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If my opponents has played a card such as Deputy of Detention that exiles X amount of my permanents, what would happen if I played Merfolk Trickster that removes all abilities of Deputy of Detention?

2 Answers 2

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Deputy of Detention's ability would still resolve and function normally. You would have to, among others, destroy or exile the Deputy to prevent the effect from exiling your permanents.

Deputy of Detention's ability is a triggered ability that triggers when the Deputy enters the battlefield. You can't affect the Deputy with the Trickster before the Deputy has entered the battlefield, and afterwards, it's too late. Once the ability has triggered, the ability that is created on the stack functions independently of its source.

113.7a Once activated or triggered, an ability exists on the stack independently of its source. [..]

Even if you remove the Deputy's abilities through Merfolk Trickster in response to the trigger, it doesn't matter. You'd just remove the ability after it has already done its job, which is to create an ability on the stack. That ability on the stack will still resolve and exile its targets until the Deputy that created it leaves the battlefield.

You can, however, prevent your permanents from being exiled. The most common way is to remove the Deputy from the battlefield before its ability resolves, such as by destroying or exiling the Deputy. In that case, the ability still resolves (it's independent of the Deputy, remember) but it won't do anything to your permanents:

610.3. Some one-shot effects cause an object to change zones “until” a specified event occurs. A second one-shot effect is created immediately after the specified event. This second one-shot effect returns the object to its previous zone.

Deputy of Detention's ability is such a one-shot effect.

610.3b If a resolving triggered ability creates the initial one-shot effect that causes the object to change zones, and the specified event has already occurred before that one-shot effect would occur but after that ability triggered, the object doesn’t move.

The Deputy says that the targeted permanents are exiled "until Deputy of Detention leaves the battlefield", and 610.3b says that if the Deputy has already left the battlefield before its ability has exiled its targets, nothing is exiled at all.

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    Is it worth the time to add a bit about older-style banisher effects like Oblivion Ring and Faceless Butcher and how they work differently? Aug 10 at 17:57
  • I considered it, but don't think so. My discussion of actually countering Deputy was already a tangent, not strictly necessary for answering the question. Oblivion Ring-style exiles have been obsoleted AFAIK and would thus be an even further tangent without practical use for most formats.
    – Hackworth
    Aug 10 at 18:05
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    I also think Oblivion Ring-style abilities are much more straight-forward in answering the question, there's simply no reason to think that a triggered ability that has already finished doing everything it does would be possibly impacted by removing that ability.
    – GendoIkari
    Aug 10 at 19:21
  • There are literally 3 cards with OR-style exile, not counting the Champion mechanic, whereas there are 53 cards with the "until" exile. It's pretty clear which flavor of exile is more relevant.
    – Hackworth
    Aug 10 at 23:48
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    @Hackworth Your search isn't perfect. It didn't catch Faceless Butcher, or more exotic variations like Petradon, Gravegouger or Worldgorger Dragon. This kind of exiling was pretty common in Torment, and if I recall correctly, abusing the timing was part of the point of these cards.
    – Arthur
    Aug 11 at 7:25
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Removing Deputy of Detention's abilities has no effect.

Deputy of Detention has a triggered ability that creates a one-shot effect that exiles chosen cards, and a delayed one-shot effect that returns those cards to the battlefield. Once the triggered ability resolves, those effects exist independent of what abilities Deputy of Detention later has.

Even if you play Merfolk Trickster as soon as possible after Deputy of Detention enters the battlefield, it would still have no effect because at that point the triggered ability is already on the stack.

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