[Deck] 8Rack

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Post by robertleva » 7 months ago

Control the Hand, Control the Game

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Join the 8Rack Community!

The first thing anyone new to 8rack should do is get connected to our amazing community! Not a fan of 8Rack? No problem! Our discord server has nearly 700 members and we discuss ALL things MTG related. Everyone from MTGNexus is VERY welcome!

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Introduction
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A. What is 8Rack?
8Rack is a black based hand control deck. Hand control differs from board control decks in that it does not seek any kind of lasting control over the board. Instead, the aim of hand control decks is to proactively remove threats directly from the opponents hand. With the opponent's hand empty, your Shrieking Affliction and The Rack trigger and win the game for you. 8Rack is creatureless or nearly creatureless. Modern is a removal heavy format. By having no creatures in your deck you give the opponent a bunch of dead cards in his hand. These dead removal cards can be ignored at first allowing you to focus your discard on actual threats.

Hand control strategies have been around for a long time, but they have been mysteriously absent from Modern. People seem to have forgotten the difference between hand control and board control+discard suite. The amazing part is, hand control is more powerful now than it ever has been in the past. We have an amazing array of discard spells to choose from, as well as Modern's best Planeswalker to lead the charge to victory. So in short, while hand control is an old school strategy, this primer will give you a modernized version of it. There is a lot of power and tech in this primer. I hope you all enjoy it.

B. Why should I play 8Rack?
Do you love control decks? Do you love making your opponent angry? Do you like proactive strategies? Do you love using cool black planeswalkers? If you answered yes to any of those questions then I highly recommend that you explore this primer. Please start by taking a look at the Primer video, it goes into much more depth than the written guide does, in a way that I hope you guys find entertaining. This is a very fun deck to pilot, but I will state from the beginning that this is not an easy deck to play. It requires a solid knowledge of the Modern playing field to be successful. If that doesn't scare you off, then by all means keep reading and enjoy this control addicts dream.

Starter Deck Lists:











The Core

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The Core of 8Rack
Approximate Total Cost:

With this Core you can depend on 8Rack's consistent ability to empty your opponent's hand and keep it that way. This is our main goal, since our finishers will only deal damage when the opponent is Hellbent or nearly so. Whatever your 8Rack deck looks like you need to use The Core or your deck will not be able to have enough redundancy to hold your opponent in place.

One Deck, Two Paths...

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8Rack can take many flavors these days, but I feel there are two main paths that new players should consider. We are talking about Smallpox builds vs. Everything else. Smallpox can be a very powerful card in 8Rack. For example it can be a HUGE swing when it hits their only land the mana dork they just cast. It also removes a total of 3 cards from your opponent's position all in one card.

You might be thinking that Smallpox sounds amazing, why doesn't everyone just play it? Well here's where it starts to get tricky. Smallpox as a card has a lot of problems in an 8rack shell, the biggest one being that it casting it often hurts us as much or more than that our opponent. This is especially true if you are fighting an opponent who doesn't use creatures. I have had as many games with Smallpox sitting useless in my hand as I have had where it outright wins the game. Usually you score somewhere between those two extremes, to varying degrees of success. Smallpox tends to make the biggest impact early then falls off hard as the game goes late.

Bottom line: The card is swingy as hell.

If the card were merely inconsistent, I think it could be added to The Core as 1-4 of the Removal Spells, but Smallpox's problems don't end there I'm afraid. Now we have to talk about a really ugly secret that Smallpox players hate to admit: Smallpox requires you to run a higher land count. Smallpox builds need a minimum of 23 lands. Non-Smallpox builds can get away with 20-21 lands. In a deck like 8rack where we have so little available design space, having to waste 2 slots on land just to run a swingy card just isn't worth it for some people.

As with most things, the best way to get to know if Smallpox is right for you is to try it out. If you are looking to build an 8Rack that is completely linear (in the way burn is linear), then Smallpox probably fits in your deck. Smallpox decks leave almost no room for personal customization either. If you want some diversity and flexibility, shelf Smallpox and take a look at the Plan B options that 8Rack has available to it.


Non-Smallpox builds have a plethora of forms and flavors to choose from.
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This is when 8Rack essentially becomes Mono-Black Jund. Since we aren't running Smallpox, we can look at a variety of both creature and non creature options to maintain some permanent board control. For the non-creature purists we have Bitterblossom. BB gives you a snowballing threat that some decks have a very hard time dealing with. Blue decks really hate it when this card lands on Turn 2.

8rack has a lot of creatures these days that can establish board control. Dark Confident, Pack Rat, Asylum Visitor, and the all new Rotting Regisaur (Reggie) are all potential candidates for your Mono-Black Jund side plan. For now I won't go into too much detail on these choices in the Primer. It is enough to know that there are creature and non creature options available to you if you decide your deck needs a way to win other than Rack effects.

Smallpox decks are linear, other 8racks are non-linear. In Modern, every single deck you face will have main deck creature removal. That is a weakness that linear builds can exploit. By employing a strategy that is creatureless, your opponent is left with dead cards that can be ignored. The flip side to that coin is that without creatures or some alternate way to deal damage, you cannot win the game against an opponent who deals with your racks, or keeps their hand full of cards.

The individual player must decide to go linear or non-linear, there is no correct answer that fits all situations. If you are wondering which way you should go post in the thread. The only real attempts at large scale tourney success with 8rack have been with linear decks, so for a netdeck-y type of 8rack experience you can go that route.
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Meet the Walkers

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Liliana of the Veil: The Boss. 3cc is the absolute top of our mana curve and LotV is the ultimate 8Rack planeswalker for that casting cost. LotV hits the board and edicts to protect herself. This creates an automatic 2 for 1 and counting. Her +1 is one of the primary ways we lock an opponent down and keep his hand empty of cards.

The ult is a game decider. One of the primary ways to split the piles is to put all lands in one pile, all permanents in the other, or to screw up their land base. The only reason to run less than 4 of these is for budgetary concerns. It is for this reason that a full set of LotV is part of The Core.



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Davriel, Rouge Shadowmage: The new kid. Like all new kids, at first I hated him. I've warmed up to him recently based on how many decks are getting 5-0 finishes on MTGO running 1-3 Daves. It's not mandatory to run Dave though, so he is definitely not part of the Core. He does everything 8Rack wants. He IS a Rack. He discards cards from your opponent. What's not to like? Right? You be the judge.




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Liliana, the Last Hope: The Underdog. This card was tragically overlooked for 8Rack for a long time, mainly because of the old Legendary rule, but those days are over. With the printing of Liliana's Triumph, there has never been a better time to run Last Hope. Her +1 is a powerful way to charge her ult, and it makes her tanky and tough to deal with. It's the opposite way that LotV protects herself so they compliment each other very nicely. Her ult is very powerful and it will win the game for you in short order. The Zombies play fine with Ensnaring Bridge since they only have 2 power.

The -2 here is a distraction most of the time. Sure sometimes you can nab a fallen Bob or Reggie, but cannot depend on this inconsistent line of play. It's a handy utility option that most likely won't be used. Don't feel too bad though, we want her using that +1 anyway.



Utility Lands

Beyond the core 4x Mutavaults and 4x Urborgs, you MIGHT be able to run 1-4 colorless utility lands. I say might because linear versions of the deck that run Smallpox and Wrench Mind require double black on Turn 2. Adding colorless, possibly disposable utility lands to a list like that can be problematic and isn't recommended. Linear decks should feel free to run the black producing utility lands like Silent Clearing, which is also good for triggering Revolt on Fatal Push.

I want to say that the land base of 8Rack is an area that has not been completely solved. As cards and deck lists evolve new options present themselves. Please post your own ideas about landbase tactics we should be employing.
Last edited by robertleva 4 months ago, edited 69 times in total.
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Robert Leva
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Post by robertleva » 7 months ago

One reserve post.
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Post by Exares » 7 months ago

As I Mono-Black lover, I thank you for this primer.

I built the linear version of this deck last year and played it for some time. Despite my efforts, I found it was quite slow many times and never got many wins.

The non-linear version is an interesting option, however.
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Post by robertleva » 7 months ago

No problem. I think you might really enjoy Jurassic Rack. Check out my youtube channel for 1000s of hours of 8rack replays and come to the Discord for updated deck lists and awesome chat too.
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Post by drmarkb » 5 months ago

Any thoughts on Nether Spirit in smallpox 8 rack? It is always a staple in the Legacy pox decks, as is Ifnir Deadlands. I believe NS got a MH printing.
Also, what is the solution to Green based Tron? I dabbled a few years ago with the deck and found that unless I bought in surgicals and hit atron land with it I could not beat it. I am an afficionado.of Mono B in Legacy, but never got the time to give this deck the love it deserves....

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Post by robertleva » 5 months ago

drmarkb wrote:
5 months ago
Any thoughts on Nether Spirit in smallpox 8 rack? It is always a staple in the Legacy pox decks, as is Ifnir Deadlands. I believe NS got a MH printing.
Also, what is the solution to Green based Tron? I dabbled a few years ago with the deck and found that unless I bought in surgicals and hit atron land with it I could not beat it. I am an afficionado.of Mono B in Legacy, but never got the time to give this deck the love it deserves....
Some people use Nether Spirit as a 1 of in Smallpox builds. Im not a huge fan of it but 1 card isnt likely to harm much.
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Post by robertleva » 4 months ago

I doubt there's much interest on this forum here for 8Rack, but I need a place to have a written primer regardless so I will faithfully update this bad boy. The starter lists have been updated with a couple recent 5-0 decks. We also got a couple nice cards in Eldraine:

Castle Locthwain is an amazing card for 8rack. This is by far the best land printed for 8rack in years. It's painless gas for those grindy matches. 1-2 copies recommended for all 8Rack configs.

Another very nice card for us is Drown in the Loch. I know some other decks are trying this card as well right now, but I feel 8Rack is best positioned to take advantage of it. There's a lot to say about both of these cards, so please check out my youtube channel for the replay of my next stream where I talk about them.
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Post by The Fluff » 4 months ago

I don't have an 8rack deck, but one of my modern playing friends owns a version of this. He does not have racks, but uses the shrieking affliction + some other things as win cons. I think he also has liliana in the deck. Went off against the deck with my version of ur storm... game one I was overwhelmed by the discard, but game 2 was much closer.. I was able to combo and got him down to I think 2 life with goblin tokens from empty the warrens, but he managed to kill all the gobs before they killed him. I tried to combo a second time, but fizzled due to not being able to find another etw.

On to the present. Nice to see that the Regisaur has found a home in this deck. Jurassic Rack? cool name. Will ask my friend if he would try the dinosaur list if we get to play again. :)
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