Not your typical catchy name for a new mechanic, but in this case, it does exactly what it says in the name. So, what are Shield Counters and how will they be used going forward? Here’s everything you need to know.
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What are Shield Counters?
Shield Counters are a new mechanic in MTG added as part of the Streets of New Capenna standard set. They offer a creature the chance to withstand one source of damage before taking an actual hit.
Should the creature take damage or be destroyed, instead of that occurring, the Shield Counter will be removed instead.
The key here is the word damage. A card with a Shield Counter can withstand one hit even if it exceeds its toughness but the counter is removed. They can also be targeted by ‘destroy’ spells and give up their counter to survive.
However, exile effects will override the Shield Counter and still affect a creature. This means any spell that mentions exiling will bypass the counter and get rid of the creature in question. Make sure everyone in your playgroup is aware of this beforehand as you don’t want the confusion in the middle of a game!
Additionally, -X/-X effects will also get around a Shield Counter. Basically, if the thing could destroy an Indestructible creature, it will get past a Shield Counter.
This new mechanic will make it harder to get rid of certain creatures but MTG, in general, is balanced enough right now to the point where they won’t be too hard to overcome.