If you are having trouble knowing your life total while playing Magic: The Gathering you are not alone. Several people find difficult to keep a record of their life totals while they play. Many Magic: the Gathering decks have gain life spells which can make it even more difficult to keep track of as you may have more then the starting life total without bringing out a mood killing pen a paper set.
Years ago starting magic included buying a starter kit. Those kits usually included two decks of forty cards, instructions, and most important, life counter play mats. Wizards stopped producing these paper play mats and most of them have been played with until they fall apart. There are now other companies that make playmates, but they do not have a life total counter on them.
Those play mats that several players fell in love with may be gone, but they have a replacement now, spin down dice. These twenty sides dice allow you to spin them down whenever you lose life to keep your total, however they have the same problem that the mats had, they do not go above twenty. If you gain life, or if you are playing a style like elder dragon highlander which has forty life, or two headed giant which has thirty life. You can either bring out two dice, or use these creative options.
One of the coolest ways to keep your life total is to make of find and abacus. An abacus made out of wood or other materials can make you feel like an actual wizard casting spells. Simply use the abacus as if you were counting only in reverse when you get hit.
Another creative solution works on the same principle as the abacus and involves interesting stones, or coins. You will need two different kinds, one kind, which is usually small, representing one each, and another, usually larger, representing tens. Removing these life counter tokens, can give you a primitive spell caster shaman like feelings, which can be very satisfying.
Another way is to make your own play mat. Making your own play mat will keep your cards safe as you play as well as have a small counter on the side keeping your life total. You can make one out of strong fabric and paint, but be careful. If you pick a fabric or a pint that is very acidic you could harm your cards.