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Much Abrew: Pioneer 8 Rack

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Eight-Rack is a deck with a cult following. People love making their opponents discard cards, and cards like The Rack offer an easy, on-theme win condition for decks overloaded with discard spells. While 8 Rack has floated around on the fringe of Modern for years with varying degrees of success, today, we're playing 8 Rack on hard mode: in Pioneer, where The Rack itself isn't even legal! So how can we be 8 Rack without The Rack? Well, even though we don't have the literal Rack, we do have a couple of pseudo-The Racks in Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage and Shrieking Affliction to finish off our opponent once we get them low on cards, along with Waste Not to generate extra value from our discard spells themselves. Can 8 Rack work in Pioneer? How good is a discard-themed deck in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Pioneer 8-Rack

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  • First off, as for the deck itself, I made a couple of slight changes to the mana base before playing it by adding more copies of Castle Locthwain and a couple copies of Geier Reach Sanitarium. Since our deck is overloaded with discard spells that become dead spells once we empty our opponent's hand, the more card-drawing and looting lands we can stuff into the deck (while still having functional mana), the better. Plus, Geier Reach Sanitarium is sweet with Waste Not, especially once we get our opponent empty-handed, since we can force them to draw and discard for no value while getting a bonus Waste Not trigger.
  • Record-wise, we ended up 4-1 with the deck, with our only loss coming to Gb Stompy, which felt like a miserable matchup since our opponent could get something massive (like Steel Leaf Champion or Rotting Regisaur) on the battlefield before we could make them discard it, and we don't really have that much hard removal to deal with bit creatures. On the other hand, we took down a good mixture of aggro, combo, and midrange, including Dimir Inverter! Apparently, making your opponent discard a card or two each turn is a pretty good way to keep slower combo and midrange decks from ever deploying their powerful cards. 
  • As for the specific cards in the deck, the package of discard with Shrieking Affliction and Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage generally felt solid, with the exception of Vicious Rumors. Even in a discard-themed deck, Vicious Rumors just isn't powerful enough to see play in a format like Pioneer (or any other format, for that matter). Using those slots on a different discard spell or, better yet, more removal seems ideal. 
  • Meanwhile, Waste Not is weird. When we have it on Turn 2, it is one of the best cards in our deck and does extremely explosive things. The bad news is that it does less and less as the game goes along and we empty our opponent's hand of cards, making it another dead-ish draw in the late game. This is especially problematic for our deck since we already have a lot of discard spells that are bad topdecks after our opponent is empty-handed. Adding Geier Reach Sanitarium was an attempt to keep Waste Not relevant later in the game, and while it is helpful, I'm not sure it's enough. We probably either need to cut Waste Not or find more ways to trigger it after our opponent is empty-handed. I'm not sure which direction would be better. 
  • Discounting our discard package, the deck felt a bit light on finishers and removal. Both Rankle, Master of Pranks and Reality Smasher seemed really strong almost every time we drew them, but because they are two-ofs, we didn't draw them all that often. Especially considering how much we are warping our mana base to be able to cast Reality Smasher (by playing a bunch of pain lands and colorless lands), it's probably worth playing more copies. Meanwhile, only having two Fatal Pushes and two Murderous Riders as removal came back to haunt us against Gb Stompy and will likely cause problems against other aggressive creature decks as well. Going to up four copies of Fatal Push and maybe four Murderous Riders as well (potentially over Vicious Rumors) seems necessary. 
  • Keep in mind that after we get our opponent empty-handed, Rankle, Master of Pranks is another way to filter through dead discard spells and draw extra cards. We can often hit our opponent with Rankle, Master of Pranks, have both players draw a card, and then use something like Unburden, Vicious Rumors, Thoughtseize, or Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage to get rid of whatever our opponent draws from Rankle, keeping them empty-handed while going up a card. 
  • So, should you play Pioneer 8 Rack? I think the answer is yes. While I believe the deck can be improved, it felt really solid, with our 4-1 record backing up the deck's power. Pioneer decks aren't really built to handle being hit by a discard spell every turn, which is a weakness our deck is built to exploit! If you enjoy Modern 8 Rack, like discard decks, or just want to win some games in a unique way, give it a shot! Oh yeah, and here's the list I'd play today, based on some of the updates we've been discussing.

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Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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