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Power symbol


Toughness symbol

Power and toughness are characteristics unique to creatures in all Magic zones.[1][2] Colloquially they are known as statistics (stats), or size, the latter being referred to in the reminder text for Prototype[3].

Description[ | ]

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 lower power than its toughness is considered defensive.

Power[ | ]

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[ | ]

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[ | ]

Various abilities in Magic affect the power and toughness of creatures.

Base power and toughness[ | ]

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.[4]

Variable values[ | ]

Some cards have variable power and/or toughness, denoted by asterisks (e.g. */*). For example, Multani, Maro-Sorcerer's power and toughness are each equal to the total number of cards in all players' hands. These cards all carry a characteristic-defining ability which functions in all zones.

During Dominaria, this template was experimentally replaced by a base stat of 0 with bonuses.[5] Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar, Shanna, Sisay's Legacy, Tempest Djinn and Karn, Scion of Urza's tokens were recipients of this format change. A big difference is that the card will be a 0/0 in the graveyard, which is relevant when tutoring for or reanimating creatures. A reverse case was found in Nighthawk Scavenger, where the simple option of a +X/+0 boost was replaced with the clunkier "1+* power" to avoid the same effect. The change seemed to be only temporary, as the next time a new variable star notation was printed was during Guilds of Ravnica with Crackling Drake, which could easily have been templated like Tempest Djinn. That said, the "0/0 with a boost" returned in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, on the backs of some Saga DFCs.

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 * is based on some form of derived information about the game state.

"Creatureball", variable creatures that enter the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters, are primary in green, and tertiary in black and red.[6]

Negative value[ | ]

The first negative stat creature was Spinal Parasite, with Sunburst giving it relevant stats. The -1/-1 ensures it only gets off two activations at most naturally. The futureshifted Char-Rumbler from Future Sight introduced "conventional" negative power as a red herring. It was never planned to use negative power much in the future as they cause a significant amount of confusion for players.[7][8] The ability "For Segovia!", a riff on For Mirrodin! from the Minneapolis Unknown Event playtest cards, creates a -1/-1 creature token.[9]

Combined value[ | ]

Combined P/T is a term that R&D uses internally and calls “heft”, with the gradations shown on the Mystery Booster card Scaled Destruction. It may someday be used as a theme or subtheme, but the design space is shallow.[10][11][12] The first card to mention combined power and toughness is Wild Pair, but the first one to use it with a numerical threshold is Cut Down.

Enhancement[ | ]

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[ | ]

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. -0/-N is nearly indistinguishable from damage (see below), and has only been used as a mirror to a +N/+0 effect or with deprecated counters - only 18 cards have ever used -0/-N.

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.[13] -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.[13] 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.[14]

Alteration[ | ]

There are other shifts that can happen, e.g. with the "flowstone" or "Bloodlust" ability (+N/-N), by switching of the statistics, or by transformation.

Set-specific variations[ | ]

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.[15] The Un-rules being released with Unfinity no longer let you pick fractions when choosing a number.

Rules[ | ]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

1. Part of a card that only creature cards have. A creature card’s power is printed before the slash in its lower right corner. See rule 208, “Power/Toughness.”
2. A characteristic that only creatures have. See rule 302.4.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

1. Part of a card that only creature cards have. A creature card’s toughness is printed after the slash in its lower right corner. See rule 208, “Power/Toughness.”
2. A characteristic that only creatures have. See rule 302.4.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 208. Power/Toughness
    • 208.1. A creature card has two numbers separated by a slash printed in its lower right corner. The first number is its power (the amount of damage it deals in combat); the second is its toughness (the amount of damage needed to destroy it). For example, 2/3 means the object has power 2 and toughness 3. Power and toughness can be modified or set to particular values by effects.
    • 208.2. Rather than a fixed number, some creature cards have power and/or toughness that includes a star (*).
      • 208.2a The card may have a characteristic-defining ability that sets its power and/or toughness according to some stated condition. (See rule 604.3.) Such an ability is worded “[This creature’s] [power or toughness] is equal to . . .” or “[This creature’s] power and toughness are each equal to . . .” This ability functions everywhere, even outside the game. If the ability needs to use a number that can’t be determined, including inside a calculation, use 0 instead of that number.

        Example: Lost Order of Jarkeld has power and toughness each equal to 1+*. It has the abilities “As Lost Order of Jarkeld enters the battlefield, choose an opponent” and “Lost Order of Jarkeld’s power and toughness are each equal to 1 plus the number of creatures the chosen player controls.” While Lost Order of Jarkeld isn’t on the battlefield, there won’t be a chosen player. Its power and toughness will each be equal to 1 plus 0, so it’s 1/1.

      • 208.2b The card may have a static ability that creates a replacement effect that sets the creature’s power and toughness to one of a number of specific values as it enters the battlefield or is turned face up. (See rule 614, “Replacement Effects.”) Such an ability is worded “As [this creature] enters the battlefield . . . ,” “As [this creature] is turned face up . . . ,” or “[This creature] enters the battlefield as . . .” and lists two or more specific power and toughness values (and may also list additional characteristics). The characteristics chosen or determined with these effects affect the creature’s copiable values. (See rule 707.2.) While the card isn’t on the battlefield, its power and toughness are each considered to be 0.
    • 208.3. A noncreature permanent has no power or toughness, even if it’s a card with a power and toughness printed on it (such as a Vehicle). A noncreature object not on the battlefield has power or toughness only if it has a power and toughness printed on it.
      • 208.3a If an effect would be created that sets the base power and/or toughness of a noncreature permanent, or otherwise modifies its power and/or toughness, that effect is created even though it doesn’t do anything unless that permanent becomes a creature.

        Example: Veteran Motorist has the ability “Whenever Veteran Motorist crews a Vehicle, that Vehicle gets +1/+1 until end of turn,” and it’s tapped to pay the crew cost of a Vehicle. This triggered ability resolves while the Vehicle it crewed isn’t yet a creature. The continuous effect is created and will apply to the Vehicle once it becomes a creature.

    • 208.4. Some effects refer to a creature’s “base power,” “base toughness,” or “base power and toughness.”
      • 208.4a Effects that set a creature’s power and/or toughness to specific values may refer to base power and/or toughness. Other continuous effects may further modify the creature’s power and toughness. See rule 613, “Interaction of Continuous Effects.”
      • 208.4b Some effects check a creature’s base power and/or toughness. These effects see that creature’s characteristics after applying any characteristic-defining abilities and abilities that set power and/or toughness, ignoring any effects and counters that modify power and/or toughness without setting them. See rule 613, “Interaction of Continuous Effects.”
    • 208.5. If a creature somehow has no value for its power, its power is 0. The same is true for toughness.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Base Power, Base Toughness
Effects that change the base power and/or base toughness of a creature set one or both of those values to a specific number. See rule 613, “Interaction of Continuous Effects.”

References[ | ]

  1. Doug Beyer (February 13, 2008). "Power, Toughness, and the Flavor Thereof". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on August 17, 2022.
  2. Doug Beyer (August 17, 2011). "The Feedbackening 2011". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on August 10, 2022.
  3. Mark Rosewater (November 2, 2022). "Is "size" as a term meaning base power and toughness a permanent part of the game's vocabulary now?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Matt Tabak (July 7, 2014). "Magic 2015 Core Set release notes". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020.
  5. Mark Rosewater (April 09, 2018). "Is */* a thing of the past?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  6. Mark Rosewater (October 18, 2021). "Mechanical Color Pie 2021 Changes". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on September 30, 2022.
  7. Mark Rosewater (May 17, 2021). "Future Sight Design Handoff Document". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (2023-12-28). "where do creatures with negative values for power/toughness (like Spinal Parasite) fall on the Storm Scale". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Emrakul & Chatterfang!? Koma & Toski!? 62 Unknown Magic Cards! (Video). Good Morning Magic. YouTube (May 10, 2023).
  10. Mark Rosewater (April 21, 2021). "One of the mystery booster promos used combined...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (July 9, 2022). "Do you think there is design space for converted power and toughness, similar to Ferocious, but looking at power + toughness?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater (July 9, 2022). "So you know any particular reason heft keeps getting cut?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. a b Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Aaron Forsythe (2005 May 27). "Honey, I Shrunk the Blue Cards". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022.
  15. Mark Rosewater (July 31, 2017). "Is 1/2 in Unstable?". Blogatog. Tumblr.