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Varolz, the Scar-Striped gives all creatures in your graveyard Scavenge equal to its mana cost.

Scourge of the Skyclaves's power and toughness are equal to 20 - the highest life total among players.

Creatures like Scourge of the Skyclaves have their power and toughness apply in all zones, including the graveyard.

My question is, if I Scavenge Scourge of the Skyclaves when the highest life total is >20, would I put -1/-1 counters on target creature instead of +1/+1 counters?

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    By the way, you don't need to involve characteristic-defining abilities to get a creature card with negative power. Char-Rumbler and Spinal Parasite just have negative printed power.
    – murgatroid99
    Jun 13, 2023 at 3:54

1 Answer 1

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You can activate the scavenge ability, but on resolution it will not put any counters on the creature.

Rule 107.1b says

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 the power and/or toughness of a creature or creature card.

In this case, the "calculation" is just plugging in the creature card's power, and the result is the number of +1/+1 counters to put on the target creature. If the power is negative, zero is used instead of the result, and no counters are added.

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