It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me

“It is a blessing for a man to have a hand in determining his own fate.”

The release of the new set is like a mini Christmas. Not only do we get a whole load of new and exciting cards to play with, but we also get to find interesting ways to assemble our decks ready for the upcoming Standard season. Some people like myself however, are also interested to see what creatures will inhabit these new planes. It’s no secret that I love building themed decks, and with each new plane comes the chance to create new and exciting tribal brews. Will there be new Elves or Merfolk? Will we get a new lord? Will we get a brand new creature type? All these questions keep me on the edge of my seat, eager to find out more. So when Wizards of the Coast announced that their latest set Ixalan would focus on two underrated tribes, Dinosaurs and Pirates, I got super buzzed about the myriad possibilities that they could represent. Then last Mondays preview dropped, and I quite frankly lost my mind.

Not only were we getting Dinosaurs and Pirates, but Green Merfolk and White Vampires. What’s more the set seemed to support heavy tribal synergies, with many cards gifting bonuses depending on your creature types. I quickly dived into the previews to see what new decks I could construct. With only one weeks worth of cards currently revealed my choices where limited. But, there was one tribe that already seems to have a healthy selection of cards from which to build an all new Standard deck with. So hoist the sails, it’s time the join the pirate crew.

Ixalan’s pirates reside in the Grixis slice of the colour pie with aggressive low cost creatures, as well as some efficient tempo plays in the form of Dreamcaller Siren and Hostage Taker. For this list I will be focusing on the more aggressive side of Pirates play-style, with a heavy leaning towards Black and Red, and a splash of Blue for some mid-game value. I’m sure there will be multiple ways to construct a Pirate deck, but with what we’ve seen so far I feel this is a good place to start.



We will begin at the bottom of our curve with three copies of Deadeye Tracker. This little one drop is far better than it might first appear. Not only can it repeatedly remove Eternalize creatures and other pesky recurring threats from our opponents graveyard, but thanks to Explore will either give us another land or pump itself while pseudo scrying. We then move up to our two drops with playsets of Fathom Fleet Captain and Dire Fleet Captain. Fathom Fleet Captain can be a token making machine, and thanks to Menace it will be hard to take out with opposing blockers. What’s more each token it can create also has Meance, giving us an army of evasive threats. These pair greatly with our Dire Fleet Captain. If we can attack with a few of these tokens and this heavy hitting Orc, we can force our opponent into a very difficult position. They can either double block a token and take a ton of damage, or block the Orc and probably lose their best blocker, which is great for us. We round out our two drops with a couple of copies of Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. A common site in Ramunap Red, this Kaladesh born Pirate brings along three power spread across herself and Ragavan, adding to the early game pressure.

As we move up to our three drops we get another Legendary Pirate in the form of Captain Lannery Storm. Not only does this fierce captain have haste, but each time she attacks she creates a treasure token to provide extra mana fixing. What’s more, when you cash in the treasure she gets a power buff to help pile on the damage. We will also will include three copies of Ruin Raider. Now Dark Confident this guy is not, but when you trigger Raid he does a passable job of imitating the powerful Modern all star. Card advantage is always a good thing, especially since we will be emptying our hand most games. We finish off our creature package with a full playset of Hostage Taker, and two copies of Admiral Beckett Brass. The Hostage Taker does a great job of press ganging your opponents creatures/artifact. Even if you can’t afford to cast them next turn you can use this Pirates as four mana Banisher Priest, which is not too shabby. They have also errata’d the Taker so that it cannot target itself, avoiding the awkward infinite loop that would force a draw if it was played on an empty board. Finally we come to the leader of our Pirate band with Admiral Beckett Brass. Not only does she act as our lord for the tribe, but if we can connect with three or more of our creatures in combat, then we get to steal one of our opponent’s permanents. Thematic and flavourful, don’t just assume she is made for commander, because this Admiral means business.



For non-creature spells we want to be able to keep a clear path to our opponents life total. Fatal Push, Abrade, Cut // Ribbons and Unlicensed Disintegration give us wealth of removal options for any threat we may face. And no Pirate crew would be complete without a ship to call their own. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship can not only help keep the board clear of opposing blockers, but can give us some late game reach if the need should arise.

The mana base make use of on colour duel lands like Fetid Pools and Canyon Slough, as well as the much beloved reprinted ally buddy lands. We also will include a full playset of the new Unclaimed Territory. This Cavern of Souls lite is a great way for us to fix our mana, and although is doesn’t prevent our creatures from been countered, it will be invaluable for any tribal deck moving forward.

Creatures (24)
Deadeye Tracker
Fathom Fleet Captain
Dire Fleet Captain
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Captain Lannery Storm
Ruin Raider
Hostage Taker
Admiral Beckett Brass

Non-Creature Spells (12)
Fatal Push
Cut // Ribbons
Unlicensed Disintegration
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Lands (24)
Spirebluff Canal
Fetid Pools
Canyon Slough
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacomb
Unclaimed Territory

Sideboard (15)
Sweltering Suns
Aethersphere Harvester
Harsh Scrutiny
Magma Spray
Chandra’s Defeat

The sideboard is fairly free and loose since we are unsure what the new meta will look like currently. Sweltering Suns and Aethersphere Harvester can be brought in if we are facing hyper aggressive decks, while Negate can help us when facing down control. Abrade, Magma Spray and Chandra’s Defeat help add even more removal options when they are required, and Harsh Scrutiny helps us deal with creatures before they even hit the table.

So there we have it, our first go at making a competitive Standard deck with Ixalan. Even though we have only a handful of cards currently confirmed as of the writing of this article, deck appears to have a fair chance in the new meta. I will revisit the list in the coming weeks once the full set is revealed. But for now I think Ixalan is showing a lot promise. I for one can’t wait for the prerelease to get my hands on the exciting new set. If you have enjoyed this article, why not give us a like and a share on social media, it really helps us to grow the site. But until next time remember, GLHF.

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