Understanding Stats and Stat Distribution

Stats - the core part of hearthstone. Understanding stats and stat distribution will deepen your understanding of hearthstone and will help you in game.


Greetings all. Stats are one of the core mechanics in the game yet you rarely see people discuss about them. They are the bread and butter of the game, especially in the Arena. For the sake of this article let’s toss away all the card texts and focus on 3 main things on a card: Mana, Attack and Health. In this guide I will talk about these 3 points,how they correlate between each other and more. I will go over the most common stat distributions for minions. See which distributions are better than others, why and when you should use which. This guide will be most relatable to arena where stats are even more important than in constructed play. Yet some concepts here can be applied to constructed, especially for newer players.  Take away which parts you need and apply them in your game.

Quick note: stat distributions will be displayed as attack and health separated by a slash (for example 4/3 means a card has 4 attack and 3 health).

Trading up

Before moving on it is important to understand the basic concepts of trading up and trading down. Trading up means trading your cheap minions into opponent’s costly ones. Trading up gives you tempo (mana)  advantage. Here is an example of trading up: your ice-rager kills lord-of-the-arena. You didn’t gain any card advantage from that exchange since you used 1 card to get rid of opponent’s 1 card but you gained a lot of tempo. You spent 3 mana for an Ice Rager whilst your opponent spent 6 mana on their Lord of the Arena. You gained 3 mana advantage. You can utilise the mana advantage to gain tempo advantage by using that 3 mana to play a 3 drop like injured-blademaster or something else that costs 3 mana. How well a card can trade up is mostly determined by its attack attribute (of course you want at least some health too). The higher the attack, the better a card can trade up. Usually when a card has more attack than health it’s purpose is to trade up. The goal of trading up is only to get tempo advantage. Because of that small to medium costed minions are the best at trading up. Big minions like war-golem don’t have much to trade up to and will rarely give a decent tempo advantage. Minions with higher attack whose goal is to trade up are the best if played in aggressive, tempo decks which utilise any mana gained. It is important to understand that you need to utilise mana which you gained if you want to generate an advantage. Here is an example: your injured-blademaster kills a salty-dog. In this exchange neither player got card advantage, however you used 3 mana to kill your opponent’s 5 mana minion netting you 2 mana advantage. If you do not utilise this advantage by playing a 2 drop or doing something else like playing unstable-portal, you lose the advantage. At that point it didn’t matter if your Blademaster cost 3 or 5 mana since it achieved the same thing.

Trading down

Trading down is the opposite of trading up. Trading down gives you card advantage (sometimes it can give a small tempo advantage too). Here is an example of trading down: Your chillwind-yeti kills 2 bloodfen-raptors. In this exchange you didn’t get any tempo advantage, yet you gained 1 card advantage since you used 1 card to kill your opponent’s 2 cards. How well a card can trade down is determined mostly by its health attribute. You do need some attack to kill minions too though (more on stat distributions later in the guide). The more health a card has the better it can trade down. Trading down can provide you with some tempo advantage or disadvantage from time to time. Example: Your opponent sends his two bloodfen-raptor and his knife-juggler into your oasis-snapjaw. In this situation you not only gained 2 card advantage but also 2 mana advantage. Even though this situation is quite far from reality it shows how good trading down can be sometimes.

How many stats a minion needs?

When evaluating if a card is bad or good first we need to determine if the card’s stats are up to par with other minions at the same mana cost. General rule of thumb is a card needs to have twice as many stats as its mana cost. So if a card costs 5 mana it should have 10 stats (attack + health). Examples: senjin-shieldmasta, blood-knight, spectral-knight. There are exceptions to this rule though. The exceptions are mana costs 1 and 2. With those minions you want to have twice as many stats as its mana cost + 1. So it means you want at least 1/2 or 2/1 for 1 mana and at least 2/3 or 3/2 for 2 mana. Examples: flame-juggler, bloodfen-raptor, fiery-bat. And another group I need to mention are cards with no card text and sometimes without tribe tag. These cards tend to have 1 extra stat than they should have to compensate for being vanilla ( not having any card text). pit-fighter should be 5/5 or 4/6 for 5 mana, however it is 5/6 so it has 1 extra stat in exchange for not having card text. Another examples include chillwind-yeti, boulderfist-ogre. As always there are times when good card text outweighs the stats. But the general formula of how much stat a card needs is stats = mana cost * 2 + 1(if card costs 1 or 2 ; or if the card is vanilla).

Stat distributions

There are 3 main stat distribution types. 1st is when you have same health and attack. 2nd is when you have more attack than health. 3rd one is when you have more health than attack. The archetype of your deck determines which stat distributions you should have. For aggressive decks you aim to have more of 1st and 2nd type than 3rd. This is because your goal is to win with face damage and having high attack helps that a lot since it puts pressure on your opponent’s life total. With control decks you want to have as much 3rd type distributions as you can since your win condition is getting card advantage and getting more value from your cards than your opponent. We see all the time how many people say chillwind-yeti has good vanilla stats. On the other hand we have oasis-snapjaw who has the same amount of stats (9) just distributed differently. This is because Snapjaw can’t even kill 3/3 or 2/3 minions easily. Whilst a Yeti can kill almost all 1-4 mana cost cards and still live to tell a tale. Now I will go through the most common stat distributions, see how they work and if they are worth playing.

1 mana

The most common stat distributions for 1 mana minions are 1/1 , 1/2  and 2/1. 1 mana minions aren’t played too often and for a good reason. 1/1 and 1/2 minions are essentially worthless. They have too little heath to trade down and too little attack to trade up. This effectively renders them useless unless they get buffed up with say hobgoblin or power-of-the-wild. Even 1/2 minions which have the potential to buff their attack such as the undertaker aren’t worth your time as they will die soon before they reach your desired attack. Even the “infinite value” cards wisp and murloc-tinyfin aren’t good since they will die easily and will cost you card advantage. 2/1 minions on the other hand are a lot better than their counterparts. Their best use is trading up with 3/2 minions providing with a much-needed tempo advantage early on. In the late game 2/1 minions will either deal 2 damage to a minion or get killed by a hero power. Overall 2/1 aren’t impactful at all past the first 4 turns since 3 out of 9 classes can deal 1 damage with their hero power. Not much else to say about 2/1 minions other than that they can be very awesome in the early game or be a dead draw in the late game. Don’t stock up with too many of these in your deck.

2 mana

Most common stat distributions are 2/2 , 2/3 and 3/2. Even though 2/2 minions aren’t that common they are very bad. From 2 mana you expect at least 2/3 or 3/2.  2/2 can’t trade down because 1/1 and 1/2 minions are bad thus aren’t being played. At trading up 2/2 minions are a worse version of 2/1 minions since they cost 1 more mana. If they can’t trade down and aren’t good at trading up they become useless. They can’t even kill 2/3 minions which is pathetic. Avoid 2/2 minions as much as you can. Both 3/2 and 2/3 are viable for play and what you should be expecting from a 2 mana minion. Both are good. Both are what you want at 2 mana. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is clear that 2/3 are meant to trade down thus providing card advantage. While on the other hand 3/2 provide tempo advantage by trading up. In the early game 2/3 are better whist in the mid to late game 3/2 are better most of the time. 2/3 minions are mores sticky meaning they are harder to kill since there are many spells that deal 2 damage like arcane-shot or holy-smite. Furthermore 2/3  kill most 1 drops and 2/2 minions. On the other hand 3/2 minions are able to kill most 3 drops. Overall both of these have their advantages and disadvantages and you can’t say strictly that one is better than the other.

3 mana

Most common distributions: 3/3, 4/3 and 3/4. At 3 mana there are a lot of different stat distributions with 3/3 being the most common. 3/3 and 4/3 minions are pretty similar. They aren’t great but good enough. Their main problem is that they die to 3/2 for 2 mana. Also if you compare 3/3 to 3/2 or 2/3 you will see that you are paying 1 mana for 1 extra stat which surely isn’t a good deal. One big upside 3/3 and 4/3 have is that they kill 2/3 , 2/2 and most 1 drops with ease. 4/3 minions have the chance to kill a 4 drop with 4 health, however that is uncommon as currently most people play 4 drops with 5 health such as violet teacher or senjin-shieldmasta. Overall both 3/3 and 4/3 minions are good enough depending on their card text. 3/4 mana minions  are the best kind of 3 drops. 3/4 minions kill 1, 2 and some 3 drops easily which is why they are so good. 4 health is the key factor here. There are only a few minions in 1-3 mana range which have 4 attack. Even then fierce-monkey or spider-tank can 1 for 1 them not losing card advantage. 3/4 is the best common distribution of 3 drops and you should be more than happy to have it.

4 mana

Most common distributions: 4/4, 5/4, 3/5 and 4/5. 4/4 and 5/4 minions aren’t prefered in the mid game. Once you get from 4 mana upwards it gets harder and harder for minions to trade up. Therefore you will want to seek for cards with high health points to trade down since that is the best option for mid to late game. On the plus side 4/4 and 5/4 perform a lot better in the late game than say a 3/5 minion. And the difference between doing 5 and 3 damage to a large threat is equivalent to a Holy Smite. Also 5/4 can provide more pressure on the opponent’s life total than a 3/5. Overall 4/4 and 5/4 are good enough but could be better for sure. 3/5 and 4/5 minions on the other hand are a lot better. With 5 health these minions basically kill everything in the early game. Usually 3 attack is enough to kill 1,2 and 3 drops so you don’t need much more than that. 1 health difference between a 4/5 and a 4/4 may not seem like much, however it makes wonders. It dodges a lot of removal like truesilver-champion, soulfire and more. That is what makes 5 health such a sweet point especially in the early game when there aren’t that many options in terms of removal

5+ mana

At later mana costs stat distributions become very wild and different. Because of that it’s hard to point out the best ones. Generally speaking in later turns you want to have more health than attack so you can trade down efficiently with your opponent’s smaller minions. Although the difference between attack and health shouldn’t be too huge.


Thank you for reading. I hope you will take as much as you can from this article and apply it in your gameplay. If you have any questions or other feedback feel free to post them in the comments.

See you later.