MTG Toxic – Rules and Interactions Explained

Toxic is a new MTG keyword ability word introduced with Phyrexia: All Will Be One. In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about it, including:

  • How does toxic work?
  • How can you win a game with toxic?
  • What interactions do cards with toxic enable?
  • Who are the most toxic Magic players?

We’re just kidding with the last one, but we’ll answer all the other questions and some more. Let’s get to it?

How Does Toxic Work?

Toxic can appear on creatures, and always comes with a number. Players that are dealt damage by a creature with toxic get poison counters equal to the number. If a player has 10 or more poison counters, they lose the game.

Let’s take a look at an example.


Here’s Venerated Rotpriest, a one mana 1/2 with toxic 1.

Venerated Rotpriest MTG Toxic rules

Let’s say you attack with it, and your opponent doesn’t block it. Your opponent will lose one life and also get one poison counter due to toxic 1.

A creature with toxic 2, would give the opponent 2 poison counters, a creature with toxic 3 would give three, and so on.

As you can see, the mechanic is quite easy to understand, as fair as the basics go. When a creature with toxic deals combat damage to an opponent, they lose life and get poison counters (equal to the toxic number).

However, there are still some specific scenarios, which might not be so clear. That’s why this next section is here for.

MTG Toxic – FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions that players have about the toxic mechanic. As always, if your question isn’t answered, leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as fast as we can.

Do creatures with toxic also deal regular combat damage to a player?

Yes, they deal both regular combat damage, and the player gets poison counters equal to the toxic number.

What happens if a creature with toxic deals damage to a creature?

The same thing as would happen if the creature didn’t have toxic. This ability doesn’t affect the way the creature deals damage to anything. It only adds the poison counters when the creature deals combat damage to a player.

Does creature with toxic deal damage in form of -1/-1 counters?

No, toxic doesn’t have anything to do with -1/-1 counters, as it is not infect.

What happens if a creature has multiple instances of toxic?

Let’s say your creature somehow has both toxic 1 and toxic 2. If such creature deals combat damage to an opponent, the opponent will also get 3 (1+2) poison counters.

How does toxic work with trample?

Quite favorably. If a creature deals any amount of combat damage to a player, they’ll also get poison counters equal to the toxic value of the creature. So if you’d give trample to Paladin of Predation (a 6/7 creature with toxic 6), and it deals a single point of combat damage to the opponent, the opponent would also get 6 poison counters.

Paladin of Predation


We also like to touch on the flavor of the mechanics. This time around, it’s pretty self-explanatory. If a creature is toxic, it’ll poison you if it manages to touch you. Not much else to add here, although it is a bit of a flavor fail that it doesn’t have any effect on creatures.

MTG Toxic – Interactions

In this section, we’ll talk about some interesting interactions with the toxic ability.


Contagion Engine MTG Toxic Rules Combos

Technically, this is more of an interaction with poison counters. If you’re a more experienced player, you’ve likely heard of it before.

Whenever you proliferate, you can choose any number of players and/or permanents with counters on them, then you put another of each kind of counter already there on these players or permanents.

The idea is that you get at least one poison counter to your opponent. You can do so by damaging them with a toxic creature, for example. Then, whenever you proliferate, you can also add another poison counter to the opponent. With some luck, you’ll be able to get your opponent to 10 counters, so they’ll lose the game.

Toxic in Draft

Mirrex MTG Toxic Rules

If you’ll be playing Phyrexia: All Will Be One drafts, you’ll surely encounter some creatures with toxic. So, the question is how good is this mechanic in draft?

Well, it’s hard to say for sure, because it really depends on the format as a whole. However, the mechanic looks quite weak for the formats like draft and sealed. The reason is that you’re already doing damage to your opponent, which means they can’t block – so you are already winning that game. Even if you might get there a bit faster, the presence of toxic doesn’t really change much.

This means that you should likely evaluate the cards with toxic based on how good they are without that ability. It’s mostly just a cherry on the top, as it’s a typical win-more mechanic. It doesn’t do absolutely nothing when you’re defending.


That’s all about the toxic keyword. Hopefully, you now know how it works, and you’ll be able to use it to your advantage.

If you want to open some cards with the toxic ability, you can get yourself a Phyrexia Set booster box.

Phyrexia All Will Be One Set Booster Box

If you’re looking for more information about Phyrexia, you can find Phyrexia: All Will Be One spoilers here. Furthermore, if you’re a Commander fan, check the Phyrexia Commander decks. One of them also cares about the poison counters, and features the toxic mechanic.

Until next time, have fun and don’t let too many toxic creatures damage you!

26 thoughts on “MTG Toxic – Rules and Interactions Explained”

  1. I’m curious on how Toxic would work with Trample. I see there is a green creature card that has Toxic 6 and is a 6/6 body. If it deals 1 damage to the player, do they get all 6 counters or just one?

    • Great question! I’ll add it to the FAQ.

      So when a creature with toxic deals combat damage to a player, that player also gets a number of poison counters equal to the toxic value of that creature. It doesn’t matter how much combat damage that creature deals, it’ll always make the player get the same number of poison counters. So, if you’d give trample to a 6/6 creature with toxic 6, and it’ll deal 1 combat damage to the opponent, they would also get 6 poison counters.

  2. With the toxic commander deck what is the official ruling on toxic counters to win in commander? I have read different points on this. Is it still 10 for my opponents? Or is it 20 or 40?

        • Creatures with infect deal combat damage to players in the form of poison counters. This means that the combat damage is still dealt.
          So if you have a creature that somehow has both infect and toxic, it’ll deal damage equal to its power and poison counters equal to its power + its toxic value.

  3. So if i play Skrelv, Defector Mite, and after that I attack with Jawbone Duelist, and activate Skrelv’s ability, targeting Jawbone Duelist, will it deal a total of 4 poison on one attack?

    • Yes, that’s correct. Jawbone Duelist would then have two instances of toxic 1, and double strike. In the first strike damage step, your opponent would get two poison counters, and in the normal damage step, the opponent would get two more poison counters.

  4. So if a toxic 2 creature is blocked the poison counters don’t do anything? Like the player will not receive the poison counters if they choose to block the toxic 2 creature?

  5. Toxic has ruined Standard.

    Toxic decks have completely saturated the Standard format and it is a highly unfair play style when used in conjunction with proliferate.

    Is there a ‘Standard’ format that doesn’t include this Toxic rubbish?

    It’s like I’m playing the same person over and over again.

  6. What if a creature with toxic 1 has 0 power? Would it still give the poison counter or would it not count as combat damage since no damage was dealt?

  7. If a Creature with Toxic is equipped with lets use the example of Viridian Longbow. Does the Poison Counter(s) apply, or is this strictly, sadly, why did they make this mechanic, Only through combat damage??

    • That’s an ability and not a counter, so you can proliferate toxic 1 to toxic 2. However, you can proliferate poison counters that a player has.


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