+1/+1 counter

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+1/+1 counter
Use: Power and Toughness alteration
Placed On: Creatures
Introduced: Alpha
Last Used: Oath of the Gatewatch
Gatherer search for "+1/+1 counter"

+1/+1 counters are the most common counter type in Magic. They were introduced in Alpha, and creatures using +1/+1 counters were among the most popular in the early history of the game.[1]

For ease of comprehension, blocks tend to focus on only a single type of counter on creatures, and +1/+1 counters are the default choice.[2] When +1/+1 counters are absent from a block, they are most commonly replaced by their inverse, -1/-1 counters. Occasionally, thematic counters are used instead, such as the ki and divinity counters of Kamigawa block.

Charge counters serve as the equivalent default counter for non-creature permanents.[2]

As a further concession to mitigate complexity, +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters are the only power and toughness altering counters used in new products.[1] Additionally, they are never used in the same block, to minimize confusion in limited play.[3][4] A small handful of cards from the earliest sets still use other, obsolete counters.

Cancellation With -1/-1 Counters[edit | edit source]

When both +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters are present on the same creature, they are immediately removed in matched pairs until only one or the other remains.

From the Comprehensive Rules (Commander 2017 (August 25, 2017))

  • 121.3. 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.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

+1/+1 counters are a component of many ability words, keyword abilities, and keyword actions. Their ubiquity is largely due to their lack of flavor, and enables a high level of compatibility between thematically unrelated mechanics.[5]

They are used by the following mechanics:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b Mark Rosewater. (February 11 2008.) “+1/+1 Size Fits All”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. a b Mark Rosewater. (September 26 2005.) “+1/+1 For the Road”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater. (November 15 2014.) "Wither and undying in the same set?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater. (June 9 2015.) "Wouldn't the rule...", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  5. Chris Millar. (February 14 2008.) “The Making of a +1/+1 Counter Culture”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.