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I have a card (namely Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer) which has "*/*", where "*" is equivalent to some condition. My opponent has a spell (namely Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider) with

If an opponent would put one or more counters on a permanent or player, they put half that many [...] rounded down.

Does the "*/*" of my creature behave then as a "+X/+X", which would be halved by my opponent's spell, or is "*/*" my base power/toughness? It seems to me the "*" is a value defining the base power/toughness rather than counters added to a base of "0/0".

But my interpretation is obviously biased by my desire to win. I expected to find answers to this in Rules 208 or 613, but did not.

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    As a sort of meta-answer: Magic the Gathering's rules are very precise in their wording. If an effect says "counters", it means "counters" and only counters. It will not apply to anything which functions a bit like a counter, because it's not a counter. Mar 2 at 8:09

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+1/+1 counters are counters. They are, per CR 122.1, specifically added to the permanent or player:

122.1. A counter is a marker placed on an object or player that modifies its characteristics and/or interacts with a rule, ability, or effect. Counters are not objects and have no characteristics. Notably, a counter is not a token, and a token is not a counter. Counters with the same name or description are interchangeable.

Creatures that are */* don't have counters on them by default. This means for example that their power and toughness are not affected by proliferate, Vampire Hexmage, nor the effect that says any +1/+1 counters on your opponent's creatures are halved and rounded down. So your interpretation is correct.

The edge case is for a creature like Walking Ballista, which has 0/0 stats but also enters the battlefield with +1/+1 counters. In this case proliferate, Vampire Hexmage, etc, can affect it. Still, Walking Ballista is not a */* creature; it is fundamentally different.

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    */* creatures can have counters on them too. Of course I know you know that, but for readers who may be less familiar with the rules, it might be worth rephrasing a bit to avoid making it sound like that's not allowed. (Not that I have a great idea of how to do so, off the top of my head.)
    – David Z
    Mar 1 at 4:17
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You are correct that the value defined for */* is considered the "base power and toughness" of the card, exactly as if it was printed there. Rule 208 covers the two ways a creature card can define its P/T (emphasis mine):

  1. Power/Toughness

208.1. A creature card has two numbers separated by a slash printed in its lower right corner....

208.2. Rather than a fixed number, some creature cards have power and/or toughness that includes a star (*).

208.2a The card may have a characteristic-defining ability that sets its power and/or toughness according to some stated condition. Such an ability is worded “[This creature’s] [power or toughness] is equal to . . .” or “[This creature’s] power and toughness are each equal to . . .” This ability functions everywhere, even outside the game.

Characteristic-defining abilities are not counters, they are intrinsic parts of the card, so much so that they apply even when the card isn't on the battlefield. +1/+1 counters, in contrast, are only ever found on cards on the battlefield.

Further confirmation that these effects are not considered tokens is found in rule 613, where they are applied in different "layers":

613.4. Within layer 7 [of applying continuous effects], apply effects in a series of sublayers in the order described below....

613.4a Layer 7a: Effects from characteristic-defining abilities that define power and/or toughness are applied.

613.4c Layer 7c: Effects and counters that modify power and/or toughness (but don’t set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value) are applied.

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    "+1/+1 counters, in contrast, are only ever found on cards on the battlefield." while generally true, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave is a great example of the exceptions
    – Andrew
    Mar 1 at 21:15
  • I did see 208. It just wasn't crystal clear to us that the star power or toughness was, in fact, "characteristic-defining" while a counter was NOT also characteristic-defining. Again, I did make the right interpretation, but was keenly aware that my bias could have misled me. Thanks for the clear explanation.
    – C. Kelly
    Mar 2 at 21:48
  • @C.Kelly The wording printed on Multani is slightly different than the wording in 208.2a because of changes in how CDAs are templated, the wording in the oracle text on gatherer for Multani matches exactly "Multani, Maro-Sorcerer’s power and toughness are each equal to the total number of cards in all players’ hands."
    – Andrew
    Mar 3 at 14:21

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