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8Rack FaceBook Group Name: MTG: Modern 8 Rack
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.