11

In a multiplayer game, I'm playing Exquisite Blood and resolve the second ability of Aetherflux Reservoir, dealing 50 damage to an opponent who's life total was only 10. I was able to pay the 50 life - that's not part of the question.

What I want to check is if, when Aetherflux Reservoir's ability deals 50 damage to my opponent, Exquisite Blood's ability will make me gain 50 life, or if I only gain 10 - because that was my opponent's "available life" before.

Rule 119.2 says “Damage dealt to a player normally causes that player to lose that much life”, and Rule 119.6 says “If a player has 0 or less life, that player loses the game as a state-based action”. The “or less life” makes me think that a player's life can be negative, and so I would gain 50 life - but I may be missing any other relevant rule here.

I know I can't pay more life than I have per rule 118.4. But that doesn't tell me anything regarding losing more lives than I have.

(not sure if tagging since this can happen in 1v1, but can't think on a situation in which it matters)

  • 1
    Aside: this would make a difference in a two-player game if Phyrexian Unlife were in play and the player had between 1 and 49 life. – Philip Kendall Aug 4 at 17:39
  • 1
    I would make a difference in the sense that the player would still be alive, and would need to gain life to have 0 life. That is also true of other cards that stop you from losing the game that way, including Soul Echo, Platinum Angel, and Gideon of the Trials. – murgatroid99 Aug 4 at 18:51
  • Since this isn't "I", would a better title be "Can a player have negative life?" or "Can a player have negative life before losing?" ? – JonTheMon Aug 4 at 19:52
  • Losing life is different to taking damage. Please edit the question to be clear about what you're asking about (Aetherflux Reservoir deals damage, rather than causing your opponent to lose life). – nick012000 Aug 5 at 7:35
  • @nick012000 But the question is about Exquisite Blood's effect, which triggers on life loss. – mgarciaisaia Aug 5 at 13:11
14

Yes, you can have a life total below zero. This is mainly a consequence of rule 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.

A player's life total is a game value, so it is possible for it to be less than zero. In addition, the last sentence specifically calls out that it is possible to set a player's life total to a negative value or double a negative life total.

| improve this answer | |
-1

Just to add a specific answer to the questions

What I want to check is if, when Aetherflux Reservoir's ability deals 50 damage to my opponent, Exquisite Blood's ability will make me gain 50 life, or if I only gain 10 - because that was my opponent's "available life" before.

Your opponent looses 50 life regardless of how much life he has. Damage causes loss of life.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.