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This might be quite basic. I am just a beginner and searched through the web and the rule book and couldn't find the answer.

For instance, Ajani's Pridemate lets you,

Whenever you gain life, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Ajani's Pridemate. (For example, if an effect causes you to gain 3 life, you may put one +1/+1 counter on this creature.)

Then does that counter(s) last across turns and accumulate making Ajani's Pridemate much stronger creature as the game progresses until it dies? Say, you have a staff that lets you

Whenever you cast a black spell or a Swamp enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.

Every turn you put down a Swamp you gain 1 life and hence Ajani's Pridemate gets another +1/+1 counter. It can even become like 2/2 + 1000*(+1/+1 counter) making it 1002/1002. Am I right?

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I remember playing grimgrin with rooftop storm and ghoul raiser for infinite +1/+1 counter loop :). –  Cruncher Jul 29 at 14:37

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes it can. Every instance if lifegain grants another +1/+1 counter. So if you play 10 Swamps, you have 10 instances of lifegain, which grants 10 +1/+1 counters. If you have a creature with lifelink which deals damage, you gain life, so Ajani's Pridemate gets a +1/+1 counter. There is no limit to the amount of +1/+1 counters it can get.

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In Magic things stay where they are unless instructed to move/remove them. This why effects that grant temporary effects are worded with "until end of turn".

611.2a A continuous effect generated by the resolution of a spell or ability lasts as long as stated by the spell or ability creating it (such as “until end of turn”). If no duration is stated, it lasts until the end of the game.

(thanks ikegami for the rule #)

Here's a specific rule dealing with your question:

118.9. Some triggered abilities are written, "Whenever [a player] gains life, . . . ." Such abilities are treated as though they are written, "Whenever a source causes [a player] to gain life, . . . ." If a player gains 0 life, no life gain event has occurred, and these abilities won't trigger.

Example: A player controls Ajani's Pridemate, which reads "Whenever you gain life, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Ajani's Pridemate," and two creatures with lifelink. The creatures with lifelink deal combat damage simultaneously. Ajani's Pridemate's ability triggers twice.

Note that the card doesn't even have to continue to be affected by the counters in order for them to stay:

See Raging Ravine

Any +1/+1 counters put on Raging Ravine remain on it even after it stops being a creature. They'll have no effect until it becomes a creature again.

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And the fact that they can accumulate and stick around is precisely why you want (physical) counters - it'd be hard to keep track of otherwise. –  Jefromi Jul 29 at 17:13

Yes. It keeps them because nothing in your scenario removes them.


You didn't mention any abilities removing counters, so the only possible thing that could be removing counters are the rules.

There are only three instances when counters are removed from objects by the rules, and none of them are relevant to the current situation.

  1. Dealing damage to a Planeswalker removes loyalty counters.
  2. SBAs cancel out +1/+1 and -1/-1 counter pairs by removing them.
  3. SBAs remove extra counters when a permanent has a limit to how many of a given kind of counters it can have.

That's it. Counters are never removed from objects except in those circumstances or by abilities that instruct you to move or remove them[1].

Under normal circumstances, a counter are never removed from the object on which it is paced; it stays on the object until the object ceases to exist (at which point they cease to exist too).

121.2. Counters on an object are not retained if that object moves from one zone to another. The counters are not “removed”; they simply cease to exist. See rule 400.7.


  1. This includes three keyword abilities that remove counters:

    • Fading (fade counter)
    • Suspend (time counter)
    • Vanishing (time counter)
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