When a creature takes damage from any source, that damage is tracked. If there is enough damage to overcome their toughness, they die. Are there ways to remove damage from creatures after they've been dealt damage?

  • I've edited this to purge the concept of damage counters, and just ask about damage. Damage counters don't exist rules wise. The comprehensive rules for damage do not even mention such a concept. You might use physical counters as a memory aid, but that's another matter. Jun 2 '15 at 16:13
  • @doppelgreener Thanks! I played magic about 10 years ago and I'm just getting back into it. I'm a bit fuzzy with the rules, especially the new mechanics. Jun 2 '15 at 16:40
  • Although it doesn't technically count as "removing damage", you may be interested in cards that remove/return a creature from/to the battlefield, such as Flicker or Mistmeadow Witch.
    – Kevin
    Jun 2 '15 at 17:45

The only ways damage marked on a creature is removed are:

  1. The cleanup step at the end of the turn
  2. When a creature regenerates instead of being destroyed
  3. When a creature enchanted with Totem Armor would be destroyed
  4. When Pyramids has prevented a land (which had been/is a creature with damage marked on it) from being destroyed

Note that the last three replace destruction of the creature with removing all damage, but it doesn't need to be the damage that causes the destruction.

119.6. Damage marked on a creature remains until the cleanup step, even if that permanent stops being a creature. If the total damage marked on a creature is greater than or equal to its toughness, that creature has been dealt lethal damage and is destroyed as a state-based action (see rule 704). All damage marked on a permanent is removed when it regenerates (see rule 701.12, “Regenerate”) and during the cleanup step (see rule 514.2).

702.88a Totem armor is a static ability that appears on some Auras. “Totem armor” means “If enchanted permanent would be destroyed, instead remove all damage marked on it and destroy this Aura.”

  • Minor note for readers. Regenerating means "would not been destroyed but regenerated instead" not "used an ability that says 'Regenerate some creature'".
    – Guvante
    Jun 2 '15 at 18:06
  • @Guvante I edited the post to hopefully remove the confusion. Hope my edits are ok, diego!
    – ghoppe
    Jun 2 '15 at 18:53
  • I think changing the zone of a creature, such as with Flicker, should be listed here. Though the creature that comes back is a brand new object, it still does the job of removing the damage from your creature.
    – GendoIkari
    Jun 2 '15 at 19:13
  • This is not really removing damage but a way to increase the amount of damage required to destroy a creature is by playing spells that would increase the creature's toughness.
    – John Odom
    Jun 2 '15 at 19:39
  • @GendoIkari I think that's a valid point for the simplest situations, however there are other considerations: Flicker effects also cause auras and equipment to drop off the creature, it's going to remove a token creature from the battlefield permanently, it's also going to remove any +1/+1 and other beneficial counters…
    – ghoppe
    Jun 2 '15 at 20:20

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