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Let's say I have a Lone Rider and I've gained enough life to trigger it. Opponent is holding a Merfolk Trickster and wants to stop Lone Rider from transforming. Can opponent use Merfolk Trickster on my end step (after Lone Rider has triggered) or must opponent cast it in the main phase before the end step?

Usually removing the source of the trigger doesn't stop the trigger, but in this case, after Merfolk Trickster revolves, Lone Rider has no abilities anymore. Does an ability-less Lone Rider still "know" it can transform?

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A Merfolk Trickster can stop a creature from transforming itself, but only before that creature's ability triggers (or is activated, as the case may be).

Once an ability triggers, it exists independent of the object that created it. That means that if the object changes zones or loses the ability or has its text changed in some other way, that doesn't affect the ability on the stack. And "transform" is just a keyword action that is applied to a permanent. The permanent doesn't "know it can transform", it just has ability whose effect includes that instruction.

That same keyword can be found on cards that don't themselves transform, and can be applied to permanents that don't have abilities with that keyword. For example, Waxing Moon can transform Ulvenwald Captive's back face Ulvenwald Abomination, even though Ulvenwald Abomination can't transform itself.

  • Does this mean I can transform cards that currently don't have abilities? For example say I have Jace, Vryn's Prodigy in play. Opponent enchants it with Deep Freeze, which causes it to lose all abilities. I cast Moonmist targeting Jace. Jace is a human + has a transformed side, so it flips, Deep Freeze falls off (since it can't enchant a planeswalker), and I get to activate the flipped Jace's effect at once? – Allure Nov 6 at 4:11
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    Yes. Can you explain why that's not clear from the information already in the answer? "Transform [permanent]" is just an instruction that is applied to a permanent that requires you to physically turn it over. Taking that action has nothing to do with any abilities that permanent may or may not have. Regarding transforming Jace, Vryn's Prodigy in particular, the real issue there is that it will have no loyalty counters, so it will die as a state-based action. – murgatroid99 Nov 6 at 4:16
  • Just confirming this interaction since it seems like a rather effective way to get a flip-walker into play. Why do you say Jace transforms with no loyalty counters? Its normal activated ability doesn't say Jace transforms with 5 loyalty counters. Why would transforming with Moonmist lead it to have no loyalty counters? (Or is that the content of a separate question?) – Allure Nov 6 at 4:26
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    This is exactly why that cycle of flip-walkers goes to exile and then enters transformed: entering the battlefield as a planeswalker is what causes it to get those loyalty counters. – murgatroid99 Nov 6 at 4:27
  • @Allure, in the rulings from Jace's Gatherer page: "In some rare cases, a spell or ability may cause one of these five cards to transform while it’s a creature (front face up) on the battlefield. If this happens, the resulting planeswalker won’t have any loyalty counters on it and will subsequently be put into its owner’s graveyard" – Ghostship Nov 7 at 22:26
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Transform is a keyword action introduced in Innistrad and means to turn a double-faced card on the back side, changing the card face that is visible.

https://mtg.gamepedia.com/Transform

So whether a card can be transformed depends on whether it's a DFC.

Double-faced is a referable property for a card: Moonmist's reminder text refers to double-faced cards.

[emhasis added]

https://mtg.gamepedia.com/Double-faced_card

Mefolk Trickster removes all abilities, not properties. Lone Rider retains its property of being a DFC, and thus can still be transformed. In a somewhat similar vein, it will be able to attack: being able to attack depends on a permanent being a creature, which is a characteristic, not an ability.

Apart from a few exceptions (for instance, being able to tap a basic land for mana), if something isn't in the text box, it's not an ability, and will not be changed by Merfolk Trickster.

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As you said, removing the source of an ability on the stack does not stop that ability from resolving, so if your opponent played Trickster after your Lone Rider triggered, it will still transform into It That Rides as One, which will be a 4/4 creature with no abilities, since Lone Rider//It That Rides as One are still the same object, these abilities will be given back in the cleanup step when Trickster's effect ends.

Your opponent's last opportunity to prevent Lone Rider from transforming this way would be when you pass in Main Phase 2, intending to go to end step - they have to also pass before that happens and Lone Rider triggers.

Even after losing the transform ability, a card can be forced to transform, as it still has a transformed back side. Casting Moonmist after Trickster was played will force Lone Rider to transform into It That Rides as One, it will again be a 4/4 with no abilities until the cleanup in the end step.

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