So I have a red blue Guttersnipe deck that I personally love to use, but my friend and I keep running into this situation. In my hand for the purpose of explaining this say I have all Lightning Bolts and a Guttersnipe on the field. All he has available is a Swift Silence. Now since I know that he runs Swift Silence I will only play 1 lightning bolt in the ending phase before passing off priority. My friend will then also pass priority because he wants to stop the full combo with the Swift Silence.

So what happens?

  • Since he passed priority, Guttersnipe's ability which is on top of the stack will resolve but the Lightning Bolt won't. So when I play another Lightning Bolt on the stack he can than use Swift Silence to counter both Lightning Bolts and Guttersnipe's ability?
  • Guttersnipe's ability resolves, I pass, then he passes again so the Lightning Bolt would resolve. I can than play another Lightning Bolt on top of the empty stack and start the loop over?
  • When we let both Guttersnipe's ability and Lightning Bolt resolve since it is a empty stack would my turn then be over since I was doing this on my end step?

However if I can just keep playing stuff using this loop what would Swift Silence ever be useful for other than say a Grapeshot?

  • 3
    As a side note, why would you do this during your end step? If you don't want to let your opponent untap, it's better to act during your main phase so that sorceries and permanent spells are still available options. And if you want to leave options open as long as possible, it's better to act during your opponent's end step so that you can have mana available as long as possible.
    – murgatroid99
    Apr 27, 2016 at 18:17

3 Answers 3


Assuming you play your Bolts right your opponent can counter at most 1 of them.

This is what happens:

  • You have priority, you cast Bolt, Guttersnipe triggers, you have priority again
  • You pass priority, your opponent gains priority and can cast their counter if they want to, eventually they also pass priority
  • Guttersnipes ability resolves, you gain priority, you pass priority
  • Your opponent gains priority, again they can choose to cast their counter, eventually they pass priority back to you
  • As long as it wasn't countered your Bolt resolves. You gain priority after it resolves and can cast another Bolt if you want to.

If at anytime your opponent casts their counter the following is added to the previous steps:

  • They have priority, they cast their counter spell, they still have priority and pass
  • You gain priority, at this point you can choose to cast more spells if you want to, eventually you will pass priority
  • The counter spell will resolve, your Bolt will be countered, you gain priority and can cast more Bolts if you want to

A step or phase doesn't end until both you and your opponent have passed priority and the stack is empty.

As you point out Swift Silence is best against Storm decks, and other decks that have multiple spells on the stack at the same time (like Hive Mind)

116.3b The active player receives priority after a spell or ability (other than a mana ability) resolves.

116.3c If a player has priority when he or she casts a spell, activates an ability, or takes a special action, that player receives priority afterward.

116.3d If a player has priority and chooses not to take any actions, that player passes. If any mana is in that player’s mana pool, he or she announces what mana is there. Then the next player in turn order receives priority.

116.4. If all players pass in succession (that is, if all players pass without taking any actions in between passing), the spell or ability on top of the stack resolves or, if the stack is empty, the phase or step ends.


The short answer is that Swift Silence is simply not good in this situation.

First, note that Swift Silence only counters spells. Guttersnipe's ability is a triggered ability, not a spell, so it is unaffected by Swift Silence.

Your optimal strategy is to simply cast one Lightning Bolt at a time, and then let both the triggered ability and the Lightning Bolt resolve before casting another one. If you do that, then your opponent can only ever counter one Lightning Bolt with Swift Silence. In this case, your end step would play out like this:

  1. You cast Lightning Bolt. Guttersnipe's ability triggers.
  2. You pass priority. Your opponent either casts Swift Silence and you let it resolve, or they just pass priority.
  3. Guttersnipe's ability resolves and deals 2 damage to your opponent.
  4. You pass priority again. Your opponent has another opportunity to cast Swift Silence and have it resolve, or they just pass priority again.
  5. Unless your opponent cast Swift Silence in step 2 or 4, Lightning Bolt resolves and deals 3 damage to your opponent.
  6. Go to step 1 if you have the mana.

If you can kill your opponent even if they counter one of the Bolts (for example, they're at 15 life and you have 4 Bolts in your hand and 4 available red mana), one variant to consider is going through that whole loop in response to the Swift Silence as soon as they cast it. This prevents them from drawing more countermagic from the Swift Silence.

In general, Swift Silence does best at stopping storm spells like Grapeshot or Tendrils of Agony. It can also be good at cleaning up a countermagic battle and drawing extra cards in the process. Especially in a multiplayer game, you can let two opponents respond to each others' spells a few times, and then stop it all with Swift Silence and draw several cards.


You have the advantage, since your third point is incorrect. When the stack is empty, if both players pass priority, then the phase ends. So, what you do is let Guttersnipe and the Bolt both resolve, then cast another one when you get priority again.

500.2. A phase or step in which players receive priority ends when the stack is empty and all players pass in succession. Simply having the stack become empty doesn’t cause such a phase or step to end; all players have to pass in succession with the stack empty. Because of this, each player gets a chance to add new things to the stack before that phase or step ends.

One other issue with your scenario is that Swift Silence doesn't counter Guttersnipe's triggered ability. That's an ability, not a spell.


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