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Some cards like Animation Module allow you to copy a counter. My question is if a creature has three +1/+1 counters, is that considered one counter or three distinct counters.

Would Animation Module be allowed to use it's second ability to get +3/+3 or only copy one (of the three) counters to get an additional +1/+1?

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If three +1/+1 counters are placed on an object, that object then has three counters on it. Animation Module's second ability can only put one additional counter on it each time you activate it. The counters do not change type, so they are still +1/+1 counters, and that is the only type of counter you can give it another of.

  • "If three counters are placed on an object, that object then has three counters on it." There is an exception to this rule. If I put one -1/-1 counter and two +1/+1 counters on an object, then the object only has one counter on it. – Rainbolt Dec 21 '16 at 21:06
  • Well, it does have three until state-based actions are performed and "cancel" the counters. – Michael Snook Dec 21 '16 at 21:16
  • @Rainbolt There are many exceptions. I answered the question assuming there were no other relevant effects or objects. There could, for example, also be a Vampire Hexmage or a card that says "Counters can't be placed on permanents". – KSFT Dec 21 '16 at 21:24
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    @KSFT It's not that I don't understand the events you're describing. But there's a difference between "the game rules say X happens" and "there is a card that will let you change this later." It's pretty much implicit when you talk about how the rules work that you're excluding something coming along later and changing it. When you say a creature spell resolves and becomes a permanent, you don't carve out an exception for "maybe someone will Murder it later." – Cascabel Dec 22 '16 at 3:42
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    @Jefromi It's obvious that you don't mention that exception, but sometimes it isn't. I chose to consistently assume that there were no other relevant effects or objects and that everything is of the most general possible type where it isn't specified and that makes sense. The edit does not make my answer less accurate, does make it more precise, and might make it clearer, so I don't plan to change it. – KSFT Dec 23 '16 at 15:34

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