How does the Toxic mechanic work in Magic the Gathering?

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The upcoming Phyrexia: All Will Be One set for Magic: The Gathering is introducing a powerful new mechanic to the game, in the form of the Toxic keyword. There are several cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One that will be using Poison Counters, which tie to the Toxic and Corrupted keywords that will appear throughout the set.

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The most common ways to win a game in Magic: The Gathering is to deplete an opponent’s life or to cause them to draw more cards than what remains in their library. One of the alternate ways to win a game involves Poison Counters, as these are directly attached to the player, rather than any of their creatures. If a player has ten Poison Counters, then they lose the match.

Toxic creatures inflict Poison Counters alongside damage

In Phyrexia: All Will Be One, some cards have the Toxic keyword, followed by a number. If a player is damaged by a card with Toxic, then they are given Poison Counters equal to the number on the card, as well as taking life point damage. The Paladin of Predation (seen above) has Toxic 6, which means a player hit by it will take six damage from the creature’s Power and receive six Poison Counters. This means Paladin of Predation only needs to hit a player twice in a 1v1 match to win the game, which is made easier by the fact that it can’t be blocked by creatures with a power of 2 or fewer.

There are other cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One with Toxic, such as Karumonix, the Rat King, and they present a huge threat on the battlefield. Players will need to divert resources to destroying or containing Toxic creatures, as Poison Counters cannot be healed in the same way as life points, and it’s a lot quicker to win by inflicting the player with Poison Counters than it is via damage.