Pain's Reward


Format Legality
Tiny Leaders Legal
Noble Legal
Leviathan Legal
Magic Duels Legal
Canadian Highlander Legal
Vintage Legal
Modern Legal
Penny Dreadful Legal
Custom Legal
Vanguard Legal
Legacy Legal
Archenemy Legal
Planechase Legal
1v1 Commander Legal
Duel Commander Legal
Oathbreaker Legal
Unformat Legal
Casual Legal
Commander / EDH Legal

Printings View all

Set Rarity
Saviors of Kamigawa (SOK) Rare

Combos Browse all

Pain's Reward


Each player may bid life. You start the bidding with a bid of any number. In turn order, each player may top the high bid. The bidding ends if the high bid stands. The high bidder loses life equal to the high bid and draws four cards.

Pain's Reward Discussion

burferking on Giving Good People Bad Permanents

4 months ago

I actually have a Grixis deck that also gives permanents, but they are two-edged swords, meaning they help, but for a price. I think that it's my most casual deck (no destroy/exile effects, no counterspells) and it the current list is what I'd like it to be. I can, but don't win often with this deck (usually with Commander kills), but oh, I like it even if it didn't work as well as planned. And «bet life for an effect» cards can hurt players so much ( Pain's Reward and Illicit Auction in my deck, they can be gamechangers!

Grixis Twisted Group Hug (No Pain, No Gain!)

emask on Infinite Life via Pain's Reward? ...

5 months ago

Thanks again all.

Yep, I got it. Been toying with random lifeloss ideas for awhile and discovered Pain's Reward the other night. Just took me awhile to figure out how exactly one would achieve say a million life--thanks! Love Sanguine Bond , but not the mana cost... Vizkopa Guildmage or both maybe for kitchen table madness!

The deck I'm working on atm is very low cost and consists of different wincons. Children of Korlis and Pain's Reward might appear, but would be appearing for different reasons. But hey, if this million life thing were to ever happen in a game, it'd be hilarious. Might have to also make a really fringe deck that abuses all of these intricacies!

Thanks again!

Madcookie on Infinite Life via Pain's Reward? ...

5 months ago

@emask Just to add a final point of clarification, because I feel the subject isn't fully cleared. So to recap - you cast Angel's Grace or Phyrexian Unlife and now can't lose the game. Then as you are at 40 life cast Pain's Reward and bid a million life, which resolves and your life goes to minus 999 960 life. Saccing Children of Korlis now will gain you million life and set you back to 40 life, which was your life total before the bid. So the only way to achieve the million life dream is to add additional effect into this equation which is what I originally suggested.

Lets come back to the example - your life total is minus 999 960 life and you cast Oketra's Last Mercy or Resolute Archangel so set your life to back 40 which also gains you a million life, which is important if Sanguine Bond is present. And now finally you sacrifice Children of Korlis , which makes you gain a million more life and make your life total 1 000 040.

The same effect can be achieved with 2 Children of Korlis but I find it hard to make a copy in black/white deck and you'd have to run reanimate effects like Reanimate or Necromancy to pull it off.

Cheers! :)

P.S. For extra umph activating Tainted Sigil , after you have gained a million life with Children of Korlis and killed someone with Sanguine Bond will net you 2 million life and then make someone lose 2 million life as well. Some might call it overkill, I call it style points ;)

emask on Infinite Life via Pain's Reward? ...

5 months ago

Appreciate the responses everyone!

Boza That's how I would love it to work (gaining a million life), but I'm still thinking it doesn't since the "life" that was lost was the 20 you had in the original example. It's strange how you can lose beyond what you have however and go into the negatives...

Kogarashi When you say "Even though your life total would go into the negatives, you're still losing that life. Therefore Children of Korlis would recover that amount of life." do you mean losing the original 20, or losing 5000 in the example? After you mention Children of Korlis would set your life total back to what you started at (20 in this example), and while I totally agree with you and believe this is how it would work out, the wording on both Pain's Reward and Children of Korlis i.e., "lose life/regain life lost" really makes me think it could be interpreted both ways. 1) That you only really lost what you had (20), or 2) You technically lost something (life?) beyond zero to bring you to a negative life total, therefore, would gain whatever crazy amount was bid and lost.

Madcookie Nifty suggestions! Love getting the brewing ideas going. Never knew Angel of Grace was a thing, awesome throwback to Angel's Grace . I'm working on a really weird life loss deck currently.

Thanks again everyone for chiming in. I'm going to mull this over. Welcoming more responses from anyone about this as I'm still not convinced we've found the answer. Boza and Kogarashi, initially you answered opposite to each other. Boza when you say "Yeah I got excited" do you mean to say you now agree with Kogarashi and that your life would just go back to where it started (in this example, 20)?

Not trying to be a pain, very much appreciate the answers. Maybe the wording just breaks Magic, but if anyone has anything to add, please do so! This has been bugging the heck out of me.

Kogarashi on Infinite Life via Pain's Reward? ...

5 months ago

It doesn't quite work the way you hope.

Angel's Grace would prevent you from losing the game due to having 0 or less life, and since the life loss from Pain's Reward isn't damage, it wouldn't set you to 1.

Pain's Reward says the winning bidder loses life equal to the high bid. Even though your life total would go into the negatives, you're still losing that life. Therefore Children of Korlis would recover that amount of life.

Unfortunately since your life total can track into the negatives, regaining that life with Children of Korlis just sets you back to whatever you had before Pain's Reward caused you to lose life, rather than counting up from zero.

Boza on Infinite Life via Pain's Reward? ...

5 months ago

This is an interesting and legitamate interaction - you can cast Angel's Grace first or something like Phyrexian Unlife , then cast Pain's Reward , bidding a million life. Obviously, opponents cannot match you, so if you resolve Children of Korlis or similar effects, you will get back all the life you have lost, which is a million in this case.

What could be confusing is the bidding life vs paying life - for example, you cannot have Sacred Foundry come into play untapped if you are at one life. You can, however, bid life you do not have.

emask on Infinite Life via Pain's Reward? ...

5 months ago

Apologies for being wordy, and below are just my assumptions--I could be wrong! In a nutshell, can you gain more life than you have with Pain's Reward and Children of Korlis ?

Interestingly you can bid any amount of life with Pain's Reward (says so right on Gatherer). Bidding isn't the same as losing life, but you do "lose" that life if you win the bid.

Say you resolved Angel's Grace and bid 5000 life with Pain's Reward winning the bid. If you then sac'd Children of Korlis you would gain the life that was lost. But what "life" was "lost" is a bit confusing due to a few things mentioned below:

In mtg you can go into negative life totals with things like Angel's Grace and say, Spoils of the Vault . That said, assuming you had 20 life to start with, you are only "losing" 20 life (that's all the life there was to lose) despite bidding 5000. Because mtg allows you to go into negative life; however, it seems the definition of "life" isn't all that clear (i.e., the 5000 bid is considered life when it takes you down into the negative, but not when gaining life lost this turn via Children of Korlis ). Note that I'm assuming Pain's Reward would bring your life into the negative like Spoils of the Vault can.

I'm thinking the rule that states "a player may bid more life than they have" answers my question because it indicates "life they have", and anything below zero, is not life they have. I guess just the possibility of going into negative life via this and say Spoils of the Vault are what's confusing me in this situation.

If you can't gain whatever was lost due to Pain's Reward , I find it odd since you can technically lose "something"--after you're in the negatives, I don't know what it is anymore ;)--to take you into negative life zone.

Don't get me wrong, I love weird interactions and negative life totals. I was saddened when the x/x ruling changed no longer allowing my Death's Shadow 's to be huge terrifying 30/30s when my life was negative...


M_Malcom on Defeating A Sandwich Only Makes It Tastier

6 months ago

Pain's Reward allows you to put yourself at one life for 3 and draw a bunch to find a fog.

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