Ixalan preview season is underway, and so far I like the look of this set. There are solid answer cards for Standard, the flavor is on point, and there are a lot of Pirate cards I’m excited to brew with.
Today, I’d like to show off some of the possibilities. My final deck might be a bit ambitious, but if I’m about to venture onto a plane where actual Dinosaurs roam free, I might as well be brave.
With that in mind, let’s start with a Magical Christmas Land scenario.
The idea is as follows. You start on turn 2 with Skyship Plunderer. Then, on turn 3, you cast Jace, use his +1 ability, attack with Skyship Plunderer, loot, and use the trigger to bring Jace up to 5 loyalty. (Meanwhile, your Temur Energy opponent hasn’t affected the board yet because they kept Aether Hub, Botanical Sanctum, Mountain, Attune with Aether, Whirler Virtuoso, Bristling Hydra, and Glorybringer on the draw.)
On turn 4, you cast Anointed Procession, and this is where the fun begins. You immediately ultimate Jace, giving you 4 copies of the no-longer-legendary planeswalker. You activate each copy’s -2 ability, which again produces double the tokens, yielding a grand total of 16 power on turn 4. Oh, and you still have 4 planeswalkers lying around in case that somehow isn’t enough to win the game.
Jace can get out of hand quickly indeed. Like Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, he needs a specific deck to excel, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s to never underestimate 3-mana planeswalkers.
If all goes well, you only have to activate Treasure Map twice (with a Skyship Plunderer trigger shaving one turn off the transformation clock) to gain 6 Treasure tokens. That’s a big trove of treasure!
If you’re going to include a Treasure token theme, then you might as well include one of the best generators. Captain Lannery Storm is not quite Goblin Rabblemaster, but in a deck that has multiple uses for Treasure tokens, it should be an excellent fit.
What’s more, it’s another creature for Jace’s +1 ability. After all, Jace won’t do as much unless he’s in a deck with a sufficient number of early drops. Obviously, 2-mana creatures are the best for curve reasons. Are there any 2-drops that would synergize particularly well?
Fathom Fleet Captain may not have flying, but menace comes close. It means that it will still be difficult to block, which is important for Jace’s loot trigger. In addition, Skyship Plunderer and Captain Lannery Storm are Pirates, so the token generation ability will often be activate, and those tokens can be doubled with Anointed Procession.
Adorned Pouncer (which also synergizes with Anointed Procession) fits a Jace deck for two reasons. First, the way Jace’s +1 ability is worded, it triggers for both first strike damage and regular damage. So if you connect with Adorned Pouncer, you get to loot twice. Second, Adorned Pouncer is an excellent card to discard to Jace’s loot ability.
And so are the following two cards.
You don’t need too many copies of these, but every bit of graveyard-related value matters when you’re sifting through your deck.
Removal spells like these will also be important to clear the path for Captain Lannery Storm, which is a 2-toughness creature that would be easily blocked otherwise. Let’s add a few more.
Fatal Push in particular works well with Treasure tokens because they turn on revolt at will. I imagine that the play pattern of “Captain Lannery Storm, attack, sacrifice the token, Fatal Push your blocker” will turn out to be a powerful way to regain the initiative in the early turns.
But besides sacrificing Treasure tokens for mana, revolt, +1/+0 boosts, or cards, what else can you do with them? Especially when you combine Treasure Map and Anointed Procession to create 6 of them, it would be nice to have a way to exploit them.
These are the payoff cards. This deck can cast a turn-5 Nicol Bolas with ease, and Marionette Master will hit the opponent for 4 every time you sacrifice a Treasure. Note that Skyship Plunderer can make Marionette Master even more threatening and that Anointed Procession provides the ability to make 6 Servos for value instead.
The final step is to build the mana base. Although it may seem ambitious to build a 4-color deck with multiple double-colored cards, the Treasure tokens do a lot for the mana consistency. The final result is as follows.
I often fall into the trap of trying too many things at once when brewing decks with new cards, and that might be an issue with this concoction as well. But there are a lot of cross-synergies, and all cards are in there for a reason.
But Frank, why not include [this card]?
Although the flow of this article may have suggested otherwise, my actual process started with the idea of building a Treasure deck around these alternative win conditions. But I was unable to find a list that I was satisfied with.
Mechanized Production comes with the problem that Abrade is a popular main deck card in Standard right now. And Revel in Riches is a 5mana card that doesn’t immediately affect the battlefield when it comes down, so it’s dangerously slow.
What’s more, there simply didn’t seem to be enough Treasure-generating cards yet for these win conditions to be sufficiently reliable and fast. I looked at Deadeye Plunderers and Prosperous Pirates, but I found them overcosted at 5 mana. I might try my hand at a Revel in Riches deck when the full contents of Ixalan are known, but I don’t think there is enough support at this point yet.
You could shave the white cards, the Treasure Maps, and the top-end from my deck and instead turn it into a dedicated Pirate aggro deck. That might very well be viable, and the mana would surely be better with Unclaimed Territory, but that wasn’t the type of deck that I was trying to build. Also, the Pirate “lords” or tribal payoff cards didn’t look that exciting to me yet. Admiral Beckett Brass in particular feels like a win-more card: If you’re connecting with 3 Pirates in one turn, then you’re almost surely winning anyway.
Ruin Raider does look pretty powerful to me, though—it’s kind of a mix between Rogue Refiner and Dark Confidant, both of which have had a big impact on Constructed. Definitely a card to keep an eye on.
Jace, as well as Daring Saboteur, might fit a Reanimator-style deck that aims to bring back a discarded Angel of Invention as a 6/6 Zombie. Or two of them—if you have Anointed Procession. But a Reanimator deck would once again go in a different direction than what I had in mind.
These are good removal spells that might fit the deck too. But I had to cut something to get to 60. Walk the Plank in particular felt like it would be too tough on the mana base.
Since Treasure tokens are artifacts, I considered emphasizing that card type. There are still plenty of artifact payoff cards from Kaladesh block, but at the time of writing there didn’t seem to be enough ways to generate Treasure tokens cheaply and quickly. If more of them get previewed, then it may be worth it to revisit this angle.
You could technically ramp up to a turn-4 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh with Skyship Plunderer and Pyramid of the Pantheon, but other than that the deck didn’t have many mana sinks. So the Pyramid felt out of place.
Treasure tokens enable revolt quite nicely, but given that there’s a delay involved with Treasure Map, I feared that activating revolt consistently enough in the early game would be too difficult.
So I can have functionally identical tokens on the battlefield, except that only some of them work with Treasure Cove and Captain Lannery Storm, forcing me to keep track of them in two separate piles. At least Gild is not in Standard…
I hope you enjoyed this early look at a wacky deck option for Standard. But it’s only one of the many available possibilities. What type of deck do you have in mind for Treasure Map, Captain Lannery Storm, or Jace, Cunning Castaway?