I put 4 +1/+1 counters on a 1/1 creature, so now it is a 5/5. My opponent casts a spell that says to remove all +1/+1 counters from target creature. Is my creature now a 1/1? Or are all creatures 0/0 with +1 counters on them? If they are 0/0s, then since all counters would be removed, is my card dead?

Related, can I use Sage of Hours, again and again, or would it be dead after the first time I use it due to removing all counters?

  • When asking a question about terminology, I would always name all of the cards involved. When you don't know the terminology, it can be a little more difficult to understand exactly what you are asking. Once we see the cards involved, the question usually becomes apparent.
    – Rainbolt
    Jul 8 '16 at 18:04
  • 2
    I have edited your post for clarity. I don't understand why you mention Oreskos or Ephrara; they don't have anything to do with +1/+1 counters.
    – GendoIkari
    Jul 8 '16 at 18:05
  • @Rainbolt im sorry i confused myself,
    – Keshav
    Jul 8 '16 at 19:06
  • 2
    @Keshav Please do not edit out your primary question, particularly after it has been answered
    – murgatroid99
    Jul 8 '16 at 19:43
  • sort of related: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/18214/…
    – Cascabel
    Jul 9 '16 at 2:24

Counters are a specific object in the game, usually represented by a physical token (glass beads, tiny dice, pennies if you're desperate, &c.) so you can keep track of them.

+1/+1 counters are a specific kind of counter with a baked-in ability: modifying the power and toughness of a creature they are attached to.

Only things specified as "counters" in the game rules or card text are counters.

All of these things are not counters and do not involve counters:

  • Your creature's base power and toughness, and effects that set them to specific values.
  • A creature's power and toughness that gets set by the card text while the value in the corner just says "*/*."
  • A card that modifies a creature's power and toughness, such as "target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn" or "all white creatures get +1/+1."

The only times you're likely to be interacting with counters in Magic without a card being super explicit are planeswalker loyalty and a handful of specialized set mechanics:

  • Infect and Wither turn damage into -1/-1 counters.
  • Suspend and cumulative upkeep both use counters to keep track of their "ticks."

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