MTG Ixalan Deck Tech – Rakdos Pirates!

I’m not going to lie, when Wizards said that we were getting a set with Dinosaurs, I said to myself “yeah, that’s cool”. When Wizards revealed they were doing Merfolk in Standard, I said “Well maybe there will be a playable for Modern”. When they said “WHO WANTS MORE VAMPIRES!” I just shrugged because we just got some vampires in C17. But when I yelled out in desperate pain “WHY IS THERE NOTHING FOR ME, WHY DON’T WE HAVE MORE PIRATES!” they knelt down and whispered “as you wish…”.
No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, we all have out Pirate memories growing up. Now, we can play as Pirates and I may be a little overly excited.

Flash forward to all of the spoilers, the highs, the lows, the strictly in between and we now have a robust Standard featuring one of my favorite things in the world, Pirates. The main issue with Pirates isn’t a lack of cards or a lack of playables, more that there are so many great cards to choose from and choosing between going Rakdos or Grixis is a hard choice you will be forced to make. So I made it for you.


PLEASE NOTE: This deck is based SOLELY on Ixalan cards. With MTGArena looming on the horizon, I wanted to give you a feel for what to expect out of a single set Standard format.
This deck is intended to be able to clear a path and swing on through to your opponent’s face, low to the ground and as aggressive as possible. It’s also Pirate Tribal all the way so that our sweeper, Fiery Cannonade, doesn’t kill off our board of Pirate raiders. It does fry those PESKY fishy jerks, the Merfolk. Yarrrr, fry em, mash em, put em in a stew!
We also run Repeating Barrage as a mana sink in the late game if needed, considering we will be turning guys and gals sideways constantly. The removal we run should be enough to close out games fast by removing your opponent’s creatures and then sailing on through with low and efficient Pirates!

Creatures (20)
4 Rigging Runner r 1.36
4 Dire Fleet Captain br 0.96
4 Fathom Fleet Captain 1b 5.00
4 Kitesail Freebooter 1b 1.28
2 Captain Lannery Storm 2r 3.32
2 Dire Fleet Ravager 3bb 8.80
Spells (13)
4 Lightning Strike 1r 0.60
4 Walk the Plank bb 3.88
3 Fiery Cannonade 2r 1.29
2 Repeating Barrage 1rr 3.14
Artifacts (3)
3 Pirate’s Cutlass 3 0.45
Lands (24)
4 Dragonskull Summit 9.68
8 Mountain 0.00
8 Swamp 0.00
4 Unclaimed Territory 10.24
60 Cards Total


Fiery Cannonade

Pirates were made for cannonade, or probably the other way round. If you’re playing Pirates, there is no reason in the world to play a number of Fiery Cannonade, even if you have to splash for it in a UB Pirates control deck. Quite simply, these are great sweepers because they don’t hit your team of despicable brutes. On the negative side, they only do two damage. That’s not a great amount of damage and as such, you may end up wanting to play more than one on a given turn.
That makes it sound worse than it is, though you may find that you will end up side-boarding this out to deal with larger threats or other Pirate decks. However, on the plus side this is a great sweeper at instant speed that is an auto include.

Walk the Plank

I’m not usually a fan of removal at Sorcery speed, but Walk the Plank is just too good to pass up. for two black it kills any non-Merfolk creature. That’s the only downside? I mean I may sound crazy, but this is really good removal.
We’re actually playing this over Fatal Push as this has LESS downside than that, we don’t have a restriction on how costly the target is and we don’t have to kill something before we play Plank to make it work to it’s best.
Again though, Sorcery hurts on most removal and stops it from being broken. Also, I’m not sure how relevant Merfolk will be, but I feel that the current Merfolk deck in Standard won’t be a full Tribal deck just yet.

Pirate’s Cutlass

Ever since Equipment was introduced to the game, we have seen hits, misses and broken swords. A cutlass is still a sword, but this one is just less broken unless you decide to play pirate tribal. Then it can turn any little cump into a mean green killing machine.
I love that the ETB trigger equips it straight to a Pirate on turn three, making it a solid turn three play if you have a Pirate on the battlefield already. However, you may not want to play this turn three unless you have a Pirate because that equip 2 after the fact is a little steep for +2/+1. If you manage to get it on your Kitesail Freebooter or Fathom Fleet Captain due to evasion (Flying/Menace respectively).

Repeating Barrage

Hammer of Bogarden 2.o? Maybe, time will tell if this sees nearly as much play. In our deck though, it’s got the goods for sure as it’s Raid trigger should be easy for us to use, should we need a late game mana sink.
On the flip side, it moonlights as creature removal or as extra reach to close out the game with the final few points we need to close it out. Raid on Barrage isn’t super tricky, but means it does need to be in a deck where you will be attacking a lot if you want to get it back from the yard and then fire it off again and again.

Fathom Fleet Captain

Possibly one of, if not THE best Pirate in the set goes to Fathom Fleet Captain, not for just being a two drop Menace Pirate (completely on theme), but also because he spits out MORE 2/2 Pirates for only two mana. That’s some crazy value when you can keep spitting out dudes every turn.
Also, those dudes have Menace, so more evasion attackers means harder to block them all. This guy should be a target priority for your opponent, because left unchecked he will go on to wreck face in a big bad way.
Don’t forget that if you play this on turn two and manage to Cutlass turn three, you have a 4/2 with menace on the field. Menace is still a hot mechanic and it allows us to trigger Raid on Repeating Barrage (above).

Dire Fleet Captain

Speaking of maximising damage modifications, we have yet another captain wanting to steer the ship, but this one is happy to hang out and pal around with his Pirate mates.
When Dire Fleet Captain sets sail for your opponent’s face, he gets +1/+1 for each OTHER attacking Pirate. The only issue is, he has no evasion. This means your opponent is free to block him, so make sure you’ve already nuked their board, or only attack with him when it looks like he will kill anything that blocks or will trade in your favor.
The nice part here is that he is low and as expendable as all your other Pirates, so you can throw him in to battle much like Orcs in other games. I’m not Orcist, not even.

Captain Lannery Storm

Here she is in all her glory! She comes down on three and helps mana fix or ramp a little. This amazing lady Pirate kicks ass more in a treasure deck, but here we are using her to either assist in mana fixing or pumping her self to squeak through that little bit of extra damage.
Bear in mind, that her ability states “WHEN you sacrifice”, this means that if you sacrifice a treasure for mana, it still procs her ability. However, as she is legendary and we can’t afford to be stuck with multiples in our hand, we have decided that two copies is sufficient to get us sailing.

Unclaimed Territory

What tribal deck in Ixalan Standard would be complete without a tribal land to go with it? Okay, look. This land is GOOD, but it’s not GREAT. This isn’t a functional reprint of Cavern of Souls, not even close.
The main consideration here that needs to be made is that although this IS mana fixing for Pirates, it won’t work for your other spells for coloured mana. This makes me feel nervous about running it as a four of, but here we are.
Essentially I don’t want to be stuck with a key removal card and no way to play it because I don’t have the essential coloured mana to cast it. other than that, this makes for good fixing when it comes to Tribal decks and get in to your local league to grab one of these for playing.
That’s it for Pirates, I sure hope you liked the list and that I can get on to MTG Arena soon and try it out. Speaking of MTG Arena, you should sign up for the Beta HERE and go check out THIS ARTICLE over at Wizards, as they are looking for deck submissions to do with MTG Arena! If you think you can make my deck list better, why not comment below and let’s chat!