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I'm looking for a nice Sorin card, for in my commander deck. I found Sorin Markov, which states:

-7: You control target player during that player's next turn.

What does this mean? Do I command the player to take certain actions which they can't refuse, such as forcefully attacking another opponent and/or themselves? Or do I actually play their hand, library and board as if it was my own (during that one turn)? Something else perhaps?

  • 3
    Ah, after posting the Q I noticed the card has an extensive list of rulings under it (in the link), which answer my Q. – Lainathiel Jun 19 at 9:05
  • 4
    See also: Mindslaver, Kindslaver – Caleth Jun 19 at 13:37
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If you control another player, you essentially are that player for purposes of gameplay. You make all gameplay decisions for that player and can see all in-game cards that the controlled player could see. Basically, imagine playing against yourself with your opponent's deck for the duration of the control change.

Because of effects that allow a player to control another player, the game rules make a distinction between the physical person playing the game and its invisible, in-game avatar called "player".

The distinction is that the in-game player can only make decisions called for by the game rules or game objects. Conceding the game, actions called for or forbidden by the Tournament Rules, and anything unrelated to the game concern only the physical player, and are therefore out of the scope of "controlling a player" effects.

While you control an opponent, there are still 2 players in the game, and each player individually has to adhere to the game rules. For example, that means every player has to pay costs for their own spells and abilities with their own resources; if player A controls e.g. Ashnod's Altar, A can't sacrifice player B's creatures for its ability just because A currently controls B; creatures controlled by B still can't attack B, and so on.

The correct answer to this question must quote the rather lengthy section 715 of the Comprehensive Rules in its entirety:

  1. Controlling Another Player

715.1. Some cards allow a player to control another player during that player’s next turn. This effect applies to the next turn that the affected player actually takes. The affected player is controlled during the entire turn; the effect doesn’t end until the beginning of the next turn.

715.1a Multiple player-controlling effects that affect the same player overwrite each other. The last one to be created is the one that works.

715.1b If a turn is skipped, any pending player-controlling effects wait until the player who would be affected actually takes a turn.

715.2. One card (Word of Command) allows a player to control another player for a limited duration.

715.3. Only control of the player changes. All objects are controlled by their normal controllers. A player who’s being controlled during their turn is still the active player.

715.4. If information about an object in the game would be visible to the player being controlled, it’s visible to both that player and the controller of the player. If information about cards outside the game would be visible to the player being controlled, it’s visible only to that player, not the controller of the player. Example: The controller of a player can see that player’s hand and the face of any face-down creatures they control.

715.5. While controlling another player, a player makes all choices and decisions the controlled player is allowed to make or is told to make by the rules or by any objects. This includes choices and decisions about what to play, and choices and decisions called for by spells and abilities. Example: The controller of another player decides which spells that player casts and what those spells target, and makes any required decisions when those spells resolve. Example: The controller of another player decides which of that player’s creatures attack, which player or planeswalker each one attacks, what the damage assignment order of the creatures that block them is (if any of the attacking creatures are blocked by multiple creatures), and how those attacking creatures assign their combat damage.

715.5a The controller of another player can use only that player’s resources (cards, mana, and so on) to pay costs for that player. Example: If the controller of a player decides that the controlled player will cast a spell with an additional cost of discarding cards, the cards are discarded from the controlled player’s hand.

715.5b The controller of another player can’t make choices or decisions for that player that aren’t called for by the rules or by any objects. The controller also can’t make any choices or decisions for the player that would be called for by the tournament rules. Example: The player who’s being controlled still decides if they will leave to visit the restroom, trade a card to someone else, agree to an intentional draw, or call a judge about an error or infraction.

715.6. The controller of another player can’t make that player concede. A player may concede the game at any time, even if they are controlled by another player. See rule 104.3a.

715.7. The effect that gives control of a player to another player may restrict the actions the controlled player is allowed to take or specify actions that the controlled player must take.

715.8. A player who controls another player also continues to make their own choices and decisions.

715.9. A player may gain control of themselves. That player will make their own decisions and choices as normal.

  • 4
    Keep in mind, you can no longer see your opponents sideboard when controlling them. Used to be a thing, no longer is – Selkie Jun 19 at 20:34
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    @Selkie - so what happens if you make your opponent cast e.g. Living Wish while you control their turn? – user3490 Jun 20 at 8:49
  • @user3490: You cast it. You can't look, so you fail to find anything. See the reply from Lainathiel – Selkie Jun 20 at 15:31
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If you look at the link of Sorin Markov and scroll down, you'll find a list of rulings that answer this question quite thoroughly. For more details, see the link. In summary:

10/1/2009. While controlling another player, you make all choices and decisions that player is allowed to make or is told to make during that turn. [...]

You can’t make the affected player concede. That player may choose to concede at any time, even while you’re controlling their turn.

If the player affected by Sorin’s third ability skips their next turn, the ability will wait. You’ll control the next turn the affected player actually takes.

7/13/2016. While controlling another player, you can see all cards in the game that player can see. This includes cards in that player’s hand, face-down cards that player controls, and any cards in that player’s library the player may look at.

Controlling a player doesn’t allow you to look at that player’s sideboard. If an effect instructs that player to choose a card from outside the game, you can’t have that player choose any card.

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