This is a follow-up question to Will a God Eternal enchanted with Deep Freeze shuffle back into the deck if it dies?

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn has this line of text:

When Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is put into a graveyard from anywhere, its owner shuffles their graveyard into their library.

If Emrakul loses its abilities somehow (e.g., because of Humility, or if it were somehow enchanted by Deep Freeze), and then dies, does this effect still trigger to shuffle it back?

I'm guessing yes in the case of Deep Freeze since presumably when it "enters the graveyard" it has regained all its abilities. This is in contrast to God-Eternal Oketra, whose ability triggers when it dies (not when it enters the graveyard). In the case of Humility, I'm guessing no, since Humility's text doesn't say it only affects creatures on the battlefield, and so presumably also affects creatures in the graveyard.


2 Answers 2


Yes, your graveyard will be shuffled back into your library.

This is a bit of an unusual situation because it's a triggered ability using the unusual phrase “from anywhere”.

Normally triggered abilities look at the current state of the game: we care only about what cards look like now. There's an exception made for a handful of triggered abilities that instead “look back in time”, which means we look at what the game state was like previously to determine whether and how any abilities trigger. The most common one is when a creature dies: in that case we look at the game state when the creature was last on the battlefield. Deep Freeze or Humility would remove all abilities from a creature, so that means usually a “When this creature dies” ability wouldn't trigger, so God-Eternals wouldn't shuffle back into your library.

That's according to these rules (under the section Handling triggered abilities, emphasis added):

603.10 Normally, objects that exist immediately after an event are checked to see if the event matched any trigger conditions [based on the game state and continuous effects as they apply now.] However, some triggered abilities are exceptions to this rule; the game “looks back in time” to determine if those abilities trigger, using the existence of those abilities and the appearance of objects immediately prior to the event. The list of exceptions is as follows:

603.10a Some zone-change triggers look back in time. These are leaves-the-battlefield abilities, abilities that trigger when a card leaves a graveyard, and abilities that trigger when an object that all players can see is put into a hand or library.

However, Emrakul's put-into-the-graveyard ability doesn't match any of these exception criteria. In particular it is never treated as a leaves-the-battlefield ability:

603.6c Leaves-the-battlefield abilities trigger when a permanent moves from the battlefield to another zone [...] An ability that triggers when a card is put into a certain zone “from anywhere” is never treated as a leaves-the-battlefield ability, even if an object is put into that zone from the battlefield.

This means we don't look back in time for Emrakul's ability, as surprising as that might be. We just do the default: we look at Emrakul's state once it's in the graveyard.

In the graveyard, Emrakul has all of its abilities intact. (Recall that Humility doesn't affect cards in the graveyard.) A trigger condition has been met—we know Emrakul has just been put into the graveyard—so we put that triggered ability on the stack. If it resolves, we shuffle your graveyard, probably including Emrakul, into your library.

Additional notes

  • If Yixlid Jailer is on the battlefield it will prevent Emrakul's ability from being triggered. This is because we check for Emrakul's triggered ability once it's already in the graveyard, but at that point it will have no abilities at all.
  • There are also various ways to stop the ability from doing anything useful: you can counter the triggered ability or exile all cards from that graveyard before the ability resolves.
  • Although Blightsteel Colossus has a similar effect it behaves differently because it is a replacement effect. If it loses all abilities on the battlefield then dies, it will be put into the graveyard and stay there. This is because we have to check the replacement effect in the previous zone before it reaches the graveyard, and on the battlefield the replacement effect doesn't exist.
  • 700.4. The term dies means "is put into a graveyard from the battlefield." - what is the difference between Oketra's "dies" and Emrakul's "put into a graveyard from anywhere" in the specific case of anywhere = battlefield as per the question?
    – Hackworth
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 10:44
  • 2
    @Hackworth 603.6c tells us “put into a zone from anywhere” abilities are never leaves-the-battlefield abilities, even if that's exactly what happened, and therefore we don't look back in time. So, that's the difference: God-Eternal Oketra has a leaves-the-battlefield ability and Emrakul doesn't. One looks back in time, the other doesn't. When the card hits the graveyard we know it's hit the graveyard: enters-the-battlefield abilities don't look back in time either, but we know the card's entered the battlefield. Commented May 8, 2019 at 11:06
  • 2
    @Hackworth Oketra does not use the words “from anywhere”. Emrakul does use “from anywhere”. Oketra is still treated as an ordinary leaves-the-battlefield ability. Emrakul's is not, specifically because 603.6c says it is never treated as one, even if the card is in fact leaving the battlefield. So, no, they're not using the exact same wording and their wording difference matters. From this it follows that Oketra is covered by 603.10a so we look back in time for her, but Emrakul is not so we do not look back in time for her. Commented May 8, 2019 at 11:23
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    On 700.4: Emrakul is definitely considered to have died. Leaves-the-battlefield abilities might trigger because of that, and normally those would look back in time (because of 603.10a) and thus care about its state as it last existed on the battlefield, because they did not use the “from anywhere” wording. However, Emrakul's own ability is not a leaves-the-battlefield ability (because of 603.6c) and meets none of the looks-back-in-time exceptions in 603.10, therefore for that specific ability we only care about its state in the graveyard. Commented May 8, 2019 at 11:31
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    @Allure Blightsteel Colossus has a replacement effect, which only gets checked when it's still in the previous zone about to be moved to the graveyard. This means if it's about to be put into a graveyard from the battlefield while it's got no abilities, it can't actually replace the move, and so it moves to the graveyard and stays there. Emrakul has a triggered ability, which is checked after it is in the graveyard, at which point it will have all of its abilities. Commented May 9, 2019 at 8:18

No, Emrakul is not shuffled back. Both with Deep Freeze and Humility, Emrakul dies as a creature without abilities, and will not trigger its shuffle-back ability because it doesn't have it at that time. In order for Emrakul to regain its shuffle-back ability, it has to be in a zone other than the battlefield (i.e. the graveyard), but by that time the trigger event has already happened and can't trigger Emrakul's ability.

Both Deep Freeze and Humility create continuous effects. Continuous effects are always in effect as long as the generating object and the objects it affects are in their appropriate zones:

611.3a A continuous effect generated by a static ability isn't "locked in"; it applies at any given moment to whatever its text indicates.

611.3b The effect applies at all times that the permanent generating it is on the battlefield or the object generating it is in the appropriate zone.

If Emrakul was enchanted with Deep Freeze and it dies, Deep Freeze is still attached to Emrakul as it hits the graveyard. Deep Freze only becomes unattached as a state-based action that happens after Emrakul hit the graveyard. Therefore, Emrakul hits the graveyard as an enchanted creature without abilities:

704 State-Based Actions

704.5m If an Aura is attached to an illegal object or player, or is not attached to an object or player, that Aura is put into its owner's graveyard.

What matters is the state of Emrakul as it last existed on the battlefield. Both with Humility on the battlefield and when enchanted with Deep Freeze, Emrakul was a creature without abilities when it died, so it has no ability to trigger. By the time Emrakul regains its abilities, it's already in the graveyard, and it's too late to notice the zone-change event.

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