
  5. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-05-14). 
  6. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-05-14).