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75% of A Pirate's Life for Me!



I bought practically all of the cards for a deck and then I just abandoned it and left it in a box for months, moving on to other commanders. It was a profound waste of Coolstuff store credit and it was a waste of the opportunity to build a deck that just screams 75%. So, what gives? Was it too difficult? Maybe too easy? Was it so 75% that I felt like I couldn't squeeze the juice so close to the source and had to take a step back? Whatever the reason for my trepidation, I solemnly swear to finish the deck off, maybe with a few cards from Kaldheim and Time Spiral Remastered, and definitely with a renewed sense of purpose. As I alluded to in the title, it's a piratey deck. But which one?!

Captain Vargus Wrath

That's right, it's the only time I advocate running a Wrath deck in Commander. Old Vargy, as he likes to be called, is very affordable and can die a painful piratey death and keep coming back, buying you a ton of value for your other pirates. Do you have to play Pirate tribal? No, but you're going to. Luckily there are some pirates worth serving with, some cool, flavorful cards like Coastal Piracy, and also like a $25 portal card that's basically Drain Power called Piracy that we may or may not run. Will there be room? Who knows? First things first, let's look at a stock list with a 75% twist. I didn't mean for that to rhyme just now, but that is pretty good ad copy. Nobody better trademark that before I get a chance to.

I like the idea of hitting them with your pirates, but I also like the idea of getting through. The stock list has a lot of ideas for doing the former but not so many for doing the latter. Don't panic, however, we're going to make sure our scurvy curs can serve for as much damage as possible. If we have to be a "fair" tribal deck, let's be as unfair as possible and smack them with as much hard-to-block damage as possible. Remember, Vargus buffs himself so you can threaten lethal pretty easily if you throw some equipment on him, and that's precisely what I aim to do. Our pirates will be utility creatures that can serve for damage once they serve their purpose and we'll suit up Vargy to end the game fast once you've cast him a few times. This is going to be fun.

Razer's Edge | Commander | Jason Alt

There are a couple of really durdly creatures that make you the Monarch and I was going to axe them first, until I remembered that Keeper of Keys exists. Keeper of Keys is an excellent way to load up on cards that make you the Monarch and ensure you get through with a pile of pirates aiming to pilfer and plunder prodigiously.

Port Razer is one of the main foci of the deck in that we can do absurd things with Helm of the Host and Port Razer, getting infinite attack steps if we can get through. I added Godo as a backup plan and also as a way to tutor for the Helm since it's tough to do in Blue and Red. I added Fabricate as another tutor because it can get all kinds of stuff like Helm of Possession and Quietus Spike and ending the game with Port Razer doesn't suck, either.

I took the stock list and turned a few knobs up to 11, but it doesn't really feel like a 75% deck to me, yet. Helm of Possession is a good start, since it's a great way to add to your pile of pirates and get a few more casts of Vargus Wrath while we're at it, but a few more sac outlets would make our Vargas bouncing even more consistent. It was then that I realized sac outlets are what make a 75% Pirate deck work. We're not going to build around Port Razer, we're going to build around a pirate I love even more - Captivating Crew.

One way to ensure we connect with our pirates is to make sure they don't have blockers, and a fun way to do that is capture their blockers and make them do your bidding. You have a creature to hit them with, they lost a blocker and at the end of the turn when it's time to send them back home to their original owner, you can make them walk the plank and send the other player a bill for the funeral expenses instead. Or not, there are no funeral expenses if they walk the plank. But, like, you put the creature back in their graveyard so there is clearly a funeral, or at least a burial, right? I'm getting off topic. The point is that we can play some Threaten effects to keep them from having enough blockers to stop us, we can play a lot more sac outlets to make Vargus' bonus be more significant, and we can generally make sure more things happen that we can spin to our advantage. You're always cool with creatures dying with Mimic Vat out, for example. If I come up with a list I'm reasonably happy with here, I'm going to build it and start playing it on stream. I'll even wear my pirate hat and eyepatch. Let's shiver some timbers and hoist some sails or whatever. I don't know what pirates said, and neither do you.

Under my Mutin' Hat | Commander | Jason Alt

Hot damn! This deck looks like a lot of fun, and you'll do some real life piratey tricks with the list. Do you see a few 75% favorites missing from the deck? That's because I haven't cranked it all the way, and there are a few directions you could go with it to maximize the flavor, the fun or the ... fievery. Pretend you're a Dickensian waif for that last one. "Plais suh, may I 'ave some creetchus?" etc. "Oi, don't even fink about fieving me commanduh or oi'll glass yez, I swear on me Mum." Have fun with it. We literally only think pirates talk the way they're portrayed in movies because someone had fun with it.

You can dial up the treasure theme, which I think could be a ton of fun because I added Furnace Celebration as a source of chip damage. You can turn saccing a treasure token into a trigger at will, which means it can be spot removal in a pinch, or you can just benefit from using your treasure tokens. There are a few more cars that make treasure that can go in the deck, and Fathom Fleet Swordjack loves when you have a pile of treasure, so make sure and cast that Brass's Bounty even though you'll probably have to tap out to do it. It'll be worth it, promise.

Alternatively, there are a few creatures with good ETB abilities and we could add our typical Cloudstone Curio shenanigans to the mix. Thieving Skydiver, Coercive Recruiter, and Amphin Mutineer get better, and you could consider adding Equilibrium to bounce their stuff if need be. Crystal Shard, Erratic Portal, maybe even Conjurer's Closet - there are no real wrong answers for some of these creatures. Maybe Closet. Still, this could let you re-buy cards like Sower of Temptation (which you'd have to add) to make it less punishing when you sac the creature you were beguiling. Add Bazaar Trader to make the change in ownership permanent. I personally think when I build this, I'll like carve out even more creatures since I'll be borrowing a bunch and make room for more threaten effects, especially repeatable ones, and cut some durdly pirates. True, you're not going to get as many triggers when you attack with Vargas, but sacrifices must be made. And they will - we added a bunch of sac outlets including Shivan Harvest to make sure they never get a creature back alive at the end of the turn.

What do we think? I put some 75% spin on a few different approaches and I feel like both are a significant improvement over the stock list. Port Razer, Captivating Crew and Timestream Navigator are all super fun cards and I'm glad to have them all in the same pile. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to finish building a deck. Until next time!

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