There appears to be an infinite number of cards in Hearthstone, especially if you play in Wild format. So how does anyone become familiar with all the cards in Standard format? Well, there isn’t a need to.
There is no need to memorise any card in Hearthstone. As ridiculous as it sounds, I could just sum up this post by reminding beginner players that if they aren’t sure what a card does, read the card text before playing it.
However, when I first started playing Hearthstone, I had trouble understanding 2 card features: Minion abilities and Secrets.
Minion abilities are usually not explained on the card itself, and therefore are essential to understand. Secrets, on the other hand, work quite differently as compared to other spell cards in Hearthstone. The whole purpose of this post is to explain these 2 card features in detail.
Every new expansion in Hearthstone introduces new card mechanics, and that includes new minion abilities and secrets. But I will only focus on COMMON minion abilities that are always of relevance in Hearthstone, regardless of the meta or card expansion.
Important minion abilities
Battlecry is an effect that can literally be anything—just read the text on the card. But most importantly, it only triggers when it is PLAYED FROM HAND.
Here’s the tricky part: Battlecries WILL NOT trigger if it is being summoned from your hand or deck by another card. It is generally a good thing to summon minions since you don’t spend any mana to play that minion from hand.
As Hearthstone is such a diverse game, some minion battlecries (e.g. Damaged Stegotron) can even be downsides.
The strategy intended here is to play around the minion’s downside. This is done by summoning these minions from hand or deck OR resurrecting them. By doing so, the battlecry will not trigger, and the downside will not occur as a result.
Taunt is an infamous minion ability that visually places a shield around the minion on the board. Taunt minions must be removed before your hero and minions can attack anyone else. This concept is quite confusing for new players.
The higher the health of the taunt minion, the more useful it is since it is harder to remove. But do note that taunt minions can’t protect you from targeted spells.
Silence is a powerful tool used to remove all abilities from a minion. Essentially, silence removes all the card text of the minion. And yes, that even includes taunt ability.
Only a few minions have the ability to silence others, and a few spells (Mostly Priest spells) have silence effects too.
Deathrattle is an effect that is triggered when the minion dies. Just like battlecries, deathrattle effects can be pretty much anything.
Deathrattles rarely have downsides, but the caveat is that the minion has to die first. Your opponent could simply choose to ignore your deathrattle minion, ensuring that you don’t get the positive effects from its deathrattle. Deathrattle effects can also be nullified by silence.
All minions in Hearthstone have summoning sickness when played from hand or summoned. This means that they can only attack in the next turn.
Minions with charge or rush can attack immediately. Charge minions can immediately attack anyone, including the opposing hero. However, Hearthstone has stopped printing charge minions since “The Witchwood” card expansion back in April 2018.
Instead, rush minions became the norm. Rush minions can attack any minion immediately, but NOT the opposing hero. These minions are used for removing the opponent’s minions right away, rather than using spells to do this.
Secret is a spell card that has both a delayed and hidden effect. It only triggers when the opponent does a certain action. You can play a maximum of 5 different secrets at the same time. As of now, only 3 classes (Mage, Hunter and Paladin) have assess to secrets.
Since secrets have a hidden effect, you might be wondering if it is necessary to memorise all the secrets in Hearthstone in order to predict which secret the opponent has active whenever he plays one.
Well, good news! You don’t need to if you use the Hearthstone Deck Tracker, which can be downloaded from HSReplay.
Let me take this opportunity to promote Hearthstone Deck Tracker. All players should use it since the tracker displays all the cards in your deck, what cards you have played and what remains in your deck.
Hearthstone Deck Tracker also displays the list of possible secrets the opponent is playing whenever a secret is cast. You then use this knowledge to play around the secret.
For example, if you have a strong read that the opponent Mage has the highly notorious “Counterspell” secret active, you play around it by casting a cheap spell that isn’t useful to you. This triggers the secret immediately, and you can then safely use your powerful spells without worrying about them being countered.
Knowing what secrets are commonly played in decks require an understanding of the current meta too. But at least Hearthstone Deck tracker greatly helps you to plan your moves against those pesky secret-oriented decks.