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Currently building a Purphoros, God of the forge deck and I'm wondering if his ability is triggered when I pay x=0 for Stonecoil Serpent or does it go straight to the graveyard without entering the battlefield?

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Stonecoil Serpent does enter the battlefield as a 0/0 (causing Purphoros's ability to trigger), then dies immediately.

The exact events in order in case you want them:

  • Stonecoil Serpent enters the battlefield. Purphoros's ability triggers but is not put on the stack yet (603.2).
  • After Serpent resolves, you would normally get priority. Since a player is about to get priority, state-based actions are checked (704.3).
  • Serpent dies by state-based actions (704.5f).
  • State-based actions are checked again; none are relevant so now the ability is actually put on the stack (704.3).
  • State-based actions are checked one more time and then you get priority and the game proceeds normally.

The relevant parts of the rules cited above:

603.2. Whenever a game event or game state matches a triggered ability’s trigger event, that ability automatically triggers. The ability doesn’t do anything at this point.

603.3. Once an ability has triggered, its controller puts it on the stack as an object that’s not a card the next time a player would receive priority.

704.3. Whenever a player would get priority (see rule 117, “Timing and Priority”), the game checks for any of the listed conditions for state-based actions, then performs all applicable state-based actions simultaneously as a single event. If any state-based actions are performed as a result of a check, the check is repeated; otherwise all triggered abilities that are waiting to be put on the stack are put on the stack, then the check is repeated.

704.5f If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard.

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    One nitpick, the rule that would cause the serpent to die is 704.5f (If a creature has toughness 0 or less, it’s put into its owner’s graveyard. Regeneration can’t replace this event.), 704.5g only applies "If a creature has toughness greater than 0" – EagleV_Attnam Sep 8 at 11:41
  • Thanks - fixed. – Benjamin Cosman Sep 8 at 15:32

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