Upgraded Ahoy Mateys - Admiral Brass, Unsinkable
The new Commander Precon decks from Lost Caverns of Ixalan are finally here! Each of these four different decks focuses in on one of the four major creatures types found on Ixalan; Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk, and Dinosaurs. While all four of these new decks are genuinely pretty powerful out of the box, there are definitely a few upgrades that can be made to each of them to really increase their power levels. Today we'll be looking at how to upgrade the Blue/Black/Red Pirate Precon deck, "Ahoy Mateys," helmed by the exciting new Legend Admiral Brass, Unsinkable!
- Breeches, Eager Pillager triggers whenever any Pirate you control attacks. This means if you attack with three Pirates, you get to use all three of Breeches' abilities together. Making a creature unable to block makes it easier for your Pirates to get through. Creating a Treasure token makes the card you exile off the last ability easier to cast too. The amount of value this card can build up for you in combat, mana, and card advantage is quite strong over time.
- Deadeye Tracker is Deathrite Shaman's little cousin, but it's a Pirate. Having access to a potential threat that can also generate card advantage while simultaneously threatening an opponent’s graveyard is a nice little Swiss army knife of a card, even if it does take a while for its +1/+1 counters to add up.
- Dire Fleet Neckbreaker gives all of your attacking Pirates a nice +2/+2 buff. This effect is pretty simple, but can definitely be effective at closing out games. This card is also a great potential target for Admiral Brass's reanimate ability, since some opponents may not realize you have a lot more attacking power on board than it seems.
- Forerunner of the Coalition's tutor ability is a bit lacking since it doesn't put the Pirate into your hand. This card definitely makes up for that though in its ability to slowly chip away at each opponents life totals whenever another Pirate enters the battlefield. Since Admiral Brass will likely be making sure this triggers at least once a turn, the total damage done by this ability can definitely add up over time.
- Glint-Horn Buccaneer is a similar card, where it can deal damage to each opponent whenever you discard a card. However, the real value from this card comes from its ability to discard and draw cards on its own. Since Admiral Brass wants Pirates in the graveyard to reanimate, Glint-Horn Buccaneer can help you set up some big plays.
- Kitesail Larcenist is a very interesting new card from the Lost Caverns of Ixalan main set. It can act as psudo-removal for each opponent for as long as it's in play, plus it has built in Ward 1 so it's a bit harder to get rid of. The versatility of this ability is quite strong, being able to temporarily take out any big opposing threats / blockers, or being able to snipe out a utility artifact an opponent may be getting value from.
- Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel is another neat new card from the main Ixalan set. Like Glint-Horn Buccaneer, this card also lets you draw and discard cards to help set up your Admiral Brass plays. This card however, also has the potential upside of letting you cast your discarded cards for free instantly. It takes a few turns to turn this ability on, but Flying definitely helps Malcolm's attacks get through. Oh, and Flash is always a welcome ability of course.
- Zephyr Singer is a pretty straight-forward card; convoke a few Pirates, give them all Flying counters, plus gain a 3/4 Flying Vigilance creature out of it for as little as 0 mana. Not too many Pirates have Flying, so this card can help cover your bases.
- Haunting Voyage has the potential to be a huge blowout spell. Since a big theme of this deck is discarding Pirates to reanimate with Admiral Brass, why not reanimate all Pirates in your graveyard at once? Even if you're only casting this spell for 4BB, reanimating two Pirates at once is still pretty strong.
- Hit the Mother Lode is just as exciting as it sounds. This new Sorcery from Lost Caverns of Ixalan is every Pirate's dream come true; reveal cards from the top of your deck till you hit a spell with CMC 10 or less, cast the spell for free, make treasures equal to the difference. Even if you "whiff" and only hit a spell with CMC three or less, the Treasures you gain make up the difference in spent mana. There's a chance this card ends up playing a bit worse than it seems, but on paper it looks incredibly fun to cast.
- Molten Collapse has the potential to become a new Black/Red removal staple in the format. Dreadbore has already seen a solid amount of play, and this card just does it better. Even if you're just using it to remove one target it's strong, and if you ever cast it after descending it's a potential free 2 for 1. The second target may be a bit narrow, but the potential alone is worth it.
- Pact of the Serpent is a perfect card for a deck like this. Three mana to draw 3-5 cards on average is a pretty good rate. You may lose some life, but the card advantage gained here is definitely worth it. The main downside here is if you're low on Pirates you won't be drawing too many cards, so try and cast this while you've got around 3 Pirates to maintain your hand in the mid-game if you can.
- Big Score helps us get more Pirates in the graveyard while also drawing cards and making more Treasures at instant speed. These are definitely all things we're more than happy to do!
- Matzalantli, the Great Door is another incredibly cool card coming from Lost Caverns of Ixalan. This card continues with the theme of allowing us to discard Pirates for Admiral Brass's reanimate ability, but this one has even more potential upside. If you're able to flip the Great Door into The Core, then you'll gain access to a land that can potentially tap for a ton of mana each turn, especially in the late game.
- Power Conduit is a bit of a tricky card here in this deck. Since Admiral Brass allows you to reanimate a Pirate card with a Finality counter on it, the reanimated creatures get exiled once they die. With this card however, we can remove the Finality counters from some of our creatures to allow them to return to the graveyard for further reanimation shenanigans later in the game.
- Treasure Map is a welcome reprints from the original Ixalan block. While Scrying 1 is nice, the real value from this card comes once you're able to flip it. Being able to sacrifice one Treasure to draw a card is a cost most players would likely be happy to pay.
- Relic of Sauron is a fairly new mana rock from the Lord of the Rings set released earlier in the year. Four mana for a mana rock is a big high, but being able to produce two colored mana in our colors is a nice upside. On top of that, this card can also help us with our plan of discarding Pirates for Admiral Brass, while also drawing two cards at the same time.
- Kindred Discovery is an incredibly effective draw engine once it comes online. Drawing a card whenever a Pirate enters the battlefield or attacks means you could be drawing 2-3 extra cards per turn with this in play. Worth noting, this will also trigger off of Admiral Brass reanimating a Pirate as well.
- Molten Echoes is similar to Kindred Discovery in that it allows us to get value out of Pirates coming into play. In this case, we get a token clone of each Pirate that enters the battlefield until end of turn. Also like Kindred Discovery, this also triggers off of Admiral Brass.
High Budget Upgrades
While all of these cards are incredibly powerful in this deck, they tend to have higher price points, so they may be better suited as long-term upgrades for some players.
- Cover of Darkness granting Fear to all of your Pirates is quite strong. Being able to almost fearlessly attack any player without Black or Artifact creatures at a Commander table can close out games very quickly.
- Pirated Copy is a very interesting twist on the clone archetype we've seen a few times. While this has the upside of maintaining the Pirate creature type once it clones something, it also lets you draw a card whenever it or the creature it copied deals combat damage to a player. The fact that this can gain you card advantage for a combat encounter you weren't even involved in is definitely considered passive income.
- Dockside Extortionist is probably a card a lot of Commander players are tired of hearing about by now. Unfortunately, it's also a Pirate, so it does fit quite well into our Pirate themed deck here. If you're able to slot him into your list he's sure to bring many Treasure tokens your way.
- Raise the Palisade bounces all non-Pirate creatures on the battlefield. With a big enough board state, this could spell out doom for an unprepared opponent.
- Chimil, the Inner Sun is a powerful new card. While this artifact doesn't necessarily synergize with the rest of our deck directly, casting a free spell with CMC 5 or less every turn is some incredible advantage.
Cards to Cut
- While Amphin Salamander does act as removal, giving an opponent a 4/3 is a bit too high risk for the average size of the creatures in our deck.
- Azure Fleet Admiral is a bit too much mana for a 3/3 creature with no keywords. Becoming the Monarch is nice, but there are a lot more Monarch cards with more effective upsides than this one.
- Blasphemous Act is a Commander wrath all-star. In this deck though, we want to be the deck playing creatures, not destroying them all. We'll still have access to Blood Money, so we have a wrath in the deck in case of emergencies.
- Daring Saboteur having to pay three mana to gain unblockable every turn is a bit too much mana to pay to for two damage and one instance of discard / draw a card.
- The Evacuation in this precon deck looks fantastic with its new Beckett Brass inspired art, but again, we want to be the creature deck here. Raise the Palisade is much better for us if we really wanted access to this effect.
- While Faithless Looting does do a great job of putting Pirates in the graveyard for us, we've added a few more cards that are able to do this with some extra upside.
- Fathom Fleet Captain requiring 2 mana to create a token is a bit cumbersome. Since most of our Pirates are low CMC, we'd rather be saving our mana to cast more effective spells.
- Ghost of Ramirez DiPietro has a pretty niche requirement to gain value. He's a bit hard to block, but he doesn't end up doing too much outside of two damage on most turns.
- Since our average CMC is so low across the deck, we can afford to cut down to 36 lands.
- Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is a two mana 1/3 who attacks and creates a tapped and attacking 2/1 token. While this creature may be able to dish out some quick damage in the early game, it becomes pretty difficult for her to favorably attack once the battlefield starts to get filled.
- King Narfi's Betrayal is an interesting inclusion in this precon deck. It definitely can be pretty advantageous, but you have to get lucky with its initial mill chapter. After that, the card is a bit slow and the timing is a bit narrow to allow us to continually reap any benefits.
- Prismari Command has a lot of options here, but none of them add up to anything too outstanding. The two damage is nice, and being able to destroy an artifact is definitely some bonus utility, but more often than not this card will sit in your hand for too long before finding it's time to shine.
- Rakdos Charm is very scary for any opposing token based decks. Other than that, it offers some utility that is already covered up by some other cards we've added. Keep this card handy in case anyone in your playgroup decides to build the new Ojer Taq though.
- While Siren Stormtamer does offer some nice potential protection for your other Pirates, it's a bit too obvious and easy to bait out. If you're looking for better protection effects, cards like Counterspell and Negate are simply too good.
- Spectral Sailor is an interesting card in that it's a 1 mana creature who's main upside doesn't really shine until late game. That being said, we would much rather use our mana on other Pirates during the majority of the game instead of spending 4 mana to draw one card.
- The Grim Captain's Locker is one of the coolest new cards to come out of this precon, but it's a bit slow at 4 mana. There's a chance this card is stronger than it looks though since it just came out, so it's worth trying on your own to see if you like it.
- Timestream Navigator is an extra-turns effect, but it's a bit more mana and fairly slow in comparison. Although it's nice that it's attached to a Pirate, if you really wanted an extra turns effect you'd be much better off simply playing Time Warp.
- Wayfarer's Bauble is a completely fine card, but we've already got a solid amount of mana rocks in the main list. If we're also adding in Relic of Sauron, then we don't really need much more help in the ramp department.
- Windfall is only really ever situationally good. Yes you can cast it with no other cards in hand and draw five cards, but moments like that are often quite rare. We would rather look towards more consistent forms of card draw.
This precon deck is absolutely playable out of the box, but a few of these upgrades can definitely help you out in some games. Good luck with all your future matches!