Vhati il-Dal and Skillbriar

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If I get attacked with a Skullbriar with a bunch of counters on it, or even any creature with a bunch of counters, can I use [c]Vhati il-Dal[c/]s ability to give it 1 power in order to not get hit for damage? Or would the counters still be there? I played a commander last night where I encountered this situation and the two other players insisted that the counters would still be there and that I would get hit for full damage. Is that how it would work? I would have thought that because I had used the ability after the counters had been gained that the power would just go right down to one.
The counters are still there, and they still matter. You can think of Vhati il-Dal as setting Skullbriar's base power to one. Counters and other effects can still modify his power.

This is a consequence of the layering rules. All continous effects are applied in this way. The relevant rules in this scenario are the last three, which tell us how P/T setting effects interact with P/T modifying effects.

613.1a Layer 1: Copy effects are applied. See rule 706, “Copying Objects.”
613.1b Layer 2: Control-changing effects are applied.
613.1c Layer 3: Text-changing effects are applied. See rule 612, “Text-Changing Effects.”
613.1d Layer 4: Type-changing effects are applied. These include effects that change an object’s card type, subtype, and/or supertype.
613.1e Layer 5: Color-changing effects are applied.
613.1f Layer 6: Ability-adding and ability-removing effects are applied.
613.1g Layer 7: Power- and/or toughness-changing effects are applied.
613.3a Layer 7a: Effects from characteristic-defining abilities that define power and/or toughness are applied. See rule 604.3.
613.3b Layer 7b: Effects that set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value are applied.
613.3c Layer 7c: Effects that modify power and/or toughness (but don’t set power and/or toughness to a specific number or value) are applied.
613.3d Layer 7d: Power and/or toughness changes from counters are applied. See rule 121, “Counters.”
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