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Magic Origins spindown life counters

A life counter is a device to keep track of life totals.


Scrye counter[]

Scrye magazine sold a series of pewter life counters produced by Miniatures beginning in 1994. The counters were made in two pieces. The 2-inch base was etched with the numbers 1-20 along the edge. A rotating piece with an indicator arrow was put on top, and featured artwork or miniature figure. These came in several colors and styles and could be painted by the owner just like similar miniatures. These counters were not official Magic products but were very popular with players of the time.

Duelist counter[]

Sold by The Duelist since 1995, these sturdy, finely crafted pewter counters let you mark off lives with brass- and silver-plated beads. They were available in the 5 mana colors. The counter fits in a Magic deck box.[1]

Spindown life counter[]

Spindown life counter illustrating how numbers are sequentially next to each other, arrows do not appear on the counter itself

A spindown life counter is a 20 sided die that is designed for the express purpose of keeping track of life totals. Its sides are in a sequence such that adjacent numbers are next to each other, facilitating the change of life total and avoiding any complications with finding the desired life total. This is different from a standard 20-sided die, on which the numbers that are opposite of each other on the die add up to one more than the number of sides (21 here; 1 is opposite from 20, 2 is opposite from 19, and so on), as is traditional for dice in general.

The "20" on a spindown life counter is replaced with an expansion symbol (or in the case of core sets the appropriate number).

The first spindown life counters appeared in Beatdown box set. They are generally found in fat packs / bundles, beginning with Apocalypse, and are generally made in the five Magic: The Gathering colors (white, blue, black, red, green) for each set. There was a gold-colored spindown life counter in the Alara Reborn fat pack as the set is gold based.

A five-piece set, containing one of each color, was sold as a standalone product (WOC06137, ISBN-13 978-0743002377). The symbol used was an icon of the Black Lotus.

Starting with Core Set 2020 spindown life counters became oversized. For the For Zendikar Rising, Wizards of the Coast updated the orientation of the numbers on the d20 to make it a little more intuitive and satisfying to use.[2]

Circle spinner[]

In Coldsnap[3] and the Ravnica block, Wizards chose to try a different approach. Instead of dice, a plastic life counter with a circle spinner that had numbers going from 1 to 30 was included in fat packs for the block. These life counters were not unlike those that were provided on Magic: The Gathering-branded Ultra Pro deck boxes.

Some odd-shaped circle spinners were provided for Ninth Edition (an angel) and Unhinged (an eight ball).[4]

Double-wheeled counter[]

Commander's Arsenal provided a doubled-wheeled counter that goes up to 99 life.

These were also included in Archenemy: Nicol Bolas and Commander Anthology.

Life wheel[]

The life wheel is a card with a wheel embedded into it to help you keep score. It was introduced with the Throne of Eldraine Brawl decks.[5][6]

Electronic life counter[]

Several apps are available to provide electronic life counters for mobile devices or Windows PC.

In 2018, Wizards of the Coast announced the Magic: The Gathering Portal app, but it was canceled and instead, they replaced it with Magic: The Gathering Companion.[7]



  1. Magic Arcana (July 30, 2009). "Duelist Life Counters". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Ari Zirulnik (September 2, 2020). "Zendikar Rising Product Overview". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Magic Arcana (November 30, 2009). "Coldsnap Cube". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Monty Ashley (December 10, 2012). "The Life Counters". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater (July 21, 2019). "Project Booster Fun". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Gavin Verhey (September 6, 2019). "For all those wondering what the new life wheel in the MTG Eldraine Brawl Decks looks like... check it out!". Twitter.
  7. Blake Rasmussen (February 14, 2018). "Announcing the Official Magic Companion App, Magic: The Gathering Portal". Wizards of the Coast.

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