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MTG pirates are all about stealing, swashbuckling, and heaps of Treasure. They’re not the strongest creature type around these days, but pirate decks can still be fun, flavorful, and score you a few wins. There are plenty of reasons to play pirates – and if you’re looking to do just that, we can recommend the best MTG pirate cards.

Before we set sail with this particular MTG creature type, here are a few more Magic: The Gathering guides that might shiver your timbers. We can tell you about each MTG set, as well as the new ones coming up on the MTG release schedule. And for digital trading card game players, we can point you to the latest MTG Arena decks and MTG Arena codes.

The best MTG pirate card overall.

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Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer specifications:

First set Modern Horizons 2
Mana cost 1R
Legal formats Modern, Vintage, Commander
Reasons to buy

  • Cheap mana cost
  • Hugely powerful Dash ability
  • Source of mana and messes with your opponent’s deck
Reasons to avoid

  • A fairly expensive single
  • Not as useful in Commander decks

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is so explosively powerful that the card had to be banned in the Legacy and Historic MTG formats. Whenever this 2/1 creature deals combat damage to a player, you can create a Treasure token and exile the top card of that player’s library. Until the end of your turn, you can cast that card – a nice cheeky theft by the Monkey Pirate.

Ragavan’s Dash ability adds even more spice to the mix. For two mana (1C, 1R) you can give the card Haste and return it to your hand at the start of the next end step. It’s cheap, swift, and can pinch some powerful spells from your opponents.

Modern and Vintage players will find a lot to love here – though Ragavan is slightly less impressive in Commander games. He’s much easier to block, and there are less practical spells to cast from the top of your opponent’s library.

The best Commander for your MTG pirates deck.

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Admiral Beckett Brass specifications:

First set Ixalan
Mana cost 1C, 1U, 1B, 1R
Legal formats Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Commander, Historic, Explorer
Reasons to buy

  • A budget-friendly Commander
  • Lots of pirate synergy
  • Covers all the core pirate colors
Reasons to avoid

  • Three toughness makes the card vulnerable
  • May struggle in more competitive Commander games

When Admiral Beckett Brass is on the board, every other pirate under your control gets +1/+1. That’s a neat little feature that can buff everything else in your deck. Even better is the card’s second ability: at the start of your end step, you gain control of a non-land permanent controlled by a player who was dealt combat damage by three or more pirates on this turn. Beat down your foes, and then steal their cards – glorious.

Thanks to a handy spread of MTG colors and this general synergy, Admiral Beckett Brass is one of the most popular MTG Commanders for pirate decks. A word of warning, though. She may command the fleet, but Admiral Beckett Brass may struggle in competitive games. A lack of impressive combos or general abilities, plus a puny 3/3 for power and toughness, make her better suited to casual games.

The most valuable MTG pirates card.

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Dockside Extortionist specifications:

First set Double Masters 2022
Mana cost 1C, 1R
Legal formats Legacy, Vintage, Commander
Reasons to buy

  • Hugely popular for competitive Commander decks
  • Great source of mana for ramp
  • Low mana cost to play
Reasons to avoid

  • Costs an awful lot of money
  • Might make you some enemies at the table

Dockside Extortionist is a pirate that Commander players have a lot of strong feelings about. Some despise it, claiming it’s a prime contender for the MTG banlist. Others adore it and have a copy in every Treasure-focused MTG Commander deck they build. Whatever you think of it, Dockside Extortionist is a pirate card of immense power.

When it enters the battlefield, this two-drop creature creates Treasure tokens equal to the number of artifacts or enchantments your opponents control. When you’re playing against multiple opponents, this is a handy way to generate mana. Even better if they’re playing an artifact or enchantment heavy deck.

The best multicolored MTG pirate card.

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Hostage Taker specifications:

First set Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander
Mana cost 2C, 1U, 1B
Legal formats Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Commander, Historic, Explorer
Reasons to buy

  • Handy for removal and stealing opponent’s cards
  • A fairly budget-friendly single
Reasons to avoid

  • Weak power and toughness make the card vulnerable

So far, there’s been one clear trend among the best pirate cards: most of them love stealing. Hostage Taker is another textbook example of this. When the card enters the battlefield, you can exile an artifact or creature until Hostage Taker leaves the battlefield. While the card is in exile, you can also cast that card, using any mana type you like to do so.

Hostage Taker only has three toughness, so chances are it’ll be taken out of play before you can complete your grand theft. But under the right circumstances, it’s a handy way to mess with the state of the battlefield.

The best black MTG pirates card.

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Dire Fleet Poisoner specifications:

First set Rivals of Ixalan
Mana cost 1C, 1B
Legal formats Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Commander, Historic, Explorer
Reasons to buy

  • Flash and Deathtouch make it an excellent blocker
  • Makes your pirates better at attacking
  • Cheap to play (and buy)
Reasons to avoid

  • Not overly impressive in high-power formats

Dire Fleet Poisoner is one of the best examples of what pirates can do with a bit of black mana. It’s a two-mana 2/2 creature that’s designed to help you attack and defend. The card comes with Flash and Deathtouch, meaning you can sub it in as a surprise blocker and take out an opponent’s creature. Alternatively, you can Flash it in while attacking, and it’ll give another attacking pirate +1/+1 and Deathtouch until the end of the turn.

Dire Fleet Poisoner offers some nice removal options and fun plays, but it’s not too much of a threat in high-power formats. Still, if you’re building a casual pirate deck with black mana, we consider it a must-have.

Wizards of the Coast art of MTG pirate, Admiral Beckett Brass

Want to check out more creature types? Here are the best MTG Slivers, MTG Vampires, and MTG Goblins.