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Against the Odds: Pirate Stompy (Modern)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 256 of Against the Odds. It's almost time for Zendikar Rising! Next week, we'll kick off our exploration of our new Standard format with a special episode, but today, we're heading to Modern to steal some booty with Pirate Stompy! Last week, we had a jank-tribe Against the Odds poll, and in the end, the Admiral Beckett Brass–led Pirate tribe took home the loot. As a result, today, we're going to find out if the Pirate tribe actually has what it takes to compete in Modern. How good are Pirates? What cool things can they do in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Pirate Stompy

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The Deck

Pirate Stompy is a pretty straightforward tribal deck, with the twist that we get to play a bunch of sweet one-of, fun-of Pirates thanks to our Pirate tutor, Forerunner of the Coalition. All in all, we have 30 tribe members, with six core Pirates along with eight one-ofs. This leaves us with eight slots for utility spells, which we use on Lightning Bolt for removal and Aether Vial to sneak even more Pirates into play. 

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When it comes to building jank tribal decks, the typical question to ask is what the tribe's competitive advantage is. What do Pirates do better than any other tribe in Magic? The answer here isn't all that straightforward, but it basically comes down to the Pirates' ability to be tricky and evasive. Included in our deck are Pirates that act as removal, steal our opponent's permanents, draw us cards, ramp, hate on the graveyard, tutor, and—of course—pump our team, like Admiral Beckett Brass. The primary plan of our deck is to present a good, often evasive Pirate curve thanks to our group of core Pirates and then fill out the deck with situational one-ofs that we can tutor up when we need them with Forerunner of the Coalition.

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Joining Admiral Beckett Brass in our core Pirate group are our two card-draw Pirates, Spectral Sailor and Ruin Raider. Spectral Sailor is the best Pirate one-drop, giving us a flying body (to help us steal permanents with Admiral Beckett Brass and chip in for damage) that can also draw us cards in the late game. Meanwhile, Ruin Raider is basically a Pirate version of Dark Confidant that requires us to attack to get our free card each turn, but it comes with the upside of giving us the card on our end step, which means we don't need Ruin Raider to survive for a turn to draw our first card.

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Also on our core Pirate list are two two-drops. Kitesail Freebooter has already proven its power in Modern tribal decks thanks to its prominent role in Humans, giving us a Duress attached to a flying on-tribe body. Meanwhile, Dire Fleet Daredevil is basically a reverse Snapcaster Mage, allowing us to flashback a spell from our opponent's graveyard. Thanks to the prevalence of cheap spells in Modern, it's very strong in most matchups. At worst, we can usually snag some sort of cantrip, while at best, we can flashback removal to keep our opponent's board in check. 

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The last of our core Pirates is Forerunner of the Coalition, which isn't all that powerful on its own, as a 2/2 for three that drains for one when a Pirate enters the battlefield. But thanks to its ability to tutor a Pirate to the top of our deck, Forerunner of the Coalition allows us to fill out the rest of our deck with a bunch of situationally powerful one-of Pirates, offering us a ton of sneaky lines and tricky plays.

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As for our eight one-of Pirates, they are mostly situational cards that we don't want to draw naturally in every game but that can be extremely powerful in the right matchup or situation. Because they are one-ofs, we aren't likely to draw them often, but thanks to Forerunner of the Coalition, we can usually find them when we need them.

  • Deadeye Tracker gives us main-deck graveyard hate and also some extra card advantage thanks to explore.
  • Fanatical Firebrand is great at sniping mana dorks like Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, and Llanowar Elves along with other small creatures.
  • Fathom Fleet Captain is fragile and dies to Lava Dart, but in removal-light matchups, it can take over the game almost by itself by slowly creating a board full of menacing 2/2 Pirate tokens.
  • Warkite Marauder allows us to attack through blockers, which is helpful for triggering Admiral Beckett Brass's permanent-stealing ability and forcing through damage to close out the game.
  • Captain Lannery Storm offers a hasty attacker and a bit of ramp thanks to the Treasure token it makes when it attacks.
  • Captivating Crew can steal games in midrange creature matchups by Threatening opposing creatures turn after turn. It's solid against decks like Eldrazi Tron and other midrange builds that have big threats but lack removal.
  • Dire Fleet Neckbreaker's two toughness keep it from being truly great, but the +2/+0 buff to attacking Pirates makes it one of our best Pirates for closing our the game quickly. When creatures like Spectral Sailor and Kitesail Freebooter start attacking for three in the air each turn, our opponent's life total will quickly drop toward zero.
  • Hostage Taker is a bit expensive for a Modern-playable removal spell, but getting to cast the artifact or creature it exiles is a nice upside. It also gives us a hedge against cards like Ensnaring Bridge that would otherwise be close to unbeatable for our deck.

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Rounding out our deck are Aether Vial and Lightning Bolt in our utility slots. Lightning Bolt gives us an early-game removal spell to clear away blockers that is never truly dead since we can always throw it at our opponent's face. Meanwhile, Aether Vial is good in creature-heavy decks in general, allowing us to cheat an extra creature into play each turn. It has some additional tricks with some of our Pirates, like putting Dire Fleet Daredevil or Kitesail Freebooter into play at instant speed to take advantage of their enters-the-battlefield triggers on our opponent's turn, which can lead to some massive blowouts.

The Matchups

Figuring out the good and bad matchups for Pirate Stompy is tricky, mostly because we have some good options for most matchups, which means the main question is whether we draw the right part of our deck in the right matchup. Dedicated burn-based aggro decks are probably are toughest matchups since we don't really have lifegain and most of our creatures die to removal like Lightning Bolt. Meanwhile, against control and combo, we have some strong plays like Kitesail Freebooter but can also struggle if we don't draw them. Basically, thanks to all of our one-ofs and Forerunner of the Coalition to find them, we have answers for pretty much everything—whether we find them at the right time determines if we win or lose.

The Odds

All in all, we went 4-1 with Pirate Stompy and were super close to going 5-0—and we likely would have if our Mono-Red Blitz opponent hadn't top-decked a couple of timely Mutagenic Growths to fizzle our removal. As weird as it sounds, the Pirate tribe actually felt pretty strong. While we could use a bit more power around the edges, the core of the deck is solid. If we get one more Pirate-focused set I wouldn't be surprised to see Pirates become a semi-legitimate deck in Modern, which would be super sweet! Even with the current card pool, the deck is already somewhat competitive. Heading into our games, I was expecting that the "Stompy" part of the deck name would refer to us getting stomped by our opponents as we played underpowered Pirates, but in the end, the Pirates were the ones doing the stomping!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. Next week is release week for Zendikar Rising, which means we'll be kicking off our exploration of our new Standard format with a special episode! Don't worry, the poll will be back next week and will be overflowing with sweet new Zendikar Rising cards!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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