A Taste of Pirates

by Lee Shi Tian on 15 September 2017, Friday

Lee Shi Tian

A Taste of Pirates

Last week, I talked about the how to approach new Standard. Since then lots ofcardsd were spoiled. This week I would like to talk about the tribe which has most tools: Pirates.





Blue-Black Pirates

Blue-Black Pirates (XLN) (Standard - Others)

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The way I build Blue-Black Pirates is centered around interaction. If you can remember the current build of Modern Knightfall, this build is based on the same concept of overloading your opponent's removal spells.


Fathom Fleet Captain

Deadeye Tracker, Kitesail Freebooter, Fathom Fleet Captain, Ruin Raider and Hostage Taker all demand quick answers. All of them can generate different types of card advantage if we manage to keep them in play.


Deadeye Tracker

Deadeye Tracker might not look good at first glance, in terms of power level. Yet, I like that it offers us a chance to improve our draw steps in the late game. Scry and drawing extra lands is not the worst thing we can have for a one-mana Pirate. It also helps trigger Fathom Fleet Captain as early as turn three.


Fatal Push Walk the Plank

Menace is an ability good in multiples. Make sure you do not miss out that the token Fathom Fleet Captain created has menace as well. With enough one-drop pirates, it can start gathering his crews by turn 3. A removal or 2 can completely take over the game since then. Fatal Push and Walk the Plank are convenient options for efficient removal.


Kitesail Freebooter

Kitesail Freebooter basically absorbs one removal spell. The fact that it has flying is huge, because you can actually attack with it rather than it sitting on the board like Tidehollow Sculler at times.

In addition, the body size really matters, which is also why Tidehollow Sculler saw a lot of play but not Brain Maggot, especially when cards like Walking Ballista is in the format. I feel that Kitesail Freebooter feels like a Duress which can attack.


Ruin Raider

Speaking of being able to attack, Ruin Raider has got another relevant keyword: Raid. Imagine your opponent only has one removal spell. You take it away on turn two, attack for one damage in the air next turn and draw a card off Ruin Raider.

Kitesail Freebooter is the perfect enabler for Ruin Raider on curve, that comes with protection. I like the fact Ruin Raider does not need to be involved in combat to get its trigger and it prevents you from running out of gas too easily as an aggressive aggro deck.


Hostage Taker

I believe Hostage Taker is one of the best cards in Ixalan for Standard. Knowing there are four copies Hostage Taker in your deck, the play pattern of your opponent has to change based on that.

If they run out of removal, any threats they played could easily turn against them by Hostage Taker. Also, the window to remove Hostage Taker goes down as the game progresses. I can foresee players protecting it with Siren Stormtamer or Lookout's Dispersal, which is one of my favorite lines of play.


Fell Flagship

The last card I would like to mention is Fell Flagship. It looks awful as a 3/3 vehicle that requires 3 power to crew. However, I believe its key function is to pump up our tiny Pirates. Even though all the Pirates' abilities are super annoying, they don't hit hard enough. Also, once you fall behind, it is hard for you to catch up with the board as the power to mana ratio in all these utility creatures are sub-par.

Fell Flagship could pump up the pirates to mess up with the maths. Another function of Fell Flagship is as a hedge against mass removals. Sweltering Suns and Fumigate are still the key players in the format. Crewing Fell Flagship after mass removal will pressure opponent in both card and life resources. Being able to add pressure without walking into mass removal is what Fell Flagship does here.



Blue-Red Pirates


Blue-Red Pirates (XLN) (Standard - Others)

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If the Blue-Black build is value-based, the Blue-Red build is be tempo-based.

The creature choices here are about the evasion and hitting for the most damage. Without the black Pirates, the ability to go long worsens a lot. Closing the game with aggressive creatures and burn spells would be a better approach.


Rigging Runner Skyship Plunderer

We have eight one-drops to enable Rigging Runner and Storm Fleet Aerialist. I also added Skyship Plunderer here so that it can combo with the raid dudes and proliferate every turn. We all know how good Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is in Ramunap Red. A two mana three-powered creature is what this deck needs. 


Dreamcaller Siren

Dreamcaller Siren could win us games from nowhere. Although it is a 3/3 for four mana, even it got removed by Abrade or Lightning Strike, you won't lose much tempo since you gain it back with the tap ability. I like the way it allows us to play a little bit of "flash" games along with the instant burn and counterspells.


Captain Lannery Storm

One thing I am concerned about is the ability to crew Fell Flagship after the board is wiped clean. Creatures in the deck are mostly with one-powered without raid. I included it in the end because the synergy is too good for me to let go. It could easily be Captain Lannery Storm if Fell Flagship underperforms or we need extra mana fixing as the enemy color does not have lots of dual lands after rotation.





As for Black-Red Pirates, I feel like they are pointing towards a different direction and I could not find a good way to make use of each side. Grixis is another possibility but I doubt that the mana base is reasonable. Ally check lands require us to play more basics while enemy fast lands do not agree with that. If more time can be invested, we might find a reasonable mana base for Grixis.

At this point, I will start with 2 colors to see if the power level of Pirates is worth exploring. The f
ull spoiler is coming out at the end of the week. Traditionally, tribal sets have lots of good common and uncommon tribal cards to build a deck full of synergy. Let's see if there is still some gems left.

And yes, I am rooting for Dinosaurs!


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