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Classic Commander: Ramirez DePietro, Pillager


Last week, I was excited to talk about a new twist on the usual Classic Commander formula. With the coming of the Legends Retold subset of Dominaria United in a few weeks, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to visit some of the original legendary creatures from Legends. Many aren't all that spectacular and using the Legends Retold versions provides an outstanding launching point to build a functional deck utilizing the bland original versions of these creatures. In my last piece, I discussed Jasmine Boreal of the Seven, but today I wanted to touch on one who's been a favorite of mine for a long time: Ramirez DePietro.

When I think of original generic legendary creatures from Legends, Ramirez is always one of the first on my mind. It's one of those cards that can resonate with you simply because of the artwork, and that's what happened here. If you take away the art, there's nothing about Ramirez DePietro that makes him stand out from the other uncommon legends of the set. He's just another dull, overcosted French vanilla creature. But that art absolutely gained him a lot of fans, much like what happened with the likes of Jasmine Boreal, Jedit Ojanen, and Svitri Scarzam: bad cards, but their art and general design elevates them still.

Ramirez DePietro
Ghost of Ramirez DePietro
Ramirez DePietro, Pillager

It shows too, as Ramirez DePietro has been getting quite a bit of love as of late. First we got the Ghost of Ramirez DePietro in Commander Legends roughly two years ago. This was to supplement the pirate theme of the set and give a little more love to pirates as a whole by paying homage to Magic's original swashbuckler. Now with Dominaria United and Legends Retold, we have another one who can stand on his own: Ramirez DePietro, Pillager.

For today's Classic Commander list, we'll be using this as a baseline to build our deck. While this deck is made with the new card, it's important to remember that he's also basically a placeholder for the original Legends card in the context of Classic Commander. However, there's nothing to say you can't run this version against your friends at a modern table! Let's check out a list and see how it came out!

Ramirez DePietro, Pillager | Commander | Paige Smith

Building around Ramirez's pirate theme proved a lot more difficult than you may think given the level of support the tribe has gotten in the last few years. In the early days of Magic, pirates existed but they were extremely far and few between. With the exception of the original Ramirez DePietro, Kukemssa Pirates, and Pirate Ship, the only real pirates were in Mercadian Masques and the Portal sets. As you can imagine, many of these pirates simply aren't that great. No one wants to be playing with cards like Rishadan Cutpurse and Talus Researcher. They're, frankly, pretty bad. There are a few playable options like Rishadan Airship, Rishadan Brigand, and Kukemssa Pirates, but most of them just aren't that great.

Rishadan Brigand
Kukemssa Pirates

It's a far cry from the various pirates we've gotten since courtesy of Kaladesh, Ixalan, and various supplementary sets. Thankfully, we do at least have some changelings to help fill the gap a little. Many of these are still pretty bland and don't really add much comparatively. Cairn Wanderer doesn't have the keyword support to warrant it, so I left it out, and I included the likes of Turtleshell Changeling, Mothdust Changeling, and Skeletal Changeling somewhat begrudgingly. They're hardly exciting, but at least they're decently functional creatures compared to many of the other actual pirates available. And if nothing else, getting a Shapesharer on the board makes virtually any of them become excellent by cloning other creatures.

Since there's not much going on by way of the actual pirates, I had to think of alternative venues of play. Unlike Jasmine Boreal of the Seven from last week, if you play true Classic Commander you lose all the Commander synergy and are left with a bunch of bad creatures. Also, unlike Jasmine Boreal, there's not really many good ways to supplement those creatures. At least in a deck like that, you could still pump up your janky vanilla creatures a ton. The benefits of running a deck in Green and White. Playing Dimir colors doesn't exactly have the luxury of gaining anything close to that same benefit.

As such, I tried thinking a little more outside the box. What are pirates known for, and how could I use that in a deck. The solution? Theft! Pirates are known for stealing, looting, pillaging, and so on. If we can't make a great strategy of our own, we might as well take it from our opponents! This part was a lot easier. Control Magic, Mind Control, Corrupted Conscience, and Sower of Temptation are all excellent ways to steal your opponents' creatures. You can even get them out of graveyards and decks with the likes of Bribery, Reanimate, Beacon of Unrest, and Geth, Lord of the Vault. You can grab other permanents with the help of Acquire, Roil Elemental, Memnarch, Blatant Thievery, and Wrexial, the Risen Deep.

Sower of Temptation
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Coastal Piracy

Beyond that, it's mostly thematic solid value stuff. There's some good old countermagic and card draw, as you might expect. There's a nice dash of Dimir flavor with the likes of Dimir Cutpurse, Dimir Doppelganger, and Dimir Guildmage to help fuel the whole sneaky pirate feel, even though they aren't exactly pirates themselves. Or are they? Throwing a Conspiracy into the list ends up helping to ensure all of your creatures can sail the high seas and get to pirating. And if that fails, there's always good old Coastal Piracy to help get the job done for you.

Best of all, if you want to take this deck into a more modern setting, adding in some modern-day pirate upgrades is a breeze. Hostage Taker, Corsair Captain, Warkite Marauder, and many more are all a dollar or two at most. Even the more high-end options are, what, Pitiless Plunderer? Such cards aren't even necessary and so you can easily use this as a fun baseline that you can expand on if you want to play at a more modern-day level of power on a budget. There's even a number of newer and better changelings to choose from as well!

Even with more modern options for modern games, it's almost certain you're going to have a good time with this no matter what. It's great seeing old legends come back, and even more fun when you get to do awesome pirate themed shenanigans in Classic Commander. Whether it's attacking with pirates or stealing away your opponents' goods, you'll have no shortage of cool things to do. It'll be enough to get your table singing along to some sea shanties and Alestorm at your next Commander night in no time flat. Just remember to slip a version of "You Are A Pirate" on your playlist!

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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