My friend told me I only get 5 seconds to say if I'm going to counter a card in Magic the Gathering, even if I tell him to wait. Is that true?

  • 16
    Your friend is wrong, you get as much time as you want.
    – Colin D
    Oct 30, 2013 at 17:26
  • 11
    In addition to what Kevin said, note that there's nothing in MTG ever that comes down to speed, timing, reaction quickness, etc. Despite the way it may play out in practice, it's a fully turn-based game where only one player at a time is ever allowed to do anything.
    – GendoIkari
    Oct 30, 2013 at 18:19
  • 3
    Gendolkari doesn't like my Chaos Orb deck :(
    – Affe
    Oct 30, 2013 at 23:44
  • 3
    Sideboard in some Triton Tactics. Wish him good luck making decisions in 5 seconds the first time he has to read that card.
    – deworde
    Oct 30, 2013 at 23:45
  • 2
    @Andrew Sure, but at the time of writing Triton Tictacs was in Standard, and while it's not the wordiest, it's pretty confusing for a Common card.
    – deworde
    Mar 5, 2019 at 12:12

4 Answers 4


Your friend made that up. There is nothing in the comprehensive rules about how long a player may retain priority. Once you've got it, you keep it as long as you like until you play a spell/ability or pass.

If you're in an official tournament setting, your opponent can call a judge if he thinks you're intentionally playing slowly. If you're playing at your friend's kitchen table, then anything goes. Of course, the host can always decide to kick you out of his house, so try to play at a reasonable speed.

  • 19
    And consider telling your friend that trying to make up rules like this (in essence, cheating) might make it harder for him to find people to play games with.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 30, 2013 at 20:00
  • 3
    In the PC game, you only get about 2 seconds to counter a spell, so he might have confused that for an official rule. However, even in the PC game, you can pause the timer if you need time to read the card. Oct 30, 2013 at 22:21
  • 5
    @Jefromi, I would give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the friend had learned the rules wrong himself.
    – GendoIkari
    Oct 31, 2013 at 4:48
  • @GendoIkari It's always possible, hence "consider". I think the OP probably knows which one it is. A lot of people do unfortunately try things like this even though they know better, trying to make up or bend a rule that one time they really want something to go their way.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 31, 2013 at 4:56
  • 1
    i would assume he was referring to duels, which does give you limited time by default, but you can to my memory request more time with a button press (which varies by format)
    – Patters
    Nov 4, 2013 at 9:44

Not only is your friend wrong - "time" actually is not relevant to any part of Magic The Gathering. (Except maybe in tournament play when each session of rounds is timed)

And regardless of rules, a friend should never rush a friend, especially if asked nicely to wait.


As per the other comments, what you are being told is wrong.

Time is only important during competitive events, where if you continously spend too much time reading cards, thinking about your play, deciding blockers or attackers (all within reason).

You can be warned for slow play on those circumstances but other than that there is really no 5 second rule.

What you need to be careful and it is covered in the rules (again, for competitive events) is communication. If your opponent casts a spell and you look at it and say "ok", it doesn't matter if you meant "ok, I'll let it resolve" or "ok, let me think about this", you only said "ok". Make sure you keep communication clear to ensure your opponent knows what you are doing and to avoid unnecessary judge calls.


There is no rule that state that you only have so much time to counter. Saying you only have limited time is kind of a mean move especially if the player being pushed for time is a new player who has no clue what the card does.

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