3 Ways To Approach Pirates

We now have enough Pirates that we can go a few different ways, and Pete Ingram has them all (treasure) mapped out! Check in with him here if you’re looking for ships to captain in new Standard!

I can’t stop thinking about Standard. Rivals of Ixalan has
delivered unlike any other second set of a block in my opinion. Tribes are
here in a big way, and I would like to talk to you about Pirates.

Each division of the Pirates colors brings a different type of strategy. We
have B/R, which is a more straight aggressive strategy; U/B, which is more
of a disruptive aggressive strategy akin to Faeries circa 2008; and finally
U/R, which is a more “counter burn” strategy.

The most important card this deck was missing by far was Daring Buccaneer.
B/R Pirates had a severe lack of one-drops, as Rigging Runner doesn’t want
to be played on turn 1. Along with Grasping Scoundrel, B/R Pirates now has
two solid one-drops that can. These one-drops are backed by a really sick
two-drop in Dire Fleet Poisoner.

Dire Fleet Poisoner is going to completely change the dynamic of the early
game when playing against Pirates. Often times when playing against
aggressive decks, you might block with your Servant of the Conduit or
Longtusk Cub on turn 2 to save some much needed life in the early game.
That is pretty much no longer an option unless you feel like getting blown
out by Dire Fleet Poisoner.

B/R Aggro is among one of the better Pirate decks to me. This deck has a
lot of different tools and reminds me of a mix of Ramunap Red and
Mono-Black Aggro from previous Standard. There’s a lot of room for
flexibility in this archetype as there are a lot of cards that fit into it.
If Glorybringer remains a top dog of Standard (which I suspect it will), I
could see a move toward being more artifact-driven and playing some copies
of Unlicensed Disintegration.

This deck has the ability to transform after sideboard and become much more
midrange-driven. We have a surplus of cards that happen to be very good
against spells. While Duress and Kitesail Freebooter are similar, Dire
Fleet Daredevil is much more interesting.

Dire Fleet Daredevil gives the ability for Pirate decks to fight on a more
midrange level. Being able to Flashback a removal spell or even a
Confiscation Coup could be a game-changing event. It may be correct to
sandbag removal or burn spells now to not give your opponent access to
them. I suspect Dire Fleet Daredevil will make a huge wave in Standard and
not just in Pirates. Knowing how to play around this card in Standard is
going to separate good players from great ones and having the creature type
makes it a perfect fit for the Pirates sideboard.

One card that I didn’t include is Storm Fleet Sprinter and that could
admittedly be a mistake. The creature essentially demands a removal spell
and is likely to get in a minimum of two points before getting killed. That
said, there’s something incredibly attractive about playing all cards that
cost one or two mana with the exception of Dreamcaller Siren.

This is especially true when you have a card like Chart a Course in your
deck, which has been criminally underplayed thus far in my opinion. Much
like when people say that they should have played more copies of Gitaxian
Probe and Ponder when it was in Standard, I suspect that Chart a Course
should be seeing more play in Standard.

This deck will have a lot of great draws where it can get on the
battlefield fast and hold up Lookout’s Dispersal. It also has the added
benefit of being able to close out the game with Lightning Strikes, Shocks,
and Ramunap Ruins. The burn spells also happen to work beautifully in
conjunction with Warkite Marauder, allowing the flying Pirate to take down
almost any creature.

Having red also means having access to some of the best sideboard cards in
Standard. Chandra’s Defeat is still going to be an all-star going forward
in taking out Glorybringer. Fiery Cannonade and other sweepers will pick up
dramatically if Merfolk gains in popularity.

Now that Admiral’s Order is in Standard, remember to be mindful to use your
removal spells before your opponent attacks, as you may be letting your
opponent discount this new counterspell. One card that this doesn’t help at
all is Settle the Wreckage, as your opponent must attack for it to be
effective. I suspect Admiral’s Order’ stock to rise in Standard for
Pirates and Merfolk if Settle the Wreckage continues to be popular going

Notably, you will see zero copies of Walk the Plank in these decks. The
reason for that is because I suspect Merfolk decks to rise in popularity
with Rivals of Ixalan. The metagame will have to shake out before
we can see if Walk the Plank is a viable card, but I suspect it will be a
sideboard card at best.

There are also no Rivals of Ixalan cards in the maindeck. So you
might ask: Pete, how is this deck good going forward since it’s not good
now? The answer is simple: formats change. This deck offers a lot of
resilience and has a lot of synergies that work well together.

We see The Scarab God have success in Four-Color Energy, a deck riddled
with enters-the-battlefield triggers. This deck is no exception to that.
You have built-in protection with Kitesail Freebooter and Siren Stormtamer
being able to play around sweepers and removal spells. Then you have the

ability to tap creatures and vehicles with Dreamcaller Siren to close out
games. Not to mention Hostage Taker if any of your opponent’s creatures
prove to be too problematic.

I would get your hand on Ruin Raiders as they are incredibly cheap right
now, and I suspect them to go up a lot in value once Standard settles out.
I suspect black to be the most successful color in Pirates, as I think B/R
and U/B have the most potential.

With black having so many Dduress effects in Standard, it makes it not as
necessary to have blue in your deck to answer your opponent’s spells.
Kitesail Freebooter is currently dominating Modern in Humans, and I expect
it to continue to have huge success in Standard. If you take a look at the
U/B decks that are doing well on Magic Online, adding Pirate synergies
seems like an interesting way to make the deck attack from a new angle.

Pirate Flops

Not only does Admiral Beckett Brass require you to play three colors, four
mana for a Lord is really expensive. Not to mention that if you are dealing
damage with three or more Pirates to your opponent, you’re probably in a
commanding position.

Deadeye Tracker is a sideboard card for sure, and a good one at that. I
suspect Deadeye Tracker to gain popularity if Torrential Gearhulk and
Scrapheap Scrounger decks rise.

Standard is not a place for many one toughness creatures. If Glint-Sleeve
Siphoner becomes the new two-drop of choice by a wide margin, maybe we can
revisit. This does have the added bonus of being able to attack on turn 1,
but I think that job is done better by Bomat Courier.

Despite adding two copies to my B/R deck, I’m not sure it’s correct. Fell
Flagship lines up very poorly against the other popular vehicles of the
format, and the boost it gives is mediocre. I could see one or two being
correct in some Pirate decks, but zero wouldn’t surprise me as the correct
number either. In the current format, +1/+0 makes for a bit more damage,
but it doesn’t really affect creatures trading in combat as they’re likely
to already without the power bonus.

While I think the potential to curve this into Dreamcaller Siren or Hostage
Taker is cute, it’s likely not worth it. I could see this being used in
conjunction with Siren’s Ruse for some value shenanigans. I think of the
Forerunner cycle, Forerunner of the Legion has the best shot at success in
Constructed. Vampires, as a tribe, has a lot better one-ofs you can tutor
up like Champion of Dusk.

While I do think there is a world where you want to add this as another
cheap threat for your Pirate deck, this isn’t really a one-drop. Not being
able to play this card effectively on turn 1 really makes me bearish on
this card, as there isn’t even a worthwhile raid to trigger on turn 2.

Which Pirate archetype has you the most excited moving forward? Do you
think the tribe has what it takes to seize the format?