Lost Caverns of Ixalan preconstructed decklists have been revealed and with it comes another round of my precon upgrades. We’re going to do a thorough analysis of each deck, highlighting its goals and how well it accomplishes them, check out its deckbuilding fundamentals, identify its strongest and weakest cards, then use all that information to create an optimized $50 upgrade path!
You can find my other precon upgrades here:
Ahoy Mateys is a Blue / Black / Red Pirate deck: the goal of the deck is cast a bunch of pirates and go attacking, looting your opponents for treasure (Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator), stealing their cards (Ramirez DePietro, Pillager), and even their permanents (Admiral Beckett Brass)!
So if you’re a Pirate fan and want an aggressive deck that will make your opponents beg for parley, then Ahoy Mateys is the deck for you!
The Precon List
Before we talk upgrades, let’s take a look at the stock list to see what we’re working with:
I’ve got good news and bad news about this precon.
The good news is that the deck has lots of Pirates in it: I count 35 pirate creatures (every creature is one) plus 1 card that makes pirate tokens, and 10 more cards that care about pirates. So yarr, lots of Pirates!
Now the bad news: Pirates suffer from a lack of unified direction, and the precon is a reflection of that. While yes, there’s lots of Pirates but there’s only like 12 good payoffs in the deck for running Pirates. So what else is going on in the deck? Well, the face commander, Admiral Brass, Unsinkable, clearly points to a Reanimator subtheme, but there’s very few ways to actually get pirates into the graveyard and only a couple other cards that also deal with the graveyard like Skeleton Crew. There’s a bit of a Treasure subtheme with Gemcutter Buccaneer and Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator being the standouts, but there’s barely any other treasure generators or treasure payoffs to be found. Same thing with the Card Theft theme with sweet cards like Don Andres, the Renegade and Ramirez DePietro, Pillager, and the Threaten theme with Coercive Recruiter.
WOTC first made Pirates about attacking, Treasures, and Theft, and now in Lost Caverns of Ixalan they’re also about the Graveyard. And by trying to make a small archetype do a whole bunch of things they’ve ended with a jumbled mess of a precon that isn’t particularly good at anything. This will require a lot of work to turn this unfocused precon into a focused one.
$50 “Ahoy Mateys” Upgrade
With Admiral Brass, Unsinkable in the command zone, we want to focus first and foremost on our Pirates theme but also bolster our Reanimator theme.
First we’re adding the remaining good Pirates into the deck: Malcolm, Alluring Scoundrel is particularly great here due to filling our graveyard with reanimate targets, Breeches, Eager Pillager is a super efficient bundle of evasion / card advantage / treasure, Forerunner of the Coalition is terrific tutoring, Kitesail Larcenist temporarily shuts off a wide array of things like opposing commanders, Crafty Cutpurse makes token decks (even treasures) cry, and Lightning-Rig Crew is low-key busted with Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator or Francisco, Fowl Marauder since they don’t specify combat damage.
Next we want to fill the graveyard with reanimation targets. We can do this with discard (Brass’s Tunnel-Grinder), mill (The Everflowing Well), exploring (Francisco, Fowl Marauder), tutoring into the graveyard (Buried Alive), or sacrificing pirates (Broadside Bombardiers).
The final cards are Pirate payoffs: I’m a broken record here but Roaming Throne continues to be one of the best cards to add to all four precons, Titan of Littjara draws tons of cards, discards for reanimate, and benefits from pirate synergies, Kindred Discovery draws buttloads of cards, and Fiery Cannonade clears out small opposing creatures at instant speed.
I skipped some of my analysis this time to jump straight into the good stuff. I hope you enjoyed this shorter and more to the point article. I considered doing an upgrade guide for Don Andres, the Renegade changing the focus on Theft with a Pirates subtheme (cards like Coercive Recruiter, Breeches, Brazen Plunderer, and Ramirez DePietro, Pillager would be the backbone of the deck) but I found that it would require such a large overhaul of the precon that it’s probably better to just build it from scratch.
I hope you enjoyed the precon guides. As always let me know what you think, I always check the article comments for about a week after publishing. Thanks for reading!