With the release of War of the Spark, the rules for Proliferate changed. Previously, they allowed you to add 1 counter to the chosen permanents and players, of a type it already had. Now, it adds an additional counter for every type of counter already present.

This seems like a big change that suddenly changes the way a bunch of existing cards work; in most cases making all of those cards stronger. Why alter the power level of all those existing cards? It almost seems like if they one day said that from now on, "Lifelink" means that you get 2 life for every damage instead of 1.

In this article about War of the Spark rules changes, it mentions that the rules were changed:

The rules for proliferate got a makeover! The rule reminding you who chooses counters is dropped, since there are no more choices on the counters, and the other two rules are updated to match the new reality.

But this seems to be a change just to deal with the fact that "Proliferate" changed; it's not an explanation of the fact that Proliferate changed or why.

Is there an article or source that announces and explains this change?

  • 4
    I think you're certainly correct in theory, especially considering past changes in the game that were causing issues with minor changes by comparison. However in practice, I don't think the situation of wanting to add more than one counter is going to come up all that often - and when there is a deck that benefits from it, Proliferate was very likely already a game changer for it before. For some situations, it can even be a nerf, such as your Infect Commander deck now having to make a choice playing against an experience counter commander. May 6 '19 at 23:04

According to a post from Mark Rosewater (Lead Designer for Magic: The Gathering), the reasons were to make the mechanic as a whole more easily understandable, along with seemingly wanting to streamline the experience in digital MtG games.

Quoting the post in its entirety both for reference and relevance:

R&D is always on the lookout for ways to make cleaner, more straight-forward mechanics. This makes mechanics easier to process in tabletop and lessens the amounts of clicks on digital.

When we decided to bring back proliferate, we realized we could make a simple change that would both, on average, make the mechanic more powerful and clean it up for digital.

Previously if a player or creature had more than one counter, you the owner of the proliferating source chose which one of the different counters to duplicate. This new version doesn’t make you chose, but instead duplicates all of them. Remember, you still choose which players and/or permanents to proliferate.

Yes, there’s a tiny scenario where you have to chose between duplicating both a positive and a negative counter, but that’s far less likely than the scenario where you have two different types of counters you want to duplicate (especially on creatures as +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters negate one another).

  • On the issue of + and - counters on the same creature: I was under the impression, that those countered each other out and would be taken of the creature?
    – Erik
    May 7 '19 at 8:35
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    @Erik You are right in your assessment. It can easily occur for players, though, if they have energy or experience counters and poison counters, for instance.
    – M.Herzkamp
    May 7 '19 at 8:49
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    Or a Gideon with a +1/+1 and loyality counters, I see. Thank you.
    – Erik
    May 7 '19 at 8:54
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    @Erik Yes the point was that it's not very likely for a creature to have both a good and a bad counter at the same time, because the most common type of good and bad counters that show up on creatures can't both exist at the same time.
    – GendoIkari
    May 7 '19 at 13:39
  • @Erik If we take "positive" to mean "good" and "negative" to mean "bad", then not all positive counters cancel out with negative counters. May 7 '19 at 22:27

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