This my take on the 8rack/monoblack resource denial strategy. I love this deck. It’s difficult to play and really thought provoking.

The idea of mono black control is:

  1. Deny the opponent of resources.

  2. Punish them for their lack of resources.

I started playing this game couple years ago with black control and this deck has evolved from a budget build featuring Painful Quandary , Remorseless Punishment , and a fistful of spot removal.


This deck attempts to play around the symmetry of Smallpox and winning with a cheap persistent clock like The Rack or Mutavault .

For the most part, 8 rack comes with some basics to function, namely early targeted discard spells, repeatable sources of discard effects, and cheap permanents that punish opponents for not being able to hold onto cards.

8rack has some blindspots against artifacts, enchantments and graveyard based decks, but these can occasionally be handled with discard spells.


  • Thoughtseize / Inquisition of Kozilek : The best games start with this on turn 1. The information is the true weapon here. Knowing what to take depends on knowing your metagame and how to create holes in the opponent’s plan to give yourself chances to pull ahead. Take notes and plot your lines of play before choosing, match your answers to their threats or try to create a surplus of answers in your hand. It helps to play other decks occasionally to get familiar with their best plays and what they could draw, then try to make that difficult for them.

  • Smallpox : One of the best follow ups against a land light opponent’s hand. Some people will just concede on the spot. It’s important to note what plays are available for the opponent with respect to the amount of discard in your hand. It may be correct to hold smallpox to let your opponent play something inconsequential to help empty their hand if you don’t have mutavault to pressure them while they’re stuck on lands. Sometimes it’s correct for them to attempt dropping lands for a big spell, then setting them back 1 turn then take out what’s left of their hand. There’s a lot to be said about this card and it’s risky to get too aggressive with casting this multiple times in a game, but hand knowledge helps tremendously in timing it for maximum value. Hitting a key land will often prompt an opponent to discard their expensive cards in my experience leaving some small creature that will get eaten by a follow up removal spell.

  • Wrench Mind : This is the strongest card available in modern for 8rack at the moment. It is a 2-for-1 discard effect 90% of the time, which is exactly what the deck is looking for and can pull you ahead in card advantage, when the opponent puts you on the play. These are liabilities against artifact decks, but a significant portion of the artifact decks are ensnaring bridge decks which are naturally weak to the racks.

  • Raven's Crime : This card does a lot work on its own and you want to see it every. single. game. It is technically card filtering in black by giving all your lands this alternate value. This card is the key to the deck’s consistency, but quickly becomes a liability against graveyard based decks.

  • Liliana of the Veil : She keeps the opponent low on options and provides a distraction from your life total for the opponent. Protecting her is a sure way to victory as she takes over the game. I’m not sure if 3 or 4 is correct. I’ve run into situations where her heavy cost and drawn in multiples can slow the deck down especially with 4 Smallpox . For now I only own 3 so the 4th will have to be a tutor spell. Currently testing 1 Necrogen Mists as an extra form of discard that won’t get named from Pithing Needle effects.


  • The Rack / Shrieking Affliction : The main path to victory in the deck. It can feel like playing a burn deck when you are just throwing lands to Raven's Crime . The rack used to be able to hit planeswalkers (thanks WotC) and puts most decks in modern on a quick clock. I don’t run all 4 Shrieking Affliction because there are some matchups where it’s more difficult to turn on and I can’t cast it off of my colorless lands.


  • Fatal Push : This is ‘s best removal spell now. Revolt can be activated with Ghost Quarter , Smallpox , a lost Liliana, urborg legend rulings or a Mutavault sacrifice.

  • Funeral Charm : I used to see this as just really bad removal, but every mode offers some kind of trick whether it’s shutting down a top deck or pushing through extra points of damage. It’s also fine to hold up mana for fatal push then if they don’t play anything just making them discard at their end step. Every time I play it I feel like I learn something new about it. I’m becoming fond of this little charm.

  • Dismember : The most reliable removal spell albeit the most painful. Useful against midrange and creature combos. Superb at taking down attacking gideons.


  • Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth : Monocolored decks have the smoothest mana and urborg makes it possible to exploit our manabase further to cram additional utility lands that don’t make black mana, more than we should be able to and still expect to hit .

  • Mutavault : There are clear advantages of a mana source that sometimes is a 2/2 for . When you run out of discard, this picks off the remainder of the opponent's life total. It also serves as a clock if you mana screw an opponent and cards get stuck in their hand. You have to choose your moments when swinging in with this, since it can catch a bolt and leave you down a land (which is sometimes what you want to happen). Also having all creature types is oddly relevant in niche situations against some tribal strategies.

  • Spawning Pool : I prefer this over Mutavault on defense because I would rather have a way to stuff up a Tarmogoyf indefinitely than a 2/2 that eats it to most creatures. I can justify the coming in tapped after watching and playing a lot of games, there are turns in this deck where you don’t want or are unable to use all your mana which leaves an opportunity to play this. It’s also resilient against cards like Stone Rain if you have the mana open. This makes mana and can stop a freight train. What more can I ask for?

  • Ghost Quarter : Land destruction maindeck is a must for me. My meta has a lot of Tron and Grixis shadow floating around. There are a lot of powerful lands out there that can kill you or let them draw cards. It can also be helpful triggering revolt. Being colorless doesn’t hurt the deck as bad since I can float a and target my own land to get double black in a pinch.

  • Tomb of Urami : This is solely in here as an out to maindeck Chalice of the Void or they’ve shut down Mutavault and I need a way to end the game quickly once the opponent becomes hellbent. The life loss is often not relevant with urborg out or if you activate mutavault, but most importantly it’s a finisher that doesn’t take up a card slot and is immune to most counterspells. It’s a hail mary to activate it and I ideally wait until I draw into a couple lands to replace the ones I lost or Liliana is on the field to take care of any topdecked creatures that might swing back. It’s a slightly worse basic swamp that can steal games.

  • Collective Brutality : This card is extremely flexible and is great against aggressive decks as well as controlling ones. It can also just go to the opponent's face to close out a game. It's not always reliable as a discard spell or a removal spell. Up against burn, it becomes another set of smallpox, going 3-for-3 cards with the opponent.

  • Leyline of the Void / Extirpate : These cards can instantly cripple certain decks and it’s the best shot the deck has against its worst matchups, Tron & Dredge. Extirpate pairs well with targeted discard and the opponent can't respond with the split-second clause in situations where you are extracting an instant spell from the opponent's hand. Perhaps my favorite part of the card is looking through opponents' libraries to get more familiar with sideboard strategies or new archetypes popping up in the meta. Leyline is a response to degenerate graveyard decks running rampant at the moment. It’s effective and the London mulligan makes it more consistent but they occupy a lot of sideboard space and have more narrow applications than extirpate.

  • Bontu's Last Reckoning : FINALLY! A board wipe for pox in modern! Damnation was too costly and Flaying Tendrils was too weak. The lands not untapping isn't so bad if you have an opponent empty handed with Liliana on the field. I prefer this over Ensnaring Bridge because I want to attack with my own creatures and even if bridge sticks, the opponent can still assemble a lethal board then remove bridge to move in for the win. There are also situations where you can get stuck trying to dump your hand to protect yourself behind the bridge, but the opponent is out of range of the racks. This prevents you from stockpiling lands for a flurry of retracing Raven's Crime to knock them back down in range. I’m testing a 1-2 split main-side as a tutor target when the opponent goes too wide for smallpox.

  • Pithing Needle : It does well against planeswalkers and Engineered Explosives as well as some combo decks. It's a super efficient answer to certain cards and at it's worst, it can be used to shut off fetchlands. It’s hit or miss against Tron if you play it proactively since they usually draw into whatever you didn’t name or some eldrazi beast that you weren’t going to beat anyway.

  • Vampire Hexmage : It answers chalice on 1, planeswalkers, aether vials and first strike is legit against smaller creatures. It can come in against burn or aggro as just an additional source of damage if need be. The challenge I've been having lately is to come up with a cleaner answer to the Karn, the Great Creator and Mycosynth Lattice combo that has been trending up recently. Being a creature to pressure the planeswalker is great and the instant speed ability is exactly where I want to be if they are planning on casting both on 1 turn while I'm tapped out. There are more permanents out there that rely on counters and I'm curious to see what other uses I find for this little lady.

The rest of the sideboard is a work in progress here are some options I’ve tested or are currently testing:

  • Mindslicer : This card seems powerful like those old cards that shouldn’t exist but do. A 4/3 body is fine when they are empty handed, but the tricky thing is there’s no profitable way to kill this thing outside of exile style effects if the opponent is trying to sandbag cards against the rack. Controlling when it dies is also a very powerful effect.

  • Liliana, the Last Hope : She can pick off small creatures or provide a cushion against aggro decks. Her -2 ability is largely useless without more creatures. The ultimate is nearly unbeatable and she’s a difficult planeswalker to stop when protected with removal.

  • Ratchet Bomb : This is something of a necessary evil for monoblack. It’s a very broad answer and a very slow one, but it can get the job done.

  • Crypt Incursion : Good against reanimator decks, burn decks, aggro decks and basically resets the game for you in certain matchups. The swing in life is usually enough to win the race with racks in most cases since you are starting over at 20+ life. Current high score is 33 life gained.

  • Faerie Macabre : This is free instant speed grave hate that the opponent can’t play around. It’s also not completely dead in other matchups where you just want another way to get in extra damage. When racks aren’t getting there, creatures might. This is evasive, has enough toughness to get pumped by funeral charm, and a low enough power to put ensnaring bridge decks in a weird spot.

  • Asylum Visitor : Good body that can draw cards and synergize with discard.

  • Genju of the Fens : I have an idea with this card’s synergy with urborg. I’m interested in casting this on an opponent’s land and use excess removal or a Lili -2 to remove lands.

  • Shadow of Doubt : I haven’t tested this yet but it seems good with Ghost Quarter and enemy fetch lands while also drawing me a card. Good against most decks in the format trying to search for something like tron, storm and valakut. Ashiok, Dream Render is an upgrade that slots in perfectly as additional graveyard hate and still shuts down searching for the opponent permanently. If it comes down to it, Ashiok can win the long-game through mill.

  • Detection Tower : Could this be the answer to Leyline of Sanctity 8rack was hoping for?

  • Delirium Skeins : This seems to be the most popular sideboard option for 8rack strategies I see in others' decks. It acts as another smallpox against opponents that don’t commit cards to the board and gets around leyline of sanctity. It’s pretty bad in multiples though.

  • Damping Sphere : This can slow down Tron enough to empty their hand and acts as a pseudo blood moon against amulet titan. It also gives me more time against combo decks and it’s a road block against storm decks.

  • Darkblast : This is a great follow up to Bontu's Last Reckoning against swarm decks. It’s also good at picking off tokens making the sacrifice effects in the deck more effective. This makes the strong matchups VERY strong like infect and affinity.

  • Crucible of Worlds : The ultimate revenge piece against Tron players. Ghost Quarter opens the door to locking opponents out of lands, getting more land drops from retraced Raven's Crime , or repeatable Bojuka Bog s. Downside is it’s slow and runs right into their artifact and grave hate post board. The Johnny in my brain is telling me to run Mindlash Sliver to turn Mutavault into a discard engine.

  • Flaying Tendrils : There are a few match ups where I would want this over Bontu's Last Reckoning namely affinity, burn and dredge but whiffs against most tribal aggro decks like merfolk and humans. Cry of the Carnarium is strictly better now as the opponent can't use instant speed sac outlets to save their creatures from exile.

  • Syphon Life : I think it would do better in the mainboard as extra reach when flooding, before they bring in Leyline of Sanctity and grave hate, but I don’t know if I can cut anything for another 3cmc spell. It does make burn and control matches much easier but might be too slow game 2.

  • Phyrexian Obliterator : The mono black monster is showing promise. It will stall attacks from aggro decks while they try to go wide, giving me time to empty their hand or set up for bontu. It closes games quickly since no one will block it. Also it’s just plain scary.

  • Empty the Pits : I love this card but it’s hard to find a spot for it. The instant speed makes it great against control decks tapping out on your endstep, but the cost is difficult to pay when you are trying to keep pressure on the opponent. It’s best when games go long and your opponent isn’t expecting you to drop 10 power on the field at their endstep.

  • Eternal Scourge + Relic of Progenitus : This was a decent attempt at having a long game that incidentally hated on dredge. Scourge was really good with Extirpate and grinding down control decks. It didn’t do much vs aggro though.

for upkeep triggers that draw cards:

603.3b If multiple abilities have triggered since the last time a player received priority, each player, in APNAP order, puts triggered abilities they control on the stack in any order they choose. (See rule 101.4.) Then the game once again checks for and resolves state-based actions until none are performed, then abilities that triggered during this process go on the stack. This process repeats until no new state-based actions are performed and no abilities trigger. Then the appropriate player gets priority.

for smallpox vs replacement effects:

608.2c The controller of the spell or ability follows its instructions in the order written. However, replacement effects may modify these actions. In some cases, later text on the card may modify the meaning of earlier text (for example, “Destroy target creature. It can’t be regenerated” or “Counter target spell. If that spell is countered this way, put it on top of its owner’s library instead of into its owner’s graveyard.”) Don’t just apply effects step by step without thinking in these cases—read the whole text and apply the rules of English to the text.

for scourge exile triggers:

608.2b If the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal. A target that’s no longer in the zone it was in when it was targeted is illegal. Other changes to the game state may cause a target to no longer be legal; for example, its characteristics may have changed or an effect may have changed the text of the spell. If the source of an ability has left the zone it was in, its last known information is used during this process. If all its targets, for every instance of the word “target,” are now illegal, the spell or ability doesn’t resolve. It’s removed from the stack and, if it’s a spell, put into its owner’s graveyard. Otherwise, the spell or ability will resolve normally. Illegal targets, if any, won’t be affected by parts of a resolving spell’s effect for which they’re illegal. Other parts of the effect for which those targets are not illegal may still affect them. If the spell or ability creates any continuous effects that affect game rules (see rule 613.10), those effects don’t apply to illegal targets. If part of the effect requires information about an illegal target, it fails to determine any such information. Any part of the effect that requires that information won’t happen.


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Date added 4 years
Last updated 1 month
Key combos

This deck is Modern legal.

Rarity (main - side)

4 - 1 Mythic Rares

20 - 10 Rares

20 - 2 Uncommons

6 - 2 Commons

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 1.74
Tokens 2/2 Zombie
Folders Decks, Budget, Budget, jrula, BIULD ASAP, Check latter, Black, modern, Budget Modern, To print, See all 29
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