Sphinx of New Prahv says:

Spells your opponents cast that target Sphinx of New Prahv cost {2} more to cast.

Does the counter spell countering the Sphinx also cost 2 more, or does the effect only work on the battlefield?


No, Sphinx of New Prahv's ability only works while it's on the battlefield. Spells that counter other spells can only target objects on the stack, where the Sphinx's ability would not work.

While the Sphinx is a spell and could be countered, it's on the stack.

111.1. A spell is a card on the stack. [..]

Abilities of permanent cards such as creatures generally only function while that card is a permanent on the battlefield. There are exceptions, but none apply here.

112.6. Abilities of an instant or sorcery spell usually function only while that object is on the stack. Abilities of all other objects usually function only while that object is on the battlefield. The exceptions are as follows:

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  • The "exceptions are as follows" section, FWIW, basically boils down to "If an ability of an object would only make sense to work in a zone other than the battlefield, then it works only in that zone, otherwise it works only on the battlefield". For example, an ability that returns a card from a graveyard to the battlefield only functions in the graveyard (and not on the battlefield). – Ertai87 Mar 7 '19 at 15:14
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    @Ertai87 While that is true for many of the exceptions, it's not all of them, and one you left out is actually quite important: characteristics-defining abilities (e.g. Tarmogoyf). There are also cards with abilities that could reasonably function on the battlefield only and it has to be spelled out where they actually do work (e.g. Anger). – Hackworth Mar 7 '19 at 15:41
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    Anger specifically says "as long as CARDNAME is in your graveyard..."; I'm not sure that ability could "reasonably" function on the battlefield. I did leave out the CDA rule though, that is true. – Ertai87 Mar 7 '19 at 15:44
  • We could discuss endlessly what "reasonable" means, so let's not. Which is exactly why "boils down to" explanations are not very useful here and should be avoided when someone is not experienced enough to already know what the correct answer is. – Hackworth Mar 8 '19 at 10:30

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