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if I have a cipher ability encoded on a creature, and I cast a Restoration Angel, thus exiling and returning the creature to play, does the creature still have the cipher ability?

How about creatures returning from the graveyard (undying ability)?

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3 Answers 3

Just remember when anything hits the exile zone that it is a reset of that creature,enchantment,artifact, or land.

If it was a token it dissipates. If it creature it enters the battlefield for the first time.

Anything stolen, taken, by spells will reset and become your new property.

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The creature ceases to exist (permanently) as soon as it leaves the battlefield for any reason.

400.7. An object that moves from one zone to another becomes a new object with no memory of, or relation to, its previous existence. There are seven exceptions to this rule:

None of the exception help cipher. That leaves the card with cipher in exile, encoding a creature that no longer exists, and which will therefore never deal any combat damage again.

When the card returns to the battlefield, it becomes yet again another object. This is why it comes back untapped, untransformed, with summoning sickness, without any counters it used to have, and of course, without any cards encoded on it.

There is a rule to remind you of this:

702.97c The card with cipher remains encoded on the chosen creature as long as the card with cipher remains exiled and the creature remains on the battlefield. The card remains encoded on that object even if it changes controller or stops being a creature, as long as it remains on the battlefield.

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With the 'it' in "as long as it remains on the battlefield" being the object, not the card (which is technically in exile, even though we all just slip the card underneath :-) ). –  corsiKa Feb 27 '13 at 22:37

When a creature leaves the battlefield and returns, whether by blinking or undying or anything else, it returns as a new creature. The creature that the cipher spell was encoded on no longer exists, and the new creature doesn't have a spell encoded on it. This is the same reason you can do things like blinking a creature to save it from being targeted by a spell or to remove it from combat.

With respect to cipher in particular, the comp rules do say:

702.97c The card with cipher remains encoded on the chosen creature as long as the card with cipher remains exiled and the creature remains on the battlefield. The card remains encoded on that object even if it changes controller or stops being a creature, as long as it remains on the battlefield.

It's not quite explicit, but it pretty clearly implies that once the creature leaves the battlefield, the cipher relationship is gone.

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