You’ve probably learned that an object that changes zones becomes a new object with no relation to its former self. But does that make sense? Like, for instance, if the card I Oblivion Ring becomes a new object when it’s exiled, how does the game know to bring it back? Or if the card I cast with Goblin Dark-Dwellers becomes a new object when it goes on the stack, how does the game know to exile it? The answer is that this rule has exceptions. These nine exceptions appear below, along with some examples that illustrate how they apply and why they’re needed.
400.7 An object that moves from one zone to another becomes a new object with no memory of, or relation to, its previous existence. There are nine exceptions to this rule:
400.7a Effects from spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities that change the characteristics of a permanent spell on the stack continue to apply to the permanent that spell becomes.
Example: Amy casts Thoughtlace on a Grizzly Bears while it’s on the stack. When it resolves, the Grizzly Bears creature is still blue.
Example: Amy uses Artificial Evolution to change “Goblin” to “Human” on a Goblin King spell on the stack. On the battlefield, this permanent will give all Humans +1/+1, and will be a Creature – Human itself. Its name will still be “Goblin King,” though, because text-changing effects can’t change an object’s name.
Example: Amy uses Sleight of Mind to change “red” to “black” on a Vulshok Refugee spell on the stack. On the battlefield, Vulshok Refugee will have protection from black (It will still be red, because its color comes from the mana symbols in its mana cost, which are not words, and thus, not found by Sleight of Mind).
400.7b Prevention effects that apply to damage from a permanent spell on the stack continue to apply to damage from the permanent that spell becomes.
Example: Nicole activates Circle of Protection: Red choosing her opponent’s Ball Lightning. When Ball Lightning resolves and attacks her, its combat damage will be prevented.
Non-example: Nicole casts Hallow on Amy’s Chandra, Flamecaller. When Chandra resolves, Amy uses its +1 and attacks Nicole with the 3/1 tokens. This damage is not prevented because its source isn’t Chandra, Flamecaller (though if Amy activates Chandra’s -X this turn, Hallow would apply to that).
Note: The wording “until end of turn” on Hallow is necessary because of this rule. Without it, the effect would last indefinitely, allowing a player to, for example, permanently nerf a Chandra Nalaar with it.
400.7c If an ability of a permanent requires information about choices made as that permanent was cast as a spell, including what mana was spent to cast that spell, it uses information about the spell that became that permanent as it resolved.
Example: Stormscape Battlemage. This creature’s triggered abilities only trigger once Stormscape Battlemage is on the battlefield. By this point, it is a new object with no memory of the spell that it used to be, and so no knowledge of whether the kickers were paid. This rule is necessary for Stormscape Battlemage to access this information.
Non-example: Woodland Wanderer, Cetavolver. These cards would work even without this rule, since their replacement effects apply before they enter the battlefield. There’s no need to “remember” what was happening while the spell was on the stack because it’s still there.
400.7d Abilities that trigger when an object moves from one zone to another can find the new object that it became in the zone it moved to when the ability triggered, if that zone is a public zone.
Example: Rancor. Rancor’s ability triggers when it is put into a graveyard from the battlefield. This is a leaves-the-battlefield trigger, and as such triggers based on the game state immediately before the event. This rule is necessary because Rancor-the-enchantment-on-the-battlefield is the source of this triggered ability, and it would otherwise have no way to find Rancor-the-completely-new-object-in-the-graveyard without this rule.
Non-example: Vigor (last ability). This rule is not necessary for Vigor’s “shuffle back in” ability to function because this ability uses the phrase “from anywhere.” This exempts it from being treated as a leaves-the-battlefield trigger, which means it triggers based on the game state immediately after the event happens. By this time, Vigor is in the graveyard, so we don’t need a specific rule to let Vigor find itself.
Non-example: Progenitus (last ability). This is not a triggered ability, so this rule does not apply here.
400.7e Abilities of Auras that trigger when the enchanted permanent leaves the battlefield can find the new object that Aura became in its owner’s graveyard if it was put into that graveyard at the same time the enchanted permanent left the battlefield. It can also find the new object that Aura became in its owner’s graveyard as a result of being put there as a state-based action for not being attached to a permanent.
Example: Necrotic Plague is enchanting Grizzly Bears. Grizzly Bears dies. Then, Necrotic Plague is put into its owner’s graveyard as a state-based action. After that, its ability triggers. Because it is a leaves-the-battlefield ability, it triggers based on the game state immediately before that event happened. This rule is necessary to help Necrotic-Plague-on-the-battlefield, the ability’s source, find Necrotic-Plague-the-new-object-in-the-graveyard, which is moved on that ability’s resolution.
400.7f If an effect grants a nonland card an ability that allows it to be cast, that ability will continue to apply to the new object that card became after it moved to the stack as a result of being cast this way.
Example: Snapcaster Mage gives Lightning Bolt flashback. When Lightning Bolt is cast, it’s moved to the stack and becomes a new object. Because of this rule, Lightning Bolt still has flashback on the stack when the game is determining whether it is legal for it to be cast.
Non-example: Amy casts Scathe Zombies from her graveyard using Gisa and Geralf. This rule is not necessary for that to happen because Gisa and Geralf doesn’t give an ability to Scathe Zombies that lets it be cast from the graveyard. Rather, Gisa and Geralf’s ability functions by changing the rules of the game to allow its controller to cast a spell from an unusual zone. Which spell it applies to each turn isn’t locked in ahead of time, which means it isn’t necessary to track the card from the zone it came from to the stack. Similar to effects that grant extra land plays to a player, the game just sees that there’s something in the game that lets Scathe Zombies be cast and allows it.
400.7g If an effect allows a nonland card to be cast, other parts of that effect can find the new object that card becomes after it moves to the stack as a result of being cast this way.
Example: Amy casts Lightning Bolt using Goblin Dark-Dwellers‘ ability. Although the Lightning Bolt spell on the stack will be a new object, distinct from the one that was in the graveyard, this rule lets Goblin Dark-Dwellers’ effect track Lightning Bolt onto the stack, so it will get exiled.
Example: Amy activates Havengul Lich to allow her to cast Prodigal Sorcerer from her graveyard. After she casts it, Havengul Lich’s ability will trigger and give it the sorcerer’s ping ability, even though the Prodigal Sorcerer spell on the stack is not the same object as the Prodigal Sorcerer that was targeted in the graveyard.
400.7h If an effect causes an object to move to a public zone, other parts of that effect can find that object. If the cost of a spell or ability causes an object to move to a public zone, that spell or ability’s effects can find that object.
Example: Long Road Home. When the delayed trigger from Long Road Home tries to return the exiled card, it will be able to find it, even though it’s in a different zone.
Example: Rescue from the Underworld. Rescue from the Underworld can find the sacrificed creature card in the graveyard when it’s time to return it.
Non-example: Momentous Fall‘s cost causes the sacrificed creature to change zones, so it would be able to find the creature in the graveyard. That isn’t what happens, though. Because Momentous Fall references the “creature’s” power and toughness (rather than the sacrificed “card”), the game will use the last known information of that creature’s characteristics while it was on the battlefield (a “creature” is an object on the battlefield; a “card” is the term used for that object once it’s in the graveyard). Momentous Fall does not even attempt to look at the sacrificed card in its owner’s graveyard, although it could do that if it needed to (though for that to happen, it would need to be worded differently).
400.7i After resolving a madness triggered ability, if the exiled card wasn’t cast and was moved to a public zone, effects referencing the discarded card can find that object.
Example: Amy discards Murderous Compulsion and is compelled to exile it with its madness ability. If she doesn’t cast it, this rule means that, for example, Shadow of the Grave will be able to find Murderous Compulsion and return it to Amy’s hand. If Amy did cast Murderous Compulsion with madness, its trip to the stack would cause it to lose all connection to the object it was when it was discarded, so it would not be returned by Shadow of the Grave.