MTG Shield Counters – Rules and Interactions Explained

Shield counter are a new type of MTG counters introduced with Streets of New Capenna, and they’re closely tied to the Brokers family. In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about it, including:

  • How do shield counters work?
  • How to get rid of shield counters?
  • Weird interactions with shield counters.
  • And more!

With that said, let’s get right to it.

How Do Shield Counters Work?

Shield counters provide two benefits:

  1. If a creature with a shield counter would be destroyed, you remove a shield counter from it instead.
  2. If a creature with a shield counter would be dealt damage, you remove a shield counter from it instead.

So essentially, the shield counters make a creature harder to remove.


For example, take a look at Disciplined Duelist, a pretty straightforward card. It’s a three mana 2/1 with double strike, and it enters the battlefield with a shield counter on it.

Disciplined Duelist Shield Counters MTG How do they work

Let’s say that your opponent uses a Murder on it. Duelist, won’t be destroyed, but it’ll lose the shield counter. So next time an opponent would try to destroy it, with another removal spell, they would manage to do so, as the Duelist wouldn’t have a shield counter anymore.

Another option to remove the shield counter would be in combat. If an opponent would block Duelist with a 3/3, their creature would die, while Duelist would survive, if it had a shield counter. Of course, the counter would then be removed.

MTG Shield Counters – FAQ

Here are some further question that you might have about this mechanic. As always, if you have a question that we didn’t answer, leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you.

How much damage does a creature need to be dealt to lose a shield counter?

Any amount of damage is enough to remove a shield counter. If you have a 5/5 with a shield counter, and it would be dealt a single point of damage, the damage is prevented, and it loses a shield counter.

Do Shield counters prevent exile effects?

No, they don’t. Shield counters prevent creatures from being destroyed, and from being dealt damage. They don’t however work against exile effects, so cards like Swords to Plowshares are effective against them.

Do Shield counters protect from mass removal spells?

Yes, they do, as long as they would destroy the creature. They work against cards like Wrath of God, but not against something like Farewell, which exiles.

How do Shield counters work against “damage can’t be prevented” cards?

If an opponent targets your creature that has a shield counter with a card which states that damage can’t be prevented, a shield counter still gets removed, but damage is dealt anyway.

Can one creature have multiple shield counters?

Yes, if you have a way to put multiple shield counters on a single creature, you can do so.

Can I kill a creature in response to it getting a shield counter?

It depends. If a creature cards states that it enters the battlefield with a shield counter, you can’t respond to it. However, if a creature card says that when this enters the battlefield, put a counter on a target creature, you’d be able to respond to this triggered ability.

If a creatures has two or more shield counters are all of them removed at once or just one at a time?

If a creature has multiple shield counters, and it would be dealt damage or destroyed only one counter gets removed.


Flavor is pretty straightforward here. A creature has a shield, a protection of some sorts. Sadly it isn’t very durable, as it grants only a one time use, then it breaks down.

MTG Shield Counters – Interactions

In this section, we’ll discuss some interactions that can come up with shield counters. Honestly, there aren’t that many, so if you’ve come across an interesting one, let us know in the comments.

Shield Counters & Proliferate

As we mentioned in the FAQ section, a creature can have multiple shield counters on it, making it harder and harder to remove. So how do we get to multiple shield counters?

Evolution Sage Proliferate and Shield Counters

Well, one easy way would be with proliferate, which multiplies counters of any kind. Evolution Sage is a great card to do so, as all you have to do is play lands, and get more shields for creatures that already have them.

Shield Commander

If you want to play with shield counters, you’re in luck. Perrie, the Pulverizer can provide you with a shield counter, and it’s a part of the Bedecked Brokers Commander precon.

Perrie, the Pulverizer

The precon will probably have more cards that care about this mechanic, so if you want, you can find more information about the New Capenna Commander decks here.


That’s all about MTG shield counters. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use your newly gained knowledge to win more games. If you want to try your luck and open some Brokers cards with shield counters, you can buy a New Capenna Set booster box.

New Capenna Set Booster Box

Additionally, if you want more information about New Capenna, you can explore the following articles:

Until next time, have fun and may your creatures always have shield counters to protect them.

42 thoughts on “MTG Shield Counters – Rules and Interactions Explained”

  1. What if a creature with a shield counter blocks? Does the first round of damage take of the shield counter and the second damage go through onto said creature

    • Blocking would be no different from attacking. Let’s say your opponent attacks with a 3/3 into your 3/3 that has a shield counter. Your 3/3 would lose a shield counter, take no damage and survive, while opponent’s creature would die.

      However, if you meant that the attacker has double strike, then the blocking creature would first lose a shield counter, and then take damage in the next damage step.

  2. If a 3/3 attacker has a shield counter, and it is blocked by 2 3/3s, will the 6 damage from the blockers be counted as 1 instance of damage (that results in the removal of the shield counter), or will it be treated as 3 damage and 3 damage, one of which removes the shield, and the other kills the attacker?

    • Combat damage is dealt all at once (as no creatures in this scenario has double or first strike). This means that only one shield counter is removed, and no damage is dealt to the 3/3 attacker.

  3. How do shield counters interact with trample? Is trample damage equal to their health blocked and the rest goes through but they live or is all trample damage blocked.

    • You don’t consider shield counters when assigning combat damage, so trample still works as usual. Only the damage that would be dealt to a creature is prevented and the rest is still dealt to the player.

      So let’s say that you block a 5/5 trampler with a 3/3 with shield counter. The creature would be dealt 3 damage, but it’s prevented and your 3/3 loses a shield counter. Two points of damage goes through, so you lose 2 life.

    • With this specific card it goes like this. Damage would be dealt to a creature, so a shield counter gets removed, and the damage is prevented. The creature doesn’t die that turn, and therefore it doesn’t get exiled.

    • Currently, all the cards put shield counters on creatures. However, there are scenarios when a noncreature permanent could end up with a shield counter. In those cases shield counters would still work as usual (prevent damage or a destroy effect).

    • Yes, if you’d somehow manage to get a shield counter on a permanent, it would work as expected (prevent one instance of being destroyed or dealt damage).

    • The first instance would “pop” shield counters. Creatures with shield counters wouldn’t be dealt damage.
      However, every next instance would also deal damage to these creatures if they don’t have shield counters anymore.

  4. If a 3/3 creature has a shield counter, my opponent use an equipment -3/-3 on him, that creature dies, right?
    Because I think after the shield counter disappears, the equipment is still there, but there is no counter anymore

    • I don’t know what you mean by equipment here. However, if you’re talking about instants like Deal Gone Bad, these type of effects will “get around” the shield counter, and kill the creature with toughness 3 or less.

  5. If a creature with a shield counter blocks a creature with double strike, would the shield counter be removed with the instance of first strike damage and then take the normal damage? Or would it be removed at the end of combat?

  6. When being forced to sacrifice a creature. Can you instead remove a shield counter from it in order to keep it in play?

  7. What about double strike AND trample. Say a 5/5 with double strike/trample attacks. Their creature is a 4/6. 2 shield counters. Would any damage go through? Both shield counters gone?

    • No, if your opponent uses Unsummon on one of your creatures with a shield counter, it’ll get returned to your hand.

  8. Let’s say I attack with a four toughness creature and my opponent blocks with a 1/1. My creature takes one damage and after combat my opponent plays Deal Gone Bad on my creature. I respond with Boon of Safety and claim that my creature survives as it is now a 1/1 creature that has taken one damage that would normally destroy it but the shield counter now kicks in to save the day. Am I correct?

    • Interesting scenario, but it doesn’t work out that way. The damage was already dealt before the shield counter was on the creature, so the damage never gets prevented, and when the -3/-3 effect is used, there’s nothing for shield counter to prevent, and the creature with one damage marked on it, dies.

  9. If a 3/3 attacker has a shield counter on it, if it’s blocked by something that is less like a 2/1. Would it still lose its shield counter cause it was blocked?
    Sorry still trying to get head round what counts as damage

  10. What would happen when I play Shield Breaker, get one of my opponents creatures, and then in his turn he plays a Blasphemous Act.

    My opponents creature survives, since the shield counter gets removed. Does it return to my opponent ? Will it check back in time to see if my Shield Breaker effect/condition still applies ?

    • I think you’re talking about some other card, since Shieldbreaker doesn’t have anything to do with stealing opponent’s creatures.

  11. Hello!

    I do not know if this account is still active, but as I can think of no better option to turn to currently I hope that you will be able to answer two oddball rulings for me (one being relatively straightforward, and the other perhaps a little more complex).

    I have been piloting Wu Emeria control in Modern for a very long time now, and have become quite a fan of Elspeth Resplendent’s presence in my current list. In addition to her normal uses, she often affords the option (with her -3 Loyalty ability) of putting “a permanent with mana value 3 or less” onto the battlefield.

    I am sure you can appreciate that this will cause some confusion in my opponents when I unexpectedly put shield counter onto A) Emeria, the Sky Ruin, which should protect it from effects like Boseiju, Who Endures or Field of Ruin, or B) Teferi, Time Raveler, which should protect it from Dreadbore or Abrupt Decay.

    First, then, I would like to confirm that my assumptions on these two fronts are correct, and then I would like to clarify how the shield counter in scenario B interacts with the removal of Loyalty counters (be it via a Lightning Bolt or combat damage). Is my intuition correct that it should work as it would if I treat the Planeswalker in question as a creature for the purposes of normal function?

    Finally, as any interaction with Teferi, Time Raveler is of critical importance to a multitude of high-profile matchups, can you think of any unexpected rules interactions that putting a shield counter on him might bring about?

    Thank you for your time,

    -Stéphane Gerard

    • Yes, shield counter on Emeria, the Sky Ruin will protect it from Boseiju, Who Endures. Similarly, it’ll also protect Teferi, Time Raveler from Dreadbore and Abrupt Decay.

      If an opponent Bolts Teferi with a shield counter, the damage is prevented, and a shield counter is removed. If multiple creatures attack Teferi, then all damage from them is prevented and a shield counter is removed. That might change is first strike / double strike was involved. IN that case the damage in the first strike step would be prevented, and shield counter removed. Then in the regular damage step, the damage would be dealt as usual, as there would be no shield counters on Teferi.

      As far as the special interactions go, these are probably it. Hope this helps.

      • Thank you, A. Mlakar!

        I very much appreciate the confirmation, and have one final twist to add for future card printings, as I believe it currently only applies in very odd sequences. By your response, then, I assume Shield Counters on Planeswalkers interact with multiple instances of damage from the same card in the same manner you described for double strike?

        That is to say, If I animate a Shield Counter-bearing Teferi, Time Raveler with Luxior, Giada’s Gift (turning it into a Planeswalker that is also a Creature), it would lose its Shield Counter on the first worded instance of damage and then be dealt damage as normal by the second worded instance in modal effects like a triple-first-mode Fiery Confluence, a first-plus-second-mode Incendiary Command, or a second-plus-third-mode Mishra’s Command? Or would the Shield Counter “see” these entire spells?

        To make things more clear, I can cite the final two examples I found using this setup in the Escalate mechanic of Savage Alliance and Collective Defiance. Using the second of these – cast for its second and third modes – would the animated Teferi from above A) lose a Shield Counter and then take three damage, or B) lose a Shield Counter and take no damage? I suspect the former, but would appreciate validation.

        Thanking you in advance for the extra effort.

        Have yourself a wonderful day,

        -Stéphane Gérard

  12. How do shield counters interact with damage-prevention effects? If a creature has absorb 2 and takes 1 damage, does a shield counter get removed even though the absorb effect would prevent the damage?

    • If there are multiple damage prevention effects, the controller of the permanent chooses how they apply. In your scenario, you’ll probably want that absorb effect happens first, and since it prevented all the damage, the shield counter won’t be removed.


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