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

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.


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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.