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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.

Below is a list of the main types of abilities.


These abilities are found frequently on cards, and are used to denote a specific power or behaviour without description. 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, click on the section headings.


Triggers an action when the minion is first summoned into play.


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

Choose One

Gives the controlling player the ability to choose between two or more effects stated in the card. Found only on druid cards.


Triggers an effect if you already played another card this turn. Found only on rogue cards.


Prevents the next enemy spell cast from taking effect. Currently the only card to use Counter is the mage spell Counterspell.


An ability that is triggered when the minion dies.

Divine Shield

Absorbs the first source of damage taken by the minion. After that the shield disappears.


While damaged, this minion gains the stated effect. Healing the minion to full Health will remove the effect.


Frozen characters cannot attack the following turn.


Cannot be damaged.


You have {X} less mana next turn. This effect is activated when the card is played from the hand, and typically allows a powerful card to be played for a low mana cost this round, at the price of reduced mana next turn. Found only on shaman cards.


This spell card remains hidden until its trigger condition occurs, revealing it and triggering its effect.


Removes all card text, enchantments and abilities from the targeted minion.


Minions with Stealth may not be the target of attacks, spells or abilities until they attack or deal damage. Once they attack or deal damage, Stealth is removed. Minions with stealth can still be affected by AoE spells such as Consecration.

Spell Damage

Increases the output of your damaging spells by X.


Summons the specified minion/s. Distinct from simply summoning minions, this is an ability found on spell or minion cards, sometimes triggered by a Battlecry or Deathrattle.


Enemies must attack this minion first. This includes minions and hero melee weapon attacks. Taunt is illustrated by a large shield-like border.


Changes a minion into something else irreversibly, removing all card text and enchantments.


Can attack twice each turn.

Other abilities

Card draw effect

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

Destroy effect

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

Discard effect

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

Mind control effect

Transfers ownership of the targeted minion.


Destroy any minion damaged by a minion with Poison. Poison is denoted by a bubbling flask at the bottom of the minion's portrait.

Return effect

Returns the targeted minion to its owner's hand.

Types of ability

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

Area of effect

Affects all characters of the stated type.

Ongoing effect

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

Random effects

Chooses a target or effect at random.


Used to remove minions from the board.

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.


Although some abilities are only present on the cards playable by a specific hero class, they can be played by any hero if you manage to acquire them in an ongoing game (e.g. through Thoughtsteal or Mind Vision).