HS Journal #4.5: The Spell Damage Compendium

A weekly journal chronicling one certain Hearthstone player’s quest to climb the ladder, survive the Arena, and maybe have some fun in the process.


Hey, guys! I’m Chriseroi, a relatively new Hearthstone player who started in June of 2015 and has been playing and enjoying it ever since as a high school student! Don’t write me off just yet, though; I love Hearthstone just as much as you guys and have been working my way up ever since I started. Thus, the full title isn’t actually “Hearthstone Journal,” but rather, “High School Journal.” While I heavily enjoy reading a lot of these guides on Hearthstone Players from various parts of the community, each of these guys seem to have some sort of luxury that I can’t afford, unfortunately, whether it be time, money, or both. I wanted to contribute to the community by giving you a peek inside my own little amusing journey, whether it’s climbing up the ladder, getting better at Arena, or even just me building up my collection. I really hope you enjoy reading these little journals every week as much as I enjoyed writing them!

What is Spell Damage?

My opponent didn’t show up for the second round of the tournament, so I had no HSL match this week. But instead, I want to talk about something else with you guys today.

One of the most common and important Keywords in the game include Battlecry, Deathrattle, Inspire, but many forget just how important the Spell Damage keyword actually is. With such a strong showing in cards such as Azure Drake and velens-chosen, it’s easy to just blow Spell Damage off as an extra point of damage that is largely forgettable.

However, it’s important to realize that an “extra point of damage” could very well win you games in ways that you might not even have realized was possible.

For example: take some time out to try to figure out how to get lethal here in this final turn. I’ll return to reveal the answer later in the article.

The idea to talk about Spell Damage came about when I was watching a friend play Shaman, and he would never Hero Power before carrying out his plays.

“What’s the big deal?” you might say. “Shaman’s hero power is useless, anyway!”

Well, sure, unless you get the Wrath of Air Totem with a hand full of spells. What originally just amounted to eight damage has now transformed to 10 damage once you cast that Lightning Bolt and Lava Burst onto your opponent’s face; and in an Aggro Shaman, that extra two damage might just be all you need for lethal.

A Primer on Spell Damage

So how does Spell Damage function, exactly? Well, the goal is to (just like when using Silence) play a low value minion such as Bloodmage Thalnos and then use it on the spot with other spells in order to take advantage of its immediate benefit before your opponent gets a chance to remove it.

Take Flamestrike, for example. A 7-mana spell that deals four damage to the enemy minions, it’s already a devastating spell by itself. Add some Spell Damage to the board though, and that same 7-mana spell suddenly deals five damage across the board – enough to get rid of almost 80% of all low cost minions (6 mana and below).

However, the power of even just one point of Spell Damage can drastically be felt when it benefits a card like Swipe, for instance. Usually, Swipe is a 4-mana spell that deals four damage to one target and one damage to all other enemies. However, with a point of Spell Damage, that attack now does five damage to one target and two damage to all other enemies, making it a much better Consecration if you already have a Spell Damage activator on the board. Neat, right?

List of Spell Damage Cards

While there are a couple obscure ones here and there, the Spell Damage cards I’ve listed below are the most common that you’ll see anywhere at all in a Hearthstone game.

Arcane Blast is a fantastic card, as not only is it one mana for two damage, but any Spell Damage activator will double its damage, turning the card into a lethal one mana for four damage spell, provided one point of spell damage bonus is on the board. With two points, that turns into six; with three, eight; with four, 10; with five, 12. In other words, a Malygos combined with an Arcane Blast can take out almost any minion in the game: a wonderful add to any Mage deck.

Archmage is the Spellbreaker of Spell Damage cards. While its stats aren’t too bad, we usually want a cheap minion to activate our spells on the same turn before our opponent has a chance to remove it, so Archmage is a pretty expensive gamble in that regard.

Azure Drake is like a more expensive and less exclusive version of Bloodmage Thalnos, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad card in any means! In reality, it’s a fantastic card; a 5 mana 4/4 body that not only cycles through your deck but gives you an extra point of spell damage at the same time, which is amazing. An almost vital component of any Mage deck, among others.

Bloodmage Thalnos is the less expensive and more exclusive version of Azure Drake, which is to say that it’s a very useful card in a flexible amount of situations! Especially for spell-heavy decks like Freeze Mage, it’s really common to see Bloodmage Thalnos on Turn 10 to deal 14 damage to face with two copies of Fireball, instead of just 12 damage. Those two extra points could be lethal!

Dalaran Aspirant is a card that might look like it could be really good, but it’s actually very slow in practice. It’ll take some inefficient mana spending to build this card up (meaning you have to spend six mana to even activate one point of Spell Damage), and if you do manage to activate two or three points of Spell Damage, your opponent will most likely have already removed the Dalaran Aspirant by then.

Dalaran Mage is not that good either even when compared to its aspiring brother, thanks to its poor stat distribution and lack of presence on the board. Consider it the Spell Damage version of Gnomeregan Infantry, although both of said cards aren’t very good in most cases, sadly.

Frigid Snobold is an expensive minion that seems to be too much of a commitment for what you get out of it. I mean, a 2/6 body for four mana? Ridiculous. Remember, we want a cheap minion to near-guarantee that we’ll get value out of the card the turn we play it, so anything this expensive will not work.

Jungle Moonkin is a card that I KNOW they only made just to throw into that stupid co-op Tavern Brawl. There is literally no reason to run this card over Azure Drake, regardless of the mana cost.

Kobold Geomancer was the original cheap spell damage activator, along with Ogre Magi on occasion. Both of them have solid bodies and can be used to combo lots of spells efficiently while also being incredibly useful for trades, provided they survive a turn.

Malygos is the big Spell Damage legendary that’s in a ton of non-meta decks, sometimes called “the actually fun decks.” Because Malygos is so expensive, he’s hard to make use of on the same turn, but his high health prevents him from being removed on the same turn. That said, if he does survive a turn, and you’ve got a bunch of burn spells in your hand, your opponent’s as good as dead. Two copies of Arcane Missiles can already potentially do 16 damage to the face if there are no enemy minions on the board, and a single copy of Fireball can do 11 damage for just four mana. This card is just a ton of fun to mess around with, for sure.

Master of Ceremonies is a very inconsistent card. While a 6/4 body for only three mana is absolutely insane, it’s very unlikely that you’ll have a Spell Damage activator already on the board when you draw this card at any time in the game, and so it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get its full potential in use when you do eventually play him. He might work in a Spell Damage gimmick deck or Arena, but there’s little use for him elsewhere.

Mini-Mage sounds like a good card on paper, but its 4-mana cost (arguably the most important mana card slot in the game) and its single point of health prevents it from being used very often. Since it does have stealth, it’ll likely survive until the next turn, but a single Swipe or Consecration will get rid of it very easily, unlike something such as Piloted Shredder, for instance.

Soot Spewer is like the Mage-only section of the Kobold Geomancer club, except for the fact that it’s three mana instead of two, which is a very important difference. It just doesn’t have enough impact on the board with those underwhelming stats, and it doesn’t make sense why you would play a Soot Spewer over Kobold Geomancer for any reason; even if you did summon it for two mana courtesy of a Mechwarper already on the field, you could easily summon a Kobold Geomancer for the exact same mana cost.

velens-chosen is probably one of the best cards in the game, let alone one of the best Priest cards. Not only is attack and health buffed, but you gain a point of Spell Damage, which becomes very helpful in certain situations. However, it’s also easy to forget about that Spell Damage and do the auchenai soulpriest + Circle of Healing combo, killing off your auchenai soulpriest in the process. Ouch.

Certain Card Interactions with Spell Damage

There’s different ways that certain cards can use Spell Damage, however, instead of just adding one point to the stated cost on the card. These are things that a lot of players tend to forget when calculating plays, and sometimes, it can cost them the game. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ones!

My most favorite example to use here is Lightbomb. Do you remember the play I asked you to analyze earlier? Here, I’ll reprint it again so we can look at it. So, I’ll reiterate: can you find lethal?

Let me spoil the answer for you: velens-chosen the Molten Giant, Flash Heal the Sneed’s Old Shredder, and play Lightbomb. Hit face with all three minions for lethal.

A little surprised? The thing that a lot of people seem to forget is that when Spell Damage is on the board, Lightbomb adds one more damage to whatever the attack value on the minion was, allowing just enough extra reach to clear off taunts such as Ancient Watcher, for example. It’s one of my most favorite card interactions in Hearthstone, and certainly one to keep in mind when playing as or against Priest!

Shadowflame works with the same principles as Lightbomb when a Spell Damage activator is on the board. Shadowflame a Sylvanas Windrunner? Expect to have a six-damage clear to the enemy board instead of only five damage!

Arcane Missiles, or rather, any type of card that does repeated damage for a set amount of hits, does an additional hit per every extra point of Spell Damage. In other words, if you have an Azure Drake on the field and you play Arcane Missiles, four random missiles will pop out instead of just three.

Holy Wrath, which deals damage based on the mana cost of the next card you draw (talk about RNG and inconsistency!), now deals an extra point of damage per point of Spell Damage on the field. That means the minimum damage that Holy Wrath can now do is one damage instead of zero (if you obtained a zero mana card somehow, considering Holy Wrath is a Paladin class card).

Bouncing Blade is actually much more unique than you think when it comes to Spell Damage. As Bouncing Blade usually does one damage per random minion until a random minion dies, a point of Spell Damage on the field now means that Bouncing Blade does two damage per random minion until a random minion dies, turning what was originally a very fun card into an even more fun card. Hooray for RNG!


As the first time I’ve written a guide about a Hearthstone mechanic, let me know if you liked it! If this helped you at all in the least, or if you even enjoyed reading a little bit here and there, tell me and I’ll consider writing another one in the future! And as always, if you guys want to ask questions, give constructive criticism, or even yell at me for the stuff I said here, feel free to comment below! If you want to add me, my Battletag is Chriseroi#1902, and I hope to see you all in a game of Hearthstone sometime soon!