After just going 4-1 with this deck, I've decided, yeah, it's time. Rack is back baby! And it's still black!

Once upon a time, long before Covid-19, we would all gather together at places called Local Game Stores to play MTG and other TCGs and board games. I was playing my first ever tournament (Pioneer) at my LGS, Battle Grounds, when, suddenly, my opponent sat before me, won the dice roll... and chose draw. This intrigued me, and I watched as he stripped my hand apart in a mono-black deck like I'd never seen before: Thoughtseize, Vicious Rumors, Unburden, until I was living off the top of my 27 land control deck (AKA, I was screwed). Finally, after I was racking (get it!) my brain to figure out his long-term game plan, he played Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage, and everything became clear, and so, after I (miraculously) won the match, I decided that 8-Rack was the best deck ever, so, I made my own. I've been reworking the deck for awhile, especially recently due to quarantine, and after a lot of testing, and just going 4-1 with this baby, losing only to burn, I've decided, it's time.
8-Rack is a deck that revolves around using a bunch of discard cards like Thoughtseize in combination with The Rack and Shrieking Affliction to make a very powerful control deck that can start dealing tons of damage every turn with very few ways to deal with it.

This deck, in particular, utilizing Dave as a replacement for The Rack, which isn't legal in Pioneer. He's a very worthy replacement considering he is a Rack with discard stapled onto him! Great value (also, my new favorite walker next to Vraska!)

Also, remember how I said that my opponent took the draw even though he won the die roll? That's a tactic for 8-Rack, and it is a very good one. Since for the majority of the game, we'll be trading 1 for 1 with our opponent, we want to be up cards, and taking the draw allows us to do this. Now, there are a few matchups in which we want the play over the draw, and I'll get into that later, but for the most part, we take the play against decks that have t1 plays we can't easily deal with outside of discard (ie: bogles)

Agonizing Remorse is Thoughtseize, but better, but worse, but cheaper. Basically, it's a turn later than TS, but it also makes up for it since it exiles the card instead of just making your opponent discard it. Beyond that, it can also take cards from the GY, meaning it can deal with Uros from beyond that hand. And, oh yeah, it's also $0.50.

Liliana's Steward: Okay, this one was a long shot... but it's been working for me. After taking out the Specter's Shriek, I like the idea of having a spare turn 1 play alongside Vicious Rumors, even if I can't use it until turn 2. Beyond that, even though you technically need to untap to use it, if someone Pushes it, guess what, the same outcome, trades 1 for 1 either way! Is Thoughtseize better? Yes! Is Thoughtseize in any way affordable in this budget? Hell to the no!

Yarok's Fenlurker is another one of those cards that's great no matter when we draw it. 2cmc with exile stapled onto a nice 1/1 body. The damage from the Fenlurker rarely ever counts towards much (but hey, the damage is damage!) but it definitely helps to have a blocker on the field/something to draw cards like Fatal Push out of our opponent's hand which will help get them on the rack and protect out wincons! And while the pump is rarely ever relevant, we empty our hand fast in this deck, so having a manasink is pretty nice! Oh, and it also functions as a virtual 2 for 1... something that took me too long to realize, tbh.
Bontu's Last Reckoning is easily the best mono-black sweeper in Pioneer currently. For just 3cmc, we can blow up the entire world! And don't let that tap-out effect fool you, I have never cringed or crossed my fingers as I waited for my lands to untap. That turn skip has never screwed me over since the card itself sets our opponent back multiple turns, and since we're ripping their hand to shreds, they may not even have much if anything to play during the rebuilding phase. It works really well in the deck and is far superior to something such as Languish.

Hero's Downfall is just a nice 2 of as some unconditional removal for any creature or walker that you need rid of. Why not Murderous Rider? Because he has killed me too many times for me to care for him any more.

Elspeth's Nightmare is... well, it's just way underrated in my oppinion! I started playing 8-Rack in Pioneer a few months ago, and after a few matchups, it just felt like it was seriously missing something, especially when after I picked up 10-Rack and Modern with a lot of success. Then I saw it: no Smallpox! So, I was sifting through ScryFall, trying to find a worthy substitute, when I stumbled across Plaguecrafter, but it seems to hav greatly fallen out of favor as of late. So, I went digging again, and found two cards, both good, but I prefer Elspeth's Nightmare. Comes down, kills a dork; ticks up, casts duress; ultimates, and hoses the graveyard (that last clause has saved me multiple times now!)

Another option less budget friendly and also much more meta specific is Collective Brutality. Again, kills a dork, and casts takes an instant/sorcery from your opponent's hand. However, instant/sorcery and noncreature are two very different things, so I find Nigtmare to be better in the current overall state of the format. However, if your personal meta(are those still a thing right now?) is full of control/burn, then I recommend Brutality if you can fit it into your budget since it is faster.

Lili is just amazing. She is essentially Liliana of the Veil but in Pioneer (and also, only... $5?!) Her + forces discards and even bolts our opponent if they can't (which, by the way, makes her a form of a "Rack Lock," where our opponent is essentially damned if they do damned if they don't). Her -3 can remove a lot of creatures considering our yard will fill up fast! And her Ult wins the game, I mean... it just wins the game. Unless your opponent has 0 creatures, it wins the freaking game!
Mobilized District is a great budget option for Mutavault. Sure, 4 mana is a lot for the activation, but that gets discounted for each legend we control, and hey! This deck plays 6, so, most of the time it only costs 3 to activate, and if you're really lucky, just 2.

This card is also quite versatile. We can use it as a blocker, it can trade and even eat a lot of key creatures in the format, and the fact that it's a 3/3 means that it can save use from a Questing Beast and cards like it. On top of that, this little guy can also swing for 3 later on in the game when the board is non-threatening and we're waiting for a rack. So, yeah, 3dmg a turn that dodges sweepers, I'll count that as a secondary wincon!

While The Rack may not be legal in Pioneer, Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage is. A 3cmc planeswalker with a static ability (because that's what planeswalkers have now) that shocks our opponent on each of their upkeeps where they have 1 or fewer cards in hand. To add to that, he also has "-1: target player discards a card." Meaning that he can also 2 for 1 our opponent over time while also doubling as a rack himself! And while he may be a little vulnerable to attacks due to being a walker, this deck has a ton of removal, plenty of sweepers, and chump-blockers galore! Not to mention the manlands as a nice backup as well.

Shrieking Affliction is the OG Racks 5-8. So long as your opponent has 1 or fewer cards in hand at the beginning of each of their upkeeps, this thing bolts them! Plain and simple.

Castle Locthwain is just in there as a nice Bob affect, and since our hand is empty or almost empty most of the time, the life loss is rarely ever significant.
1.) Upgrade Mutavault over Mobilized District. I think it's pretty easy to see that our manlands are the weakest part of the deck. The fact that the manlands are also such an essential part of the deck is also why I recommend making this swap first. (Sidenote: if you do have the Mutavaults, there's a cute bit of synergy between that land and Arterial Flow!)

2.) Thoughtseize over Agonizing Remorse. I feel like that swap is pretty self explanatory. (If you make this swap, I also recommend switching 2-4 of the Stewards to Burglar Rats, since it won't hurt the curve, but also adds in more virtual 2 for 1s.

3.) Finally, 2-3 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoths over some Swamps. This is a great card to combine with our manlands to ensure that we don't end up getting color screwed. However, it is far from necessary in a deck like this, but if you want this deck to be fully optimized, then yeah, I'd suggesting grabbing a playset of Urborgs.

1.) Leyline of the Void over Tormod's Crypt. There are a lot of graveyard decks running around currently, from Sultai Dredgeless Dredge to Grixis Lurrus Control, and everything else in between. Good graveyard hate is extremely important to help stay ahead of the current meta of Pioneer. That's really all you need to change in the SB, everything else is optimized already, imo.
At long last I have gone ahead and decided to write the primer for this deck.

Play or Draw? Play

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: This is our best matchup and that is not a joke. G1 is tricky but far from bad. Use any Specter's Shriek to deal with any combo piece they have in their hand (preferably Inverter since a 6/6 Flier is a threat all on its own, however, it is Devoid, so we do still 2 for 1 ourselves, sadly), and no combo piece is in hand take their next best card(Jace or Dig Through Time are great targets, even if we do have to exile a card for it). From there, the game is pretty easy honestly. Keep them on the rack as best as you can, and once their hand is empty they're kinda screwed (Combo decks can't top deck for shit). Unless they get really lucky and top deck a Dig Through Time into both pieces it's basically GG. Rack 'em, swing with manlands, and turn your Reggies sideways until the cows come home!
  • G2-3: Easy-peasy! (maybe). Necromentia is... well, it's combos's bane! The obvious issue tho is 1.) drawing into it and 2.) not having it TS'd out of our hand. If we do get to resolve it, perfect! Name Inverter because a 6/6 flier is a threat alone as well, and then you're home free. Pithing Needles are there as a way to deal with any Jaces, but they usually aren't much of an issue, we can kill them faster than they can mill. Again, this is a great matchup for us! Our deck is all about making our opponent live off of the top of their deck, which, again, combo can't really do, or at least not all that well.
Play or Draw? Play

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Bad matchup, not gonna lie. Game one isn't terrible, but still rather difficult. Use Specter's Shriek to deal with any Breaches in their hand (if no breach, take Niv, Walkers, or the dreaded Hidden Strings). From there it's a race. Hand disruption is good against them but far from great, so our Racks are not always going to cut it. Reggie and Districts can swing in for damage as well as any Fenlurkers and Rats we may have. Again, Game one is tough, a race, but after that, we can seriously wreck them in games two and three.
  • G2-3: This is the only matchup where I would recommend mulliganing hard for our SB piece: Necromentia. So long as we go first, we can mul this, drop it on t3, name Lotus Field, and that should be gg from there. The issue here is if our opponent plays a turn one Arboreal Grazer because that enables a turn 2 Lotus Field. However, aside from that, games 2 and 3 are fine so long as we can extract the Field. From there, Pithing Needle naming Ugin is a good way to lock down the game, and Tormod's Crypt is really just a back up in case we can't find a Necromentia or they get turn 2 Field. Games 2 and 3 aren't nearly as bad as game 1 so long as we are able to draw into our SB pieces in time. (Sidenote: if you are lucky enough to draw into the second Necromentia, name Fae of Wishes with it so that they can't use their wish board for answers).
Play or Draw? Play

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Uh, concede. And also concede games two and three, because... how do I put this... oh yeah, it's f***ing Spirits! Okay, fine, I'll give you a real Primer (even tho you're screwed). In Modern, 8-Rack might as well concede to Tron. In Pioneer, it might as well concede to Spirits. Why? They're unstoppable! Mausoleum Wanderer, Selfless Spirit, Supreme Phantom, and of course let's not forget Spell Queller. Basically, their tech stops all of ours. They have three different cards that make our sweepers useless or just simply counter them. Spot removal is bad. Hand disruption can have a small effect on them, but in the end, they only care about the board really. The only chance you have is to use Fatal Push to stop early Maus-Wanderers/Selfless Spirits and hand disruption to deal with lords and qullers. After you feel safe, Sweep the board and pray it doesn't get stopped.
  • G2-3: Same thing really, but now we have more ways to deal with Selfless Spirits and Quellers that are hiding sweepers under them. There's nothing else to really be said, it's our worst matchup, I've never won against them (I won one game but the match was lost), so yeah, cross your fingers and pray they don't draw well is our best strategy tbh (oh, yeah, and taking the play allows us to avoid having our sweepers Quelled if we can dodge Selfless Spirits and Maus-Wanderers enough to play them on curve... I think you get it, this matchup is all about miracles).
Play or Draw? Draw

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Fair. Game one is what I'd call fair. We have a couple of ways to deal with walkers after they've hit with Hero's Downfall, not to mention Mobilized District and Yarok's Fenlurker can also help pitch in if need be. Four sweepers in the mainboard is also a great way to punt this deck and knock them down to almost if not entirely nothing. I will say tho, with Agonizing Remorse, first priority is Walking Ballista and Karn, the Great Creator (depending on what the state of the board is and what else you have in hand).
  • G2-3: Games 2-3 are unfair as all hell thanks to this little guy! So, uh, Blightbeetle was the MVP in this match up's second game for me. A 1/1 that stops Hydras, Viviens, and Walking Ballistas is pretty good, as it turns out! Pro-Green also means it can block for days, and even deal with problematic walkers or swing face if need be. Noxious Grasp will deal with everything outside of a Ballista or Karn, sweepers clear out cluttered up boards, and The Elderspell is a sweeper but for Planeswalkers (which is something the game has been missing ever since the first 5 were printed).
Play or Draw? Draw

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Not necessarily a good matchup, but also not a bad matchup by any means. Hero's Downfall can clear early threats such as Toolcraft Exemplar and Inventor's Apprentice, and sweep the board if it gets too overwhelming... tha-that's it really. Pretty basic matchup, honestly.
  • G2-3: Same thing but easier. Noxious Grasp early threats, Nightmare can deal with things Grasp can't, and use Pithing Needle to lockdown any equipments you'd rather not want to deal with.
Play or Draw? Play

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Uh, survive. That's the gameplan for game 1 honestly. Use Agonizing Remorse to deal threats that you don't currently have a very good answer for, and from there just sweep whenever the board is crowded, and save Hero's Downfall for Chandras.
  • G2-3: Same tactic: survive, then once you've survived, keep on surviving. I think the SB is pretty self explanatory. Pithing Needle can deal with Chandras and Hazorets, depending upon which one is most problematic in that moment. From there, the same as game 1, the exact same.
Play or Draw? Draw

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: This is another fair matchup. Not necessarily good, but far from bad. You'd think their value engine would destroy us but, um... no, it actually doesn't (and this matchup was before the companion change!). This is a pretty simple game one. Use hand disruption against cards we can't deal with after they've been cast (Fires and Collective Company, especially), and just keep removing threats such as Fiend Artisan. After that, Racks and Lilis until they're ready for game 2.
  • G2-3: Easy. Tormod's Crypt shuts down Uro and Elspeth Conquers Death, and it being free means it won't mess with our (somewhat awkward) curve. Noxious Grasp can hit most threats in their deck be it a Fiend, Teferi, or a 4/5 flier threatening our life total. Aside from that, it's the same game plan as before, but much easier now that we no longer have to concern ourselves with 6/6s or Teferis coming back from the dead.

Play or Draw? Draw

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Just try to disrupt their plan as best you can (which, hey! We have a ton of cards to do that). Downfall/Elspeth's Nightmare to deal with any Ballistas they land (no one expects a playset of Elspeth's Nightmare!), and sweep if you see the need. Outside of that, just keep racking them and try to keep creatures off the field as best as you can so that they can't gain any life/buff with Heliod.
  • G2-3: The second and third games are a lot easier, but still not great. The hardest part about this deck is that it attacks from 4 different angles: Walkers, combo, value, and lifegain. The Elderspell stops walkers, Pithing Needle and Blightbeetle keep them off the combo, Noxious Grasp can deal with any non-God threat (outside of ballista, but Beetle hoses those anyhow), and sweepers to keep them off of going wide and gaining too much value from their creatures. Our best bet against this is our discard to keep them off of the combo, and everything else to avoid them getting any real board state. We can't stop them from gaining life, but if you're looking to upgrade and want a way to deal with this matchup a bit better, Erebos, God of the Dead is a great card that just hoses their god, and is also indestructible (and the chances of us ever having the devotion to turn it on and make it vulnerable to removal is very slim in this deck).
Play or Draw? Play

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Game 1 is actually pretty fair. We have plenty of sweepers to dodge hexproof, and our Fenlurkers can chump block if need be. Beyond that, our greatest fear is the Sea-Dasher Octopus since it can grant a lot of card advantage to our opponent and we can't deal with it too easily, so I'd try dealing with that before anything else (and I also wouldn't worry too much about Starrix in their opening hand, beacuse unless yours is too slow, that Starrix will probably never see the light of day).
  • G2-3: The exact same. Our deck's biggest issue it Hexproof, honestly. The best solution to deal with this would be Liliana's Triumph, but I haven't seen many Bogles decks as of late, so I see no need to clutter up the 75 with a card like that. However, if they come back on the rise, that's card to use to deal with them.

Play or Draw? Play

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1: Same as RDW: survive. Beyond that, make sure to use exile effects to deal with cards like Bloodsoaked Champion and Dread Wanderer, because those things a bitch against this deck.
  • G2-3: Same thing, but now we have Tormod's Crypt, which, when combined withe the Elspeth's Nightmares comes to a grande total of 8 ways to hose the graveyard, not bad, all things considered.

Play or Draw? Play

SB Swaps:

Game Plan:

  • G1:This is a really bad matchup, but we can still win... if we're lucky. I feel like gameplan for this is pretty self explanatory, but basically we want to force burn spells out of their hand more than anything because we have a ton of ways to remove their creatures and sweep the board if necessary, but 0 ways to gain life.
  • G2-3: If they're running Lurrus, the two Crypts can be a way to help deal with that. Otherwise, I'd just run it back. Nothing in our SB can explicitly deal with their deck, although I used to run 2Crypt Incursions in the Sb to buff my life total, and Aetherborn Vampire can also be a nice little wa to gain life and fend the board since it eats (or atleast trades with Deathtouch) pretty much everything they can play out.
(Coming Soon!)

Play or Draw?

SB Swaps:

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Game Plan:

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  • G2-3:
(Coming Soon!)

Play or Draw?

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Game Plan:

  • G1:
  • G2-3:
(Coming Soon!)

Play or Draw?

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Game Plan:

  • G1:
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Top Ranked
  • Achieved #17 position overall 1 month ago
  • Achieved #1 position in Pioneer 1 month ago
Date added 2 months
Last updated 1 day
Legality

This deck is Pioneer legal.

Rarity (main - side)

4 - 0 Mythic Rares

12 - 7 Rares

20 - 8 Uncommons

10 - 0 Commons

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.10
Tokens None Treasure, Liliana
Folders Uncategorized, Pioneer Ideas, Pioneer References, Interesting Builds, might want to build
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