# Is putting multiple counters onto a target an atomic action?

Consider these two cards:

Fathom Mage

Whenever a +1/+1 counter is placed on Fathom Mage, you may draw a card.

Dragonscale Boon

Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature and untap it.

Would Fathom Mage's effect trigger once or twice?

The rulings for Fathom Mage indicate that a single effect placing multiple counters on it, causes its ability to trigger multiple times.

1/24/2013: If multiple +1/+1 counters are placed on Fathom Mage simultaneously, its last ability will trigger once for each of those counters.

As a result, Dragonscale Boon would cause the ability to happen twice, and you could draw up to two cards.

Hypothetically if Wizards wanted you to only draw one card when you cast Dragonscale Boon, they'd probably word Fathom Mage the way they did Hardened Scales.

Whenever one or more +1/+1 counters is placed on Fathom Mage, you may draw a card.

In this case, the ability only triggers once for each discrete event. Dragonscale Boon would only cause the ability to happen a single time.

If we gave Fathom Mage an ability like "RRR: put a +1/+1 counter on Fathom Mage", then you would be able to draw a card once for each time you activate the ability, regardless of how the triggered ability was worded. If you're adding more than one counter, you're activating the ability more than once, and each ability generates a brand new event.

• The question has been reworked to specifically just ask about the combination of Fathom Mage and Hardened Scales. Nov 5, 2014 at 14:54
• @doppelgreener, thanks for the heads up. I'm thinking how I should revise my post. Nov 5, 2014 at 14:55

If the ability reads as follows, it triggers for every counter.

Whenever a +1/+1 counter is placed on this object, you may draw a card.

If the ability reads as follows, it triggers once every time counters are placed on the object, even if more than one are placed.

Whenever +1/+1 counters are placed on this object, you may draw a card.

Fathom Mage's ability has the former form, so it triggers twice. This is codified by CR 603.2c.

603.2c An ability triggers only once each time its trigger event occurs. However, it can trigger repeatedly if one event contains multiple occurrences. [...]