Soul-Scar Mage Doesn’t Stack

The Lorwyn block was one of my favorites, and Wither was one of the neater abilities to come out of that mega-block; damage from a source with Wither is dealt as -1/-1 counters, rather than marking damage onto a creature. It was like damage that never wore off! We have a sort of throwback to that in Amonkhet, thanks to Soul-Scar Mage. He might not have Wither printed on him, but the spirit is there- he turns noncombat damage from your sources into -1/-1 counters. Unlike Wither, this isn’t changing the result of the damage (so if you used Soul-Scar with Soulfire Grand Master, your Lightning Bolts wouldn’t gain you any life)- this is because Soul-Scar flat out replaces the damage with “put -1/-1 counters instead”. It works with any kind of noncombat damage; mostly that’s going to come from your burn spells, but it’d also apply to damage from abilities (such as Chandra, Flamecaller‘s -X ability, or the ‘when you exert’ trigger from Glorybringer). Now, what happens if you have 2 or 3 or 4 Soul-Scars out? Will your Magma Spray start handing out -1/-1 counters by the fistful? Unfortunately, no. If you have more than one Soul-Scar out, each replacement effect of theirs will want to apply to the damage event, but only one can apply at a time, so your opponent (as controller of the affected object) chooses which to apply first. Once they’ve applied one of the identical replacement effects, the rest can’t apply- the Magma Spray isn’t trying to deal damage anymore, it’s putting -1/-1 counters on the target. Since there’s no longer a damage event to apply to, the other replacement effects just shrug and walk away! One last bit- Soul-Scar and ‘fight’ effects, like . Fight is noncombat damage, so Soul-Scar will apply, but remember that Fighting involves the creatures hitting each other simultaneously. If you have your 2/2 fight their 3/3, your 2/2 will put 2 -1/-1 counters on their creature at the same time it takes 3 damage- your creature will die! It doesn’t get in the “shrinking” hit of counters ‘first’, so keep that in mind.

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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