If I have a Vedalken Orrery in play, and my opponent attempts to cast an enchantment, can I flash in Aura of Silence in response and force them to either pay 2 more mana or have their spell fizzle?

  • By the time you get a chance to respond to the enchantment it has already been cast and all cost has been payed. It will effect all subsequent spells but not the one already cast.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 20 '16 at 18:19

No, it generally doesn't work like that.

If your opponent has priority (i.e. the right to cast spells, activate abilities, and take special actions), and all other required conditions are also met, he can start casting his enchantment. In that case, you can still respond with Aura of Silence, but it will not have any effect on that particular enchantment. The Aura already has to be on the battlefield to have an effect on spells, because once a spell is on the stack, its costs can no longer change in any way:

601.4. Casting a spell that alters costs won’t affect spells and abilities that are already on the stack.

So in the classic case with no rules-lawyering going on, you are out of luck.

That being said, in a tournament setting with strict rules enforcement, you might be able to use the shortcut rules and your opponent's sloppiness in your favor.

Shortcuts are being used in almost every turn of every match of Magic ever, and that is no exaggeration. The simple act of untapping, drawing a card, and saying "Go" to end your turn is actually a large shortcut you propose to skip over all the usually required steps and phases of a turn, and usually your opponent will accept that proposal. However, he is not required to and can demand to go back to your draw step and propose a different shortcut, which you in turn have to accept and so on.

So what does this mean for your question?

Let's say your opponent starts his turn, untaps, draws a card, then immediately starts casting his enchantment. What he actually did was he silently proposed for both of you to pass priority and continue into the first main phase, and assumed you would accept. However, it is your right to demand that both of you play out all the necessary steps, and after your opponent has drawn a card and passed priority to you, you get the opportunity to cast and resolve your Aura of Silence. Your opponent has to wait until the main phase, so if he still wants to play his enchantment, he would have to pay 2 more.

You get another opportunity to do the same thing at the end of combat. At various points during that phase, and notably at the end of combat step, players can cast instant-speed spells and activate abilities. So when creatures did attack and combat is over, and your opponent wants to cast an enchantment spell, it's clear that he has skipped to the second main phase, and you can then deny that shortcut and play your own spell at the end of combat step.

  • @ikegami "by the time you see AND have the opportunity to react". I am answering for the normal case, when the opponent indeed has priority and has cast his spell, to which OP reacts with Aura of SIlence. In that context, yes, always.
    – Hackworth
    Jan 20 '16 at 14:16
  • 1
    I will edit my answer to clear up any confusion. "Seeing my opponent cast a spell" can indeed mean different things. If my opponent has priority etc. and starts casting a spell, then he really is casting a spell and there is no way to change the costs of that spell. If he cannot legally cast a spell but starts doing so anyway, like Ikegami showed with his example, then I can demand to rewind the game to a point that has not explicitly happened yet. Of course, if that point is not the earliest possible, then I also just propose a shortcut that could be further shortened, and so on.
    – Hackworth
    Jan 20 '16 at 15:12
  • (Earlier comment withdrawn, and I'll remove this one too.)
    – ikegami
    Jan 20 '16 at 16:13
  • "In a tournament setting with strict rules enforcement" is wrong. Shortcuts are part of the core rules. All the TR does is create some default shortcuts that aren't relevant here.
    – ikegami
    Jan 20 '16 at 16:13
  • @Hackworth Are you certain about "it is your right to demand that both of you play out all the necessary steps"? I was under the impression that you either had to accept the shortcut or deviate from it at a specific point. (Sorry for the barrage of comments - your edit added a lot of new content.)
    – Rainbolt
    Jan 20 '16 at 16:43

Casting a spell while someone "attempts to cast an enchantment" makes no sense. You can't interrupt casting. (No player gets priority during the casting of a spell.)

If you cast Aura of Silence before they cast the enchantment, they will have to pay the extra cost.

If you cast Aura of Silence after they cast the enchantment, they won't have to pay the extra cost.

601.4. Casting a spell that alters costs won’t affect spells and abilities that are already on the stack.

So the question becomes the following: Can you cast your Aura of Silence before he starts casting his enchantment once he's made it clear he wants to cast the enchantment? Probably not, but it is possible.

What you have to determine when they start casting the enchantment is whether they'res actually casting it or if they are proposing a shortcut. If they are proposing a shortcut, you may be able to shorten it to cast your spell[1]. But if the game is currently in one of their main phases, there's probably nothing you can do. I suspect that's the case here, though you didn't provide enough information for us to know decisively.

  1. For example, if they start casting the enchanment immediately after dealing combat damage, they are actually proposing the following shortcut:

    1. Both players pass priority until my main phase.

    2. Then, I cast this enchantment.

    Then, you could shorten the shortcut to cast Aura of Silence in the End of Combat Step. (They wouldn't be obliged to cast the enchantment if you did that.)

    If they knew you might be planning to do that, they'd ask "main phase?" and wait for you to acknowledge. Once you do, they can cast their enchantment without you being able to cast your Aura of Silence first.


Just to add to the answers already given. You have to pay the costs of spells including any additional cost or "taxes" and if you cannot then the spell does not even get to be cast.

There is no retroactive countering of spells that have not paid some sort of cost. You can cast spells only if you can pay its cost in its entirety.

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