If a planeswalker than has been turned into a creature (not a planeswalker that turns itself into a creature with "prevent all damage" like Gideon) takes Infect damage, what happens?

I know that Infect damage is applied as -1/-1 counters, and I know that the planeswalker will have both damaged marked on it, as well as have it's loyalty reduced, but what I'm unsure of is if the -1/-1 counters further reduce the loyalty or if they only impact the power / toughness.

As a follow-on, do the -1/-1 counters stay on the planeswalker when it is no longer a creature? And if so, could this be used to prevent a Gideon from using it's "become a creature" ability (or at least kill it if it does)?

4 Answers 4


Loyalty counters are different and separate from the -1/-1 counters produced by infect. -1/-1 counters affect power and toughness only. If an infected Planeswalker reverts to a non-creature, the -1/-1 counters will have no effect. They will remain until otherwise removed, or until the permanent changes zones.

Non-creature Planeswalker vs Infect Damage

  • Lose loyalty equal to the infect damage per rule 119.3c.
  • Do not gain infect counters. Rule 119.3d only applies to creatures.

Creature Planeswalker vs Infect Damage

  • Lose loyalty equal to the infect damage per rule 119.3c.
  • Gain -1/-1 counters equal to the infect damage per rule 119.3d.


Gideon, Champion of Justice has five loyalty counters and five -1/-1 counters. If he resolves his zero ability to become a creature, Gideon will die the next time state-based actions are checked.

Planeswalkers are not subject to the same state-based action where a player with ten poison counters automatically loses the game. Planeswalkers cannot gain poison counters.

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    I really thing the last line could just be deleted. The planeswalker doesn't have 'infect' counters: he has -1/-1 counters that were dealt to a creature. shrug
    – corsiKa
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:49
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    I would just delete the last paragraph outright, honestly - it IMHO just heightens the confusion by even being mentioned. Mar 4, 2014 at 22:06
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    @Jefromi Infect produces three types of damage depending on what it hits. Players gain poison counters. Planeswalkers lose loyalty counters. Creatures gain -1/-1 counters. I felt that my answer would be incomplete without mentioning all three. I am open to comments regarding the correctness of the statement, but I cannot respect useless comments. Ikegami's opinion was welcomed and respected. Corsika had something useful to add. Further repeats were simply redundant.
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 4, 2014 at 23:18
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    @John Exactly - we're talking about creatures and planeswalkers here, not players, so we're only talking about two of those things. Your most recent revision is certainly the least confusing, to the point of not being that much of an issue. I was only trying to explain the confusion that several of us were obviously seeing here; if you're just going to dismiss my comments as useless or repetitive, I won't bother trying to help more.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 5, 2014 at 0:04
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    I think the last paragraph is helpful. I'm not much of a rules lawyer, and planeswalkers are like players in a way (they can be attacked as players, and isn't the player supposed to be a planeswalker?) so I was wondering whether they would also get poison counters. Mar 5, 2014 at 12:53

If it's both a creature and a planeswalker, it would gain -1/-1 counters and lose loyalty counters.

119.3c Damage dealt to a planeswalker causes that many loyalty counters to be removed from that planeswalker.

119.3d Damage dealt to a creature by a source with wither and/or infect causes that many -1/-1 counters to be put on that creature.

The removal of loyalty counters is not conditional.

As a follow-on, do the -1/-1 counters stay on the planeswalker when it is no longer a creature?

Yes. Counters will cease to exist if the object changes zone[CR 121.2]. Otherwise, they stay until something explicitly removes them.

And if so, could this be used to prevent a Gideon from using it's "become a creature" ability (or at least kill it if it does)?

Yes. If he had -1/-1 counters equaling his toughness, he'd die virtually immediately after transforming into a creature.

Note that Gideon, Champion of Justice's indestructibility would not help, since the State-Based action in question kills rather than destroys[CR 704.5f].

Note that Gideon Jura's ability to prevent damage prevents the gain of -1/-1 counters from infect damage. You'd have to turn him into a creature another way or give him the -1/-1 counters some other way.

  • whoa, why the downvote?
    – ikegami
    Mar 4, 2014 at 19:32
  • Ah, the reader was probably thinking of one Gideon and I was looking at the other. Fixed.
    – ikegami
    Mar 4, 2014 at 19:38
  • In the case of Gideon Jura, if he is turned into a creature not by his ability (see linked question in OP), does he still prevent the damage?
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 4, 2014 at 19:45
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    @cdeszaq, No. GJ has an activated ability that, in part, creates a continuous effect that "prevents all damage that would be dealt to him this turn". If you don't activate the ability, you don't gain its effect. He would need the static ability "Prevent all damage that would be dealt to GJ as long as he is a creature." (Btw, you can activate GJ's ability even if he's already a creature.)
    – ikegami
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:01

-1/-1 counters reduce power/toughness (or remove +1/+1 counters if there are any present). They do not affect loyalty counters.

Generally, any kind of counter can exist on any kind of permanent (or even a spell, such as with Lightning Storm). -1/-1 counters on a planeswalker simply don't do anything under normal circumstances -- that is, until the planeswalker becomes a creature.


While the planeswalker is a creature, it will have 3 relevant characteristics: power, toughness, and loyalty. When that creature planeswalker takes infect damage, it will lose that many loyalty counters and it will gain that many -1/-1 counters. The -1/-1 counters only affect power and toughness.

In general, permanents do not lose any counters when they change type. This does mean that if a planeswalker becomes a creature, and it has enough -1/-1 counters that its toughness is 0, it will die.

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