7

Decree of Silence says:

Whenever an opponent casts a spell, counter that spell and put a depletion counter on Decree of Silence. If there are three or more depletion counters on Decree of Silence, sacrifice it.

Can I "stretch" my Decree of Silence by using other spells and abilities to counter spells so its triggers will fizzle?

For example:

  • If my opponent casts a Sorcery, can I use Negate from my hand to counter it so that Decree won't get a depletion counter?
  • If I also have a Jace, Unraveler of Secrets emblem ("Whenever an opponent casts his or her first spell each turn, counter that spell") in play, can I sequence the two triggers so that the first spell each opponent casts each turn won't cause Decree to get depletion counters?
  • You can use cards like Solemnity to prevent counters being put on Decree, or Hex Parasite which lets you remove counters (you'd have to activate it before the third counter goes on). – Soulus101 Mar 12 at 12:54
  • You'll need to counter the Decree's ability with something like stifle – mreux Mar 12 at 14:47
14

No, because casting a spell is different from resolving a spell, and adding a depletion counter does not depend on Degree of Silence actually countering the spell.

When you counter a spell, you only prevent it from resolving.

701.5a To counter a spell or ability means to cancel it, removing it from the stack. It doesn’t resolve and none of its effects occur. A countered spell is put into its owner’s graveyard.

Decree of Silence triggers on an oponent casting a spell. That event happens as soon as the opponent has put the spell on the stack, made all choices, and paid all costs. It's impossible to retroactively prevent the casting of a spell.

601.2. To cast a spell is to take it from where it is (usually the hand), put it on the stack, and pay its costs, so that it will eventually resolve and have its effect. [..]

601.2i Once the steps described in 601.2a–h are completed, effects that modify the characteristics of the spell as it’s cast are applied, then the spell becomes cast. Any abilities that trigger when a spell is cast or put onto the stack trigger at this time. If the spell’s controller had priority before casting it, they get priority.

Decree of Silence's ability also won't fizzle once it's triggered. It is not necessary for Decree of Silence to actually counter the spell to get a counter. Countering the spell and placing a counter are independent of each other, so it doesn't matter if the spell that triggered it is countered beforehand. If you counter the spell before DoS resolves, DoS will still do as much as possible:

609.3. If an effect attempts to do something impossible, it does only as much as possible.

Its ability does not target anything, so it can't fizzle due to lack of targets. It does not require any information about the spell as it resolves, so there is no potential for failing to carry out its instructions on those grounds. While exceptions exist, triggered abilities generally don't care about what happens to the source once they have triggered.

If the "adding a counter" effect was dependant on "countering that spell", the ability would be worded as a special kind of delayed triggered ability:

603.12. A resolving spell or ability may allow or instruct a player to take an action and create a triggered ability that triggers “when [a player] [does or doesn’t]” take that action or “when [something happens] this way.” These reflexive triggered abilities follow the rules for delayed triggered abilities (see rule 603.7), except that they’re checked immediately after being created and trigger based on whether the trigger event or events occurred earlier during the resolution of the spell or ability that created them.

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    @Alex P It specifies "by countering spells first," and the examples clearly relate to using other spells and effects to counter the spell before. To this end, if Decree of Silence was worded "...If you do, put a depletion..." then what he wants to do would work. – Soulus101 Mar 12 at 12:57
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    I wholeheartedly agree with this answer, but I think it could be clearer that there exists a second template for dependent actions that isn't covered by 603.12: ones that use "if" instead of "when" (like Promise of Bunrei or Standstill). Perhaps these were what you were referring to in the middle of the answer when you say "Countering the spell and placing a counter are independent of each other", but the final paragraph (about rule 603.12) makes it seem a bit like that's the only way to template these dependent effects. – Ben P. Mar 12 at 21:10
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    @BenP. I'm pretty sure those are the same templates. "If [something happens]" and "when [something happens]" are, as far as I know, equivalent for these linked instructions. Also note that the "if [something happens]" rule you're referring to is in section 118.12, which is the general section of the rules. Many of the rules in that section are explained in more depth in later sections, even if there is no explicit reference to that later section. – Hackworth Mar 12 at 21:29
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    @BenP. For evidence that if and when are interchangeable in this case, see these two Gatherer searches: You may (x). When you do, (Y) and You may (X). If you do, (Y) – Hackworth Mar 12 at 21:34
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    @Hackworth they are not interchangeable. Consider Heart-Piercer Manticore and Lightning Rift. The first creates a second trigger, so the opponent knows whether or not you are actually going to sacrifice a creature before having to decide what to do. The second does not, and so the opponent must respond before you decide wether to pay {1} or not. – Ben P. Mar 12 at 22:06
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No, because Decree of Silence gaining a counter does not depend on it actually countering the spell.

Compare the related card Remand, which says:

Counter target spell. If that spell is countered this way, put it into its owner's hand instead of into that player's graveyard.

If Decree of Silence had been worded this way - with "if that spell is countered this way, put a depletion counter on Decree of Silence" - then the answer would be "yes". But it isn't worded this way, so the answer is "no".

In the same way an opponent casting an uncounterable spell would still put a depletion counter on Decree of Silence.

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  • The question was whether the triggered ability resolves at all if the spell is no longer on the stack. Your example is more like Decree of Silence vs. Prowling Serpopard. – Alex P Mar 12 at 19:55
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    @AlexP seems the answer is a clear-cut "no" then, since it doesn't use the word "target", so it can't fizzle. – Allure Mar 12 at 20:12

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