The dinosaur hype train may be an Untethered Express but we don’t all want to jump into the Jurassic to ravage with raptors and stomp with ‘saurs. All tribes need love, and so this article is the first half of our decklists for Ixalan’s four tribes. With my love of UB and penchant for pirates and Sam Peters’ palaeontology perspective we have you covered until James Wise brings fangs and flippers in our next article!
We’ll start off with some salty sea dogs (an appropriate choice if you’ve ever played EDH with me). The flurry of low cost pirates available leaves us with a deck that can control while also playing out efficient creatures that can use the Raid mechanic for value turn after turn.
Our disruption is diverse, counterspells and removal with a splash of hand hate. To start with we have Kitesail Freebooter and Fell Flagship. The flying 2 drop is a temporary Duress on a stick that can keep our opponent from meddling with our game plan while enabling Raid or being able to keep pesky Bomat Couriers and the like at bay. The Flagship is likely more useful for the +1/+0 anthem but forcing discard on damage is a nice way to maintain a lead and nothing for us to complain about.
The second aspect of our control is Lookout’s Dispersal. Convolute may not be the most exciting card, but a better Mana Leak on turn 2 after dropping a Siren Stormtamer is a bit of an upgrade. We round off the interaction with removal – Fatal Push, Vraska’s Contempt and Hostage Taker don’t need elaboration.
Ruin Raider is a good Dark Confidant impersonation and with our flyers should easily trigger. Fathom Fleet Captain can build our crew to menacingly high numbers and The Scarab God is simply one of, if not the, best card in Standard.
It’s possible that a splash (or a bucket) of red for Grixis pirates to give us access to Abrade/Harnessed Lightning/Lightning Strike, the rest of the new pirates and Chandra, Torch of Defiance would be more powerful but this would morph into a more aggressive list where you’re probably just best off going full Ramunap Red.
We considered whether Gifted Aetherborn would be better than the two Fell Flagships but in the end we let new card excitement and the future meta not being known sway us towards the vessel, also double black might be difficult with the lands we have access to.
A different approach I’ve seen gain a lot of traction is UB Flying Men, leveraging the bounty of flightbound pirates with Favorable Winds to give you the combat boost to evasively overwhelm your opponent in the air. I enjoy bathing in the sadness of my opponents though, so a more controlling approach is my endorsed strategy (even if it is a tad jankier).
Anyway, enough of my rambling, best batten down the hatches as Sam brings the…
Drove of Dinosaurs
If assorted flying and non-flying men are not your style, and large, angry reptiles are, then you’re in luck! A deck able to compete in the mid game with strong value threats such as Ripjaw Raptor and Regisaur Alpha, whilst ramping itself towards everyone’s favourite feathered friend, Gishath, Sun’s Avatar for a quick finish, Naya Dinosaurs is everything anyone who loves big value creatures dreams of.
Our early game plan is to get out Drover of the Mighty, and then on turn 3 deploy one of our early dinos, Ranging Raptors, or Ripjaw Raptor. Follow this up with one of our enrage enablers, format all-star Walking Ballista or Savage Stomp for some Jurassic-sized value! Following our mid game we have a solid late game plan headed by Gishath and Wakening Sun’s Avatar to close the game. With most removal in the format being sorcery speed or being unable to deal with an 8cmc 7/6 (I’m looking at you Fatal Push) as long as we’ve played on even footing, even grabbing one dino from our deck with Gishath should be enough to end the game.
Well those are the tentative tribal triumphs of deck construction we have for you for now, but fear not, as James Wise will complete the set with Merfolk and Vampires in our next article! And if you’re on the fence about buying a box of Ixalan why not check out our Buy a Box booster opening video here!