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There is a rule in commander that lets you put your commander in the command zone instead of other zones:

If a Commander would be put into a library, hand, graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead.

There are additional clarifications:

This is a replacement effect. It applies last and may apply multiple times to an event.

The creature never goes to the original destination zone and will not trigger abilities that trigger based on going there (e.g. "dies" triggers).

So, if I have to discard my hand, and my commander is in it, and I choose to put him in the command zone, does that trigger Liliana's Caress or similar cards?

  • Why in the world does that have a downvote? – DCShannon Nov 10 '15 at 21:38
  • Here is a related discussion on another site. – Rainbolt Nov 10 '15 at 21:53
  • @Rainbolt That's helpful. Three of us were googling for 5-10 minutes and never ran across that. Now we have a question on SE for posterity. – DCShannon Nov 10 '15 at 21:59
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    @ikegami A) Don't answer in comments. B) That's been established, read the answer. – DCShannon Nov 12 '15 at 2:01
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    @ikegami If you want to improve the answer, comment on the answer. He won't hear you here. – DCShannon Nov 12 '15 at 2:30
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Yes, it does count as being discarded.

Discard is a Keyword Action that means:

701.7a To discard a card, move it from its owner’s hand to that player’s graveyard.

The Commander replacement effect changes this to be:

To discard a card, move it from its owner’s hand to that player’s command zone.

Discard is a keyword action that tells you to move a card from one zone to another like destroy, sacrifice, or exile. The action doesn't care if parts of it were replaced with other actions, it still happened. Similarly if you have a Dragon Appeasement and sacrifice your commander you will get to draw a card.

Also since the actually being put into the graveyard is being replaced discarding your commander and putting it in the command zone will not trigger any "when this card enters the graveyard from anywhere" triggers like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, similar to how a sacrificed commander will not trigger any "dies" triggers.

Leyline of the Void sets up a similar type of replacement effect, it exiles cards instead of putting them in the graveyard, and it has this ruling:

If your opponent discards a card while you control Leyline of the Void, abilities that function when that card is discarded (such as Liliana's Caress's ability, or a madness ability of the discarded card) still work, even though that card never reaches that player's graveyard. In addition, spells or abilities that check the characteristics of the discarded card (such as Chandra Ablaze's first ability) can find that card in exile.

  • For some reason I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are tons of rulings on Gatherer about things like this; could be something helpful to include if you can think of one. The general idea of "if part of X is replaced with something else, it is still X" is very familiar. – Cascabel Nov 10 '15 at 21:40
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    @DCShannon 'Dies' is different because it triggers off of being put in the graveyard, discard is an action to put something in the graveyard but doesn't actually care if the thing gets there. – diego Nov 10 '15 at 21:43
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    "Dies" is a description of an event. If the event does not happen as described in rule 700.4, then it does not count as dying. "Discard" is a keyword action. Even if the results of the action change, the action was still taken. – murgatroid99 Nov 10 '15 at 21:46
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    There is an analogous ruling on Leyline of the Void that cards that "abilities that function when that card is discarded still work", and it specifically mentions Liliana's Caress as one such card. – murgatroid99 Nov 10 '15 at 21:51
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    There, the Leyline ruling did it. I also read the Keyword Action article on MTG Salvation, which helps to clear things up. Might want to make that a link and capitalize it to make it clear that it is an actual thing from the rules. – DCShannon Nov 10 '15 at 21:55

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