Cards exiled after a player loses

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Did a few searches with keywords and wasn't really getting anywhere so I thought I would ask. I was wondering if anyone understood (and can explain) the logic behind exiling all cards a player controlled but didn't own when they lose.  Instead of just sending the card's to the owner's graveyard.  This seemed like a more reasonable place to put the question then the Rules Q&A section.
If I had to guess, I'd say it's because there's no reason to put it into the graveyard. It wasn't destroyed or killed--what has happened is that the person who was controlling it has vanished. And if that happens, it seems much more reasonable for that player's stuff to simply no longer be relevant to the battle at hand than for it all to inexplicably die. Hence, exiling.

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

If I had to guess, I'd say it's because there's no reason to put it into the graveyard. It wasn't destroyed or killed--what has happened is that the person who was controlling it has vanished. And if that happens, it seems much more reasonable for that player's stuff to simply no longer be relevant to the battle at hand than for it all to inexplicably die. Hence, exiling.

That logic made sense when exile was "remove from the game", but since it's now considered to be just another zone, it's not really any less arbitrary than the graveyard, or any other choice. (Such as the battlefield under its owner's control, which is -- anecdotally -- how most people seem to think it works.)
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there are only very few cards that interact with the Exile zone, so it still is basically "removed from the game"
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Yeah, most cards that use the exile zone as "just another zone" do so via linked abilities. I consider Exiled to mean "gone forever" in all other cases. Because come on, nobody's running any copies of Pull From Eternity. Since the cards do have to go somewhere, the exile zone is probably the best choice.

However, you do bring up a very good point when you say that most players think it works differently. Most people I've dealt with personally are surprised to find that killing an opponent helps their pacified creature, but the one under the Oblivion Ring is now gone forever.
It's very unintuitive.  I think permanents controlled by a losing player should just revert back to their owners control, tapped.
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It's very unintuitive.  I think permanents controlled by a losing player should just revert back to their owners control, tapped.


Why tapped? I don't see any reason this should affect whether they're tapped or untapped.

Other than that, this is exactly what happens most of the time. I'm extremely surprised no-one has mentioned this as it's a significant problem with the premise of the whole question. When a player leaves a multiplayer game, the following things happen in this order:


  • All objects they own leave the game.

  • All change-of-control effects giving them control of anything end.

  • Anything on the stack they control ceases to exist. *

  • If they somehow still control anything, it is exiled.


Most things an exiting player controls but doesn't own will return to their owner's (or previous controller's) control, either as a side-effect of step 1 (e.g. for something grabbed with Control Magic) or as a direct result of step 2. This doesn't change whether they're tapped or untapped, but other than that it mostly works the way you say it should. Only in cases such as Bribery where there is no change-of-control effect and no dependance on the continued existence of a permanent that's going away will the fourth step matter. So it's quite rare for anything to be exiled this way, and flat-out untrue that everything is.



* There is some dispute over whether this step means what it says. Some people insist it only applies to abilities and to copies of cards/spells, but doesn't apply in the rare case where a spell represented by an actual card would be affected. There is no rules support for this position that I can see. Fortunately, it doesn't affect the question on the table in this thread.


Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Well... to be fair, cards like Bribery, Sen Triplets, and Shared Fate come up in Multiplayer (especially commander), at *least* as often as "normal" control effects.
And the very fact that what happens in the two cases is so radically different is baffling to most players. I see no reason why everything can't just revert to it's owner.

Because come on, nobody's running any copies of Pull From Eternity. Since the cards do have to go somewhere, the exile zone is probably the best choice.

 
True... But I've seen *tons* of riftsweepers. And why exactly, do the cards have to *go* anywhere? Remaining on the battlefield seems the simplist and most intuitive solution.
they can't remain on the battlefield without a controller, that would just cause lots of problems
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there are only very few cards that interact with the Exile zone, so it still is basically "removed from the game"

I'm not saying exile is a bad choice, but the philosophy is different. Before, the player leaves the game, it makes sense that stuff she controls also "leaves the game". But exile isn't really leaving the game, it's just moving to a different part of it. So it's not quite as clear as it may seem.

It's very unintuitive.  I think permanents controlled by a losing player should just revert back to their owners control, tapped.

The likes of Mind Control, or even Dominate, will do that (minus the tapping). It's only when the card actually entered the battlefield under that player's control that this actually comes up. Bribery or something like Threaten + Cloudshift would be the most likely ways to do this.
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So, why not just simplify it and have everything a player owns and controls leave the game with that player? No ending of control effects and worrying about which objects revert back to previous controlers and which don't. Of course all said objects would revert back to their proper ownership. However, they don't move to any zone...they just "cease to exist" for that game.
Because then you have the logistical problem of where to actually put the card that "ceased to exist." I know that most players will just find a way to figure it out, but it'd be annoying to add a rule that creates this problem.

Additionally, we'd need a rule that references whether things like wishes can get back a card that has ceased to exist.
Because then you have the logistical problem of where to actually put the card that "ceased to exist." I know that most players will just find a way to figure it out, but it'd be annoying to add a rule that creates this problem.

Additionally, we'd need a rule that references whether things like wishes can get back a card that has ceased to exist.



We already have that problem.  If I cast a card from your graveyard with Chancellor of the Spires, and then I leave the game before it resolves, that card will cease to exist.  Can you get that card back with a Wish?
 
We already have that problem.  If I cast a card from your graveyard with Chancellor of the Spires, and then I leave the game before it resolves, that card will cease to exist. Can you get that card back with a Wish?

That was not by design. It is supposed to be exiled.
We already have that problem.  If I cast a card from your graveyard with Chancellor of the Spires, and then I leave the game before it resolves, that card will cease to exist. Can you get that card back with a Wish?

That was not by design. It is supposed to be exiled.



The problem has been known about for awhile and not yet fixed (if it is indeed "broken"), so I think we can call it intentional.
 
There are still several blatant errors in Oracle texts which haven't been reported but which haven't been fixed yet (e.g. Season of the Witch saying "the end step" instead of the correct "each end step"). We can't jump from "they didn't fix it" to "it's supposed to be that way". It could also be "it's not a pressing issue" or "they haven't found a good fix yet" or "we haven't made it clear to them what a problem it is" or anything like that.
Because then you have the logistical problem of where to actually put the card that "ceased to exist." I know that most players will just find a way to figure it out, but it'd be annoying to add a rule that creates this problem.

Additionally, we'd need a rule that references whether things like wishes can get back a card that has ceased to exist.


Why is this any more of a problem than it is with tokens? For game purposes, they're not in any zone, and that's all you need to know. In the real world, you put them wherever you put your tokens, sideboard etc when they're not in use. I don't see the difficulty.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Tokens are entirely conceptual. Effects that put tokens onto the battlefield create them ex nihilo. The physical object players use are effectively a memory aid to help players keep track of the conceptual game state. However, the token is separate from the game object; it's possible to shuffle a token into a library or return it to a player's hand without doing awkward things involving dice or glass beads. When tokens cease to exist, players no longer need to use anything to represent them.

Cards, on the on the hand, are physical objects. The game object and the physical object are the same thing. Cards are never created inside the game. Instead, they always come from somewhere and go somewhere. Any action performed on the game object is performed on the physical object, since they're the same thing. It's not possible for a card to cease to exist.
Cards, on the on the hand, are physical objects. The game object and the physical object are the same thing. Cards are never created inside the game. Instead, they always come from somewhere and go somewhere. Any action performed on the game object is performed on the physical object, since they're the same thing. It's not possible for a card to cease to exist.

It may not be possible for the card to cease to exist, but every time a card moves between zones, the object it represented in the zone it was in ceases to exist. At the same time, a brand-new object appears in the zone the card movs to; but these are not the same object.

It's better to view the card as representing a series of game objects with no relation between them except connections created by the effect that caused the card to move zones. Once the owner leaves the game, the card goes with them, and the last object the card represented ceases to exist without being replaced by a corresponding object in another zone.
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Exactly. A day seldom goes by when at least one of the three of us doesn't remind someone in Q&A that a card becomes a new object when it changes zones, so I don't see how cards are any less abstract than tokens. The only difference between a card ceasing to exist and any other zone change is that one less new object pops into existence.
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011
Some very interesting replies. The quest came up because of a multiplayer commander (surprise) game when I was playing Zedruu the Greathearted and after one player was eliminated I was ... surprised to find out my Xenograph was not going into the graveyard as I had thought and planned.


Thanks all.  
Just to clarify.  If that xenograft was given away by Zedruu the Greathearted it would return to your control not be exiled.
Feh, glad I made that second post. When I read your post MJWhitfield 1 I went and read rule 800.4a, and I think I now understand where my friend made the mistake. Its that part about "any effects which give that player control of any objects or players end". I bet my friend was thinking of spells taking control, not giving control. I bet he hadn't read the rule but had it used on him at some other game. Well, that rule works the way I thought the game should. Thank you again.
they can't remain on the battlefield without a controller, that would just cause lots of problems



Out of curiosity, can you give an example of a problem that would be caused?

If they change zone to anywhere other than Exile or the Stack, they revert to their owner. Unless the rule's been dropped, any effect that requires their controller to make a choice will revert to their owner. They'll still be valid targets for Shock etc.

What am I missing here?
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they can't remain on the battlefield without a controller, that would just cause lots of problems



Out of curiosity, can you give an example of a problem that would be caused?

If they change zone to anywhere other than Exile or the Stack, they revert to their owner. Unless the rule's been dropped, any effect that requires their controller to make a choice will revert to their owner. They'll still be valid targets for Shock etc.

What am I missing here?



Say that a Magmatic Force is on the battlefield with no controller. At the beginning of each upkeep, several questions must be asked.
1) The ability obviously triggers, but can it be put onto the stack?
2) Once the ability is on the stack, does it resolve?
3) If Magmatic Force has no controller, who chooses the target of its ability?

Other possible issues:
4) If Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite has no controller, then what does the phrase "your opponents" mean?
5) If Aura Thief dies, who gains control of all enchantments? Do they now also have no controller?
6) If Afiya Grove is on the battlefield with no controller and no +1/+1 counters, an infinite loop is created since it will constantly trigger, but no player is able to sacrifice it. Only a permanent's controller can do that.
Rules Advisor
Say that a Magmatic Force is on the battlefield with no controller. At the beginning of each upkeep, several questions must be asked.
1) The ability obviously triggers, but can it be put onto the stack?
2) Once the ability is on the stack, does it resolve?
3) If Magmatic Force has no controller, who chooses the target of its ability?

Other possible issues:
4) If Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite has no controller, then what does the phrase "your opponents" mean?
5) If Aura Thief dies, who gains control of all enchantments? Do they now also have no controller?



1) Depends on the wording of the rules, but I suspect not (based on my believing the rule to be something like "Each player in APNAP order adds any new triggers they control to the stack")
2) If the ability does make it onto the stack, then it will resolve - the combat damage object (pre-M10) had no controller and resolved just fine.
3) This would only be an issue if the ability were to be put on the stack.

4) A non-existent controller has no opponents.
5) I'd have to get hold of a copy of the rules to see whether they say anything relevant, but my best guesses would be that either nothing happens (a non-existent controller can't take actions so can't gain control) or that the card's owner gets the enchantments (controller reverting to owner).

It's also possible that there's a more general "indeterminate controller reverts to owner" rule, in which case the controller-less permanents would behave as though they were controlled by their owner.


The other version of "what are the problems caused?" would be to ask whether allowing controller-less permanents (or having controller-less permanents revert to their owner) would cause any undesirable outcomes - not "what happens in this situation?" but "should this situation be allowed?".
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It's also possible that there's a more general "indeterminate controller reverts to owner" rule, in which case the controller-less permanents would behave as though they were controlled by their owner.



I agree that this would solve the isues I brought up. But in that case, why not just have the owner gain control of it? There's no benefit to allowing a permanent to remain on the field with no controller.
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It's also possible that there's a more general "indeterminate controller reverts to owner" rule, in which case the controller-less permanents would behave as though they were controlled by their owner.



I agree that this would solve the isues I brought up. But in that case, why not just have the owner gain control of it? There's no benefit to allowing a permanent to remain on the field with no controller.



There's not a lot of benefit to exiling the orphan permanents either...
M:tG Rules Advisor
they can't remain on the battlefield without a controller, that would just cause lots of problems



Out of curiosity, can you give an example of a problem that would be caused?

If they change zone to anywhere other than Exile or the Stack, they revert to their owner. Unless the rule's been dropped, any effect that requires their controller to make a choice will revert to their owner. They'll still be valid targets for Shock etc.

What am I missing here?



The rules don't allow permanents to not have controllers.


110.2. A permanent’s owner is the same as the owner of the card that represents it (unless it’s a token; see rule 110.5a). A permanent’s controller is, by default, the player under whose control it entered the battlefield. Every permanent has a controller.


However, that problem could be solved by a minor modification to this rule:

108.4a If anything asks for the controller of a card that doesn’t have one (because it’s not a permanent or spell), use its owner instead.

All that's needed is to drop the parenthetical part, and then in every case where something's controller would do something, it's owner would do it instead.
 


 
Again, I think it would make more sense in that case to add a rule that says "If a permanent has no controller, its owner gains control of it. This is a state-based action."

For the record, I think it's just best if we don't allow permanents to ever exist without controllers.
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