I have some friends that play mtg, and one had an extremely good awaken/landfall deck. Then his dreams of succeeding with that deck were destroyed when a friend stated that technically, it's a 0/0 AFTER the +1/+1 counters are applied, rendering the deck useless. That deck was a fun challenge, and it hurts to have that deck taken apart after that comment. I would like to know whether or not awoken lands are a 0/0 after the +1/+1 counters.

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    If Awaken worked the way your friend stated, then the mechanic would make no sense at all; as casting a spell for the Awaken cost would only have the effect of killing off your own lands. You would simply never use it. – GendoIkari May 24 '17 at 15:20

The Awoken land is 0/0 but the +1/+1 counters will give it a toughness greater than 0 so it won't die.

704.4. Unlike triggered abilities, state-based actions pay no attention to what happens during the resolution of a spell or ability.

704.5f If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.

However these cards are worded in such a way that even if 704.4 wasn't true the land creature would still survive because the counters are added to the card before it becomes a creature.


The land has a base P/T of 0/0. The +1/+1 counters apply on top of that, so it is X/X where x = number of counters.


613.3. Within layer 7, apply effects in a series of sublayers in the order described below. Within each sublayer, apply effects in timestamp order. (See rule 613.6.) Note that dependency may alter the order in which effects are applied within a sublayer. (See rule 613.7.)

613.3a Layer 7a: Effects from characteristic-defining abilities that define power and/or toughness are applied. See rule 604.3.

613.3b Layer 7b: Effects that set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value are applied. Effects that refer to the base power and/or toughness of a creature apply in this layer.

613.3c Layer 7c: Effects that modify power and/or toughness (but don’t set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value) are applied.

613.3d Layer 7d: Power and/or toughness changes from counters are applied. See rule 121, “Counters.”

613.3e Layer 7e: Effects that switch a creature’s power and toughness are applied. Such effects take the value of power and apply it to the creature’s toughness, and take the value of toughness and apply it to the creature’s power.

So here we have an effect at 7b that sets it to 0/0, then at 7d the counters apply on top of that.


To make 704.4 easier:

One thing to keep in mind that occasionally trips people up: the game doesn't check state-based effects until a spell or effect completes everything it is doing. This can be counterintuitive sometimes, but it's important to understand.*

In the case of the Awoken mechanic, the effect is typically: "add some +1/+1 counters to a land, and then make it into a creature with 0/0 base p/t". Once this effect is completed, then the game goes into state-based actions. So by the time the game checks whether the Awoken land has 0 toughness, the +1/+1 counters have already been applied, so the game sees a land that is also a creature with p/t equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on it.

  • The most common example involves the difference between burn spells and destruction effects: if I Doomblade a Hill Giant, the Hill Giant is destroyed as part of Doom Blade's effect, so it hits the opponent's graveyard before Doom Blade finishes resolving. If I use Lightning Bolt on a Hill Giant, the Lightnight Bolt does 3 damage to it, finishes resolving, and is put in the graveyard. With that done, state-based effects are checked. The game realizes Hill Giant has lethal damage on it, and then Hill Giant is put in the graveyard.

This leads to some cool interactions. For example, say you have a creature that reads: "Whenever a card is put in your opponent's graveyard, they lose 2 life". Your opponent is at 2 life, and casts Hero's Downfall on the creature. That creature dies during spell resolution, and isn't on the battlefield to see HD hit the graveyard. However, if your opponent uses Fireball to kill it, the creature is still on the battlefield when Fireball hits the 'yard, so it triggers. Then state-based effects happen, and it dies. But it's triggered effect is still on the stack, so your opponent loses two life, and dies.

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    This is a good explanation, but I don't think it actually addresses the primary misunderstanding in the question. Awaken actually puts the +1/+1 counters on the land, then makes it a creature, and this is explicitly mentioned in the question. So I don't think there was a question of whether the land would die in between becoming a 0/0 and getting the counters, but rather whether becoming a 0/0 would override the +1/+1 counters. – murgatroid99 May 25 '17 at 0:07
  • I've edited it to reflect the original order of operations. That being said, my answer points to a rule that says the order doesn't matter as long as the both things occur within the same effect. It is useful to note, as well, that if we put +1/+1 counters on a land as part of one effect, and a second effect then makes that land a 0/0 creature, the land doesn't die. – Jon Ohliger May 25 '17 at 17:11

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