I have negative 10 life, such as due to Platinum Angel and I play Lich. Lich says:

As Lich enters the battlefield, you lose life equal to your life total.

If you would gain life, draw that many cards instead.

Does playing Lich in this situation cause me to draw 10 cards (by means of causing me to gain 10 life and then replacing that with card draw)?

  • your card link is a search, which specific card do you mean?
    – esoterik
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:24
  • 1
    @esoterik The autocard doesn't work well right now. There is a card literally called Lich. Jul 3, 2018 at 21:26
  • but it doesn't come up in the search
    – esoterik
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:26
  • IIRC this doesn't work, you can't lose negative life
    – esoterik
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


Nothing happens. You lose 0 life, which is the same as not losing any life. You don't draw cards.

I think what you're imagining is "losing negative ten life" = "gain 10 life". However, you cannot lose negative life.

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 doubles or sets to a specific value a player’s life total or a creature’s power and/or toughness.

The first bolded section is pretty clear cut ("You can't [...] gain negative life") but the second part also explains the principle behind it. The principle is that when you're gaining life, you gain +number life, but the calculation sees you would gain -number life instead, so we replace the negative with 0: you gain 0 life.

  • Interestingly it would be different if it happened to say "your life total becomes 0" instead.
    – GendoIkari
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:35
  • @GendoIkari in that case no cards will be drawn, as the replacement effect is after the life setting; you still do everything in order when resolving the card.
    – esoterik
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:37
  • You'd definitely draw 10 cards in that case. Setting life total from -10 to 0 is done by gaining 10 life, which in turn gets replaced by drawing 10 cards. Jul 3, 2018 at 21:40
  • 2
    The question of whether those two replacement effects interact depends on some of the minutia of rule 614.12. I believe that under the current iteration of the rules, doppelgreener is correct and you would end up drawing cards.
    – murgatroid99
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:56

The text on the image says "You lose all life. If you would gain life later in the game ..." Even if losing negative life were gaining life, it's not happening "later in the game". The oracle text that you quote consists of two different statements. The EtB effect happens as the spell is being resolved. The gaining life is a static ability of the enchantment, and only applies when the enchantment is already on the battlefield.

  • 2
    I do not believe this is correct. First off the printed text never matters for the proper rules (though I think you just mean it here to provide context). But cards with static abilities can be affected by things that happen “as” they enter the battlefield.
    – GendoIkari
    Jul 5, 2018 at 18:51
  • Specifically this might've used to be the case (I'm not sure), but the Ixalan Comprehensive Rules Changes updated how things entered the battlefield. CTRL+F for the heading 614.12, 614.16d. We now take into account what would exist if they were already on the battlefield, so that e.g. Endless One entering with Humility in play won't enter with its +1/+1 counters. Jul 5, 2018 at 22:25

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