Top 10 Best Control Magic Effects in MTG – Riley Ranks

Removal is one thing, sure, but we can do better than that – what about a good old-fashioned Control Magic? Not only removal, effects that let you steal your opponents’ creatures go one step further in bolstering your board as well as ripping apart your opponent’s. Control Magic effects aren’t printed all that often and therefore don’t see play all that often, but every now and again one is printed with the right combination of power and price for it to excel in Constructed. Let’s have a look at some of the best of them!



10. Control Magic

Control Magic

As I mentioned, it’s not all that often we get a classic Control Magic effect. In recent years, Auras that steal creatures have cost five mana, sometimes with a downside – Enthralling Hold is a good example of this. Grafted Identity is a recent four-mana Control Magic, but comes with both an upside and a downside – there’s a lot more going on with these cards compared to be. Way, way back when, Control Magic was a four-mana, no-questions-asked spell that would steal an opponent’s creature, and that was that. No bells and whistles, no frills, just four mana, point this at something, and it becomes yours. 


9. Treachery


But if we’re going to talk about Control Magics with upside, it’s hard to go past Treachery. Treachery is a “free” Control Magic, assuming you can afford the five-mana down payment to begin with. This card doesn’t see any play in Constructed formats, and while it occasionally crops up in EDH, where it most often gets put to good use is in Cube, where it is an absolute beater. Stealing an opponent’s creature for an effective zero mana is a massive tempo swing, and usually puts you miles ahead the turn you pull it off. 


8. Kiora Bests the Sea God

Kiora Bests the Sea God

Kiora Bests the Sea God was an absolute house in Standard before rotation, often being cheated out with Emergent Ultimatum or blinked with Yorion, Sky Nomad. Generating an 8/8 and tapping down their team was often enough to get there, but if not then the third chapter’s upgraded Control Magic was usually what would seal the deal. You get their best card – not just a creature, a planeswalker or whatever else you might feel like – and that’s in addition to them taking a minimum of eight and having to take a turn off. It might cost seven, but this card delivers the goods. 


7. Olivia Voldaren

Olivia Voldaren

Not all Control Magics are blue, as evidenced by Olivia Voldaren. This card builds its own Control Magics, first by pinging (or “biting”, I suppose) opposing creatures before gaining control of them with her second activated ability. On any stalled out board where players are lacking removal, Olivia Voldaren can churn out seven-mana Control Magics like it’s going out of style (even if you do have to give them back when she dies). That’s the power of having three legs, I suppose. 


6. Archmage's Charm

Archmage's Charm

If you ask a Magic pro what sort of elements they look for in a card to identify how useful it will be in competitive Constructed, “flexibility” is invariably a top answer. Archmage’s Charm offers that even without the mini-Control Magic ability – being able to choose between countering something and drawing cards is already very strong, but if you add the ability to nick something small off your opponent as well, the card is put even further over the top. When you consider how much of a format like Modern is low-to-the-ground one-drops, you start to see how good Archmage’s Charm is as a hyper-flexible Control Magic. 


5. Captivating Vampire

Captivating Vampire

Another nonblue Control Magic comes in the form of Captivating Vampire. This is an extremely potent inclusion in any tribal Vampire deck – not that Vampire decks tend to be short on removal options, based as they usually are in the Mardu colors. The ability to steal something instead of killing it for zero mana plus the fact that the stolen creature gets buffed when it switches sides thanks to its new creature type both mean that Captivating Vampire is a kill-on-sight target on any EDH battlefield, particularly if they already have a stacked board. 


4. Agent of Treachery

Agent of Treachery

Control Magic is already pretty good – what about a blinkable Control Magic? Still not good enough? How about if it can target any permanent, and rewards you with extra cards if you steal enough things? Talk about the rich getting richer. This card was so good it was banned in Standard, and remains banned in Historic due to the busted things you can do with it, blinking it in and out to steal your opponent’s board. Not that there’s a lot of competition, but it’s probably the best seven-mana 2/3 ever printed 

(Update: I checked, and it’s the only seven-mana 2/3 ever printed. So, yeah. Not a lot of competition at all). 


3. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Never mind four or five-mana Control Magics, or even a seven-mana Agent of Treachery – how do you feel about an eight-mana Control Magic with considerable upside? Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is one of those cards you see as a new player and wonder why everyone ever isn’t playing it, and how it didn’t win every single Pro Tour ever played. Upstairs to kill something – often a land – downstairs to steal their best creature, and an ultimate that effectively wins the game on the spot. This planeswalker is one of the most powerful ever printed, but with its 4UBBR casting cost, well… it’s not exactly easy to cast!


2. Blatant Thievery

Blatant Thievery

Do you find that when you sit down to play EDH with your friends, that you’re too likeable, and that everyone gets on with you too well? Do you want to stir up some enmity and discord, and get into people’s bad books? Good news – I have just the card for you. Blatant Thievery will turn the table against you quicker than most cards that aren’t mass land destruction, and make you a prime target as the game continues. If your games of Commander are too friendly for your liking, consider playing Blatant Thievery and becoming the villain. 


1. Expropriate


But in some ways, Blatant Thievery is just the beginning – the Le Chiffre to this card’s Blofeld. Expropriate won’t just turn the entire table against you, it will create lasting grudges that will probably last into the next few games. People hate this card, and with good reason – when your option is to give your opponent your best card or an extra turn, what do you choose? Sure, it costs nine mana, but that’s easily achievable in a typical game of EDH. If you’re sick of having so many friends and want to break bad, then Expropriate might just be the card for you.


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