An Actual Pirate’s Life For Me

Admiral Beckett Brass
I like the idea of stealing, swiping, swindling, threatening, borrowing, insurrecting, dominating, commandeering, plundering, pilfering, appropriating, and generally making mine the permanents of my opponents. There are a lot of reasons for this way to play in a 75% context. Sun Tzu taught us that a bushel of my enemy’s grain is worth 10 bushels of my grain. Stealing their permanents to use against them is a great way to scale the power level of the board to the power level of their deck meaning we won’t hit them with anything they can’t handle. It’s a great way to build a 75% deck and it really works. When Admiral Beckett Brass was revealed, my inclination was to build a Pirate-y deck just because Pirates seem to naturally embody the spirit of plunder. Or do they?

A lot of our idea about what pirates are all about comes from one major source — a book called A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson. The stuff that seemed important to him got more ink in the book which is why we tend to think grinning skull flags (not really a thing) buried treasure (literally why, who would do that?) lady pirates (a handful but the high seas weren’t the gender-neutral meritocracy we’d like to think) and that goofy pirate voice we associate with pirates because of Robert Newton in Treasure Island trying to make fun of how Welsh people sound and everyone assumed that was how pirates talked. Don’t get me wrong; white European pirates terrorizing the high seas, skirmishing with the British Navy and proving Johnny Depp had more acting range than “weirdo in a Tim Burton movie” is fun, but it’s sort of like Ninjas and Samurai — fun for dress-up time but not super accurate historically. Real pirates were a lot more Captain Phillips and a lot less Curse of the Black Pearl — what we think of as “piracy” was a pretty minor blip on a historical scale.

Rubinia Soulsinger
That’s not to say I don’t like Pirate lore, but I really want to drill down a bit and get to the heart of true piracy. I’m not going to whitewash it, either. Think Pirates of the Pancreas, but PG. What is “real” piracy, though? Wouldn’t threatening, stealing, and coercing be cornerstones of the pirate experience? Maybe, but I don’t want that many creatures in this build, I don’t think. I want to think like a Pirate but play like a Wizard and to do that, I’m going to need to look outside of Admiral Beckett Brass and potentially lose one of those colors.

So what made me think I needed something more than just stealing creatures? Partly, it was a game where I was playing my current pet deck — Rubinia Soulsinger Enchantress. I play a ton of Propaganda effects and steal their creatures and beat them with them. It’s a fun way to play Magic but it does have a particularly glaring weakness — spells. If no one really played creatures or the whole table was wrathing, stealing creatures just mean I wasted a spell when the creature was killed by the same Wrath that was going to kill it later in the turn cycle anyway. After my Commander ate multiple wraths and was stuck in the Command zone, I watched big spells resolve and watched someone win with a combo (albeit one I could have stopped if my Commander had lived). I am adding even more countermagic to the deck but I need something more — I need a way to make sure the non-Wrath spells are to my advantage also. In short, I want to steal it all, even the non-Permanents. Does my Rubinina deck maybe need a few more counters (Did you know that grinning like an idiot just waiting for your dumb dumb opponent to play Merciless Eviction naming Enchantments so you can cast Second Sunrise isn’t going to go your way?)? Yes, for sure. But that doesn’t mean the seed wasn’t planted. I want to have all of the spells. Let someone else counter stuff.

Mizzix of the Izmagnus
If Beckett Brass is out and I want to be a bit of a spellslinger, which commander do I want? Obviously we’ll want to be in Blue. Spelljack is Blue and we’re trying to do just that. We could play Empress Galina — she got a lot better when she “gained” the ability to steal Planeswalkers. But while Spelljack is cool and all, I am starting to think maybe Blue isn’t the real color for these sorts of shenanigans. It’s time to dust off a spell I almost forgot about — Wild Ricochet. Reiterate, Ricochet, Fork — Red doesn’t always straight steal the spells but it can make sure we benefit from what they’re doing. In the case of Wild Ricochet, we do our best impression of a Pirate Wizard — getting double value from their spell while they get nothing, just as famous Pirate Wizard Ninja Sun Tzu intended. As soon as I decided to give Reiterate a shot, I remembered the Ultimate Reiterate Commander - Mizzix! Is it a little late to be building around a Commander 1983 card? Maybe. But it gave me the idea to play lots of buyback spells, Paradox Engine, mana rocks and really mana-hungry cards like Captivating Crew and Memnarch. It will take a LOT of work, a ton of luck and like 13 cards to go “infinite” but once we do, we can take control of every permanent on the board, and isn’t that way more piratey than Reveling in a few Riches? Pirates didn’t even carry gold around, that $%&*’s heavy. Am I still going to play Spell Swindle? Look, I think we both know I’m still going to play Spell Swindle. What would this Pirate Mizzix build look like? I’m so glad I pretended you asked.


Expropriate
This looks like a lot of fun. Did I go too far differentiating this from a typical Mizzix build? Maybe! Let’s take a look.

I opted not to include typical Mizzix cards like Comet Storm. Is that the only way to win with a typical spellslinger build? It’s certainly a good one when you have a ton of Experience counters. I cut a lot of cantrips and may have raised the average CMC too much. I also cut down to a lean 34 lands which is almost certainly not correct. This is a great basis for a deck but you will ultimately want to customize it a bit.

I really like the package consisting of the Memory Crystal, buyback spells, Paradox Engine and mana rocks. I jammed so much weird stuff into the deck I didn’t have room for more mana rocks, Isochron Scepter (not enough targets, anyway) and stuff that makes the Paradox Engine even better. I’m not tutoring for it, so I don’t want to lend too much of my build to it. Accordingly, I only added Buyback spells that are actually good. Luckily, the ones I added are very good. Clockspinning doesn’t just add or remove time counters; it can add or remove counters to and from any permanent. You may want to add another Planeswalker or two to the deck to take better advantage. Shrink their creatures, kill their Planeswalkers, etc. I think the Buyback does work and it’s worth having the package to make our Reiterate really good for when they play spells.

I added my typical Acquire, Bribery, Expropriate package and I think once you pile up Experience counters, it will be really reasonable to cast them. I like them so much I wanted to find room for Archaeomancer, Snapcaster Mage, etc. and maybe Equilibrium or something to get them going. There simply wasn’t room. If you like that idea better than the buyback shenanigans, it could be a lot of fun to Bribery the same person every turn or Acquire all of their mana rocks. Izzet Chronarch and friends would love to help you get the most out of your old spells lying around, but there’s always Past in Flames et al. in there, now.

I cut the token producers like The Locust God, Talrand, Sky Summoner, and Docent of Perfection. If you like those, feel free to add them back, but I don’t think I want to trifle with 1/1 tokens when I could be dropping their own Consecrated Sphinx on them. Hit them with big creatures and use deck slots for cards like Bribery that can get more than one creature with the flashback shenanigans this deck is capable of. Let them waste roster slots on useless meat sacks. You’re a Pirate after all!

What do we think? Any glaring omissions? Questionable inclusions? Got a similar deck you want to tell me about? Hit me up in the comments section, and don’t forget to share this on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. Thanks for reading. Until next week!


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