CCG 101: Special Abilities

by JGGiant on

Like all CCGs, most of Hearthstone’s cards are fairly straightforward. A minion has a set amount of health and damage, you play it, and next round it can do that damage unless that amount of health is taken away from it first. A spell will do exactly what it says, such as dealing 5 damage or removing a minion entirely.

Also like nearly all CCGs though, some cards will have special modifiers that change the way a creature or spell behaves based on other conditions. In Hearthstone these abilities are in Bold print and their uses often play into many of the deck types that I’ve described in previous articles. Some of the first abilities I’ll discuss this week are explained briefly in Hearthstone’s tutorial, but a refresher is always a good idea.

It doesn't matter what minions are out there, you have to kill this guy first whether you like it or not.

It doesn’t matter what minions are out there, you have to kill this guy first whether you like it or not.

A creature with the Taunt ability is a tank, but those found in MMO’s they don’t have to worry about the DPS drawing too much aggro. A minion with taunt draws all incoming physical damage to themselves by making their allied minions and heroes impossible to target with basic attacks until they themselves are defeated. They usually have a larger health pool than other minions and sometimes lower attack since their main objective is to keep you and your other minions alive. Given their role in keeping things on the board for as long as possible, taunt cards can be used in any deck. After all, even a weak 0/1 tank can potentially give you another turn with which to turn things around. They are especially welcome in turtle decks since anything that can keep damage away from your hero is a welcome addition.

a 2/3 isn't too threatening, but a 5/2 or 5/1 is another matter entirely.

A 2/3 isn’t too threatening, but a 5/2 or 5/1 is another matter entirely.

Like the taunt card, a minion with Enrage welcomes incoming damage. Unlike the above mentioned ability however, the Enrage card isn’t meant to soak up a lot of it or to protect other minions. This card gains benefits from taking damage, such as extra attack power or even additional abilities. Enrage cards are often found in burn decks that can utilize the extra damage that enrage cards usually have, but any deck can use them well. With that said, the enrage card requires a bit more finesse to use properly; many opponents will avoid damaging an enrage card unless they can kill it outright, often forcing the owner of the card to deal the damage themselves. Be ready to fulfill this role if you plan on playing an enrage card because you can’t necessarily depend on your opponent to do it for you.

Another issue with Enrage cards is that they’re a bit easier to counter than most other abilities. While they are blocked by “silence” effects just like any other special ability, other events can erase the enrage status even if only temporarily. Enrage cards are based off of max health; as long as the current health of the creature is less than its max, then the effect is in play. With that said, if you deal one damage to an enrage minion with three health, but then your opponent changes its max health to two, then the current health once again matches the maximum and thus erases the enrage modifier. This gives the enemy player a few ways to counter your plans, such as throwing a heal your way when you’d be better off without it.

for 2 mana this card is already good, but the ability to destroy a weapon can absolutely wreck a warrior or rogue deck.

For 2 mana this card is already good, but the ability to destroy a weapon can absolutely wreck a warrior or rogue deck.

Cards with Battlecry are able to use whatever effect is tied to it the moment the card is played without having to wait until next turn. Unlike the above two types of abilities that have preferred deck types, Battlecry cards can fit well in any deck. This is because the special thing about Battlecry cards is not “what” they do, but “when” they do it. Some deal immediate damage, some “silence” other cards which effectively kill their special ability, and some allow you to draw additional cards.  These are just a sampling of what battlecry cards can do. The best thing about them, however, is that you know that almost every time they’re played that you’ll get some benefit out of them. Even if your opponent kills them during his or her next turn, the effect has already occurred. The only time this won’t happen is if your opponent has a trap effect in play that prevents a creature from joining the field, but this is a rare occurrence.