Power and toughness
Description[edit | edit source]
The values for power and toughness are denoted by a pair of numbers in the lower right corner of a creature card. A creature with higher power than toughness is considered offensive or aggressive. A creature with the same power and toughness is considered balanced, or "square." A creature with a lower power than its toughness is considered defensive.
Power[edit | edit source]
Power is the first number printed before the slash on the lower right hand corner of creature cards. This is the amount of damage it deals in combat to the opposing creature's toughness, the opposing player's life total, or the opposing planeswalker's loyalty.
Toughness[edit | edit source]
Toughness is the number printed after the slash at the bottom right corner of a creature. It is the amount of damage needed to destroy it. If the number becomes equal to or less than 0 at any time, it is put into its owner's graveyard as a state-based action.
Base values and modifiers[edit | edit source]
Various abilities in Magic affect the power and toughness (the statistics or "stats") of creatures.
Base power and toughness[edit | edit source]
Magic 2015 introduced a templating change to cards that set a creature's power and toughness to a specific value. The term base power and toughness makes it clearer that other continuous effects that modify power and toughness, such as the ones created by Titanic Growth or a +1/+1 counter, apply after the creature's power and toughness are changed.
Variable values[edit | edit source]
Some cards have a variable power and/or toughness, denoted by */*. For example, Multani, Maro-Sorcerer's power and toughness are each equal to the total number of cards in all players' hands.
Starting with Dominaria, this template is replaced by a base Power and Toughness of 0/0 with bonuses. For example Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar gets +1/+1 for each land you control and each land card in your graveyard. A big difference is that the card will be a 0/0 in the graveyard, which is relevant when tutoring for creatures.
X/X can be found as part of an effect, for example an effect that puts an X/X token into play or gives +X/+X to some creature. In this case, X is a placeholder that refers to a value computed elsewhere as part of the rules text of the card. Printed cards don't have X/X. The only things with power/toughness of X/X are token creatures like those created by Marath, Will of the Wild or Promise of Power. X is "set in stone" once the spell is cast/resolved, while * are based on some form of derived information about the game state.
Enhancement[edit | edit source]
There are a number of enhancements that can be applied to the base power and toughness, including "Giant Growth" (+N/+N), firebreathing (+N/+0), toughness enhancement (+0/+N), and the more permanent effect of a +1/+1 counter.
Reduction[edit | edit source]
The two most common mechanics that lower stats are referred to as weakness (-N/-N), and shrinking (-N/-0). Because they reduce the effectiveness of creatures during combat, they can be used as a combat trick or as a form of removal. Also, there is the more permanent effect of a -1/-1 counter.
Weakness effects lower both power and toughness, or give -N/-N. The mechanic derives its nickname from the Alpha card Weakness. Abilities that grant -N/-N almost exclusively belong to black in the color pie, as it is typically more potent than damage in terms of killing creatures. -N/-N isn't affected by damage prevention nor replacement. Because reducing toughness to zero isn't a "destroy" effect, it can even remove regenerating and indestructible targets. Long term degradation of a creature may be represented by the use of counters
Shrinking is the nickname for effects that reduce creatures' power, or give -N/-0. It is named after the card Shrink, from Homelands. Shrink effects were formerly black, as an extension of its -N/-N ability. They were colorshifted to blue around the time of Ravnica block, in order to give the latter a combat-relevant mechanic.
Alteration[edit | edit source]
Set-specific variations[edit | edit source]
The starter-level Portal set featured different terminology from that established in previous sets. These terms included "offense" for power, and "defense" for toughness. Although these new terms were intended to simplify learning Magic, they were a source of distress for players if and when they started to use advanced-level and/or expert-level cards, which did not use this terminology. Cards featuring these terms received errata.
The silver-bordered Unhinged introduced power and toughness with fractions (Little Girl, Fraction Jackson). Fractions proved a little more taxing than R&D originally expected, so the chance of fraction return is low.
Rules[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Doug Beyer. (February 13, 2008.) "Power, Toughness, and the Flavor Thereof", magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer. (August 17, 2011.) "The Feedbackening 2011", magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Matt Tabak. (July 7, 2014.) "Magic 2015 Core Set release notes", magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (April 09, 2018.) "Is */* a thing of the past?", Blogatog, Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater. (June 5, 2017.) "Mechanical Color Pie 2017", magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Aaron Forsythe. (2005 May 27.) "Honey, I Shrunk the Blue Cards", magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (July 31, 2017.) "Is 1/2 in Unstable?", Blogatog, Tumblr.