Nuance abounds nowadays; whereas it was commonplace to mentally coalesce opposing counters on a permanent, I imagine doing so is incorrect.

Scenario 1
Suppose one Sengir Vampire has amassed five +1/+1 counters from having sent five creatures to the graveyard, and it is now blocking a Regeneration-enchanted Putrefax, a 5/3 whose infectious damage is dealt in the form of -1/-1 counters. Does Sengir Vampire have zero counters, or ten counters?

Scenario 2
Rabid Wombat, green 0/1, which gains +2/+2 for each enchantment on it, enchanted with Unstable Mutation, which gives it +3/+3, and gives it a -1/-1 counter during controller's upkeep. Is this accurate?

Consecutive Turns:
0/1. Rabid Wombat cast.
5/6. RW+Unstable Mutation. 3/4 + a 2/2 counter
4/5. 3/4 + a 2/2 counter + -1/-1 counter
3/4. 3/4 + a 2/2 counter + (2 x -1/-1 counters) no cancellation here?
2/3. 3/4 + a 2/2 counter + (3 x -1/-1 counters) ...
.. etc. correct?

Scenario 3
Rock Hydra comes into play with casting-time X +1/+1 counters, and receives damage in the form of loss of the counters. If it becomes infected by Putrefax, which deals damage as -1/-1 counters, is the infection essentially redundant to Rock Hydra's normal life cycle? Or does the state-based action's removal of the counter count as damage which then removes another head?

Is reduction of a creature's toughness due to counter-based actions considered damage?

  • As is answered in the linked question, there is a special rule which cancels out +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters. If you had +1/+0 and -1/-0 counters, they would not cancel out. – Nick Nov 5 '14 at 14:21
  • Rabid Wombat does not give counters. There's in no +2/+2 counter in Scenario 2 – ikegami Nov 5 '14 at 15:09

Zero counters. They cancel each other out.

121.3. 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 as a state-based action, where N is the smaller of the number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it.

  • Any idea how that works with Rock Hydra? – ProductionValues Nov 5 '14 at 14:55
  • @ProductionValues Rock Hydra doesn't take damage, it prevents the damage and removes counters instead. This means infect is irrelevant as the damage has already been prevented. – Nick Nov 5 '14 at 15:00

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