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I put a Sylvan Primordial into play and target a Detention Sphere that previously exiled my Primeval bounty. As part of Sylvan Primordial's triggered ability, I get to search for a forest card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Do I gain 3 life as part of Primeval Bounty's triggered ability or is it not returned to the battlefield yet?

  • It has not returned yet. Primordial destroys the Sphere and searches for the land all in one trigger, and only after that the Primeval Bounty returns. – tsuma534 Nov 9 '16 at 11:55
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    @tsuma please post that as an answer. – doppelgreener Nov 9 '16 at 12:46
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    Interestingly, this scenario plays out differently if Detention Sphere is replaced with Banishing Light. – murgatroid99 Nov 9 '16 at 16:42
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Let's look at the stack:

  • We play Sylvan Primordial.
  • Sylvan Primordial resolves, and is removed from the stack.
  • Sylvan Primordial's 'Enters the battlefield' ability is placed on the stack. You choose Detention Sphere as the target.
  • Sylvan Primordial's triggered ability resolves. Detention Sphere is destroyed, and you may search your library for 1 Forest and put it into play tapped.
  • Because the Detention Sphere was destroyed, its 'Leaves the battlefield' ability is now placed on the stack.
  • Detention Sphere's triggered ability resolves. 'Return previously exiled Primeval Bounty to play' - The forest is already in play, so it doesn't trigger Primeval Bounty's ability.

Because you might assume that there's a timing difference between the destroying of permanents and the counting of those permanents for the forest-retrieval effect, it's logical to think that the consequences of said destruction will have already resolved. This is not the case however, as is shown by Sylvan Primordial's specific Ruling on the Gatherer:

If Sylvan Primordial’s enters-the-battlefield ability resolves but one of the target noncreature permanents isn’t destroyed (perhaps because it has indestructible or it regenerated), it won’t count toward the number of Forest cards you can put onto the battlefield.

Its ETB trigger resolves in one motion, and the additional ruling compensates for the difference in targets chosen vs targets saved by opponents.

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    One nitpick, the choice of Detention Sphere as the target of Sylvan Primordial's destruction should be in the second bullet, since targets are chosen when the ability goes on the stack. – Nuclear Wang Nov 9 '16 at 13:54
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    I edited that comment into the answer. I have another nitpick: What is referred to as "Oracle errata" is not errata at all. It is just a rules clarification. The card would function exactly the same even without that ruling. Oracle errata is when the printed card text is different than the Oracle card text. I drew some crude circles to demonstrate. – Rainbolt Nov 9 '16 at 14:46
  • @Rainbolt why edit in all the other changes and not that one? – steenbergh Nov 9 '16 at 17:25
  • @steenbergh I would have eliminated the last two paragraphs, as well as the rules quote, which is a bigger change than I'm comfortable making to someone else's answer. Those paragraphs imply that, without the ruling, it would be logical to assume that the card behaves differently. Maybe the word you were looking for was "instinctive" or "intuitive", as in "You might instinctively assume that [...], but a ruling on the Gatherer [...]". So yea, my nitpick is small, but the edit would have been large. – Rainbolt Nov 9 '16 at 18:47
  • @Rainbolt You're right, and I do respect your thoughtfulness. I thought that would have been clear by the wording already, but I've reworded it to bring home your point. I do believe stepping into and disarming that assumption is important; I've seen these 'natural language' interpretations lead to discrepancies with the rules before... – steenbergh Nov 9 '16 at 22:41

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