The Armory #1: Pirate Tribal

Ahoy Mateys! Welcome to my first article in the The Armory series! Today’s article will be about Pirate tribal, an idea submitted by Fungustober#71587. These fearsome warriors of the high seas aim to quickly take down their opponents with evasive bodies and efficient removal. The deck also contains a minor artifact sub-theme and tribal synergies. Will the Pirates seize the Treasures they desire or meet their fate at the bottom of the stormy sea? Let’s find out!

Pirate Tribal

Creatures (41)
Instants (10)
Sorceries (8)
Artifacts (3)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (37)

The List

Beyond just running a lot of Pirates, I had to think about what synergies the Pirate tribe supports. From the Ixalan block it is clear that Pirates are in blue, black, and red, and have synergy with Treasure tokens. Also most of them are low in mana cost and have aggressive keywords such as flying, menace, and haste. Thus I decided to build an Aggro deck with artifact synergies. 

The next step was finding cards that supported playing Pirate tribal. First I found the four Pirate specific lords to increase the power and toughness of my Pirates: Admiral Beckett Brass, Corsair Captain, Dire Fleet Neckbreaker, and Fell Flagship. Next I added more general lords available in blue, black, and red, such as Judith, the Scourge Diva and Metallic Mimic, along with creatures that supported most Pirates such as Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner and Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive. These last two might seem like strange inclusions at first. However, if you look through my list you’ll see that three-quarters and half of my creatures are supported by them, respectively. Giving more evasion to your threats is essential for Aggro decks to close out the game against other creature based strategies. 

Besides Pirate synergies, the deck also has a small artifact theme. The deck runs 10 cards that are artifacts or make artifacts such as Fell Flagship and Corsair Captain. It also runs three cards that become stronger when you control an artifact; Embraal Bruiser, Inventor’s Apprentice, and Unlicensed Disintegration. These are all playable without an artifact, but become much more powerful when you have one of your Treasure tokens or Equipment out.

The last set of cards to discuss are the noncreature spells for interaction. The deck runs burn spells such as Lightning Bolt and Lightning Strike as both removal and reach. It also runs hand attack spells like Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek to disrupt the opponent’s plan while preserving mana efficiency. Additionally it includes countermagic such as Memory Lapse and Lookout’s Dispersal to answer threats and sweepers. Lastly, it runs an efficient suite of black removal that deals with creatures and planeswalkers such as Soul Shatter and Baleful Mastery. As you can see from these examples, the deck is loaded with some of the most powerful spells from the Strixhaven Mystical Archive.

The Match Ups

Because the deck is 3 colors, it is slower than other Aggro decks. In order to be able to cast its spells, a higher count of tap lands is necessary compared to other aggressive decks. However, by running cards with only a single pip of any of the deck’s three colors, I was able to avoid much of this problem. Despite this adjustment, the match up with other aggressive decks still favors the opponent unless the deck draws multiple low mana value removal spells.


A fast start is essential, and with the deck’s low curve that can happen fairly consistently. This is a better matchup for the deck than against Aggro.


Because of the deck’s high quality removal, it can deal with top end threats better than other Aggro decks. Thus racing them is possible and the matchup is somewhat favorable.


The combination of the deck’s early aggressive pressure and hand disruption such as Kitesail Freebooter and the aforementioned Thoughtseize give the deck its best matchup of the macro archetypes. 

My Matches

The deck went 1-4 in matches, 4-9 in games in the league queue. However, this was somewhat expected since I was playing in the competitive queue. Not having access to all three colors often resulted in mulligans or drawing an uncastable spell. Jeskai and Sultai Control always had a wrath on turn four or five, and coming back from those proved too difficult. The best match was against Mono-Green Stompy, where I often double spelled threats and had efficient removal for the opponent’s mana dorks, resulting in two clean victories. The most exciting play of the series was when Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner enabled Fathom Fleet Captain, Dire Fleet Captain, and Captain Lannery Storm to connect on a stalled board for lethal. Overall, the deck executed its gameplan well. In order to improve upon this list I believe more mana fixing needs to be added, such as more dual lands and cards that generate Treasures like Prismari Command.

Until Next Time

Thanks for reading about my adventures on the high seas! If you have any questions about the article or any suggestions for a future one, let me know by messaging me on Discord at WreckDeck#4901. Also, if you have a card for me to build around or an exciting deck idea to brew, mention me in the #brewers-corner channel and I’ll get to work!