Ixalan Tribal Decks (Part 1)

Ixalan has only been standard legal for a few weeks and already some of the cards from this tribal set are creating major waves in the competitive scene, namely cards such as Search for Azcanta, Vraska’s Contempt and the popular Hostage Taker. However, the unique aspect of Ixalan has not emerged to the forefront of the tournament landscape and that would be the fact that this set is a tribal set that is divided into 4 main races – vampires, pirates, merfolk and dinosaurs.

Having played Ixalan draft competitively for the past 2 weeks, I have been brewing fun tribal decks that offer synergy and flavour despite the fact that Nationals is this weekend. I have always been big on tribal sets and believe that nothing can come close to the Onslaught set in terms of flavour and mechanics, but Ixalan has some great things going for it.

In the spirit of translating the draft experience and delivering the tribal aspect of this set, I have come up with a slew of decks that focus entirely on the tribal aspect of the set… and we are starting off with Pirates!


UB Pirates

Lands (24)
4 Fetid Pools
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Unclaimed Territory
1 Ifnir Deadlands
6 Island
5 Swamp

Creatures (24)
4 Siren Stormtamer
3 Kitesail Freebooter
4 Metallic Mimic
4 Fathom Fleet Captain
3 Ruin Raider
4 Hostage Taker
2 The Scarab God

Artifacts (2)
2 Fell Flagship

Spells (10)
3 Lookout’s Dispersal
3 Fatal Push
2 Walk the Plank
2 Vraska’s Contempt

Sideboard (15)
1 Kitesail Freebooter
2 Jace’s Defeat
2 Negate
1 Walk the Plank
2 Jace, Cunning Castaway
2 Doomfall
2 Duress
1 Lookout’s Dispersal
2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury

What do pirates do best? They raid of course! The theme of this pirate deck is simple, either swarm them with pirate tokens courtesy of Fathom Fleet Captain or slowly chip off your opponents life total via evasive pirates such as Siren Stormtamer or Kitesail Freebooter.

The curve for this deck is solid. Stormtamer is a great 1 drop that has flying and an ability that protects your more crucial crew mates such as Fathom Fleet Captain (your trusty token maker) and Hostage Taker (ensuring that it survives for you to cast the hostage it has taken from your opponent). Freebooter acts as a free sneak peek into your opponent’s future plans and it might be able to discard crucial removals such as Fatal Push, Harnessed Lightning or even Lightning Strike.

Metallic Mimic pumps all your pirates, making them formidable, as an army of 3/3 menacing pirate tokens often end the game quickly. Hostage Taker is the all-star utility pirate of the deck, as it acts as both removal and card advantage. Ruin Raider acts as card advantage meanwhile The Scarab God just ends the match up by providing more zombie pirates after their initial demise. Zombie pirates… flavour win right there.

Rounding out the curve is great all around staple removals and Lookout’s Dispersal, which is pretty much a hard counter in this deck.

This deck stands an equal chance against rush decks mainly because they trade up well while the midrange attrition war can be won by the evasion most of these pirates possess. Against control matchups, siding in Negate, Doomfall, and Duress should give this deck the technology it needs to edge out control decks.

While this may not fare all too well against the metagame’s top decks namely Temur Energy and UB Control, it does have a fighting chance and it will be a fun and refreshing deck arch type for your FNM needs. Here’s hoping you have a jolly good time swabbing the decks with your opponent’s life totals!

Next week, we venture into the territory dominated the new race on the block…. Dinosaurs!

Till then, stay gold!

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