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What happens if a commander is sent to the command zone via Banishing Light and then enchantment is destroyed? Can the commander return to the battlefield from the command zone?.

I think that Oblivion Ring would not allow that to happen.

1 Answer 1

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Neither Banishing Light nor Oblivion Ring can return a commander from the command zone to the battlefield.

In the Commander rules, rule 903.9a says

If a commander is in a graveyard or in exile and that object was put into that zone since the last time state-based actions were checked, its owner may put it into the command zone. This is a state-based action. See rule 704.

So, after the ability on Banishing Light or Oblivion Ring finishes resolving, this state-based action moves the commander again from exile to the command zone. At that point, the enchantment loses track of the card, and can't bring it back later.


This is a change from previous rules, which allowed the commander to move to the command zone instead of the graveyard or exile as a replacement effect. Under those rules Banishing Light could return the commander from the command zone to the battlefield, but Oblivion Ring could not do that.

The main reason that it worked that way is rule 610.3:

Some one-shot effects cause an object to change zones “until” a specified event occurs. A second one-shot effect is created immediately after the specified event. This second one-shot effect returns the object to its previous zone.

Banishing Light's effect is one of these. The important thing to note is that returning the object to its previous zone does not depend on which zone it originally moved to.

Oblivion Ring, on the other hand, has two separate abilities, which are called linked abilities. Rule 607.2a describes how this kind of linked ability works:

If an object has an activated or triggered ability printed on it that instructs a player to exile one or more cards and an ability printed on it that refers either to “the exiled cards” or to cards “exiled with [this object],” these abilities are linked. The second ability refers only to cards in the exile zone that were put there as a result of an instruction to exile them in the first ability.

Because Oblivion Ring's second ability refers to "the exiled card", it can only find cards that are actually in the exile zone when it resolves.

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  • Ultimately this seems right, but it is not immediately obvious how "Banishing Light's ability is all one effect" and thus 400.7h is relevant in the light of 610.3 and the first ruling on Banishing Light (containing "cards like Banishing Light have a single ability that creates two one-shot effects"). Commented May 2, 2017 at 17:00
  • I switched the rule reference to 610.3. I think that is a better one to point to, and you're right that 400.7h is probably not actually relevant here.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 21:37
  • Re "you're right that 400.7h is probably not actually relevant here", Without 400.7h, BL wouldn't be able to find the card in Exile or the Command Zone to bring it back. So the scenario does indeed rely on 400.7h, but it's not the answer, so it doesn't need mentioning.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 5:53
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    Great question and answer! Normally, when dealing with zone changes and the answer is "no", the reason is 400.7 (a moved object is a new object). But not here! One of the exceptions applies. Oblivion Ring can still see the Commander in the Command Zone because it put it there (400.7h), so it could return the card to the battlefield from the Command Zone (just like Banishing Light, and for the same reasons as Banishing Light) ...except, as you say, because of 607.2a
    – ikegami
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 5:54

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