Is your Death's Shadow a 16/16 if you are at minus 3 life and not dead due to something like a Platinum Angel.


3 Answers 3



From the Gatherer rulings:

If your life total is negative, X is considered to be 0. (This is a change from previous rulings.)

The actual comprehensive rule that supports this is:

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.

So in other words, you can actually have negative life, and your life is treated as being negative, but not for the purposes of calculating an effect such as Death's Shadow.

  • Since it seems you edited the links in the question: the second link appears dead.
    – Belle
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 12:25
  • @Belle Thanks. Seems to be some sort of bug with Platinum Angel and the auto-linking. Even when copy-pasting directly from another post that auto-links correctly to Platinum Angel, it doesn't work right! I'll update to a normal link I guess.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 15:21
  • It's because there is a Platinum Angel Avatar for vanguard. It's a known bug. An autocard link to any card with 2+ words in its name, where another card exists also containing those words, results in an empty search page. Lots of popular or iconic cards have Vanguard avatars, so lots of them will completely fail. (This is that bug documented in my request we switch over to Scryfall). Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:40
  • @doppelgreener Thanks. But any idea how it is that older posts with the exact same markup work fine?
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 18:22
  • 1
    @Gendolkari That's right, it stores both the markdown and the baked HTML, and grabs the HTML to view and the markdown to edit. Here you can intercept post rendering on display as well, Ilmari Karonen knows a lot about that from working on SOUP and taught me what I needed to know to make our Mana Symbols userscript. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 20:18

Shortly put: No, but it used to.

GendoIkari already gave the current and correct answer, which is No, however it was not always the case and this change was relatively recent. 107.1b used to have one additional clause for when negative values were used in calculations which was:

"...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, or otherwise modifies a creature's power or toughness."

This was revised with the release of HOU to the current version we have now.


I would argue that 107.1b does not apply in the Death’s shadow result. It says if a calculation uses a negative number it does so, only replacing the value of the RESULT is negative. Since 13 - (-3) =16 the resulting value of the creatures power and toughness would not be a negative number and therefore is not altered by this rule.

  • 6
    The official rulings from WOTC provided by the rules manager are pretty specific that it does in fact apply. That suggests this interpretation may be wrong, and that the calculation is in fact just to get the X value. Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 16:50

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