Mind Control is one of the most powerful effects in Limited. Stealing your opponent’s best creature is two-for-one of the best kind, dramatically shifting the balance of power on board. These spells go all the way back to Alpha, with the iconic Control Magic. Blue mages may not be known for their battlefield prowess, but beating your opponent with their own creatures is iconically blue.

Over the years, many cards have been printed that take control of a creature permanently. A few have shown up in black, like Enslave, or on gold creatures like Dragonlord Silumgar. Great cards for sure, but true Control Magic cards are blue. Preacher and Old Man of the Sea also get honorable mention, but they aren’t really what we’re talking about here.

With that in mind, here are my top eight Control Magics.

Number Eight—Corrupted Conscience

Poor Karn, infected by Phyrexian oil and bent toward evil. He managed to overcome the malign influence of Magic’s oldest villains but many fail to throw off the shackles of the infection. Corrupted Conscience gives the stolen creature Infect, which is often not the best. Unless you are already throwing around poison counters, or you can ensure your new recruit can finish the job, then the infect “bonus” is more of a drawback. But you can proliferate, or just block.

Number Seven—Exert Influence

Exert Influence might not exactly qualify as mono-blue, but I think it does. You have to tap into some other colors of mana to take anything big, but blue is happy to bend others to its will. One of the best ways to bring an adversary under your sway is to exert some influence over them. Maybe you have some embarassing videos, or your have a lien on their house. Be creative! I like how this card encourages multi-color decks, and it has the bonus of avoiding the enchantment removal that wipes out most Mind Control cards.

Number Six—Domestication


Domestication is almost the same card as Exert Influence, but it’s easier to cast. You can also steal a big blocker to clear a lethal strike, using this as a pseudo bounce spell. It’s too bad you can’t keep Serra Angel, though maybe if you have Saltfield Recluse you can make it work.

Number Five—Threads of Disloyalty

Maybe Threads of Disloyalty is mediocre in Limited, even when you can steal a Tarmogoyf. They print some powerful two drops these days, however. Besides, the name is perfect. No puppet? No puppet? You’re the puppet now, Topan Freeblade. How far can these threads be pulled?

Number Four—In Bolas’s Clutches

Six mana is a lot, but In Bolas’s Clutches takes any permanent. It even makes your new toy legendary, although that’s basically irrelevant. Volition Reins is also sweet, but comes out way short in the flavor battle. There is always a greater power. With this card, you can be the puppetmaster. What will you do with it? Take any card you want, that’s what. I watched some friends lose a match of Team Sealed when an opponent stole Blackblade Reforged. Think big!

Number Three—Control Magic

The original gangster, Control Magic still does it best. Well, third best, perhaps. It takes a lot to do better than unconditional mind control for four mana. A great card from the day it was printed, and too powerful to see print in Standard these days. You can’t go wrong with this one, though you won’t be happy to find yourself on the wrong side of the equation.

Number Two—Sower of Temptation

What if Control Magic were also a 2/2 flier? Yeah, that sounds good. Sower of Temptation flies around luring formerly loyal subjects into lives of deception. Sometimes you don’t know you’ve gone to the other side until it’s too late. With Sower, you at least get to see the trigger go on the stack. You can break the spell with Shock, but only if you draw it. This powerful card doesn’t give you much time to find the answer, though.

Number One—Treachery

This is the big one. Treachery is the best of the best. Or the worst of the worst, I suppose. A regular first pick in cubes of many power levels, this version of Control Magic pays you back right away. Since you’re playing blue, that means countermagic to protect your evil scheme from the get go. As one of the latest cards to end up on the Reserve List, you’d think Treachery would be scarce these days. And yet, it seems to be undergoing a renaissance.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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