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I was wondering if a hexproof counter (from cards from Ikoria) on a noncreature permanent would give it hexproof. I would think it works like that, but when I read the mechanics article, I saw:

Note that if these counters end up on a noncreature permanent, it won't necessarily apply right away, but it will if the permanent becomes a creature. (The exceptions here are deathtouch and lifelink, which work even if they end up on a noncreature permanent, provided that noncreature permanent can deal damage somehow.)

Here hexproof isn't mentioned as a keyword counter that would do something on a noncreature permanent.

For example, I have an Ozolith and a Crystalline Giant on the battlefield. The giant has a hexproof counter on it and dies, moving all counters to the Ozolith. Can my opponent target my Ozolith (after the counter has been moved on it)?

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This was actually asked of Matt Tabak, the author of the mechanics article, on twitter. He responded here:

Yeah, hexproof works even on a noncreature permanent. The mechanics article is for the main set only. Leading that paragraph with “for this group of counters” was very intentional. #WotCstaff

These tokens would apply if they can apply to any permanent, most often they won't have any mechanical function when they aren't on a creature, like flying or menace, but hexproof or indestructible will along with lifelink and deathtouch for noncreature permanents that can do damage as mentioned in the article. The article itself has since been updated (perhaps in response to the question) to reflect this. The quoted section from the question now reads:

For this group of counters, having more than one of the same counter provides no additional benefit. Note that if one of these counters ends up on a noncreature permanent, it won't necessarily apply right away, but it will if the permanent becomes a creature. Hexproof counters will be effective even if on a noncreature permanent, as will deathtouch and lifelink counters, provided that noncreature permanent can deal damage somehow.

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We will have to wait for the Ikoria rules update, but as of now, Hexproof is an ability that works on any type of permanent, and noncreature permanents with a hexproof counter should also have functional hexproof.

Under the current rules, Hexproof works on any permanent:

702.11b “Hexproof” on a permanent means “This permanent can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.”

See also this Gatherer search.

I suspect hexproof will also be one of the exceptions mentioned in the Ikoria new mechanics article, and was simply missed. The fact that, according to that article, lifelink and deathtouch are going to be functional on noncreature permanents is a strong hint that the same will be true for hexproof or any other ability that works on noncreature permanents.

For clarity: Assuming the rules for ability counters are as straightforward as they could be, they will simply grant their abilities to any permanent they're on, whether or not that ability is currently relevant. Nothing in the rules stops a permanent from gaining or having abilities that don't apply in its current state. For a canonical example, Vehicles are not creatures as long as they are not crewed, but they still have abilities like flying and trample. I expect the same for ability counters that end up on Ozolith or any other noncreature permanents.

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  • I would also think indestructible too if we get a indestructible counter – Max Young Apr 8 at 14:28
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    The most likely outcome here is that all keyword counters grant their corresponding keyword ability to any permanent, independent of card type, and the ability itself will simply not do anything interesting in some cases. Like how Aethersphere Harvester always has flying, but until you crew it, the ability doesn't do anything. – murgatroid99 Apr 8 at 15:17
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    There is nothing stopping a non-creature permanent from having abilities that are primarily considered to belong to creatures. See, for instance, all the vehicles with vigilance, flying, trample, haste, etc. They have those abilities all the time, not just when they are crewed. It would be strange if the counters worked differently. – Arthur Apr 8 at 15:23
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    Technically, the counter mechanic isn't really a new or necessary mechanic anyway. It's mostly a helper for paper magic, a reminder that one-shot effects can create continuous effects. The only novel thing it does is to allow moving around the counters, like with Ozolith, or counting them. – Hackworth Apr 8 at 15:51
  • I agree, most likely "won't necessarily apply right away" just meant that it's possible that the ability granted by the counter won't have any effect; as opposed to there being a rule saying that the counter literally doesn't apply. – GendoIkari Apr 9 at 14:08

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