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I have a question regarding Phytotitan, it's a 7/2 creature wich states:

When Phytotitan dies, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control tapped at the beginning of his or her next upkeep.

If Phytotitan dies and afterwards is exiled from the graveyard, does it still return to the battlefield?

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Every time a card or token changes zone, it becomes a new object [CR 400.7]. There's an exception allowing the triggered ability to see the newly formed object in the graveyard [CR 400.7d]. That's the only object the triggered ability can fetch back. If the object ceases to exist because the card leaves the graveyard (even if it comes back), the triggered ability can't find it. This is summarized by CR 603.7c (quoted below). –  ikegami Jul 28 at 15:32

3 Answers 3

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No, it won't return. When Phytotitan dies, its ability triggers, and then when that ability resolves, it sets up a separate, delayed triggered ability that will automatically go off at the beginning of the owner's next upkeep. That delayed triggered ability is "watching" the Phytotitan card in the graveyard. If the card changes zones (such as by getting exiled), then the delayed triggered ability loses track of it, so when the delayed ability resolves, it won't find the Phytotitan and thus won't return it.

This applies even if Phytotitan is removed from the graveyard and then put back, by the way. The delayed triggered ability only tracks the card as long as it stays put in the graveyard, and if the card is moved elsewhere, the ability stops tracking.

603.7c. A delayed triggered ability that refers to a particular object still affects it even if the object changes characteristics. However, if that object is no longer in the zone it’s expected to be in at the time the delayed triggered ability resolves, the ability won’t affect it. (Note that if that object left that zone and then returned, it’s a new object and thus won’t be affected. See rule 400.7.)

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I found the official ruling with help from you anwser and edited your answer with it, thank you. –  Siebe Jul 28 at 11:44

The technical answer:

Every time a card or token changes zone, it becomes a new object[CR 400.7]. There's an exception allowing the triggered ability to see the newly formed object in the graveyard[CR 400.7d]. That's the only object the triggered ability can fetch back. If the object ceases to exist because the card leaves the graveyard (even if it comes back), the triggered ability can't find it.

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 seven exceptions to this rule:

400.7d Abilities that trigger when an object moves from one zone to another (for example, “When Rancor is put into a graveyard from the battlefield”) 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.

This is summarized by CR 603.7c.

603.7c. A delayed triggered ability that refers to a particular object still affects it even if the object changes characteristics. However, if that object is no longer in the zone it’s expected to be in at the time the delayed triggered ability resolves, the ability won’t affect it. (Note that if that object left that zone and then returned, it’s a new object and thus won’t be affected. See rule 400.7.)

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When it enters the graveyard, the "return it to the battlefield under its owner's control tapped at the beginning of his or her next upkeep" goes on the stack. If you react to it by exiling it from the graveyard, that resolves first, so it won't come back to the battlefield.

Same thing is true for example with creatures with undying or persist.

/edit: When the ability resolves successfully, and it is exiled after that. It shouldn't matter if the card is still in the graveyard, since the card doesn't state it returns from the graveyard. (I'm not 100% sure about this, about 99,9% sure)

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I get that exiling in reponse to the ability itself stops it from returning. But for example: Phytotitan dies from combat damage in my opponent's combat phase and the triggered ability resolves without any response. In the opponent's second main phase he casts a sorcery that exiles all cards in my graveyard. Then I still get my Phytotitan back right? Because the trigger initially resolved normally? –  Siebe Jul 28 at 10:57

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