Some cards like Necromancy, Animate Dead, and Dance of the Dead have text like "When ~ enters the battlefield, if it’s on the battlefield, do something". What is the purpose of the "if it’s on the battlefield" part of that trigger? It seems like it's there to prevent some form of abuse, but I'm not sure what that abuse would look like.

1 Answer 1


The "if it's on the battlefield" clause specifically prevents the triggered ability from resolving if the permanent leaves the battlefield while the ability is on the stack. On each of the cards listed, the triggered ability in question also creates a delayed triggered ability that says "When ~ leaves the battlefield, that creature’s controller sacrifices it." If the permanent has already left the battlefield by the time the first triggered ability resolves, that delayed triggered ability will never trigger and you will never be forced to sacrifice the referenced creature.

So, the abuse that clause is intended to avoid is removing the enchantment in response to the triggered ability so that the creature can be reanimated indefinitely without any of the downsides the enchantment applies.

  • I'm curious why those cards weren't retemplated to use the "until ~ leaves the battlefield" wording that Banisher Priest et al do, since that template is designed to cover the same timing gap.
    – Cadence
    Nov 6, 2021 at 1:48
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    Because Wizards avoids doing functional errata whenever possible, and these cards function without it. Plus, even though the rules around moving a card to a zone "until" an event don't exclude the battlefield, objects generally move from battlefield to the graveyard because they are destroyed or sacrificed. Adding that kind of delayed one-shot effect to that increases complexity in a way I assume they want to avoid.
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 6, 2021 at 7:48
  • @murgatroid99 Both the "until ~ leaves the battlefield" template and the intervening if clause template here seem to have the same effect - if the object is removed from the battlefield before its ETB trigger resolves, nothing happens, so I don't see how this would be a functional errata. Auras are always a bit odd though, and these are three especially odd auras, so there may be a subtlety here I'm missing. Nov 6, 2021 at 10:34
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    I am not sure if I am thinking about the same usage of "until ~ leaves the battlefield" you are referring to. If you mean writing "When ~ leaves the battlefield, put target creature card from your graveyard onto the battlefield under your control until ~ leaves the battlefield." instead of having "When ~ leaves the battlefield, that creature's controller sacrifices it." the functional difference is that the event that causes the creature to leave the battlefield is no longer a triggered ability and nobody can respond to it.
    – murgatroid99
    Nov 6, 2021 at 16:25

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