MTG Lifelink Explained: Rules And Best Cards

April 19, 2023 · Your Playmat
mtg lifelink explained

Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is a popular trading card game that has been around for over 25 years. It involves players using cards to:

  • Cast spells;
  • Summon monsters;
  • Ultimately defeat their opponents.

MTG Lifelink is a popular mechanic in MTG. It allows players to gain life when their monsters damage their opponents.

In this article, we will discuss the Lifelink MTG rules and some of the best cards in MTG. Understanding the rules of ability and incorporating the best cards are vital. It can make a big difference in your win rate. Whether you prefer monsters or spells doesn't matter. There are plenty of great cards to choose from in MTG!

Lifelink Rules

MTG Lifelink is a keyword ability in MTG. It allows a monster’s controller to gain life equal to the damage dealt by that one. For example, if a card deals 3 damage to an opponent, its controller gains 3 life. It's vital to note that the life gained from ability happens simultaneously as the damage is dealt. This means that the player gains life before any other effects that might happen due to the damage.

According to Lifelink MTG rules, it only triggers when a card deals damage. If the damage is prevented or redirected, the ability won't trigger. For example, a powerful monster can get a block by a monster with protection from its color in MTG. Then the card doesn’t get the damage, and no life is gained.

Some with HP regaining also have other powers. Those can further enhance their effectiveness. For example, Vampire Nighthawk has both Flying and Deathtouch:

  • Item with Flying can only block it, and any monster it damages is destroyed;
  • Another example is Ajani's Pridemate, which gets a +1/+1 counter every time you gain life.

Best Lifelink Cards

best lifelink cards

To win on the battlefield, players should always choose only the best cards. With strong monsters, you can build a successful synergy on the battlefield. And this will definitely lead you to victory over the enemy.

Top 5 MTG Lifelink Monster Cards

  • Baneslayer Angel. This 5-mana card has Flying, First Strike, and Lifelink. And it also has Protection from Demons and Dragons. It's a powerhouse in any white deck and can easily take over a game if left unchecked;
  • Vampire Nighthawk. This 3-mana monster has Flying, Deathtouch, and Lifelink. It's a great blocker and can trade with most cards in combat. Its MTG Lifelink ability also makes it a great source of life gain;
  • Ajani's Pridemate. This 2-mana monster gets a +1/+1 counter every time you gain life. This makes it a great addition to any deck with many life-gain sources;
  • Archangel of Thune. This 5-mana card has Flying and Lifelink. And whenever you gain life, all monsters you control get a +1/+1 counter. This can quickly snowball into a huge advantage if left unchecked;
  • Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord. This 3-mana planeswalker can give a card power until the end of an MTG turn. And it also has other abilities that make it a great addition to any black deck.

Top 5 MTG Lifelink Non-Creature Card Spells

  • Sphinx's Revelation. This 4-mana instant MTG Lifelink allows you to draw cards and gain life equal to your chosen X value. It's a great way to refill your hand and gain some life at the same time;
  • Kaya's Guile. This 3-mana instant has many modes. They include making opponent sacrifices, exiling a graveyard, and creating a Spirit token. The flexibility of this card makes it a great addition to any black-and-white deck;
  • Rest for the Weary. This 1-mana Lifelink MTG card allows you to gain 4 life. It's a great way to gain some life in a pinch and help stabilize your life total in the early game;
  • Timely Reinforcements. This 3-mana sorcery creates 3 1/1 Soldier tokens and gains you 6 life if you have less life than your opponent. It's a great way to quickly turn the tide of a game and gain some life in the process;
  • Radiant Fountain. This land enters the battlefield tapped and gains you 2 life when it enters. It's a great addition to any deck wanting to gain life throughout a game consistently.

Strategies for Playing with Lifelink

The key to building a successful MTG Lifelink deck is to focus on monsters and spells. Focus on those who can gain your life while advancing your board state. This means choosing monsters with the main ability. And also, choose spells that can gain your life or give your HP regaining. Also, consider cards that help search for ability monsters or draw extra cards.

One important factor to consider is the balance between gaining life and damage. It's important to gain life to stay ahead in the game. But you also need to be able to damage your opponent to win. This means including a mix of Lifelink monsters that can deal damage. And also, use other monsters or spells that can directly damage your opponent.

One of the most important things to remember when using MTG Lifelink is to use it strategically. You may want to hold back on attacking with an HP regaining card. It’s especially if it would put you in danger of losing the card. You should also consider using spells or abilities. Opt for those that give your HP regaining card at the right time.

Another important consideration is how Lifelink interacts with other mechanics in the game. Lifelink is powerful in the mix with monsters that trigger when they deal damage. For example, "Whenever this card deals combat damage to a player, draw a card." By gaining life while dealing damage, you can gain a significant advantage.

Tips for Using Lifelink in Different MTG Formats

Magic: The Gathering is very well known for its various formats within the game itself. Various game formats allow players to enjoy the game for many years. And this makes it possible to bring a little variety to the game and enjoy the battles.

Different Magic: The Gathering formats have different rules and restrictions. So it's important to consider how to use Lifelink effectively in each format:

  • In Standard, you may want to focus on building a deck with powerful Magic Lifelink creatures. And choose spells that can take advantage of the latest sets;
  • In Commander, include HP regaining monsters that can protect you from many opponents. And also, use spells that can give your creatures Lifelink.

Use these two simple rules when building your deck. Thus, you will be able to defeat any opponent on the battlefield.

Lifelink and Other Mechanics

Several other mechanics in MTG work well with Lifelink:

  • One mechanic that works particularly well with MTG lifelink is Deathtouch. Deathtouch cards only need to deal one damage to a monster to destroy it. So an HP regaining card with Deathtouch can quickly take out many opposing items. While also they can gain a significant amount of life;
  • Another mechanic that can work well with Lifelink is Trample. Trample can deal excess damage to a defending player or planeswalker after all blocking monsters have been assigned damage. So an HP regaining item with Trample can deal much damage while also gaining much life.

Now let's talk of counteracting. One way is to use Lifelink MTG cards or abilities to prevent damage or prevent Lifelink from gaining. For example, cards with the "protection" keyword prevent damage from HP regaining items. Spells that destroy or exile monsters with Lifelink prevent opponents from gaining life.

Another way is to focus on dealing damage to your opponent outside combat. Spells that deal direct damage bypass HP regaining items. And they deal damage directly to your opponent's life total. You can also use cards that force your opponent to discard or sacrifice. Those cards are Thoughtseize or Plaguecrafter. They disrupt the board state and prevent gaining life.

Best Practices for Playing Against Lifelink

mtg lifelink cards

Playing against a Lifelink deck can be challenging. But there are several strategies you can use to counteract its advantages. Here are some tips for playing against Lifelink decks and the best Lifelink MTG cards to use against them.

Keep in mind disrupting opponents' board state. And try to prevent them from gaining life. This means using spells or abilities. Those can destroy or exile HP regaining items. And also they can prevent damage or prevent life gain.

One effective way to counteract Lifelink is to focus on dealing with damage outside of combat. Spells that deal direct damage can bypass HP regaining items. And they can deal damage directly to your opponent's life total. Use Lightning Bolt or Shock cards for this.

Best Cards to Use Against Lifelink

Several cards can be particularly effective against Lifelink decks according to Magic: The Gathering Lifelink rules. One of the most powerful is Leyline of the Void. It prevents cards from entering graveyards. It shuts down any graveyard-based strategies that rely on gaining life.

Another powerful card to use against Magic Lifelink is Rest in Peace. It exiles all cards from graveyards and prevents them from entering graveyards. This can shut down any graveyard-based strategies. And it also prevents your opponent from gaining life.

Other effective cards include cards that prevent damage or prevent life gain. They're Leyline of Sanctity or Erebos, Bleak-Hearted. These cards prevent opponents from gaining life or targeting with spells and abilities. The last can disrupt your strategy.

Tips for Playing Against Lifelink Decks

One important strategy is to stay aggressive. And also focus on dealing damage to your opponent. Keep your opponent on the defensive. This way, you can prevent them from gaining life and keep them from building a strong board state.

It's also important to be aware of any graveyard-based strategies. Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace can effectively shut down these strategies. And they can prevent your opponent from gaining life.

Be aware of your opponent's creatures and spells that have Magic Lifelink. And use spells or abilities to prevent damage or life gain to disrupt their strategy.

Lifelink in Competitive Play

This block will explore how to use HP regaining in competitive play. We will also cover successful decks and how to use them to win in tournaments.

In competitive play, Magic Lifelink is often used to gain an advantage over opponents and stay alive in long games. Players will often use HP to regain creatures and spells. They help gain life and stay ahead of their opponent regarding board state and life total.

In competitive play, use monsters and other powerful mechanics, such as Flying or Trample, to gain an advantage over opponents quickly. For example, a deck might use creatures with HP regaining and Flying to deal damage. And it is also helpful for gaining life while preventing opponents from blocking.

There have been many successful decks in competitive play:

  • One example is the White-Black Vampire deck popular in Standard play a few years ago. This deck used creatures with HP regaining and other powerful abilities. They are Flying and First Strike. They quickly gain an advantage over opponents and stay ahead regarding board state and life total.
  • Another deck is the Green-White Company deck. It uses a combination of creatures with Magic Lifelink and other powerful abilities. Those are Trample and Vigilance. They gain an advantage over opponents and deal damage while also gaining life.

Using Lifelink to Win in Tournaments

It's vital to build a deck that focuses on using creatures with a powerful ability. And opt for spells to gain an advantage over opponents. This means selecting cards that have life regaining. And use cards that can protect your creatures and disrupt your opponent's strategy.

Be aware of how Magic Lifelink interacts with other mechanics in the game. And use creatures and spells in combination with other powerful mechanics. Those can be Flying or Trample. They help quickly gain an advantage over opponents.

Finally, it's important to be aware of your opponent's strategy. And use spells and abilities to disrupt their board state and prevent them from gaining life.


We have explored the Magic: The Gathering Lifelink rules. And we covered strategies for playing with and against powerful ability. We have also examined how to use powerful abilities in competitive play. Now you know successful decks and how to use them to win in tournaments.

You can become a more skilled and successful Magic: The Gathering player by understanding the Magic: The Gathering Lifelink rules and best cards for it, as well as strategies for playing with and against powerful abilities.


What is Lifelink in Magic: The Gathering?

Lifelink is a keyword ability in Magic: The Gathering. It allows a creature to gain life equal to the amount of damage dealt by that creature. Whenever a creature with Lifelink deals damage, its controller gains that much life.

Does Lifelink Stack in MTG?

Yes, Lifelink can stack in MTG. The creature can have Lifelink and deal damage to many creatures or players. Then its controller will gain life equal to the total amount of damage dealt.

Can You Gain More Life Than the Damage Dealt With Lifelink?

No, you can only gain as much life as the amount of damage dealt by the creature with Lifelink. If a creature with Lifelink deals 3 damage to an opponent, you will only gain 3 life. It's even if the creature's power is higher than 3.

What Are Some Good Cards to Use Against Lifelink?

Pyroclasm or Anger of the Gods can be useful in clearing the board of creatures with Lifelink. Cards that prevent damage, such as Fog or Holy Day, can also be useful in preventing a large amount of life gain. Also, Path to Exile or Doom Blade can effectively deal with creatures with Lifelink.

Why Should One Use MTG Lifelink?

Using Lifelink can provide a significant advantage in games. The player can regain health while simultaneously dealing damage. This can help a player survive longer, making winning harder for their opponent. Also, Lifelink synergizes well with other strategies.

Why Should One Learn Several MTG Mechanics to Win?

It can help a player to understand the game better. And this increases their chances of winning. MTG has a vast number of mechanics, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses. By learning many mechanics, a player can also adapt to various playstyles. And then, they can better counter their opponent's strategies.