Damage to Protean Hydra is prevented by removing +1/+1 counters from it. The card states:

Whenever a +1/+1 counter is removed from Protean Hydra, put two +1/+1 counters on it at the beginning of the next end step.

So if a -1/-1 counter is placed on it, it cancels out one +1/+1 counter. Is the counter still considered to be 'removed' or does it just disappear?

Main Question: If Protean Hydra has a -1/-1 counter placed on it (say for example by Contagion Clasp), will it receive 2 +1/+1 counters?


Yes, it is removed and you get the EOT trigger. Per Gatherer:

If a -1/-1 counter is put on Protean Hydra while it has +1/+1 counters on it, that -1/-1 counter and a +1/+1 counter will be removed from it as a state-based action. This will cause Protean Hydra's last ability to trigger.



704.5r If a permanent has both a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it, N +1/+1 and N -1/-1 counters are removed from it, where N is the smaller of the number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it.

There is actually a time where both the +1/+1 and the -1/-1 counters are on the Hydra. They are both removed the next time Stated-Based Actions are performed (State-based actions are performed right before a player would get priority. e.g. after a spell resolves, but not during the resolution of a spell).

  • State-based actions are performed right before a player would get priority.
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 27 '14 at 13:59
  • So if there were a card like "Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature. Then gain X life, where X i the number of counters on that creature", then you would get the life from both the +1/+1 counter and the -1/-1 counter, because they are both there at the time. Correct?
    – GendoIkari
    Feb 27 '14 at 19:43
  • @GendoIkari Yes, that's correct. A real example would be the modular mechanic. See the ruling on Arcbound Ravager
    – Pablo
    Feb 28 '14 at 7:20
  • @GendoIkari, Correct. Here's an another scenario: Say you have a creature with a single +1/+1 counter with a total P/T of 1/1 and you gave it a -1/-1 counter. It would go to the graveyard, and Undying wouldn't trigger.
    – ikegami
    Feb 28 '14 at 15:59

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