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Mimic Vat has two abilities. The one I am concerned with is:

Imprint — Whenever a nontoken creature dies, you may exile that card. If you do, return each other card exiled with Mimic Vat to its owner's graveyard.

Anthony controls his commander, Ezuri, Renegade Leader. He also controls Mimic Vat with Llanowar Elves imprinted. The following occurs:

  • Ezuri dies
  • Mimic Vat triggers and resolves
  • Anthony chooses to Exile Ezuri
  • Anthony replaces the event, "exile that card", by sending Ezuri to the Command zone

We are not done following Mimic Vat's instructions.

If you do, return each other card exiled with Mimic Vat to its owner's graveyard.

This is where I get confused. I see two possible interpretations of "If you do":

  • "If you [exile that card], ..."
  • "If you [choose to exile that card], ..."

Which interpretation is correct? Have we satisfied the condition? Does Llanowar Elves end up in its owner's graveyard, or does it remain in exile?

  • Isn't Rofellos banned in commander? – Zags May 26 '15 at 15:42
  • Rofellos was banned specifically as a commander back when it was EDH; looks like Wizards ported that by just having him banned writ large, which is too bad – Zags May 26 '15 at 15:44
  • 1
    @Zags Wizards didn't do that, the Commander Rules Committee decided fairly recently to get rid of the "Banned as Commander" list and just merge it into the regular Banned List to reduce confusion. – diego May 26 '15 at 15:58
10

The correct interpretation is the second option. You have satisfied the condition, and Llanowar Elves ends up in its owner's graveyard. This is because rule 117.12 says

Some spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities read, "[Do something]. If [a player] [does or doesn't], [effect]." or "[A player] may [do something]. If [that player] [does or doesn't], [effect]." The action [do something] is a cost, paid when the spell or ability resolves. The "If [a player] [does or doesn't]" clause checks whether the player chose to pay an optional cost or started to pay a mandatory cost, regardless of what events actually occurred.

in addition, rule 117.11 says

The actions performed when paying a cost may be modified by effects. Even if they are, meaning the actions that are performed don't match the actions that are called for, the cost has still been paid.

In this specific scenario, the cost of moving Ezuri to the exile zone is replaced by moving it to the command zone, but the cost still counts as paid.

  • More specifically, it's choosing to exile it in the sense of choosing to and initially being able to. I'm not sure the distinction matters in this case, but for example if you put an Assault Suit ("can't be sacrificed") on a Living Lore ("...you may sacrifice it. If you do...") then you can't make that choice in the first place. – Cascabel May 26 '15 at 15:36
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ire_and_curses May 30 '15 at 16:51
4

It simply checks the choice you made.

117.12. Some spells, activated abilities, and triggered abilities read, "[Do something]. If [a player] [does or doesn't], [effect]." or "[A player] may [do something]. If [that player] [does or doesn't], [effect]." The action [do something] is a cost, paid when the spell or ability resolves. The "If [a player] [does or doesn't]" clause checks whether the player chose to pay an optional cost or started to pay a mandatory cost, regardless of what events actually occurred.

Even if Ezuri wasn't exiled, the condition would still met because you chose to exile it, so Llanowar Elves does end up in its owner's graveyard.


The example you gave is rather poor because Ezuri was exiled in your scenario. While it didn't enter the Exile zone, it was exiled because it's not the exile action that was replaced but the put into exile action[1]. The following scenario is a better example:

  1. You deal combat damage with Abomination of Gudul.
  2. You have an empty library.
  3. You chose to draw a card.

You are normally forbidden to take an illegal or impossible action, but you are allowed to chose to draw a card even when it's illegal or impossible to draw a card[CR 608.2d].

In this scenario, you would have to discard a card because you chose to draw a card even though you couldn't perform the action.


  1. For example, if you were to sacrifice Blightsteel Colossus, Dragon Appeasement would allow you to draw a card even though Blightsteel Colossus never reached your graveyard.

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