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Removal is the term used to refer to the elimination of minions from the battlefield.

  • Hard removal describes cards and effects that can neutralize minions regardless of most defenses, such as high Health or Divine Shield: usually Destroy or Transform effects. Every class except for Paladin has some form of hard removal option, although some such as priest are known for their range of removal effects.
  • Soft removal usually identifies cards and effects that can cause the death of an important target through damage: typically spells but sometimes including damaging weapons, abilities such as Battlecries, or minions with Charge or Rush.

The term is also used to refer to the quantity of cards which a player possesses with which to remove enemy minions: "He should have put more removal in his deck". Removal cards often work as flexible "answers" to problematic minions of the opponent, although other cards may fill this role as well.

Overview[]

Removal is reactive in nature, used to eliminate important minions played by an opponent. Nonetheless, it can be used offensively, such as by removing a Taunt minion in order to continue an assault on the enemy hero. Unlike maintaining board control using friendly minions, removal is usually effective straight from the hand, allowing quick destruction of threats or critical defenses without giving the opponent the chance to protect them.

The exact definition of removal seems to vary between players. For some, only spells count as removal, while for others weapons and minion cards with effects that function as removal also count. For example LegacyDoomsayer is commonly included in decks to serve as removal, but the card itself is not always considered to be removal, since it is a minion. Removal spells tend to offer an instant, one-card solution to threats that might otherwise at best require the sacrifice of several other minions or the use of multiple other cards, and at worst spell defeat for the player. Minions with removal effects, such as Whispers of the Old GodsAnomalus, LegacySylvanas Windrunner and LegacyDeathwing, may provide removal through Battlecries, making their effects comparable to spells, or through effects like Deathrattles, providing a delayed and less reliable form of removal.

The purpose of a card can vary in different decks as well. For example, LegacyFrostbolt may be considered removal for Reno Mage, but a combo-piece for Freeze Mage.

Lack of hard removal can cause problems for players when encountering high-Health minions. On the other hand, hard removal sources are generally ineffective at mounting an offense to actually kill the opponent, so balancing removal and other card types is vital to building a strong and versatile deck.

Types of removal effects[]

Different types of removal effects have their pros and cons:

  • Destroy effects are the simplest and most common hard removal, ignoring Divine Shield and high Health, but still activating Deathrattles. Many destroy spells such as LegacyShadow Word: Pain, LegacyExecute, and LegacyNaturalize have special conditions or drawbacks to balance their overall power.
  • Transform effects are excellent removal for Deathrattle (and Divine Shield) minions, since transformed minions don't actually die, but still lose their abilities. However, they leave the opponent with another minion that still needs a response, albeit probably a lot smaller.
  • Mind control effects may be the best hard removal of all, since they bypass Deathrattles, completely remove the minion from the opponent's board, and effectively create an equivalent minion for the player. However, these effects are usually expensive and hard to come by.
  • The League of ExplorersEntomb and Goblins vs GnomesRecycle's shuffle into deck effects also avoid most defenses, although Recycled minions may eventually return later in the game; on the other hand The League of ExplorersEntomb acts more like a delayed mind control effect.
  • Soft removal damage can often be targeted directly at the opponent if not needed for minion targets, making it more versatile than hard removal. On the other hand, the damage produced by such cards may not actually be enough to eliminate a desired target with a single card. Additionally, Deathrattles and even damage-related triggered effects will still go off. Removal such as LegacyFlamestrike and LegacyExplosive Trap compensate for fairly low damage by dealing it to multiple targets, but lack control.
  • Charge and Rush minions and weapons may be considered even less reliable than other soft removal options, due to their vulnerability to being blocked by Taunt, but can provide good card advantage, through trading for multiple enemies before being destroyed.
  • Galakrond's AwakeningThe Amazing Reno features a currently unique effect: making minions disappear, which removes them without triggering Deathrattles, adding them to the resurrect pool, or creating new minions. However, it affects both sides of the board.

Silence can be an effective alternative to removal for minions which rely on their abilities for value, with cards such as LegacyLightspawn becoming almost worthless once their special abilities have been neutralized. It can also neutralize minions benefiting from enchantments, such as a LegacySilver Hand Recruit with a LegacyBlessing of Kings. However, unlike true removal the base minion will remain, making this effective only in specific cases.

Types of removal[]

In addition to the mechanics of the card itself, removal can also be classified in many other ways.

Area of effect[]

Removal tools which target the entire board are considered to be Area of Effect removal tools. Cards such as LegacyTwisting Nether and Mean Streets of GadgetzanDragonfire Potion are examples of AoE, or area of effect removal tools. On the contrary, removal tools which only target one minion, such as Journey to Un'GoroVilespine Slayer and LegacyExecute are considered single-target removals.

Time when played[]

The times in which the removal card can be first played plays a major role in deciding its purpose. For example, LegacyExecute can be played very early in the game, while LegacyMind Control can only be played in the game, thus, Execute is an early game removal tool, and Mind Control is a late game removal tool. Additionally, the earlier a card is played in a game, the less damage it would need to do for it to contitute as a removal tool. Kobolds & CatacombsLesser Jasper Spellstone is widely considered early game removal despite only dealing 2 damage. Factors other than mana cost can impact this too, for example, Rise of ShadowsOmega Devastator is a late game removal tool despite costing 4 mana.

Whirlwind effects[]

The term "whirlwind effect" is used to describe cards with abilities similar to that of LegacyWhirlwind's, dealing 1 damage to all minions. This type of card is generally not considered removal. However, at times when decks such as Token Druid or Odd Paladin, which use a variety of 1-health minions as their core game plan, are popular, they are commonly accepted as viable removal options. Examples include Rastakhan's RumbleDragonmaw Scorcher, The Grand TournamentDreadscale, and Knights of the Frozen ThroneBlood Razor.

Tech cards[]

Most tech cards are removal tools, such as Journey to Un'GoroGolakka Crawler and LegacyHungry Crab. However, not all tech cards are removal tools, and not all removal tools are tech cards. These terms should not be confused. Removal tools which do not remove minions also fall under tech cards. Cards such as LegacyAcidic Swamp Ooze, LegacyHarrison Jones, and The Boomsday ProjectWeapons Project are examples of weapon removal tools, and Goblins vs GnomesKezan Mystic, Whispers of the Old GodsEater of Secrets, and LegacyFlare are examples of secret removal tools.

Examples[]

Since a variety of card types can serve as removal, it is not practical to provide a complete list, but a few examples from different categories of removal are provided below. For more comprehensive lists, see the links above.

Type of removal Time when played Target Example Example Example Example
Hard removal Early-game Single-target LegacyNaturalize LegacyExecute LegacyHungry Crab The WitchwoodVoodoo Doll
Soft removal Early-game Single-target Rise of ShadowsUnderbelly Fence LegacyShadow Bolt LegacyBackstab LegacyHunter's Mark
Hard removal Mid-game Single-target LegacySiphon Soul Journey to Un'GoroVilespine Slayer LegacyPolymorph The League of ExplorersEntomb
Soft removal Mid-game Single-target The Grand TournamentFlame Lance The Boomsday ProjectZilliax Saviors of UldumRestless Mummy LegacyTruesilver Champion
Hard removal Late-game Single-target Whispers of the Old GodsBlade of C'Thun LegacyMind Control Knights of the Frozen ThroneEmbrace Darkness Rastakhan's RumbleDemonbolt
Soft removal Late-game Single-target Rise of ShadowsOmega Devastator The WitchwoodGilnean Royal Guard LegacyKing Krush Rastakhan's RumbleCrowd Roaster
Hard removal Early-game Area of effect Mean Streets of GadgetzanDevolve Saviors of UldumPlague of Flames Journey to Un'GoroCorrupting Mist LegacyDoomsayer
Soft removal Early-game Area of effect Knights of the Frozen ThroneDefile Goblins vs GnomesExplosive Sheep Saviors of UldumFlame Ward The Grand TournamentElemental Destruction
Hard removal Mid-game Area of effect NaxxramasPoison Seeds LegacyBrawl Saviors of UldumPlague of Wrath Whispers of the Old GodsShadow Word: Horror
Soft removal Mid-game Area of effect Rastakhan's RumbleMass Hysteria Mean Streets of GadgetzanFelfire Potion Rise of ShadowsHagatha's Scheme The Boomsday ProjectShrink Ray
Hard removal Late-game Area of effect LegacyTwisting Nether Saviors of UldumPlague of Death Kobolds & CatacombsPsychic Scream Galakrond's AwakeningThe Amazing Reno
Soft removal Late-game Area of effect Saviors of UldumEarthquake The WitchwoodLord Godfrey LegacyFlamestrike Mean Streets of GadgetzanAbyssal Enforcer
Hard removal Early-game Random-target LegacyDeadly Shot Knights of the Frozen ThroneUnwilling Sacrifice Saviors of UldumPressure Plate Saviors of UldumSahket Sapper
Soft removal Early-game Random-target LegacyCleave LegacySnipe Goblins vs GnomesFlamecannon The Boomsday ProjectKaboom Bot
Hard removal Mid/late-game Random-target Rise of ShadowsConvincing Infiltrator The Grand TournamentVoid Crusher Knights of the Frozen ThroneObsidian Statue Descent of DragonsGalakrond, the Unspeakable
Soft removal Mid/late-game Random-target The Boomsday ProjectDyn-o-matic Goblins vs GnomesBomb Lobber Journey to Un'GoroVolcano Mean Streets of GadgetzanGreater Arcane Missiles


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