We’re a week into our adventures in Ixalan, and opinions have been sailing pretty high. The tribal synergies don’t quite have the super high payoffs we were expecting, but the flavor and mechanics of many cards have been worthwhile. Plus, crashing in with a Charging Monstrosaur on turn 4 feels just as marvelous as I expected it to.

Since last week, I’m two Limited decks deep and have a bundle’s worth of cards in my collection. I’ve yet to run a Dinosaur deck in Limited, and since most of my friends are making one for Constructed play, I’ve shifted gears and instead decided to make something fun with Pirates instead.

For those who are getting into Magic: The Gathering, Bundles are a pretty decent way to get yourself enough booster packs to play a few Limited games, and you get a handful of other goodies as well. You get…

  • 10 booster packs
  • a d20 spindown dice for life totals
  • a book with information on the story and visual spoilers of all of the cards
  • 80 land cards, ten of each color, enough to make a Limited Deck
  • deck boxes
  • an instruction manual and rule reminder card

Bundles are also a solid way to score a few Mythic Rare cards. Generally, a Booster Box of 36 packs can land you usually between four to six of the rarest cards in the set. However, these Bundle packs ignore this ratio, meaning you can get anywhere from 10 to zero… I got zero, just so you know.

And for the decks…

My first Limited experience was in a draft with eleven people! It’s not the standard eight that usually attends these kinds of events, but with so many cards flying around the table, I didn’t mind one bit. The only real difference was expecting fewer cards to wheel around the table.

As for my deck, I opened an incredibly weak first pack with very little to build off of, and I simply rare-drafted one of the most infuriating cards in the set… Revel in Riches. It’s a very mediocre build-around card with a huge payoff of winning the game if you meet the requirement of ten treasures. I got passed a Boneyard Parley in my second pack, and I started focusing more on Black… only to find yet another Revel in Riches in my fourth pack.

I had two, and it had to be done. No getting around it.

Following those two picks, I scooped up a lot of Treasure-generating pirates, a lot of Black removal, Blue Flyers, graveyard shenanigans, and counterspells for an insane control deck. My plan was not to win through typical means and get at least one win off of Revel in Riches. The closest I got was nine treasure before my enchantment got destroyed by a stupid Demystify.

I ended up with Blue/Black Pirates, and I splashed Red after nabbing a Charging Monstrosaur and a Lightning Strike. Revel in Riches isn’t exactly the best win condition, so the best uncommons in the set helped me get over the hump.

Overall, I went 2-3 on the day and had a match record of 6-7. Not great, but I just didn’t have enough win conditions in the deck, especially when dealing with 4/4 flyers like Air Elemental and Deathless Ancient. Ixalli’s Diviner is also a morbidly annoying card to deal with once it becomes a 1/4 thanks to Explore. None of my Pirates could get through her, and my Lightning Strike proved utterly useless against one of them, let alone two.

I also, regrettably, boarded out both of the Revel in Riches since they weren’t doing much. I went 2-0 early in the day and had perhaps a bit too much confidence in the deck to win without it them. However, I went 0-3 after rotating them out and had a few long games that Revel in Riches could have easily won me.

In the end, Boneyard Parley nabbed me a Burning Sun’s Avatar, and I cast Charging Monstrosaur on turn-4 in one game and three separate times in another. Both were solid MVPs, but the lesson here is not to abandon your gameplan. I built around Revel and Riches and should have kept at least one of them in the deck.

My other Limited deck was made at a smaller Sealed party, and there was no question what I intended to build around when I opened my six packs. Vamps! Totally Vamps! My deck included two Rare vampires, both of which are pretty solid, and a handful of token generators and other Uncommon and solid Common Vampires.

No getting around it, I landed a handful of great vampire cards and another solid Black Rare with Vraska’s Contempt. This deck dominated as you might suspect, taking my life total beyond the reach of my opponent with Vampire tokens and other lifelink cards, then jamming in with cheap, inexpensive creatures. One dimensional, but not overly fun. The most interesting thing the deck did was trade my Deathless Ancient for an Air Elemental only to bring it back to my hand the next turn.


As for other cards in the pool, Green was pretty solid, and I actually opened Gishath in the first pack. However, my Green and White Dinosaurs quickly dried up except for a triplet of Colossal Dreadmaws, and my Red options from any tribe were exceptionally awful. Sorry Gishath, maybe some other day.

Blue didn’t have too much outside of my own Air Elemental, but I’ve really learned to love Siren Lookout, which turned up in both events. Explore on a flying creature is pushing the bounds of what’s acceptable.

While it was fun to win with the Vampire deck, I didn’t especially enjoy playing it. I had a lot more fun going 2-3 with the Pirates deck, and this is why my eyes are on the theme for a Standard deck. The synergies are a lot of fun, the graveyard exploits kept me in a few games a lot longer than I should have been, and I only see upside for Pirates once Rivals of Ixalan comes out later this winter.

Argh, matey! We’re in for a good autumn with the different tribes of Ixalan.