Glossary of Hearthstone Terms

Last updated on Dec 23, 2017 at 09:17 by Aleco 7 comments

Table of Contents



This page contains a list of all the Hearthstone terminology we use in our guides which may require additional explanation. Some of these terms may be new to those who are unfamiliar with card games, while other terms may take on a different meaning when used in the context of Hearthstone.

Aggro Short for "aggressive", Aggro is one of the four main deck archetypes in Hearthstone (along with Control, Midrange, and Combo). Aggro decks are focused on killing the opponent as quickly as possible with cost-effective minions. They tend to run a much higher density of one and two cost minions than non-Aggro decks, and run very few cards which do not directly effect the board or deal damage to the opponent. Aggro decks tend to be strong against Combo decks and weak against Midrange decks.
AoE AoE damage is short for "area of effect" damage. Generally speaking, AoE damage is damage which is dealt to more than one target. For example, Flamestrike deals AoE damage, while Fireball, deals single target damage.
Board Clear Also referred to as "Board Wipes", board clears are effects that attempt to clear the opponent's board of minions. Board clears typically come in the form of AoE damage spells. Clearing the board can also be accomplished through a series of minion trades and removal spells which ultimately result in the elimination of all of the opponent's minions.
Board Control Board control refers to a situation where one player has dominance over the game board. Generally speaking, this refers to situations where one player has substantially better minions on the board than their opponent. Maintaining board control is extremely important, as it allows aggressive decks to continuously output damage and defensive decks to keep their life total safe.
Character The term character encompasses both minions and heroes. If an ability deals damage to "all characters", it will damage all minions and all heroes.
Card Advantage Card advantage refers to a game state where one player was able to generate a greater amount of cards than their opponent. This can occur as a result of a player using a card which draws multiple cards from their deck (such as Sprint), or when a player is able to use a small number of cards to nullify a large number of cards from their opponent (for example, a board wipe like Twisting Nether is capable of generating card advantage). Obtaining card advantage over your opponent is one of the most common ways to win a game of Hearthstone.
Clock The clock is a term which is used to define how many turns away a player is from dying, assuming that the board doesn’t change and every minion attack goes to the face. If your opponent is at 10 life and you have 4 attack worth of minions on board, they’re on a 3 turn clock (4+4+4>10).
Coining The action of using The Coin, an extra card given to the player who goes second.
Combo Combo is one of the four primary deck archetypes in Hearthstone (along with Aggro, Control, and Midrange). Combo decks attempt to assemble a specific combination of cards, such as Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin, which have a devastating effect on the game when combined. Combo decks typically struggle to win unless if they are unable to assemble their combo, so they tend to run a high number of card draw spells to help them find their combo pieces. Combo decks tend to be strong against Control decks and weak against Aggro decks.
Control Control is one of the four primary deck archetypes in Hearthstone (along with Aggro, Combo, and Midrange). Control decks typically attempt to slow down the game with disruptive spells and Taunt minions so they can buy time for their powerful late game cards to take over the game. Control decks tend to have a high Mana curve, and run a higher density of board clear and removal spells than Midrange or Aggro decks. Control decks are typically strong against Midrange decks and weak against Combo decks.
Deck Tracker A deck tracker is a third-party application which is capable of tracking the cards that remain within a player's deck. Deck trackers such as HS Deck Tracker are a useful tool for determining a player's outs, and can be used to provide replay functionality.
Draft In Arena mode, the draft refers to the selection process accompanied with building an Arena deck.
Drawing Power Drawing simply refers to drawing cards from your deck into your hand. Drawing power refers to your deck's ability to maintain a steady flow of cards into your hand.
Drop A drop is another term for a "minion". You will often hear this in relation to the cost of the minions, such as "this is one of the best 2-drops in the game" (that is to say, one of the best 2-cost minions in the game).
Early Game The early game refers to the first 3 to 4 turns of a game.
Enemy The term enemy refers to all characters that do not belong to you. Some abilities are only usable against enemy characters, meaning that they cannot affect your own characters.
Favorable Trades A situation where a less valuable card nullifies the effects of a more valuable card; see also trading.
Friendly The term friendly refers to characters that belong to you. Some abilities are only usable on friendly characters, meaning that they can not affect enemy characters.
Hero The term hero refers to heroes such as Jaina Proudmoore, the Mage hero, or Garrosh Hellscream, the Warrior hero, and does not include minions. If an ability deals damage to "the hero", it cannot be used to damage minions.
Late Game The late game typically refers to turns 8 and beyond.
Line A line refers to a sequence of consecutive plays, and is typically used to refer to a complete sequence of actions a player will make in a turn. Whereas a play might refer to a single action, a line refers to group of actions.
Mana Curve The Mana curve of a deck refers to the relative distribution of cards within a deck as it relates to the card's Mana costs. The Mana curve of a deck largely dictates the deck's ability to play cards on curve, or its ability to use the maximum amount of alloted Mana each turn. Since cards with greater Mana costs typically have a larger effect on the game than cards with smaller Mana costs, decks that can consistently curve out or play a one-drop on turn 1, a two-drop on turn 2, and a three-drop on turn 3 (etc.) are likely to outperform decks that did not curve out. A standard Mana curve for a normal deck will appear like a bell curve, containing a higher number of cards that cost three, four, and five Mana (the middle of the bell curve) than cards which cost less than three or more than five (the ends of the bell curve)
Metagame The term metagame has two different meanings.
  1. Matters of strategy which extend beyond the confines of a single game between two opponents. For example, the general balance between classes (such as class X being considered more powerful overall than class Y), or the particular power level of a specific deck as it pertains to the other decks which are currently popular on the ladder.
  2. It may also refer to matters of overall strategy within a single game between two opponents that are not strictly related to the minions or cards that are currently in play.
Midrange Midrange is one of the four primary deck archetypes in Hearthstone (along with Aggro, Combo, and Control). Midrange decks fall somewhere between Aggro and Control decks, opting for a balanced approach which allows them to be the aggressor or defender depending on the situation. Midrange decks typically have a well-balanced Mana curve, with a high density of two, three, and four cost cards. The overwhelming majority of Arena decks can be classified as Midrange. Midrange decks tend to be strong against Aggro decks and weak against Control decks.
Mid Game The mid game approximately refers to turns 4 through 7.
Minion The term minion refers to the minions present on the board, and it does not include heroes. If an ability deals damage to "all minions", it will damage minions, but not heroes.
MMR Match-making rating; this is a hidden value that is attributed to each player who participates in ranked Play games. It effectively determines the "skill" of the player. Players are matched against one another according to their MMR. There is no way to see what the MMR of a player is.
Mulligan To mulligan a card means to replace it, specifically at the start of the game, when you are given the option to replace some or all of the cards in your starting hand.
Outs An out is a card which must be drawn by a player in order to recover from an unfavorable situation. For example, if your opponent is at 6 life but is threatening to kill you on the following turn, both Pyroblast and Fireball are outs to win you the game.
Overextend Overextending refers to a situation where a player puts more minions down on the board than they need to, exposing these minions to forms of mass removal. Generally speaking, overextending becomes and issue when a player already has control of the board and is considering whether or not they should commit even more minions to it.
Owner The owner of a minion is the player who currently controls it. A player who uses Mind Control-like effects becomes the permanent owner of that minion (with the exception of cards like Shadow Madness, which are temporary).
Play A play is an action or set of actions in a given situation. For example, there might be different combinations of minions and spells for you to use in a certain situation, and each combination would be considered a different play. You may also read this with the "good" or "bad" qualifiers. A good play is a play that was efficient in neutralizing a threat or giving you board control, while a bad play might be one where you failed to make use of the best possible interactions available to you.
RNG RNG stands for random number generation. In Hearthstone, this refers to the situations where an outcome is decided randomly. Common RNG-based event in Hearthstone include drawing cards, the target a Knife Juggler randomly chooses, and the amount of damage that Lightning Storm deals to a minion.
Synergy Synergy is a term that refers to two or more minions or spells interacting in a way which increases the individual value of both cards. For example, a Windfury buff has synergy with buffs that increase the attack of a minion, as the increased attack will apply to both of the attacks the minion can make with Windfury. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to build your deck in a way that maximizes the amount synergy between your cards.
Targeting Targeting in Hearthstone refers to any action where a player select the recipient of a spell, attack, or ability with their mouse. You will mostly encounter this term in the context of minions which are exempt from being targeted, such as Faerie Dragon or stealthed minions.
Topdeck Topdecking is essentially the same thing as drawing a card from your deck, but is used to refer to situations where a player must draw a specific card in order to recover from an unfavorable situation. For example, if you are playing as Warlock, have no cards in your hand, and are facing down lethal damage, you need to topdeck a Twisting Nether in order to stay alive.
Trading Trading refers to a situation where a minion attacks another minion, resulting in the death of both minions; see also favorable trading.
Vanilla Any minion with no abilities whatsoever (such as Battlecry, Deathrattle, or Charge) is Vanilla. Chillwind Yeti is an example of a vanilla minion.


  • 23 Dec. 2017: Updated to include terms which have been used in our newer guides.
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