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A return to hand or return effect is a card effect whereby a minion, or more rarely a weapon or spell, is returned to the controlling player's hand. The target returns to its original card form, complete with mana cost, and becomes part of the player's hand. Any damage, enchantments and Silences on the minion are removed in the process. Permanent effects such as transformations are not removed.

Return effects are distinguished from shuffle into deck effects, which place a card into the player's unused deck, and then shuffle the deck.


  • Return effects may be used against enemy or allied minions, although some cards may restrict it to one or the other.
  • Return effects can be used on uncollectible cards that cannot otherwise be found in a player's hand, such as the LegacySheep generated by LegacyPolymorph, or the LegacyPoultryizer generated by LegacyGelbin Mekkatorque. These cards have mana costs and function just like any other card in hand.
  • Return effects return the minion to the hand of the controlling player, even if that is not the player who originally summoned the minion. For example, LegacyShadow Madness grants the caster control of an enemy minion until the end of the turn. Using a return effect on the minion while it is controlled will place it in the caster's hand, effectively transferring control of the minion permanently.
  • If a card is returned to the controlling player's hand when the player already has 10 cards in their hand, the returning card will be destroyed. Any consequences such as Deathrattles and death-related triggered effects will take place as if the minion had died normally.[1] Because of this, return effects can be strategically used to directly destroy minions when the controlling player's hand is full.
  • Return effects remove all enchantments and other card modifications, even those which are present on cards while in the hand, such as those granted by The Grand TournamentThe Mistcaller.[2] However, cards under the effect of Crystal Core do not lose their modifications.[3]
  • There is to date only one spell return to hand effect: LegacyHeadcrack. In contrast to minion return to hand effects, which move the card directly from the battlefield to the player's hand, Headcrack moves the card from the Graveyard at the end of the turn. As such it is reminiscent of a resurrection effect, but unlike that type of effect it is the original Headcrack that is returned and not a copy.


  • Return effects are best known for allowing players to benefit from repeatedly triggering Battlecry effects. Minions with valuable battlecries can be played, then returned, then played again, in order to maximise the effect.
  • Return effects may be used to repeatedly trigger effects from other minions e.g. LegacySouthsea Deckhand may trigger Goblins vs GnomesShip's Cannon or LegacyMurloc Tidecaller may be buffed with LegacyMurloc Tidehunter.
  • This is one of the only ways to move a currently active minion to another place on the battlefield, which is crucial for positional effects like that of LegacyFlametongue Totem. Other options include minion death, re-summoning, and mind control effects, but only playing the minion from the hand allows for choosing where it goes on the board.
  • Return effects can also be very effective for making use of Charge minions multiple times in a single turn. This is a key part of many finishing combos, especially for rogues.
  • Since minions lose all damage once returned to hand, return effects can be used to "heal" powerful but damaged minions, improving card efficiency. For example, a 6/7 minion which had been damaged to a 6/1 could be returned to the owner's hand and re-summoned as a fresh 6/7.

Known bugs[]

When a minion is returned to a full hand, it will be killed and trigger its Deathrattle; it is likely that they are intended to be considered "died" rather than discarded. However, NaxxramasFeugen and NaxxramasStalagg do not count as "died" when killed by return effects, preventing their counterparts' Deathrattles from triggering properly.[4] It is unknown whether other death-related effects are similarly affected.


For Wild format listings, see Return to hand/Wild format

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CORE EX1 144.png
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