# Community

 Magic: The Gathering Rules Theory and T.. Negative Numbers
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 07, 2013 - 5:02PM #1
Date Joined: Dec 13, 2011
Posts: 1,791
There is currently a rule that deals with negative numbers, which I will quote below.

Rule 107.1b Show
Most of the time, the Magic game uses only positive numbers and zero. You can’t choose a
negative number, deal negative damage, gain negative life, and so on. However, it’s possible for
a game value, such as a creature’s power, to be less than zero. If a calculation or comparison
needs to use a negative value, it does so. If a calculation that would determine the result of an
effect yields a negative number, zero is used instead, unless that effect sets a player’s life total
to a specific value, doubles a player’s life total, sets a creature’s power or toughness to a
specific value, or otherwise modifies a creature’s power or toughness.

This rule is somewhat vague on its definition of when negative numbers are and are not applicable. One specific example is that it states that if a calculation to determine the result of an effect yields a negative number to use zero instead. However, if a calculation to determine a payment yields a negative number (say if you are at a negative life total and control ), the phrasing of this rule implies that the cost can be a negative amount. I think this rule needs clarification on where negative numbers are acceptable and where they are not.
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 07, 2013 - 5:04PM #2
LolaBonne
Date Joined: Aug 15, 2011
Posts: 967
I'm not sure that specific example works; If you are at negative life, you have no life to pay and cannot activate Murderous Betrayal.
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 07, 2013 - 5:09PM #3
Date Joined: Dec 13, 2011
Posts: 1,791
It depends on how the calculation is done. If you're at 0 life, half your life is 0, so you can pay that amount (you can always pay 0 life). If you're at a negative life total, then either asks you to pay 0 (which you could do) or a negative number (inconclusive). To help back up that specific example, I'll also provide this:

Rule 118.4. Show
If a cost or effect allows a player to pay an amount of life greater than 0, the player may do so
only if his or her life total is greater than or equal to the amount of the payment. If a player pays
life, the payment is subtracted from his or her life total; in other words, the player loses that much
life. (Players can always pay 0 life.)

The rule explicitly covers only life payments of amounts greater than zero. The rules don't seem to explicitly allow or prohibit you from paying a negative amount of life, regardless of your life total.
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 08, 2013 - 12:16AM #4
zammm
Date Joined: Jul 3, 2003
Posts: 27,372
The rule explicitly covers only life payments of amounts greater than zero. The rules don't seem to explicitly allow or prohibit you from paying a negative amount of life, regardless of your life total.[/quote]
118.4 only applies to positive life payments because you still need to be able to pay 0 life if your life total is negative and it's impossible to pay negative life at all.
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 08, 2013 - 1:33AM #5
Soular
Date Joined: Jul 23, 2007
Posts: 432
The answer from Cranial insertion  (link) shows that "pay half your life" when your life total is negative would result in paying zero life. So 's cost would be payable as ", pay 0 life".

Q: With out, I've worked my way down to -10 life. Now I have out - can I pay to kill creatures? If so, what happens to my life? Do I go to -5?

A: You can go on a killing spree, but it won't change your life. Your negative life total is treated as zero, so "half your life" rounded either way is going to be zero. This isn't "paying life that you don't have" because it's just paying zero - you couldn't do this with Souldrinker, for example, because you *can't* pay life you don't have.

So it seems a fix would be to make 107.1b refer to costs as well, changing the phrase to "If a calculation that would determine the result of an effect or a cost"... . Or maybe even refer to them generally as actions or as events.

Also, with how the rules currently work, paying negative life should never happen, so the rules don't need to cover it and tell you that you can't.
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 08, 2013 - 3:52PM #6
MRHblue
Date Joined: Jun 14, 2011
Posts: 932

For posterity here is the [O] ruling that you can pay zero if your life is zero OR negative.
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 08, 2013 - 6:25PM #7
Shard_Fenix
Date Joined: Jan 24, 2011
Posts: 2,064

Jan 8, 2013 -- 3:52PM, MRHblue wrote:

For posterity here is the [O] ruling that you can pay zero if your life is zero OR negative.

More importantly (and as was the point of that thread), paying 0 life / 0 mana doesn't count as a payment (even though the rules say it is one), so won't stop it.

A separate section on costs and payments could cover that similar abilities to Angel of Jubilation don't stop payments of 0.

I would like to add that the official rulings on this matter bother me. The fact that 0 life is a "payable" cost but not a payment isn't something that makes sense (especially when is the same thing, but for mana), and there's no reason it should be that way, mechanics-wise. Paying 0 life should be a payment that the angel stops, just like how is a payment (that future cards might interact with).

My dissent is on the nature of what a payment is and that the angel only stops SOME life payments instead of all of them. I'm totally fine with "Half of (negative life)" being 0.

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6 months ago  ::  Jan 08, 2013 - 6:58PM #8
Date Joined: Aug 6, 2003
Posts: 1,114
If you control , then play for 0, one of the instructions that gets executed is "gain 0 life", which an overly broad interpretation could possibly confuse with "gaining life". Even so, Drogskol Reaver will not trigger from this, and you will not draw any cards.

Likewise, if you pay 0 life, that's not paying any life, and Angel of Jubilation doesn't (and shouldn't) have a problem with that. "" or "Pay 0 life" is certainly a payment, as laid out by rules, but not a payment of any actual resources, and that's the difference.
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6 months ago  ::  Jan 08, 2013 - 9:13PM #9
MJWhitfield1
Date Joined: Aug 8, 2009
Posts: 319

Jan 8, 2013 -- 6:25PM, Shard_Fenix wrote:

I would like to add that the official rulings on this matter bother me. The fact that 0 life is a "payable" cost but not a payment isn't something that makes sense (especially when is the same thing, but for mana), and there's no reason it should be that way, mechanics-wise. Paying 0 life should be a payment that the angel stops, just like how is a payment (that future cards might interact with).

I think that the distinction is that paying 0 life is a payable cost but its not a cost which involves paying life.  This is similar to how is a cost that doesn't require spending mana (as evidenced by 's second ruling).  Due to the way that optional costs work you can choose not to pay Syncopate's cost even if paying the cost wouldn't require taking any actions.  Similarly, if was cast with x=0 then you may still choose to not pay and sacrifice your creature instead.  However as paying the cost doesn't involve paying any life you wouldn't be forced not to pay by a Angel of Jubilation.

117.5. Some costs are represented by {0}, or are reduced to {0}. The action necessary for a player to pay such a cost is the player's acknowledgment that he or she is paying it. Even though such a cost requires no resources, it's not automatically paid.

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6 months ago  ::  Jan 08, 2013 - 9:45PM #10