Undying – MTG Keywords Explained

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Undying is creature-based recursion mechanic that is essentially the mirror of persist. If a creature with it dies, it will return to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it. If it already had a +1/+1 counter, it will stay dead in the graveyard. So yes, it is very much like persist, but with +1/+1 counters instead of -1/-1 counters.

  • Unless it has haste, a creature who returns to the battlefield with undying does have summoning sickness.
  • While this mechanic appears only on creatures, if a non-creature permanent becomes a creature and gains it, that creature will still return to the battlefield with the counter, even if that counter is meaningless in its non-creature state.
  • Likewise if your undying creature becomes a non-creature and then gets destroyed, it will trigger and still return to the battlefield with the counter.
  • Multiple instances of undying on a creature do technically all work, but are essentially meaningless after the first one.
  • Tokens can get undying, but will cease to exist when they go to the graveyard to trigger it.
  • If a creature triggers undying and returns, then dies again after somehow losing the +1/+1 counter, it will trigger and return yet again.

Hilariously, undying is harder to use in combos than persist, as far more cards exist that prevent -1/-1 counters being put on your creatures than +1/+1 counters…at least that can be played actively by you. That said since the creatures at a very basic level improve when they come back, this mechanic can be a little tricky to balance and design extensively for. So while it may come back around again, it might be a little too powerful to become a mainstay mechanic.

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