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I'm trying to learn the new MTG; I haven't played since the original Beta set. I'm playing on PS3 so I can learn how to at least last a few rounds against my son. :)

So here's the scenario: My opponent had a 12/12 Protean Hydra out. I had a 2/7 Spider with Deathtouch. The Spider blocked the Hydra. The Spider died and the Hydra became a 13/13. Why didn't the Hydra die? Am I misunderstanding Deathtouch?

  • 3
    You're remembering the 'basilisk' ability, which is not the same thing. – Mazura Jul 31 '16 at 10:54
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Protean Hydra has two abilities that say

If damage would be dealt to Protean Hydra, prevent that damage and remove that many +1/+1 counters from it.

Whenever a +1/+1 counter is removed from Protean Hydra, put two +1/+1 counters on it at the beginning of the next end step.

And the rule for how Deathtouch damage works is 702.2b:

A creature with toughness greater than 0 that’s been dealt damage by a source with deathtouch since the last time state-based actions were checked is destroyed as a state-based action

So, here's the sequence of events in your scenario:

  1. We get to the combat damage step, and the Spider is assigned to deal 2 damage to the Hydra.

  2. The Hydra's ability prevents that damage, and instead 2 +1/+1 counters are removed, making it a 10/10. Since the damage was prevented, the Hydra wasn't dealt damage by a source with Deathtouch, so it doesn't die.

  3. At the beginning of the end step, because of the Hydra's other ability, 2 +1/+1 counters are put on it for each one removed earlier, making it a 14/14.

You said that the Hydra ended up as a 13/13 instead. That could happen if the Protean Hydra was actually a 11/11 originally, or if the Spider actually only had 1 power, or it could simply be a bug in the game.

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The key is that deathtouch only works if your spider damages the hydra. Protean Hydra has the following line:

If damage would be dealt to Protean Hydra, prevent that damage and remove that many +1/+1 counters from it.

Since the hydra never technically takes damage from your spider, deathtouch doesn't apply, and so the hydra survives.

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