8Rack on a Budget

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8Rack is a reasonably strong Modern discard deck that straight up wrecks certain metas, and provides one of the few, good means of playing "hard" control in this format.

However, it costs about $700. So maybe you can't afford it, maybe you're unsure if it's your thing or not and just want to test the waters and invest only a bit at first, or perhaps you're just holding out for another Liliana of the Veil reprint cause you think spending ~$360 on cardboard is silly (it is). Whatever the case, this article will show you how to play 8Rack for about $50.



First, let's take a look at non-budget 8Rack:

About half the cost comes from Lily herself, but Thoughtseizes aren't too cheap either (~$80 for a playset), Ensnaring Bridge is about $80 for a playset, Mutavaults are ~$40 total, Urborgs are ~$40 total, and Extractions are ~$24 total.

Fortunately, just the Extraction is truly needed, so if we gut the rest, we save about $620. Seems good! What to swap in?

Making the Substitutions

Necrogen Mists does a great impression of Liliana's +1. You'll miss the other two abilities sometimes, but such is life on a budget. On the bright side, enchantments are almost never destroyed, and the effect can stack, unlike with her.

Using Duress instead of Thoughtseize means we're less consistent, but Modern does have tons of targets for it. Looking at the current top decks, you can see this won't miss much, even with the creature centric decks. The real issue is sometimes you won't be able to take a creature when you really need to. However, we do run Nyxathid, more Pack Rat, and removal, and we have Despise in the board, so we shouldn't suffer for it too much. Also, not losing life can be huge versus Burn and other aggro decks.


Bridge comes out for Nyxathid, which can act like a Bridge. Sometimes it will be much worse (like when Lingering Souls tokens are out, or the opponent has many cards in hand), but as with Mists, sometimes much better (like when the opponent has just one creature out and you're at a high life total and can afford to swing in every turn, or you're playing against decks that dump their hand, like Burn and Affinity).

The non-basics simply come in for Swamps.

Noticing a pattern here? For whatever we lose by substituting cards, we gain something else. Overall we're worse off, but we offset some of the damage with unique advantages. This is key when converting an expensive deck to a budget one.

8Rack on the Cheap

So that's the jist of it all. With some more tweaks, here's what we have:


Should you purchase this and decide you enjoy it and want to take it further, I recommend buying Thoughtseize, then Bridge, then Lily, assuming you are doing it gradually. After that, you can pick up Mutavault, Urborg, and Slaughter Pact. Make the appropriate swaps and tweaks as you go.

Happy discarding!

Posted in Brewing, ModernTagged , ,

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15 thoughts on “8Rack on a Budget

  1. You mention surgical extraction is being irreplacable, but isn’t Extirpate a decent alternative? Granted it can’t be cast for life and you can’t let a copy of the spell behind, but it’s the same basic effect for half the price.

        1. Yes, which is important because we need the maximum amount of mana open to discard things. Also discarding more things means Extraction is better.

      1. Couldn’t figure out how to edit my comment, apologies for double-posting:

        In paper extirpate and extraction are close but online Extirpate is 0.8 TIX while extraction is 7.2 TIX. Getting the extractions online is roughly 19 TIX more.

  2. I think it’s also important to note 8-Rack is the kind of deck that can produce hard feelings against you. Not every player has the competitive mindset and can just shake your hand and say GG.
    Some players may feel very bad after losing to you and will let you know of this.
    Speaking from experience here since 8-Rack was one of the first Modern decks that I built.

    This is not really related to the topic but since this is an article about a budget build it’s reasonably to assume that players that are new to Modern are reading it and want to build it.

    1. this decks “bad rep” doesnt make sense to me. If 8rack doesnt have ensnaring bridge the deck basically loses to a kitchen finks. Post-board cards like engineered explosives and ancient grudge are super effective against it as well to say nothing of leyline of sanctity.

      Bridge can make for some painful games as they can wind up sitting on 4+ cards and your only hope of bringing them back into rack range is liliana/wrench mind. But abrupt decay and cryptic command are cards, and burn is a thing, so its not like bridge reads win target game.

      I played vs zoo yesterday and ended up with 4 bridges on the table (what a joke). I lost. Boros charms and bolts while he just kept 4 cards in hand.

      I played vs nykthos green with bridge out. Primal command. I lose.

      If anything this deck has been super underwhelming (and I mean the real version not the budget one here)

      1. It far from loses to a Finks. Explosives can be discarded or played around, Grudge can be targeted with Extraction, or we can just board in more removal (sometimes taking out Bridge). Leyline can be brutal, but it depends on the deck.

        I’ve been in the 4+ cards situation countless times; you often have inevitability in those situations and it works out just fine. Bridge is bad vs Burn – Nyxathid basically reads win target game most of the time vs them.

        Play versus Zoo more. The matchup is fine. Try Syphon Life main or side, though it’s not strictly necessary.

        Nykthos is a very good matchup most of the time. A lot of versions though, so it depends. I have gotten crushed by a Command version before, but it’s not like it’s a common deck, so meh.

        Rat, Mutavault, and removal alleviate the Bridge vulnerability. Buried Ruin is another option (which has sweet synergy with Darkblast and Dakmor). It is still a problem, though. Long term I might like a better option than Bridge, or to restructure the deck to better resemble Pox, but I don’t see route either being viable, at least not anytime soon. Something I really think would help is a 2cmc kill spell that makes each player discard, or something similar.

        I get the impression that maybe your list is suboptimal and/or your inexperience is unnecessarily affecting your perception of the deck. Not saying it doesn’t have problems (it’s not as strong as I’d like it to be), but when built and piloted optimally, it feels very powerful more often than it doesn’t.

    2. I get that people may have that gut reaction — that they don’t get to play their planned strategy, but honestly, don’t most decks in modern disrupt your opponent in some way that allows you to win? Twin, Mentor, Delver and company have counterspells, lightning bolts, some even hand disruption to put as many block on your way to victory while making sure they get to play theirs. It’s not as if control is virtually nonexistent outside control decks like 8rack.

      1. 8Rack plays on a different axis. People are used to Bolt and counterspells — they’re not used to having all their cards taken from them, being forbidden to attack, etc.

  3. I’m not sure about the naysayers and people who get mad about this deck. I really think that bs comes from crybabies that suck at magic in the first place. I dealt with a lot of naysaying with this deck when I was building it, and as it developed in my play group, they soon saw the power it has behind it. My biggest problem is affinity. I also know people who are terrible with this deck, this deck has to be in your play style, as silly as it sounds. I’ve beat people in mirror matches because of bad plays and improper sideboarding, and I believe that comes from not playing a deck that suits your play style. Watch Mr. Destroyermakers and Robert Leva’s MTGO vids on youtube and study plays and understand your META. Last night I 2-1’d in my local modern night, and this deck straight wrecks combo, HARD, especially if you know the builds. At the end of the day, I really feel this deck is one or two cards away from T1, and the only reason you don’t see it top8 is because not enough people are playing, this deck destroys Twin.
    Thanks for letting me rant.

    1. Nah I’ve played against 8Rack a few times and I totally get how it can be frustrating.

      Affinity shouldn’t be a problem at all. The Darkblast, Needle, and Bile Blight package is so sweet against them.

      We definitely destroy Twin.

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