I control a Nin, the Pain Artist (without summoning sickness) equipped with a Basilisk Collar (or anything else which gives her lifelink) and a Soul-Scar Mage.

When I activate Nin's ability and deal e.g. 3 damage to an opponents creature, will I gain life, or will the Soul-Scar Mage with his replacement effect "put that many -1/-1 counters on that creature instead" prevent me from gaining life.

Also, will the replacement effect prevent the opponent from drawing cards? (I suspect not, since the card draw isn't tied to the damage)

3 Answers 3


Your assumptions/guesses are all correct.

A replacement event completely replaces the thing it replaces with something different.

In this case, Soul-Scar Mage replaces the damage produced by Nin with -1/-1 counters. Because Nin is no longer damaging something, lifelink from the Basilisk Collar doesn't happen.

The opponent still draws X cards, because the X is tied to the mana spent to activate the ability, not to the amount of damage dealt to the creature.


It's worthwhile to note that, although Soulscar Mage is a replacement effect that converts damage into -1/-1 counters, the effect it's meant to emulate -- wither -- works more like lifelink: it deals damage in the form of -1/-1 counters (for example, Everlasting Torment). Lifelink, wither, infect (although not poisonous), and so forth, all work this way, by modifying how damage is dealt rather than adding an effect to be replaced.

Thus, in this situation, Nin with both lifelink and wither would deal damage as -1/-1 counters and gain life. As other answers explain more fully, Soul-Scar Mage is not quite wither, and produces a replacement effect instead.

  • They could have worded it in a way to give non combat damage wither, but it would have been very complicated to word it that way vs a replacement effect and would mean bringing back a non-evergreen keyword for a single card - probably more hassle than it was worth to allow edge interactions like this one.
    – Andrew
    Jan 24, 2021 at 15:41

The replacement effect does not prevent the opponent from drawing cards. From the rulings on gatherer:

If the ability resolves, but the damage is prevented or redirected, the controller of the targeted creature will draw X cards, regardless of how much damage was dealt or what the damage was ultimately dealt to.

  • Thats not the question. Jan 25, 2021 at 13:35

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