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Jace, Vryn's Prodigy has the text

If there are five or more cards in your graveyard, exile Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, then return him to the battlefield transformed under his owner's control.

What is the point of exiling him and then returning him?

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There are 2 aspects to this question:

  1. Why is it necessary at all to include extra actions, why not just transform Jace?

Answer: If Jace was simply transformed from creature to planeswalker, he would not get his 5 loyalty counters and would go to the graveyard as a state-based action. A planeswalker only gets the initial loyalty counters when the permanent that represents it enters the battlefield as a planeswalker.

It's also in the card's rulings, indirectly:

In some rare cases, a spell or ability may cause one of these five cards to transform while it’s a creature (front face up) on the battlefield. If this happens, the resulting planeswalker won’t have any loyalty counters on it and will subsequently be put into its owner’s graveyard.

  1. To solve problem 1, why exile Jace instead of taking all required steps manually?

To fully "reset" a creature so that nothing can continue affecting the planeswalker or generally cause confusion, you would have to take care of many things: Remove all counters, unattach auras (there are "enchant permanent" auras that do not fall off automatically) and equipments, end permanent effects that would continue to be active after transformation such as change of controller and color, remove effects such as Cipher, and so on; finally you would have to add 5 loyalty counters manually.

Exiling and returning the creature transformed takes care of all of these issues at once, and, maybe most importantly in this context, it also takes care of any future issues that could crop up from new mechanics and interactions.

Furthermore, solving these issues explicitly would require much more rules text on the card.

In conclusion, the answer is From a rules perspective it's one possible solution that produces a functional planeswalker, and from a design perspective it's the most elegant and future-proof way of doing so.

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  • I fixed it. As a League of Legends player, I kept thinking of the champion named Jayce. – Hackworth Jan 22 '16 at 19:36
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    Don't forget flavor. Non-planeswalker, spark ignites, leaves, returns changed. – JonTheMon Jan 22 '16 at 19:50
  • @JonTheMon I don't really buy that flavor argument, without official proof. After all, you could make the same argument about all transform permanents, but only the creature->planeswalker transformers do have that mechanic. – Hackworth Jan 23 '16 at 11:57
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    @Hackworth Planeswalkers go somewhere completely different (another plane!) when their spark ignites. (Official sources were pretty clear about this process and that it's what's represented on the card.) Werewolves don't go to another plane, they stay right there and change. – Cascabel Jan 23 '16 at 16:24
  • @Jefromi Could you provide such a source then? The answer to the other question also cites no source. – Hackworth Jan 23 '16 at 16:37
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Nothing would have prevented them from saying:

Remove all counters from ~. Put five loyalty counters on ~ and transform it.

(Note that auras and equipment would drop off due to its new non-creature status.)

But then it wouldn't have "entered the battlefield". For the standard at the time and now, this would have been an insignificant change. For Oath of the Gatewatch, however, there are cards where it specifically and significantly matters (that is to say the primary effect of the card would be negated for these, as opposed to a simple side-effect of the existing complexity of Magic):

Oath of Gideon

Each planeswalker you control enters the battlefield with an additional loyalty counter on it.

Oath of Chandra

At the beginning of each end step, if a planeswalker entered the battlefield under your control this turn, Oath of Chandra deals 2 damage to each opponent.

In order to trigger these new cards, the flip cards would have had to actually entered the battlefield, not simply transformed.

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  • "all plays would have been exactly the same" seems to disagree quite substantially with the other answer. – murgatroid99 Jan 22 '16 at 18:39
  • It actually doesn't. I read it multiple times and find nothing conflicting. – corsiKa Jan 22 '16 at 18:40
  • While auras and equipment would fall off, at least counters would remain on the planeswalker, which seems undesirable and confusing – Hackworth Jan 22 '16 at 18:41
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    @murgatroid99 None of those cards are from Battle for Zendikar. "For Battle For Zendikar [...] all plays would have been exactly the same". The answer then goes on to list cards outside of BFZ that make a difference. – Rainbolt Jan 22 '16 at 19:33
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    I can justify the inclusion of everything on that list, if asked. And Aegis Angel was printed in Origins, as was Willbreaker (which would have been on my list, except that I was going in alphabetical order). – murgatroid99 Jan 22 '16 at 20:42

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