In the old days of Magic the Gathering, if Clergy of the Holy Nimbus was reduced to non-positive toughness by an effect such as Weakness, it would continuously Regenerate while the rest of the game progressed.

With game mechanics and rules text as they were at that time, what sorts of additional complications were created by this ruling? I imagine any abilities that were triggered within each iteration of the Regenerate loop would cause ruling complications of varying degrees. I realize the degree of standardization in early MTG mechanics was far from what it is today, but were there any consistent rulings that emerged from that time period for how to deal with more complicated interactions built atop Clergy of the Holy Nimbus VS Weakness, or was it just every judge for him/herself with little systemic clarity?

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    @JoeW This is true today, but was not the case during the relevant time period.
    – user10478
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 19:44
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    There's nothing that inherently stops regeneration from applying to a creature with 0 toughness. In most cases, the regeneration shield would just be used up and then the creature would die immediately when state-based actions are checked again. The difference here is that the ability statically replaces destruction with regeneration. I believe that with today's rules, this would actually create an infinite loop and end the game in a draw.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 19:45
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    @murgatroid99 Today, state-based action Rule 704.5f would apply, which states, "If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event." This is because Regenerate requires the creature to be destroyed, and while a creature with non-positive toughness used to be destroyed, today it is merely put into the graveyard.
    – user10478
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 20:05
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    You're right. I checked the regeneration rules, but not the state-based action rules. And I forgot that death from 0 toughness didn't count as destruction.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 20:09
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    I think it depends on how you define "failing to happen". "Can't lose the game" effects simply prevent an outcome, but a replacement effect replaces the action with a different action. However, it almost certainly does not matter. I don't think there are any existing replacement effects that can create a game state where this distinction makes a difference.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 0:51

1 Answer 1


A creature with 0 or less toughness is put into the graveyard the first time state based actions see it.

This is not destruction. A creature being indestructible will not stop this.

A creature regenerating puts up a shield that says next time a creature is done lethal damage or is destroyed prevent that destruction, tap it, remove all damage from it and remove it from combat.

Weakness as the rules currently stand will always "kill" the knight, unless there are other things affecting toughness.

The rules of how regeneration works was standarised in the great 6th edition rules revamp. You can find an exact breakdown on how the rules changed here

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    This doesn't really answer the question. You describe how this interaction works now, but the question is about how it was handled previously, when the ruling was different.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 16:05
  • This question was asked specifying the rules "at the time" that is as of Legends (June 1994) the 6th edition rules revamp mentioned in your answer would not come for a further 5 years and is irrelevant to the question.
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 16:00

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