Ahoy Mateys - Precon Review

Ahoy Mateys Precon Review

I’m a little torn on the whole Pirate thing. Too often our media romanticizes them, makes them fun to watch, even makes us root for them. Sure, it’s just a movie or show. But I can’t shake the feeling that we’re ignoring the truth about Pirates. 

And that truth is that most Pirates were (or should I say are? Pirates still exist today) not good people. Pillaging, murdering, torture, and other horrible acts were typical of the Caribbean pirates that we’ve turned into loveable ruffians and anti-heroes who always “do the right thing” in the end. 

But that’s our world. Do the Pirates of Ixalan share those same sordid pasts and behaviors? 

Who cares. It’s a card game. Let’s talk about Ahoy Mateys, the precon from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, led by Admiral Brass, Unsinkable.

So, They’re Pirate Zombies?

Brass is a 3/3 Human Pirate for five mana that mills you four cards on entry. Then at the beginning of your combat step, you return any Pirate in your graveyard to the battlefield as a 4/4 with haste and a Finality counter.

Finality is a new mechanic in Lost Caverns, and basically serves the purpose of saving players from having to remember which creatures can't go back to the graveyard. Cards like Geth, Thane of Contracts and Whip of Erebos resurrect a creature and give it the ability that if it would leave the battlefield you have to exile it instead, which you then have to keep track of.

In addition to not having to remember things, Finality counters are also an improvement over the old way because they’re abusable - all you have to do is find a way to remove the counter. Alternatively, you could blink the creature, or even find a way to bounce it back to your hand. As long as it doesn’t die, you’re able to avoid the exile effect. (Sadly, the precon doesn’t come with ways to abuse it, but that’s what upgrades are for.)

Our second-in-command of this ship is Don Andres, the Renegade. Andres is a 4/3 Vampire Pirate (can only sail at night!) that buffs creatures you control but don’t own (think Threaten effects) and makes you Treasure tokens when you cast a spell you don’t own (think Chaos Wand). 

Here’s the full decklist:

Ahoy Mateys Precon

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Commander (1)
Creatures (34)
Artifacts (14)
Sorceries (6)
Instants (5)
Enchantments (3)
Lands (37)

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You Wouldn’t Steal a Car

So what does this deck of flamboyantly dressed nautical ne’er-do-wells do? It combats. And it does it very well. With this list, you’ll consistently be dropping Pirates on the board with the goal of carving a piece out of your opponents bit by bit. And with Admiral Brass, you don’t need to worry about your Pirates dying. She’s more than happy to bring them back for one last grog.

The deck is an efficient wrecking machine. The average mana value is a respectable 3.32, with tons of ramp and card advantage thrown in to keep the Pirates flowing to your board, and into opponents’ faces. You can even keep the combats coming with Port Razer, and give yourself an extra turn with Timestream Navigator.

And the deck loves to give you rewards for punching opponents. Bident of Thassa, Breeches, Brazen Plunderer, Francisco, Fowl Marauder, and Ramirez DePietro, Pillager all give you card advantage on damage, while Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator gives you treasure, and Ghost of Ramirez DePietro brings stuff back from the grave.

There’s a small “theft” package here as well, to go along with our secondary commander Don Andres. Coercive Recruiter and Captivating Crew both have powerful repeatable effects, while Admiral Beckett Brass (the original) permanently takes things from opponents dealt damage by at least three Pirates in a turn. Dire Fleet Daredevil and King Narfi’s Betrayal take things from graveyards, and Zara, Renegade Recruiter takes them from opponents' hands. Unfortunately, this amounts to only a handful of cards, which means Don Andres is often going to be a do-nothing card. For the upgrade, we’d need to either add more theft or take Andres out. If Admiral Brass, Unsinkable was able to pull creatures out of opponents’ graveyards, then Don Andres would’ve been fantastic in the deck. Alas…

Is She Seaworthy?

How does the deck play? Smooth sailing, my friends. Plenty of pretty baubles (Sol Ring, Rakdos Signet, Izzet Signet), and bounteous amounts of Treasure (Pitiless Plunderer, Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator, Enterprising Scallywag) so you never feel low on mana. And you'll have no trouble keeping your hand full, with cards like Distant Melody, Vanquisher's Banner, and Windfall.

Cards that improve your attacks are premium here, particularly Shared Animosity, which will be a huge card for your opponents to overcome. There's also plenty of cards you can use to get blockers out of the way, like Hostage Taker, Merchant Raiders, and Chaos Warp. Or if the tables have turned and you're being overrun, deploy a Blasphemous Act or Blood Money.

New Booty

We’ve seen what the deck does. Now it’s time to talk about what most of you are here for: the new cards! In addition to the two commanders, each of these Lost Caverns decks comes with eight new cards to play with, most of which are focused around their creature type. For Ahoy Mateys, it’s all Pirates and artifacts.

Leading the Pirate pack is Broadside Bombardiers, a Goblin Pirate that brings back the Boast mechanic from Kaldheim. This is the highest-priced new card in the deck at the moment, but not because of Commander. Legacy players are gobbling these Goblins up, mostly for mono-red decks.

Gemcutter Buccaneer gives you Treasures when Pirates enter play, and turns your Treasures into Equipment that give +2/+0. The Treasures enter tapped, but that doesn’t matter if they’re used as Equipment.

Skeleton Crew has an anthem effect for your Pirates and Skeletons, and makes 2/2 tokens when creatures leave your graveyard - solid synergy with Admiral Brass. Storm Fleet Negotiator creates Map tokens, which are new in Lost Caverns, that can be sacrificed to make one of your creatures Explore. 

And the last creature is a Bird Pirate with Partner. So if your Malcolm and Breeches deck is feeling tired, maybe swap one of them out for Francisco, Fowl Marauder for a change of pace - and color identity.

Over to the artifacts, with a legendary Vehicle, The Indomitable. This vessel gives you another Coastal Piracy effect and can be cast from the graveyard. Arm-Mounted Anchor buffs a creature and feeds Pirates to your graveyard for Brass to resurrect. 

The last new card is The Grim Captain’s Locker, which can tap to Surveil 1, and does a pretty fine impression of a creatures-only Underworld Breach. With no sacrifice required! A pretty solid way to cheat creatures out of your graveyard for just four mana.

A Fine Barbados Rum

Is this deck any good? Here’s my final grade:


I had a blast playtesting this thing. The deck is a well-oiled machine that keeps the creatures coming, and can quickly rebuild after a board wipe. The only real problem with this deck is that there’s not enough for the secondary commander to do. The theft package is there, but not filled out enough to make Don Andres a true source of strength.

The reprint value for Ahoy Mateys is fantastic, especially the much-appreciated Black Market Connections and the long overdue reprint of Pitiless Plunderer. Value on the new cards is low, other than Broadside (almost said Dockside) Bombardiers, but they’re fun nonetheless, with a couple that could really shine in the right deck (keeping my eye on The Grim Captain’s Locker).

So what do you think? Do you like Ahoy Mateys as much as I do? What would you do to upgrade it? Did Johnny Depp really deserve an Oscar nomination for Pirates of the Caribbean? Hit those comments below! And make sure to check back soon to see what I do to upgrade this deck. 

Read More:

Precon Primer - Explorers of the Deep

Blood Rites - Precon Review

Andy's been playing Magic on and off since Fallen Empires. He loves to travel, drink, eat, and spend time with family and friends.

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