Rarity is a rough measure of the quality and scarcity of a card. Cards of higher rarity are typically harder to find and more expensive to craft.
There are 5 rarities: Free, Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary. Most rarities has its own color, based on World of Warcraft's gear system, and may be recognized by the color of the gem at the bottom center of the card's portrait (see display, right). When opening packs, face down cards above common quality will be displayed with an appropriately-colored glow when hovered nee.
For the probability that cards from card packs are of a certain rarity, see Card pack statistics.
As a rule, rarity relates only to obtaining cards, and does not directly affect gameplay. However, there are two exceptions. Most importantly, only one copy of any given legendary card may be included in a constructed deck. Additionally, a small number of rarity-related effects do exist, such as . Other expansions have also added some of these effects, and currently this mechanic is only seen related to legendary minions. Boss and Tavern Brawl cards occasionally feature exceptions, such as .
For more information on each rarity, see the sections below.
In constructed play, rarity determines the difficulty of adding a card to your collection.
- Rarity determines the amount of required Arcane Dust in order to craft a card, as well as the amount of Dust awarded for disenchanting it. For a table, see Crafting.
- For cards from card sets, rarity determines how likely a card is to be found in a card pack, with higher rarities occurring less often. It also determines presence in the Highest Rank Bonus chest, with higher rarities requiring a higher rank to obtain, and legendaries cards never featured.
- For cards from adventures, rarity is of less significance, since they can be obtained by defeating bosses.
- Higher rarity cards also feature less often as rewards in Arena.
The main impact of this is that higher rarity cards are harder to obtain, and as a result are seen less often at lower levels, due to players having not yet collected them. However, at higher levels players have usually collected all desired cards, effectively removing the significance of rarity entirely. The only direct significance of rarity for constructed play is the limitation of one copy of each legendary per deck, and the rare presence of a rarity-specific effect.
In Arena, rarity affects the likelihood of a card appearing for selection, but Bucket also does, which also determines what cards will be offered alongside it. Higher rarity selections are offered less often, although with a high degree of variation between runs.
This makes rarity at higher levels more important in Arena than in any other type of play. While rarity always determines the possibility of including a card in the player's deck, the randomness of rarity in Arena makes it equally significant at all levels, while in constructed it is mostly significant for newer players, who have not yet collected higher rarity cards.
Rarity also affects game balance far more in Arena than in constructed. In higher level constructed play, the only impact of rarity is that legendary cards are limited to one copy per deck. At all levels of Arena, the decision of what rarity to give a card determines which options it will be matched against, and how frequently it will appear, increasing the likelihood of players having several copies of the card in a deck. For example, a legendary card may be considered poor compared to other legendaries, and thus rarely be picked in Arena; whereas if it has been made an epic card it might be found more favourable in comparison to the other options at that rarity, and thus be picked more often. Both of these factors mean rarity will directly determine how often a card shows up in Arena matches, making the rarity of certain cards a common subject of discussion for Arena players.
In contrast to collectible cards, the rarity of uncollectible cards has practically no significance or impact on the game.[Note 1] In some cases, their rarity matches that of the generating card, while in others it varies or appears to be absent. Coloured gems on Boss cards and Tavern Brawl cards are uncommon, and have no significance (or consistent reasons for their appearance).
Card rarity is chosen based on several criteria. The ease of obtaining a card is obviously a factor, as well as card complexity. The designers have stated that the new player experience, Arena balance, "excitement, also just gut instinct" come into the decision as well.
Despite the stated goals, experienced Arena players have frequently disagreed with the effects of certain card rarity choices on game balance. Common cards make up the bulk of Arena decks, so the choice of assigning "Common" rarity to strong cards, such as or , has drawn criticism from the community about uneven strengths between different classes.
Rarity in Hearthstone cards serves as a rough indication of quality, but an inconsistent indication of value in play. Likewise, card sets, rarity is a consistent indicator of card scarcity and crafting cost. However, for cards in other sets, rarity may bear no relation to the difficulty of acquiring cards.
Legendary cards boast some of the most powerful effects in the game, and adding a single well-chosen legendary to a deck otherwise lacking in high rarity cards can measurably improve the deck and directly win games. Some high rarity cards may also represent improved versions of lower rarity cards, providing fairly straightforward upgrades for decks using these cards. In most beginner decks, adding almost any legendary is likely to improve the deck, and in many lower-rank games, drawing and playing a lone legendary minion can single-handedly turn the tide of battle and win the game. Low-level battles are sometimes decided by who is able to draw their or first.
However, despite the undeniable power of many legendaries, rarity is not the prime determinant of victory in matches. Overall deck composition (as well as skill, luck and match-ups) is a far larger factor, and despite the power of many legendaries, most top-level players choose to include only a handful legendaries in their decks. Streamers such as Trump have demonstrated the unimportance of rarity by reaching Legend rank using no legendaries, while some such as TotalBiscuit have even constructed decks composed entirely of legendary cards, in order to demonstrate how ineffective and cumbersome such decks would be.
Ultimately, while higher rarity cards offering straight upgrades to lower rarity cards can generally be relied upon to present a superior option, the optimal deck for many deck types is often composed primarily of low and medium rarity cards, including many basic class cards. Many lower rarity cards provide essential functions and utility not found in higher rarity options, as well as low mana cost cards invaluable for early and mid game presence. As a result, a free may very effectively counter a legendary , and a basic may turn the legendary into a swift defeat.
Deck composition is ultimately determined by several factors, including both individual card quality and overall deck strategy. The ability of a card to serve a deck's specific needs and approach to obtaining victory will always play a greater role in determining its viability than its rarity. However, a few well-chosen high rarity cards can turn a deck from bad to reasonable, or from good to great, and can generally be relied upon to provide some exciting and game-changing options.
Which of the five tiers of rarity a card falls under can be discerned by one of four possible gem hues below the name (white for common, blue for rare, purple for epic, orange for legendary) or being gemless (free). Further info is in the following sections:
- Main article: Legacy
Free is the lowest level of card rarity, below Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary.
All Free cards can be obtained after completing the New player's rank system.
All Free cards are in the Legacy card set, within which all collectible and most uncollectible cards are Free (a few uncollectible ones are Common instead). This makes "Basic cards" nearly - but not exactly - synonymous with "Free cards". This was not the case before the Year of the Mammoth changed a number of Basic card rarities, since approximately half of Basic cards were Common.
It is often thought that all cards without a rarity gem are Free cards. However, the absence of a gem actually indicates that a card belongs to the Basic set, so a few such cards are actually Common, albeit only uncollectible ones.
For a full list of all Free cards, see Free card list.
Common is the second-lowest level of rarity, above Free, but below Rare, Epic and Legendary. Common cards can be recognized by a white gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening packs do not glow when moused over. There are more Common cards than of any other rarity, and Common cards are obtained from card packs more frequently than any other rarity.
For a full list of all Common cards, see Common card list.
Rare is the level of rarity above Free and Common, but below Epic and Legendary. Rare cards can be recognised by a blue gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening packs will display a blue glow when moused over.
For a list of all Rare cards, see Rare card list.
Epic is the second-highest level of rarity, above Free, Common and Rare, but below Legendary. Epic cards can be recognised by a purple gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening card packs will display a pink glow when hovered over.
For a full list of all Epic cards, see Epic card list.
Legendary is the highest level of rarity, above Free, Common, Rare and Epic. Legendary cards are indicated by an orange gem located at the bottom-center of the card's art, and when opening card packs will display an orange glow when moused over. Legendary cards are obtained from card packs less frequently than any other rarity.
In addition to the normal rarity gem, legendary cards also feature a dragon around the portrait, much like elites and rares in World of Warcraft. The dragon crest rests atop the image the head on the left next to the mana cost and the wing on the right.
Playing a Legendary card prompts a short piece of unique music, taken from various World of Warcraft music tracks. In addition to being powerful and interesting cards, the characters featured in Legendary cards are typically very well-known or significant within Warcraft lore. Legendary minion cards obtained through adventures tend to depict bosses from that adventure. Each class gets one or two Legendary cards specific to their class in each expansion, with all other Legendary cards being non-class-specific. Most collectible Legendary cards are minion cards, but Legendary Quests, Hero cards, weapons, and spells have been introduced in expansion packs. There are also Legendary uncollectible non-minion cards, such as .
There is strong evidence that a Pity Timer exists. As such, according to the hypothesis, a Legendary card will be opened within 40 packs of the last opened Legendary, for any given store-bought card packs.
For a full list of all Legendary cards, see Legendary card list.
A handful of cards have effects that are specifically determined by card rarity. All such cards specifically relate to legendary rarity.
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-13).
- Blizzard ANZ on Twitter. (2016-08-02).
- Clark, Tim (2016-08-02). Mike Donais on One Night in Karazhan, whether Priest really has a problem, and if Fiery War Axe is the best card in Hearthstone. PC Gamer. Retrieved on 2018-07-19.
- See, e.g., Developer Insights: Witchwood Mission Design: “…when showed up in Knights of the Frozen Throne. She was just a side character, but she had this proper name, so we gave her Legendary status.”