A 1/1 Glistener Elf and 1/1 Young Wolf are in combat. The Young Wolf has died before, but thanks to its undying ability came back with a +1/+1 counter on top of it.

Glistener Elf dies, Young Wolf receives a -1/-1 token. This, if I'm not mistaken, cancels out the +1/+1 token and the Young Wolf is now presumed not to have any counters on it. Does this mean that if I attack with another Glistener Elf and Young Wolf blocks, its undying ability will trigger again and cause the Young Wolf creature to come back a second time?

(For future visitors: I found a related question explaining why lethal infect damage wouldn't retrigger the ability a second time. My question is about non-lethal infect damage.)

  • 2
    As an aside, you can't attack creatures directly. I don't know if that was a typo or not.
    – Becuzz
    Oct 26, 2020 at 19:26
  • My bad, confusing wording on my end. I meant that I let a second Glistener Elf attack and my opponent decides to block with Young Wolf (or I use something like Prey Upon).
    – Pieter
    Oct 27, 2020 at 6:46

1 Answer 1


Yes, if the Young Wolf loses its +1/+1 counter and later dies, its undying ability will trigger and it will return to the battlefield again.

The Undying ability is defined in rule 107.92a:

Undying is a triggered ability. “Undying” means “When this permanent is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, if it had no +1/+1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a +1/+1 counter on it.”

It checks whether the creature had +1/+1 counters at the time that it died. It doesn't matter if the creature previously had any +1/+1 counters.

For completeness, the -1/-1 counters added by the Glistener Elf because of its Infect ability do remove the +1/+1 counter on Young Wolf, as mentioned in the question. This is specified in rule 122.3:

If a permanent has both a +1/+1 counter and a -1/-1 counter on it, N +1/+1 and N -1/-1 counters are removed from it as a state-based action, where N is the smaller of the number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it. See rule 704.

  • 4
    Note that the counters canceling each other out only happens if the creature has greater than 0 toughness considering all counters. That is, if a base 1/1 with one +1/+1 counter has two -1/-1 counters placed on it, it will die with all three counters still there (and therefore Undying would not trigger).
    – Ben P.
    Oct 27, 2020 at 5:02
  • 1
    Yes, that is addressed in the question. The question links to another question that addresses that specific scenario, and this question is specifically about not dying at the same time as losing the counter. Also, strictly speaking, in that scenario the counters do cancel out, but since that happens simultaneously with the creature dying, when the Undying trigger looks back to before the creature died, it sees that it had the counters. Again, though, that is addressed in more detail in the question linked from this one.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 27, 2020 at 5:05
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    In particular, the Undying rule says "if the unit had no counters [at the mentioned moment]...", not "if the unit has [ever] had no counters...". Not that the game would ever use a rule that looks back to all history without marking it with a counter anyway.
    – ilkkachu
    Oct 27, 2020 at 8:22
  • @murgatroid99 I would still say it's worth making it clear in your answer that the counters are only cancelled out if the creature lives through the counters being added - your answer as written in a vacuum sounds like they are cancelled out even as it dies.
    – Andrew
    Oct 27, 2020 at 12:41
  • @Andrew The counters are cancelled out even as the creature dies, as the answer to the linked question explains.
    – murgatroid99
    Oct 27, 2020 at 16:18

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