Ahoy Mateys Upgrade Guide - Lost Caverns of Ixalan Precons

Genoslugcs November 23, 2023 9 min
Ahoy Mateys Upgrade Guide - Lost Caverns of Ixalan Precons

The Lost Caverns of Ixalan just hit shelves, and players are starting to get a feel for the four preconstructed decks. WOTC does a great job with the precons, and these are no exception. That said, there's always room for improvement, and that's exactly what we're doing in this article. Today, I'll be upgrading the Pirate deck, Ahoy Mateys.

We'll review what the stock list wants to be doing, what it does well, and where it falls short. Then, I'll give you my recommendations for what cards you should ditch and give you replacement options for those spots. I'm not going to work on a particular budget, but I'll do my best to provide cheap alternatives to expensive cards. So, without further ado, let's get into the Ahoy Mateys upgrade guide.

MTGA Assistant

Ahoy Mateys Upgrade Guide

Admiral Brass, Unsinkable

General Deck Overview

Ahoy Mateys wants to fill the graveyard with pirates and then reanimate them as 4/4s. Many of the decks creatures have powerful ETB triggers that you'll be glad to trigger a second time when you bring them back. There are also a healthy number of ways to steal opposing creatures and tribal payoffs for being built around the creature type as well. You can find a much more in-depth breakdown of the deck and individual cards here - Lost Caverns Of Ixalan commander decklists and overview

Deck List

Ahoy Mateys Commander Precon

Commander 1 cards (1 distinct)
Main 99 cards (87 distinct)
Creature (34)
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (28)
Land (37)

Upgrading The Deck

As mentioned, the deck has a few things that it wants to be doing, and the main one is milling pirates and bringing them back. That said, there aren't too many ways to get your reanimation targets in the graveyard effectively. Sure, Admiral Brass, Unsinkableimage mills some, but other than that, the deck relies on discarding cards to fill the yard. In my opinion, that's the greatest weakness of the deck right out of the box. Here's what I recommend you add to the deck.

The Add-Ins

Reanimating your pirates as 4/4s with haste and getting their ETB triggers again is powerful and fun. I like the idea a lot. However, as mentioned, the deck doesn't do an amazing job of getting quality cards into the graveyard. Even Admiral Brass, Unsinkableimage can leave you high and dry if you mill over the wrong cards. So, let's fix that with these:

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In my opinion, Unmarked Graveimage, Buried Aliveimage, and Entombimage are must-have cards if you're playing reanimator. They're cheap to cast and take all the guesswork from what you'll mill over. Cast them, go get your threats, and put them right where you want them.


Perpetual Timepiece is less of a staple and is less selective. Regardless, you'll want one more straightforward way to fill the yard continuously, and this does a nice job.

Now that we have some better ways to make sure we have things to reanimate, let's be sure we have some strong reanimation targets! Overall, the stock list does fairly well in this department. For example, Coercive Recruiterimage, Hostage Takerimage, and Dire Fleet Ravagerimage all have great EBT triggers you'll be happy to get. There are a few weak links, though, that can be replaced. For creatures, here's what I added:


Dockside is expensive, I know, I apologize to those of you on a budget. It's expensive because it's good, and it just so happens to be a pirate. If you can afford to play this, you'll 100% want it in the deck. Casting Dockside once is already good, and reanimating it with Admiral Brass and getting a second bounty of treasures is a pirate's dream!


Glint-Horn is part of a nasty combo with Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigatorimage, which comes in the precon. So, I felt obliged to include it. Here's a quick rundown of how it works:

Glint-Horn Buccaneer needs to be attacking to use its ability. So, attack, hold priority, and activate his ability. This will have you discard a card, draw a new one, and deal one damage to each of your two opponents. Now Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigatorimage triggers and gives you two treasures. You can use these two treasures to activate Glint-Horn again and repeat the cycle, giving you near-infinite damage and looting.

Check it out in more detail (along with four other combos that can go in the deck) here - Top 5 EDH Combos For Pirate Tribal


This card fits very well into the theme we're fleshing out here. Essentially, it represents a copy of the best thing on the board at all times. And it counts as a pirate in the graveyard too, which means you can reanimate it with your commander. And the fact that there's card draw tacked onto this is the cherry on top of an already good card.


As far as entering the battlefield triggers go, Kitesail Larcenist is up there in terms of what you want to be doing. What it ETBs, you get to turn one artifact or creature per player into a treasure until the Larcenist leaves play. Not only can this neutralize opposing threats it can also hit mana rocks, which is great.

Not to mention, it's got a pretty nice stat line as a 2/3 with flying and ward. And if your commander brings it back, it's a 4/4 Overall, this is a lot of bang for a three-mana investment. And there are certainly worse cards in the stock list.


This isn't a pirate, but it does mesh with a lot of what you want from the deck. It's great to mill over or grab as one of the three cards you get with Buried Aliveimage. Once it's in the yard, all of your creatures have flying, which is powerful. In my experience, the card can really turn games in your favor - It makes all of your attacks better, protects you from opposing attackers in the air, and helps draw cards off of Bident of Thassaimage and The Indomitableimage.


The stock list has quite a few ways to make treasure, even before the upgrades. Post upgrades, this has a real chance at winning you the game if you can cast and reanimate a Dockside Extortionistimage. It generates some serious value throughout the game and is a backup win con as well. So, this certainly has a spot in the deck.

The Take-Outs

I added 10 cards to the deck and therefore, have to take 10 cards out. Here are the cards that I found to be the most expendable.


This is not a bad card. But I took it out to make room for Dockside Extortionistimage, which is better in every regard. If you choose not to play Dockside, feel free to leave this card in the deck.

You May Also Like: EDH Ban List Explained - What's Banned In Commander And Why?


Azure Fleet Admiral doesn't fit the deck's theme, besides being a pirate. In fact, considering there are no other monarch cards in the deck, it really does you no favors. When you cast it and become the monarch, the "can’t be blocked by creatures the monarch controls" won't be relevant until someone has stolen the monarch from you.


A two-mana 2/2 that can't be blocked at most times is very meh. Yes, you can pay four mana and make another creature unable to be blocked at most times, but for a total of six mana, this is underwhelming too There are better cards to be played in this spot, for sure.


There are good things about this card. It will be hard to block, and when it connects, you get to do some stuff. It's ok. That said, we've got to cut something, and I'm okay with having this be one of the removed cards. Wonderimage will almost always be more impactful.


Angrath's Marauders has a good effect, but it's expensive to cast. Overall, the seven mana didn't quite feel worth the effect for me. And even throwing this into the graveyard and getting it back with my commander felt like too many hoops to jump through for what I was getting.


The Surveil on this is nice. I'll take every possible way to put cards in the graveyard for the stock list. But once you start upgrading, the Unmarked Graveimage, Buried Aliveimage, and Entombimage are much better. As far as the second ability on this, I never once used it while playing the deck. In general, I found better things to do every time this was in play.


I get the idea behind playing this card in the precon. Hypothetically, it's a way to fill your graveyard up with cards - If you've got a full seven cards and discard them, that's a full seven in the bin. But you're also giving your opponents a s ton of cards. Wheels can be great if you've got some way to skew things in your favor, but the precon doesn't. Most of the time, I was not in a spot where casting this felt good whatsoever. Let's fill our yard in ways that don't draw our opponents' cards.


Daring Saboteur is very cuttable. In a perfect world, you attack, connect, and loot; that's not too good to part with. And that's the best it's going to get. Unless you pump a ton of mana into it, it can easily be chump-blocked. We'll play Kitesail Larcenistimage here instead, and the Saboteur will not be missed.


I like this card quite a lot; it's just not in the 99 of this deck. My upgrades are geared toward the primary commander. And while Don Andres has some support in the deck post upgrades, we can play more impactful things.


Francisco is one of the new cards from Ahoy Mateys that I'm most excited about, in general. There are some cool things you can do if you partner him up with some of the other pirate commanders with the ability. But in this particular build, we can do better.

Upgrading The Mana Base

I had no problems with the mana base while playing this deck. And the upgrade cards are very similar in mana value and color to what I took out, so you're good to leave the mana base alone, even after making these changes. Still, I'll include my recommendations for land upgrades for those who want them.

First off, let's address land count. There are 37 lands in the stock list. Is that too many for the upgraded list? Probably. I think you could go down at least one, maybe two lands. That said, Grixis is not known for its ramp. So, I would cut lands cautiously. Personally, I left it right where it was and have no complaints. If you do want to cut a land, I recommend adding Deadeye Trackerimage in its place.

Here is a quick list of what I would change. If you aren't going all out on this, feel free to pick and choose what you swap.

First things first, we'll ditch Thriving Bluffimage, Thriving Isleimage, and Thriving Moorimage. In their stead, we'll play Blood Cryptimage, Steam Ventsimage, and Watery Grave]]. Next, I'd swap Smoldering Marshimage, Sunken Hollowimage, and Sulfar Falls with Luxuy Suite, Morphic Poolimage, and Training Centerimage. And in an ideal world, Crumbling Necropolisimage would be Xander's Loungeimage.

These changes remove a lot of the lands that are going to enter tapped.

Moving on, I'd swap out Evolving Wildsimage, Terramorphic Expanseimage, and a basic Island for fetch lands. In this case, Bloodstained MireimagePolluted Deltaimage, and Scalding Tarnimage. Exotic Orchardimage I would replace with Cavern of Soulsimage to make all the pirates in the deck immune to counterspells. And I'd swap Rogue's Passageimage with Phyrexian Towerimage since you could sac creatures with finality counters that were about to die for value.

And lastly, just my personal preference, I would swap one basic Mountian for a Spinerock Knollimage. The deck can throw around a ton of damage, and this can easily get you a free card. Plus, there's very little downside to playing this over a basic.


There you have it, my friends, my Ahoy Mateys precon upgrade guide. I've been playing my updated list and having fun with it. Overall, it's a cool build and is my new favorite way to play Pirates. I hope you've enjoyed reading this and found it useful. And always keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to do things in EDH.

If you wouldn't be caught dead playing this deck with Deadeye Trackerimage, Forerunner of the Coalitionimage, and Ragavan, Nimble Pilfererimage, by all means, do your thing. My guide simply shows what I did and serves as a blueprint for curious brewers. That said, let me know what you think of my list and what you'd change if anything.


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