The Counterspell feat lets spellcasters counteract a foe that is Casting a Spell, as long as they have the spell prepared and they can see it being cast, via expending that same spell. What if an enemy casts a cantrip? Would a spellcaster be able to Counterspell using that same cantrip?

Assuming the spellcaster has that spell prepared and can see it being cast, they'd be able to meet all the requirements of the Counterspell - they "lose [their] spell slot as if [they] had cast the triggering spell", which is to say that no spell slot would be lost because cantrips do not use spell slots, and they could then attempt to counteract. Would this work, rules as written?

Additionally, Clever Counterspell lets you use a different spell besides the one being cast as long as it shares a trait (or has an opposing trait) with the spell being cast. If cantrips work for Counterspell, would they work for use with Clever Counterspell?


1 Answer 1



The phrasing in Counterspell reads:

[Witch, Wizard] You expend a prepared spell... You lose your spell slot...

[Sorcerer] You expend one of your spell slots... You lose your spell slot...

Cantrips are not spell slots and neither can they be "expended". So they are not valid for Counterspell, and therefore also not valid for Clever Counterspell (although you could Clever Counterspell an enemy cantrip by expending your own spell slot). Further, the Cantrip rules seem to reinforce this connection:

Casting a cantrip doesn't use up your spell slots... You can't prepare a cantrip in a spell slot.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does Clever Counterspell work if you have the spell in your spellbook and expend some other 1st level spell, though? \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like it would. Interestingly, there appears to be no other way to counterspell a cantrip besides Clever Counterspell, making them essentially uncounterable until 12th level. \$\endgroup\$
    – user23801
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices it does seem like you can counterspell a cantrip by expending a non-cantrip spell, yes. Strategically it's almost always not worth it imo (given that cantrips auto-heighten to max level, so you'll need to spend a near max level spell to even have a chance). But it is possible, yes, and probably helpful in a few niche situations. But you cannot use a cantrip to counterspell anything, via Clever Counterspell or otherwise, unless there are some other feats out there I am missing. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 17:43

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