It’s a story all across the internet if you’re involved with the MTG community: Phyrexia: All Will be One Rare cards are leaking everywhere. Multiple reports across the globe reveal that Rare cards somehow made their way into Dominaria Remastered packs, taking the intended old-bordered slot. We’re slowly filling the gaps on Rares we have not seen, and all sixty of them will be leaked soon. One of these Rare cards looks like a fantastic new prison or hate card that should see Commander play and could see constructed play depending on the metagames. Here, we will go over some of the most practical uses for this card and compare it to other cards with similar effects. Do remember that this is an unofficial leak, so consider this your spoiler warning and a small reminder that this may not be real (but that’s pretty unlikely at this point). Let’s take a look at Soulless Jailer!
Soulless Jailer is an unofficially spoiled card in this Reddit thread for the new Phyrexia: All Will Be One set. The Jailer seems innocent enough but shuts down many of the most popular strategies in multiple formats right now. Admittedly, the card does not do a lot for the current state of Standard (except, maybe, for shutting Unearth down), but that could not be further from the truth for every other format in the game.
Soulless Jailer shuts down permanents in the graveyard from entering the battlefield and prevents players from casting non-creature spells from the graveyard AND exile. It may not seem to be the case, but we do not yet have one card capable of doing all these things. Grafdigger’s Cage may seem like a one-for-one comparison, but it only shuts creatures down from entering the battlefield, as was quickly seen when Greasefang, Okiba Boss started reanimating Vehicles in multiple formats.
Notably, the exact text on this card is pretty important, as it only stops very specific things from happening. If you’re a creature deck that wants to Escape Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, or cast a creature spell from exile with an effect like Vivien, Champion of the Wilds, you can still do that with this Jailer in play. Here’s all the unique things that the Jailer shuts down and enables in various formats:
While we can give more specific lists for other formats, Commander is too wide-open, so we will instead consider the most impactful thing Soulless Jailer can do in a Commander game: it can, at times, function as a much worse Drannith Magistrate. Soulless Jailer is a symmetrical effect, and it only prevents non-creature cards from being cast in exile. This means that, unlike a past misunderstanding, this will not stop non-creature Commanders being cast from the Command Zone. Still, this can be a neat option in a deck like Urza’s Iron Alliance preconstructed deck that cares about artifact creatures and doesn’t get bothered by any of these abilities much. This also stops a lot of common strategies in the format like:
- Exile value from cards like Jeska’s Will and Outpost Seige. This, notably, throws a big wrench in the advantage strategies for BOTH of the new Phyrexia: All Will be One preconstructed decks.
- Underworld Breach shenanigans
- Noncreature Flashback spells
- Reanimation strategies
- Crucible of Worlds effects will not work
Read More: MTG Best Tribal Commanders
- Greasefang, Okiba Boss cannot bring back any Vehicles. Can’t Stay Away also will not work in this deck.
- Emergent Ultimatum in Lotus Field Combo will only be able to cast creature spells. This, generally, will only be Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, which will also be unable to do anything.
- Storm the Festival and other non-creature spells cannot use Flashback costs.
- Cauldron Familiar cannot enter the battlefield with its own ability.
- Arclight Phoenix cannot use its own ability to enter the battlefield.
- Old-Growth Troll cannot attach to lands from the graveyard.
- Collected Company still works.
- Enigmatic Incarnation still works.
- Escaping creatures still work. This is because the card is not entering the battlefield from the graveyard, and Soulless Jailer does prevent creature spells from being cast from the graveyard.
This card probably fits as a sideboard card in some decks that want to shut down the synergies noted while they can use their own. As of the recent Pioneer results on MTGO, Pithing Needle and Archon of Emeria seem to be the best tools to shut down various strategies in the format. Let’s compare what Pithing Needle and the Archon can shut down and see how Soulless Jailer matches up:
Pithing Needle can:
- Prevent Karn, the Great Creator from fetching threats from the sideboard. This shuts down the combo portion of Mono Green Nykthos.
- Name Witch’s Oven to stop sacrifice synergies.
- Name Thespian’s Stage to prevent Lotus Field Combo from copying their Lotus Field. This can also name the Kamigawa Channel Lands, Vizier of Tumbling Sands and Hope Tender if you manage to find extra copies.
- Can prevent Teferi, Hero of Dominaria from working (not sure if you want to be doing this, though).
- Name a Vehicle to prevent it from crewing. This, sadly, will not stop other Vehicles, of which the Greasefang deck runs multiple.
- Can name Shark Typhoon in weird spots.
Archon of Emeria can:
- Prevent Mono Green Nykthos from casting multiple spells in a turn
- Prevent Arclight Phoenix from casting multiple spells in a turn
- Prevent Lotus Field Combo from casting multiple spells in a turn
- Slow down decks that are running greedy mana bases
- Is a creature with Power and evasion, so it can forward a gameplan while also being a hate piece.
Ultimately, Soulless Jailer can compare to these other hate cards, but the metagame implications will largely depend on whether the card gets run or not. If you want to stop Rakdos Sacrifice, for example, Soulless Jailer can stop the cat oven combo, but it can also get hit by Claim the Firstborn and sacrificed. The jailer can stop a Storm the Citadel from being flashed back but does not stop the Karn and Kiora loops that end the game. Personally, I think Pithing Needle is a better option currently, especially against decks that run creature removal. Still, Soulless Jailer is an option for creature-centric decks that could see some play in the future.
Soulless Jailer’s biggest drawback in the Modern format is that it’s symmetrical. There are other hate pieces that aren’t and do a lot of what Soulless Jailer can. It does, however, have some things going for it. There are scenarios where some decks could run this and hose… well, basically everything. Let’s take a look and see what Soulless Jailer can stop in the Modern format:
- Cascading for spells like Living End and Crashing Footfalls will not work.
- Underworld Breach can only Escape creatures, shutting down its combo potential.
- Undying will not work for Yawgmoth Combo
- Scam effects like Undying Malice will not work. This is rendered mute, however, by the point that this usually happens before you could resolve a Soulless Jailer
- Tameshi, Reality Architect will not work
- Dredge effects will not work. Oops! will also not work. Goblin Charbelcher will still work.
- Evoke Elementals still work.
- Creativity Combo still works, but Persist and other reanimator strategies will not.
- Hammertime strategies are largely unaffected.
The last point is a pretty important one. Some Colossus Hammer lists currently run Drannith Magistrate as a sideboard piece to address the popular Cascade and Underworld Breach Combo strategies. This also sees sideboard play in Underworld Breach decks themselves because Drannith Magistrate is not symmetrical. Unlike Underworld Breach, however, Colossus Hammer decks do not care about Soulless Jailer being a symmetrical effect. It also stops major Yawgmoth combo synergies, a terrible matchup for the deck. Soulless Jailer is also a creature, which means Hammertime decks can use it as a win condition, nullifying perhaps the most significant thing holding this card back: its terrible Power stat.
The last big point in Soulless Jailer’s favor is its toughness. Four toughness in the Modern format is enormous because it dodges the ever-present Lightning Bolt, something that Drannith Magistrate cannot. It still dies to a Fury or an Unholy Heat with Delirium behind it, but it is, regardless, a major point in the Jailer’s favor. While a smaller point, Soulless Jailer is also capable of blocking a Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in the early game.
A lot of the MTG community talking about Soulless Jailer are pretty intrigued with the card’s design. Many take the stance that this is a product of the design mistake that was Drannith Magistrate in Commander:
“I think the answer’s simple – they didn’t want it to be a hate piece against commanders, adventure creatures etc.” – exploringdeathntaxes
That said, a lot of people find it very strange that Soulless Jailer allows creature spells to be cast from the graveyard:
“It feels weird that it stops reanimation (not cast) and stuff like flashback (cast) but it specifically doesn’t interact with casting creature spells from the yard. I guess it stops cascade decks unlike Grafdiggers [Cage]? The design space for these sort of sideboard designs seem wide but kind of annoying to keep track of.” – KoyoyomiAragi
“Wait, so the card is actually pretty useless? This doesn’t stop muldrotha at all?” – Krusell94 (To be clear, this does stop Muldrotha from playing lands and casting noncreature spells from the graveyard, but a Reclamation Sage-esque card cast by Muldrotha from the graveyard could just blow it up)
While this may feel unintuitive to those who aren’t super familiar with the MTG rulebook, it’s actually a run-of-the-mill issue for sideboardable hate fodder cards like this one. A level two Judge breaks it down in a fantastic way:
“I think the reason why this feels weird is mainly because so far this type of hate card has either only cared about casting or entering, or cared about both in the same way. It’s weird that this prevents both but for one its permanents and for the other its noncreature.
For example, does it feel weird that Ashes of the Abhorrent still lets you reanimate stuff? Or that Drannith Magistrate still lets you flicker things? Or that Archon of Emeria lets you cast a spell and then also reanimate a creature with an ability?
I think mentally this card feels less like any of those and more like a Grafdigger’s Cage, so we mentally don’t parse it as “This stops X, but that doesn’t include this other similar thing” and more like “you can’t do anything like X, well except this one niche corner case”, which feels a lot more tricky and unexpected” – Shikor806
People are Already Brewing With it
If anything, many MTG players are excited about what Soulless Jailer may be capable of. There are already some obvious spots where this card can see play, so many of the community is certain that the card will find a home somewhere:
“A solid hatebear that might see Karnboard play” – strolpol
“Hmm I sometimes run Urabrask in Bard Class, which runs very few noncreatures. This might be worth including.” – chrisrazor
I, personally, will probably be adding this into my Urza’s Iron Alliance upgraded preconstructed deck. Otherwise, I’m more worried about seeing Soulless Jailer on the other side of the board, as it shuts down many of the synergies I bring to the table.