Counter (marker)

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Counter
 
 

A counter can be used to represent different effects on a card, especially those that last beyond the current turn.[1] Examples include +1/+1 counters, charge counters, and time counters. Richard Garfield created counters for Alpha to designate an increase in power and/or toughness, to track the gaining of resources, and to mark a permanent change.[2]

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (July 12, 2019—Core Set 2020)

  • 122. Counters
    • 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.
      • 122.1a A +X/+Y counter on a creature or on a creature card in a zone other than the battlefield, where X and Y are numbers, adds X to that object’s power and Y to that object’s toughness. Similarly, -X/-Y counters subtract from power and toughness. See rule 613.3.
      • 122.1b The number of loyalty counters on a planeswalker on the battlefield indicates how much loyalty it has. A planeswalker with 0 loyalty is put into its owner’s graveyard as a state-based action. See rule 704.
      • 122.1c If a player has ten or more poison counters, that player loses the game as a state-based action. See rule 704. A player is “poisoned” if they have one or more poison counters. (See rule 810 for additional rules for Two-Headed Giant games.)
    • 122.2. Counters on an object are not retained if that object moves from one zone to another. The counters are not “removed”; they simply cease to exist. See rule 400.7.
    • 122.3. 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.
    • 122.4. If a permanent with an ability that says it can’t have more than N counters of a certain kind on it has more than N counters of that kind on it, all but N of those counters are removed from it as a state-based action. See rule 704.
    • 122.5. If an effect says to “move” a counter, it means to remove that counter from the object it’s currently on and put it onto a second object. If either of these actions isn’t possible, it’s not possible to move a counter, and no counter is removed from or put onto anything. This may occur if the first and second objects are the same object; if the first object doesn’t have the appropriate kind of counter on it; if the second object can’t have counters put onto it; or if either object is no longer in the correct zone.
    • 122.6. Some spells and abilities refer to counters being put on an object. This refers to putting counters on that object while it’s on the battlefield and also to an object that’s given counters as it enters the battlefield.
      • 122.6a If an object enters the battlefield with counters on it, the effect causing the object to be given counters may specify which player puts those counters on it. If the effect doesn’t specify a player, the object’s controller puts those counters on it.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (July 12, 2019—Core Set 2020)

Counter
1. To cancel a spell or ability so it doesn’t resolve and none of its effects occur. See rule 701.5, “Counter.”
2. A marker placed on an object or player that modifies its characteristics or interacts with a rule or ability. See rule 122, “Counters.”

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (July 12, 2019—Core Set 2020)

Placed
(Obsolete) Some spells and abilities previously referred to a counter being “placed” on a permanent. These cards have received errata in the Oracle card reference to use the term “put” instead. Due to a rules change, these cards continue to function as they did before. See rule 122, “Counters.”

Move[edit | edit source]

To move means to remove a counter from one object and put it on a different object. Some older cards used “move” with respect to Auras; those cards have received errata in the Oracle card reference and now use the word “attach.”

The ability to move counters is primary in blue.[3]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (July 12, 2019—Core Set 2020)

Move
To remove a counter from one object and put it on a different object. See rule 122.5.
Some older cards used “move” with respect to Auras; those cards have received errata in the Oracle card reference and now use the word “attach.”

Remove[edit | edit source]

Black is the color that gets to remove counters, but only from permanents on the battlefield and not players.[3]

Increase[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Magic Arcana (November 4, 2003). "Fun with counters". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (September 26, 2005). "+1/+1 For the Road". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. a b c d Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.