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How to play around Secrets in Hearthstone - Hearthstone

The right way to trigger the Hunter, Paladin and Mage Secrets.

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About John Bedford

John is a freelance writer based in West Sussex.

Hearthstone's Secrets are special spells available only to the Hunter, Paladin and Mage Heroes. Some deal damage to an opponent's minions when triggered, for example, while another causes the enemy Hero's spells to fail when cast. Love them or love them, it's important to understand exactly how these Secret cards work.

The Hero who puts the Secret into play can see which one it is while it's both in their hand and out in play, but crucially the opponent cannot. This increases the amount of variance involved in any given situation, and it requires players to think very carefully before triggering these spells, and unleashing their effects upon the board.

Fortunately, there are ways of playing your turn out so that you test for your opponent's Secrets in as efficient and safe a way as possible. It's true that there will always be unusual circumstances that require a slightly different approach, but if you follow our beginner's guide to busting through the bluffs, you'll take much of the sting out of these myserious cards.

How to play around Hunter Secrets

Not every Paladin and Mage plays Secrets, but it's a rare Hunter deck that doesn't make use of these powerful and tricky traps.

  • Explosive Trap is extremely common in every meta, so first things first be aware that you'll lose any minions with two or less health. Before triggering the trap, use any minions that will die to it on something useful, such as killing or severely damaging any of the opponent's creatures in play.
  • Doing so will trigger either Misdirection or Snake Trap. Because of the risk of Snake Trap, it's important that you don't use any of your area-of-effect spells before testing for the other two possibilities. You don't know want to leave your opponent with a better board than they had before.
  • Finally there's Snipe to worry about. Your best way of playing around this is to either put a minion that won't die to it into play, or field a minion you just don't care about. You might also want to think about utilising any minions with a summoing Deathrattle into play, so you trigger Snipe and still leave something behind.

How to trigger Paladin Secrets efficiently

The Paladin has some very annoying Secrets to deal with, so we'll address them one by one and explain how best to minimise the impact on the board.

  • First things first, use either a minion you don't care about losing (or your weapon if you have one) directly against the Paladin to see if Eye for an Eye or Noble Sacrifice are in play.
  • Next, put the weakest minion you possess onto the board. By weak, we mean a minion with really low health, so you won't be too disadvantaged by Repentance.
  • Finally, kill the Paladin's weakest minion to test for Redemption. Note, however, that by doing this you must factor in the possibility that the Secret could be Avenge. You need to carefully consider your ability to deal with the remaining boosted minion - if a second one exists - once the Secret has been popped.

Playing around Mage Secrets

The Mage has a lot of interesting Secrets to play around, so make sure you pick them off efficiently.

  • If you have a very weak minion in your hand, the first sensible action is to simply play it in the hopes of triggering Mirror Entity. In the worst case scenario you can simply trade like for like in the future, although ideally you'll be able to remove your minion's counterpart on the turn it appears.
  • The next Secret to test for is Vaporize, so throw the minion you'd be least upset to lose directly into the Mage's face – assuming there are no Taunt minions in play, of course. This will also test if Ice Barrier is in effect, and give the Mage her eight points of armour once it's triggered.
  • Next up is Duplicate. Try to kill the weakest minion possible so that you don't inject two of something terrible into the Mage's arsenal.
  • If you haven't triggered the Secret by now, you're looking at either Ice Block, Spellbender or Counterspell. If you've got a weak spell you can test with, by all means do so but don't throw anything critical away if it'll mean you lose the board - or waste a disgusting amount of Mana on a turn. If you face likely defeat by not playing that spell, then you must of course take the risk.
  • Ice Block is very popular with Freeze Mages. If you've seen a lot of Blizzards, Holy Novas and Doomsayers – and the Secret still hasn't been triggered – assume you're going to need an extra turn to actually finish your opponent off. That means doing smart planning to make sure the final bit of damage you deliver to trigger Ice Block leaves the Mage as close to zero as mathematically possible.

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  • GealachNua #1 7 years ago
    @King_of_Hyrule Good stuff man. Comments like this (and this website in general) make me realise how much of an amateur I am at Hearthstone! A million of times better than I was, but still not really seeing the patterns. Having fun though!
  • Bedders #2 7 years ago
    @King_of_Hyrule Glad you like it! I think what I need to organise for the site is a way of highlighting really useful comments and pinning them to the top. I'd like to do that with your last one for example. I'll talk to tech.
  • King_of_Hyrule #3 7 years ago
    @Bedders no problem :)

    You've added it sometimes but it could also be useful for new players to write how to recognize secrets based on when they are played, for example

    -Do you have lots of small minions? Explosive
    -Do you have a few big minions? Freezing
    -Is there a knife juggler on your opponents board? Snakes, it had to be snakes ;)
    All the other Hunter secrets are rarely played

    - it's probably avenge! And this becomes even more likely when the opponent has 2 minions out.
    - only other secret that sees some play is noble sacrifice
    All the others paladin secrets are rarely played

    - Always assume it's mirror entity, especially in the early game or in a situation where you don't quite know what kind of deck the opponent is playing
    - Most common secret after mirror entity is duplicate
    - if you see ice block, expect ice barrier and vice versa, freeze Mage plays both and no other secrets

    If course secrets remain secrets and you can never be 100% sure about what will be played, but with these general tips in mind you can avoid having to check for every secret every time a secret is played, since checking for every secret can be even more costly than the effect of the secret itself

    (I'm waiting for a train, hence all the reactions, great article and great site though :) )
  • Bedders #4 7 years ago
    Thanks! I'll tweak the image shortly.
  • King_of_Hyrule #5 7 years ago
    Ok I'll add it, to counter duplicate try to kill off the most useless minion played by your opponent first, avoid killing high value creatures such as sludge belchers, water elementals etc, and try to kill a cheap minion first instead :)
  • King_of_Hyrule #6 7 years ago
    Eum... Where's duplicate?
  • Bedders #7 7 years ago
    Yeah they're an absolute nightmare until you wrap your head around them. You'll get there!
  • GealachNua #8 7 years ago
    Thanks for this. Been struggling against those Paladin secrets!