Modern Masters Week: Persist and +1/+1 Counters

Hello and welcome to our third day of Modern Masters Week! Today we’ll be covering a mechanic from the Shadowmoor block (one half of the Lorwyn megablock): Persist. Those of you who were playing during Avacyn Restored and Dark Ascension may remember Undying, where your creatures came back a little stronger after a normal death. Persist is the original version of that, and the exact opposite: they come back WEAKER instead of STRONGER. Whenever a creature with Persist dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, it comes back with a -1/-1 counter. Fairly simple- whether it dies from a removal spell, burn, being shrunk by a Nameless Inversion, or regular old combat, it’ll come back a little weaker. The only way it doesn’t is if it had a -1/-1 counter at the time it died. What you may not know is how that interacts with +1/+1 counters, because WotC has tried pretty hard to make sure +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters aren’t kicking around in Standard at the same time for a little while. If a creature has some number of +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters on it, they cancel each other out completely, 1 to 1. So if your creature has 2 +1/+1 counters on it, and then gets a -1/-1, it won’t have 3 counters. It’ll end up just having a single +1/+1 counter. Now, where that comes in handy is Graft! A fair few creatures in Modern Masters 2015 have Graft, which allows you to move a +1/+1 counter from them onto a new creature as that new creature hits the board. What that means is that you can Graft a counter over to your Restless Apparition and render it a normal 2/2, able to Persist right back again! It’s also useful to note that the counters can’t cancel mid-ability or mid-spell. If your opponent has a +1/+1 counter-clad creature, you can cast Grim Affliction to give it a -1/-1 counter, and you’ll Proliferate before the rules make those counters ‘cancel out’.

Also worth noting: Persist doesn’t actually bring the creature back until it resolves. If your opponent hits your Clique with a Surgical Extraction or a Necrogenesis with the trigger on the stack, the trigger will resolve and do nothing!

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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