So, I have on my board Chief of the Edge and Herald of Dromoka. My opponent plays Dovin Baan and uses his first ability on Herald of Dromoka.

What is the attack of the Herald now? Does it first go to 0 and then have +1 from the Chief or does it first gain the buff and then go to 0 from Dovin Baan?


Herald of Dromoka winds up with a power of 0 because it is affected by -3 and +1 power simultaneously, which is a -2 modifier no matter which way it occurs.

The first thing to help clarify this is that power can be in negative numbers. See Char-Rumbler for one of the only examples of cards with negative power. (It's got a ruling saying: "Yes, Char-Rumbler’s printed power is -1. While its power is -1 or 0, it simply deals no combat damage.")

Since power doesn't bottom out at 0 and can just keep going down into negative numbers, there's no actual difference either way you order it:

  • If Dovin Baan applies first, the Herald's power is reduced to -1 then increased to 0.
  • If Chief of the Edge applies first, the power is increased to 3 then reduced to 0.
  • 107.1b Most of the time, the Magic game uses only positive numbers and zero. You can’t choose a negative number, deal negative damage, gain negative life, and so on. However, it’s possible for a game value, such as a creature’s power, to be less than zero. If a calculation or comparison needs to use a negative value, it does so. If a calculation that would determine the result of an effect yields a negative number, zero is used instead, unless that effect sets a player’s life total to a specific value, doubles a player’s life total, or sets a creature’s power or toughness to a specific value.
    – ikegami
    Aug 8 '17 at 15:34
  • Magic the gathering effects are like onions. They have layers.
    – corsiKa
    Aug 8 '17 at 22:53

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