Deep Analysis - Discard

(Rankle, Master of Pranks | Art by Dmitry Burmak)

Unlimited Power

Did you know that EDHREC has an EDH Wiki? Go check it out, if you haven’t already; it’s written by the community for the community, and there’s a lot of cool stuff in there! Deep Analysis is series where we learn about an archetype using its Wiki page, then apply this new knowledge to build a deck.

In this article we'll be covering the Discard archetype.

"Discard is a control archetype built around forcing opponents to discard cards from their hand, often gaining additional benefits when opponents discard cards and/or when opponents have no cards in hand."

Discard is a proactive control archetype, which means that it deals with threats before they hit the field. Usually, when we think about discard spells, we think of cards like Thoughtseize. However, having one-for-one trades like this both lacks an overall punch for most of our payoffs and is extremely inefficient when in a multiplayer setting. This means that we need both constant sources of discard, like Necrogen Mists, and/or high impact, one-shot discard spells, like Mind Rake.

Color Identity


Mono-black is the baseline for Discard-themed decks. It contains all the important pieces and has some interesting commanders to choose from.


Red is a great addition to the archetype. It gives us access to wheel effects like Reforge the Soul, and we can complement our strategy with some aggressive hate pieces that allow will allow us to keep constant pressure on our opponents.


Orzhov is a bit of an oddball for the strategy, but white gives us access to tax effects can slow down the game enough to buy us enough time for our discard effects to kick in. We do lose a lot in commander quality, with most of our choices being more of a compromise than anything else.

Commander Choice

Our first major choice is whether we want an enabler or a payoff to be in the command zone. Having an enabler as a commander guarantees a degree of consistency in executing our plan and allows us to focus a bit more on the payoff elements of our strategy. On the other hand, having a payoff in the command zone is really powerful and, more often than not, can be something to build our deck around, which is always fun. In this case in particular, consistency seems like a key aspect for our strategy, so having a reliable commander, like Rankle, Master of Pranks, seems like a perfect choice for this.

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer


This is what our deck is all about. We have two types of discard cards: consistent, and one-shot.


These are great for keeping our opponents' options low, but unless we have a few of them out, they can be a bit too slow to really make a difference.


One-shot effects are perfect to get the ball rolling, and they come in all shapes and forms. In this build, we're focusing on bodies that have a discard effect stapled into them. They aren't all that explosive, but they do help us provide some synergy with other cards.

Discard Payoff

Aside from the obvious benefit of leaving our opponents Hellbent, we have a selection of aggressive payoffs that put the pressure on our opponents once we've established our hand disruption.

Act of Discard

These cards punish our opponents for discarding their cards. They're not only great for our own discard effects, but also because they can hose some other strategies, like Wheels and Cycling.

Empty Hand Payoff

These cards help us keep the pressure once we manage to lower our opponents' hand sizes. These effects are usually a bit lacking, but since we have an aggressive shell, they complement our gameplan.

Recursive Creatures

This is where our build diverges a bit from the usual. There are many sources of discard that are symmetrical, like our commander, so by having a bunch of aggressive recursive creatures allows us to break the parity and get some value from our discards.

"If discard decks do not find 'payoff' cards that synergize or deal damage to their enemies after cards have been discarded, the lack of cards in players' hands can stall the game in a way that is not usually enjoyed by most players.

"It is very easy for graveyard-based commanders to avoid the negative downsides of discard effects, as discard players may accidentally provide those players with the fuel their decks need to win the game.

"Discard decks can be less effective against aggro strategies that already plan to quickly play all the cards in their hand in the first place, leaving them with little to discard. Because so many cards in discard decks affect players' hands, rather than the battlefield, this can leave the discard player vulnerable to on-board threats."

Given that we are building a synergy-based deck, where we need to find both enablers and payoff, there'll be games where we might only draw "one half" of our deck. I chose to have access to a consistent discard outlet in the command zone. However, this can lead to games where we don't see enough payoffs for this to be worthwhile. One easy way to circumvent this would be choosing a payoff commander (such as Tinybones, Trinket Thief) who does not cause the discard itself, but which does reward us when we cause discard to happen.

This is one of our deck's weakness: both Reanimator and Self-Mill can leverage our discard spells. One easy way to avoid such nuisances is to include a few graveyard hate cards. Don't get me wrong, they'll still be a hard match-up, but at least they give us a fighting chance.

One of the benefits of taking in an aggressive route is that we have plenty of bodies and damage to try to compete with them. One thing to note is that we won't be winning any friends by playing a discard-heavy strategy, so we'll need to deal with them on our own.

Which Card? Discard

And that’s it for this article. Now I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts on this list or on Discard-based decks in general. What archetype do you want to see covered next?

While this series will focus on just archetypes, there’s a ton of other cool community-built content in the Wiki. Check it out, and feel free to contribute, if you’d like!

Bernardo has been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.

EDHREC Code of Conduct

Your opinions are welcome. We love hearing what you think about Magic! We ask that you are always respectful when commenting. Please keep in mind how your comments could be interpreted by others. Personal attacks on our writers or other commenters will not be tolerated. Your comments may be removed if your language could be interpreted as aggressive or disrespectful. You may also be banned from writing further comments.