From time to time we see 8-Rack pop up and put up a solid showing. I was following the results of the Classic in Roanoke, and was pretty surprised to see three copies of the deck make the Top 8. For a deck that supposedly isn't that popular, that's pretty darn good! I have heard players call 8-Rack a gimmicky strategy because of how much it relies on discard, but it has also proven it can compete. For videos this week, I decided to run with one of the lists that did well at the Classic.
Looking at the list, I was surprised at first glance on some of the numbers. Playing only three copies of cards like Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek – the best discard spells in Modern – didn't add up. Then I realized it isn't necessarily as much about what cards the opponent discards as it is about forcing the opponent to discard a lot of cards. I actually generally liked Wrench Mind more than some of the other discard spells because it forces the opponent to discard multiple cards.
The key cards are Raven's Crime and Liliana of the Veil because they provide reoccurring discard effects. With these types of effects, it becomes much easier to completely empty the opponent's hand. The general strategy against 8-Rack is to hold lots of cards in your hand so as not to get in range of The Rack and Shrieking Affliction, the primary ways we are closing out games. Sometimes we came up a little short, but most of the games were quite competitive win or lose.
Against Jund Death's Shadow, our opponent had better topdecks and that was ultimately the difference. They also had access to problematic cards with inexpensive large threats like Death's Shadow and Tarmogoyf, and efficient removal like Abrupt Decay. Even so, the match was incredibly close, and it may be that I could have won by taking a different line game one. However, many times you do have to empty your hand once you have a Liliana, of the Veil out and hope that it is good enough to close the deal.
The Blue-Black Mill match was pretty sweet. This is a deck that we rarely see, but playing against it is a treat. This is not about counting your life total, but rather counting cards in your deck. Game one things went smoothly, but game two we needed to dodge our opponent peeling a critical mill spell down the stretch, and they got there. Definitely a fun match, and even though we lost it didn't feel like a bad matchup.
While we didn't run hot versus Blue-Black Mill and Jund Death's Shadow, this wasn't the case versus Counters Company. The opponent made a mistake by not sacrificing their Horizon Canopy in game one to give them some additional outs to win. Still, we were able to win through the opponent having access to infinite mana, and that's pretty cool. Even though there is only one copy of Ensnaring Bridge, it felt like we did draw it in some key situations. Game two, we were able to mana-screw the opponent and stop a Collected Company, which would have likely been game over.
After playing more with 8-Rack I'm still not sure how good it actually is. Modern is such a vast format, and there are some matchups that feel much more difficult than others. For instance, Jund Death's Shadow has a lot of tools at their disposal to be able to disrupt your plan and win conditions. On the other hand, it is pretty cool playing a deck with such a low curve, and one-mana win conditions. The deck is for players who like disrupting the opponent a lot, and it is definitely very annoying to play against.
Thanks for reading,