Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Creature Steals in Magic?
Creatures form the backbone of most Magic decks, providing both unique effects and combat capabilities. But rather than summon your own units, you can instead steal them with a variety of spells. These vary in price and color, but they're usually red or blue; some permanently pilfer a unit, others gain control for a single turn.
Often, the unit will also be untapped and given haste, ensuring they're ready to act while under your command. But with dozens of monster-thieving spells available, which heists reign supreme? These are the 10 best creature steals in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Conquering Manticore
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 6
A creature himself, Manticore needs a large sum of mana but offers a hearty 5/5 with flying, a prime threat in battle. Additionally, when he enters the field, he lets you gain control of a target creature for the turn, untapping it and granting it haste.
A nice two-for-one combo, and since the ability triggers whenever Manticore arrives (not just when cast), it'll resolve even if he's revived from the graveyard or otherwise gimmicked into play.
Compared to standard red three-cost steals like "Act of Treason," Wrangle requires one less mana, offering a bargain deal that similarly dominates, untaps, and hastens a creature for a single turn. The only catch is the unit must have four or less power, but that's a minuscule restriction that accesses most mid-game aces (and even some late-game arrivals).
8. Merieke Ri Berit
Merieke needs thee specific colors and only arrives as a 1/1. However, she can tap to gain control of a creature for as long as you control Merieke and she remains tapped. And she won't untap during your upkeep, letting you indefinitely control the unit.
But the best part is that if Merieke is untapped or leaves the field, you destroy the stolen unit and prevent it from regenerating. Thus, even if an adversary kills Merieke, they won't regain control of their creature. And while Merieke won't untap naturally, you can manually shift her with cards like "Crab Umbra" to repeatedly steal and destroy enemy units.
Insurrection requires a hefty sum of mana, but untaps and seizes all creatures for the turn, granting them haste along the way. This steals every opposing monster at once, particularly useful in multiplayer, and it'll untap/hasten your original creatures as well.
Plus, since Insurrection doesn't target, it even works on troops with hexproof, shroud, or protection from red. Try avoiding its demanding price by using cards like "Jhoira of the Ghitu" to finagle it into play.
6. Bringer of the Red Dawn
CMC: 9 (5 with discount)
Red Dawn accepts either nine mana or just five if you can provide one from each color. Either way, his color identity includes all five hues, so be sure to run him only in rainbow commander decks.
But five mana is a nice price for a 5/5 troop with trample, especially since he automatically steals a creature for the turn at the start of your upkeep. That's right; each round, you'll score a free haste-given and untapped unit to direct as you see fit.
5. Old Man of the Sea
Old Man works similarly to Merieke, but he requires only one color and has better 2/3 stats. You can tap him to gain control of a creature whose power is less than or equal to Old Man's, and you retain control until Old Man untaps or the creature's power is boosted above his.
Unfortunately, the creature isn't destroyed if Old Man is, but his higher stats, less demanding color needs, and ability to choose whether to untap during your upkeep make him generally superior to Merieke.
4. Control Magic
This aura's about as simple as they come, adhering to a creature and gaining control of it. Compared to red's standard sorcery steal, Control Magic is slightly more expensive and doesn't untap your hostage or grant it haste, but it's an ongoing theft that continuously assists you throughout your match.
3. Reins of Power
This one's great for decks with few or no creatures. Reins of Power activates as an instant, letting you cast it at any time, and it untaps all your creatures plus those of a target opponent, also granting them haste. Then, you switch control of the creatures for the rest of the turn.
In enchantment or artifact-focused decks, this lets you pilfer an entire army while handing your opponent nothing in return, and since it doesn't target, few units can ignore the effect. I enjoy using Power in Oloro commander decks, and it's much cheaper than our upcoming spells, costing less than a single dollar!
2. Vedalken Shackles
Don't be fooled by this card's colorless nature—it's designed for the blue faction. Shackles takes three mana to cast and two more to tap, but when it does, you gain control of a creature whose power is less than or equal to the number of island lands you possess.
You lose control if Shackles untaps, but you choose whether to refresh it at your upkeep. This gives you the option of exchanging stolen creatures, useful for pilfering late-game behemoths. Use Shackles in mono-blue decks to quickly swarm islands and ignore its minor restriction.
This intimidating aura simply adheres to a creature, indefinitely gaining control of it. But more than that, as Treachery enters, you can untap up to five lands, essentially negating its cost and letting you cast another spell that turn.
Your opponent can potentially regain control by eliminating Treachery with an enchantment removal, but even if this happens, they're down a card while you've gained a free casting—you win either way.
Graveyard Recoveries in Magic
Today we examined many spells that commandeer units from the field, but don't overlook the black faction's ability to rejuvenate creatures (even opposing ones) with its graveyard revivals.
Yet stealing from the field is especially useful, as it both removes a soldier from your opponent's army while adding one to your own. Let them meet the casting fees of high-cost behemoths only to despair as you pilfer their titans. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of monster-corrupting cards, vote for your favorite spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill