Is split second just another way of saying “this card can’t be countered”? To me, it has no other qualities? Once this card is removed from the stack opponents are then free to cast spells. So I’m guessing we just treat this as a can’t be countered spell despite its fancy naming convention or can it do more than what I’m perceiving?

4 Answers 4


Split Second has uses other than making a spell uncounterable.

As a simple example, say you cast Sudden Shock; targeting a creature with only 2 toughness. If not for Split Second, your opponent could save the creature by casting a spell any spell that does any of the following:

  • Increases the creature’s toughness
  • Gives the creature Hexproof
  • Gives the creature protection from your spell
  • Regenerates the creature
  • Prevents the damage

Several ways he could save his creature. But due to Split Second, he can’t respond at all; and the creature will almost certainly die.

Similarly if you cast Sudden Shock targeting your opponent who has 2 life. He can’t cast anything that will increase his own life.

There are all sorts of ways other than countering a spell that you might want to respond to a spell. Split Second prevents all of them.

While Split Second is generally more powerful than “cannot be countered” due to the reasons stated; in some cases “cannot be countered” will work better, such as if there’s a triggered ability that counters spells, such as the emblem from Jace, Unraveler of Secrets.

  • tapping pristine talisman for mana could gain life in response to split second damage, right?
    – chiliNUT
    Mar 4, 2018 at 19:27
  • @ikegami the rules text specifically says "abilities that aren't mana abilities"
    – chiliNUT
    Mar 4, 2018 at 20:31
  • You can also bounce it / blink it.
    – ikegami
    Mar 4, 2018 at 20:35
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    An additional exception is that you can "unmorph" a creature in response to a Split Second spell, because that is a "Special Action" not an activated ability. Doing so will often cause another ability to trigger, which can include countering the split second spell Mar 6, 2018 at 17:57
  • 1
    @KamilDrakari Wow, I never knew that unmorphing a creature wasn't an activated ability. The more you know :D
    – Belgabad
    Mar 6, 2018 at 21:55

No, split second refers to how a spell can be responded to.

For instance, Krosan Grip has split second, but with a successful Counterbalance flip, can be countered. Split second doesn't itself make the spell uncounterable, it just prevents the majority of ways the spell would be countered from happening (casting a counterspell, etc.)

From the comprehensive rules

702.60. Split Second

702.60a Split second is a static ability that functions only while the spell with split second is on the stack. “Split second” means “As long as this spell is on the stack, players can’t cast other spells or activate abilities that aren’t mana abilities.”

702.60b Players may activate mana abilities and take special actions while a spell with split second is on the stack. Triggered abilities trigger and are put on the stack as normal while a spell with split second is on the stack.

  • This answer doesn’t seem to address the core question; what does split second do that “cannot be countered” doesn’t?
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 4, 2018 at 12:12
  • @gendoI respectfully disagree. I defined what split second does (changes how the spell can be responded to), then gave a useful example, and provided the rules citation to show exactly what split second provides from the comprehensive rules. Each part is useful in ensuring that the OP has a full understanding of the interaction between split second and 'counter' effects.
    – Atavism
    Mar 4, 2018 at 12:13
  • Perhaps we just read ththe question differently. At least part of what he asked is if Split Second can do more than make a spell unable to be countered.
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 4, 2018 at 12:23
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    For what it's worth, I do agree: the OP asked in multiple ways if split second does anything besides preventing countering, so while it's certainly nice to cite the comprehensive rules and explain why it doesn't entirely prevent countering, there's still a big part of the question left unaddressed. Your answers will definitely be better received if you aim to address the whole question.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 4, 2018 at 15:31

@Gendolkari's answer is a great answer for why "Split Second" is more powerful than "Can't be countered". I'd like to add a supplement for all of the reasons why it is weaker.

Here's how to counter a split second spell:

  1. Triggered abilities that counter spells, such as the emblem from Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, Erayo's Essence, Chalice of the Void, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner, Counterbalance, Chancellor of the Annex, or Decree of Silence.

  2. Triggered abilities that give you other triggered abilities that let let you counter spells, such as Hunting Grounds or Lurking Predators putting a Mystic Snake or a Draining Whelk onto the battlefield.

  3. Unmorphing a creature (which is a special action that is allowed while a split second card is on the stack) that counters the spell, such as Voidmage Apprentice, Stratus Dancer, or Silumgar Spell-Eater


Split Second can be used to ensure you do things while holding priority when casting spells. Ex. You cast Damnation, holding priority you cast Sudden Spoiling (Split Second). This would leave no one able to respond except through triggered abilities and special actions IF they have any.

There are a few jank ways to utilize Split Second, most forget about Players holding priority when responding or using the stack, so it helps to bring that up as well.

  • 3
    Players go through another "priority cycle" after any spell resolves. That means after Sudden Spoiling resolves, each player would have the opportunity to cast a spell in response to Damnation.
    – BJ Myers
    Jan 24, 2019 at 18:29
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    I'm not quite sure what you're trying to get at here. You could certainly do that combination of actions, but once Sudden Spoiling resolves but before Damnation resolves other players would be able to respond to Damnation.
    – DenisS
    Jan 24, 2019 at 18:31
  • How does that happen when Split Second does not allow players to add on to the stack when a spell with Split Second is on the stack. The point of the statement i made is that due to what Split Second's reminder text states, this allows you to in a way be able to protect crucial spells you cast as the example i gave. Damnation would still be on the stack with Split Second, resolve and Split Second still apply even after the spell with it resolves. Correct me if im wrong.
    – Cinema
    Jan 26, 2019 at 17:42
  • @Cinema You misunderstand how it works. Split second prevents them from responding while it is on the stack, however sudden spoiling will resolve, then Damnation will be alone on the stack, with nothing preventing anyone from putting spells on the stack that will resolve before Damnation does. The only spell split second protects is the spell with split second itself. It does not modify anything else on the stack.
    – Andrew
    Jan 28, 2019 at 20:57

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