Phyrexian Unlife

If your opponent has ten poison counters, he loses the game, so you just need to get your opponent to zero, then deal ten more damage to him. He'll take it in the form of poison counters, and lose. It will buy him time - maybe he was almost dead and suddenly you need to get him to 0 then deal ten more damage - but he's not invincible.

After reading this it got me thinking; and correct me if I have missed something.

If you are at 1 life, and you get hit by a 5/5 creature, do you get 4 poison counters, or none, as you are now at zero life? (Excluding trample of course.)

That being said, once you're at zero life, can you gain 1 life and repeat this?

  • 1
    Fun fact: this behavior is actually key to an unusual modern deck that utilizes Phyrexian Unlife/Form of the Dragon/Dovescape to never take lethal damage.
    – Kevin
    Jul 11, 2014 at 18:12
  • You can beat the lock @Kevin describes with a sufficiently large creature with double strike (such as Avatar of Slaughter)
    – Zags
    May 3, 2019 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


You will not get any poison counters in that case. All damage is done simultaneously, and at the time you took damage you were at 1 life, not 0 or less life. So, you will take 5 normal damage, and be at -4 life. Normally you would lose now, but Phyrexian Unlife keeps you alive instead, and the next time you would take damage, that damage will be in the form of poison counters.

If you do gain life to above 0 again, then Phyrexian Unlife will again stop you from losing the next time you take damage.

Also, trample does not interact in anyway with this, so when you say "Excluding trample of course" it makes me think that there's a basic rule you aren't understanding about how combat or trample works.

  • thank you , for some reason I though trample would of affected the dmg carrying over. but I now realize that effect hapen when block by creature.
    – xenophere
    Jul 11, 2014 at 15:55

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