I am building a commander deck all about giving creatures to my opponent—creatures that downsize your abilities. For example, cards that make you unable to cast permanents, spells, lose life every turn, discard cards, etc. and then tapping those creatures down with enchantment auras and spells of my own.

There are many spells and creatures with "return target creature from the graveyard to the battlefield". There are fewer spells that specify that you "return target creature from the graveyard to the battlefield under your opponent's control" and "return target creature from the graveyard to the battlefield under your control."

If I return a card from the graveyard to the battlefield, can I put it under my opponent's control, if it doesn't specify whose control I put it under?

  • 1
    A quick search shows no cards that return a creature "from the graveyard"; it's almost always "from your graveyard". Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 6:44
  • 3
    There are no such card because "the graveyard" makes no sense. There isn't one graveyard; each player has a graveyard.
    – ikegami
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 8:28
  • 1
    @user2357112supportsMonica Each player has a separate graveyard, 'the' implies there is only one, that's why many abilities specify "your" graveyard, and those that let you access any graveyard say "from a graveyard" like Rise from the Grave
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 17:04

2 Answers 2


No, you can't do that.

Rule 110.2a says

If an effect instructs a player to put an object onto the battlefield, that object enters the battlefield under that player’s control unless the effect states otherwise.


The main point of the question seems to be about control of permanents, which is adequately answered by murgatroid99's reference to Rule 110.2a. The framing of the question however seems to be based on a misconception.

When the card text refers to "graveyard" it is generally either "your graveyard" or "a graveyard" - except for a few outliers like Sorry. In the two cards (plus one test card) that specifically state "the graveyard" the meaning is spelled out: "the graveyard of the player who..." for example. There are cards that allow you to affect cards in your graveyard, target player's graveyard, opponents graveyards, etc.

Likewise, in most cases when a card is returned to the battlefield the card text explicitly specifies who gets control of the card once it arrives. As mergatroid99 points out, in those cases where the card doesn't explicitly name the controller, it defaults to the player the effect targets. After a quick browse of cards with graveyard effects that return the card to the battlefield it looks like most of the time when control is not specified the card specifically mentions "your graveyard" which makes it reasonably clear what is meant without the ruling.

A couple of examples:

Debtor's Knell states (in part, emphasis mine):

"...put target creature from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control."

Corpse Dance opens with (again, emphasis mine):

"Return the top creature card of your graveyard to the battlefield."

There are, as you mentioned, numerous examples. All of them are either covered by explicit targeting ("under your control", etc.) or at a pinch by Rule 110.2a. If the effect allows you to take a card from the graveyard and grant control to any player then it'll tell you so. Until then... no.

  • I might be mistaken, but my impression is that the question is using "the graveyard" in a looser sense, not necessarily referring to exact card wording. That's mainly because that exact wording doesn't materially affect the question or answer. If they said "your graveyard" or "a graveyard", it's plausible that someone could still have the same question, and the answer would still be the same.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 4:58
  • Side note: Sorry is from Unglued, which features a lot of cards with unique effects, isn't legal in any format and shouldn't be considered indicative of valid wording on cards.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 11:20
  • Your implication that "a graveyard" and "your graveyard" are the only common wordings is simply incorrect. Many other cards have a variety of other wordings, including "each graveyard", "all graveyards", "that players' graveyard", "target player's graveyard", "their graveyard", etc. And there are cards that don't specify the controller and don't say "your graveyard", such as Goblin Welder and Bloodbond March. You also say "it defaults to the player the effect targets", but that is incorrect. Many of these effects do not target players. It defaults to the player instructed to take the action.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 20:24

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