Pirate Warrior Deck List Guide – Descent Post-Nerf – December 2019

Pirate Warrior Deck List Guide – Descent Post-Nerf – December 2019

Our Pirate Warrior deck list guide goes through the ins-and-outs of this aggro deck that has returned to the meta in Descent of Dragons! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype!

Introduction to Pirate Warrior

Arr, mateys, Pirate Warrior be back again!

Pirate Warrior is an aggro Warrior deck built around Pirate tribal synergies. It has been at the top of the game before during the era of Patches the Pirate, but eventually, all the main synergy cards rotated out of Standard format and the archetype ceased to exist because it did not have enough cards left to fill a deck. There have been other Aggro Warrior decks since, but none that make extensive use of Pirates in particular.

However, the Descent of Dragons expansion introduced several powerful aggro Pirate cards to the game and the archetype was renewed overnight with Sky RaiderParachute BrigandAncharrrSkybarge, and Hoard Pillager all entering the field at the same time. Suddenly, the deck had means to generate more Pirates, draw additional Pirate cards from the deck, summon Pirates for free, deal damage when summoning Pirates, and bring destroyed weapons back to hand. It’s a Piratefest out there!

Descent of Dragons Pirate Warrior is aggressive, fast, and strong. It may lack finesse and multiple strategies, and it can be countered by heavy control decks, but it is a good climbing deck with fast games, win or lose.

Pirate Warrior Deck List

Deck Import

Check out alternative versions of this deck on our Pirate Warrior archetype page!

Pirate Warrior Mulligan Strategy & Guide

You are an aggro deck. You control the pace, the horizontal, and the vertical. Mulligan aggressively for your main plays for the first turns. The rest will come from the deck.

VS Fast Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Ancharrr – The best card in the deck. Draw Pirates, and then draw some more Pirates.
  • Town Crier – One-drop that draws a card. That’s spectacular!
  • Sky Raider – One-drop that generates more resources.
  • Parachute Brigand – A free Pirate! It’s almost like Patches.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Livewire Lance – A good early weapon. Look for Ancharrr when you can, but consider keeping this if you already have other good cards and it completes your curve.

VS Slow Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Ancharrr – The best card in the deck. Draw Pirates, and then draw some more Pirates.
  • Town Crier – One-drop that draws a card. That’s spectacular!
  • Sky Raider – One-drop that generates more resources.
  • Parachute Brigand – A free Pirate! It’s almost like Patches.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Livewire Lance – A good early weapon. Look for Ancharrr when you can, but consider keeping this if you already have other good cards and it completes your curve.

Pirate Warrior Play Strategy

Pirate Warrior is one of the most aggressive decks in the game, and it is easy to pick up, but it still remains difficult to master. Do not be fooled into thinking that aggro decks are easy to play perfectly. They are easy to get good results with because simply hitting face is enough to win a bunch of games, but true mastery is as difficult as it is with control decks, just condensed into making just a few key decisions during a game.

The first rule of an aggro deck is that you want your opponent’s health to reach zero before your health reaches zero. Health is a resource, and in many aggro games, you are supposed to win one turn before you would lose. Always try to optimize your damage over multiple turns and plan your way towards lethal damage. How much burst do you have from hand? How much do you expect the opponent to heal? Does the opponent have taunt minions?

As a general rule, you want your minions to survive so that they can hit face again. Your main board control tools are your weapons. For every trade, ask yourself whether killing the opponent’s minion allows you to either push in more damage because you retain the board, or whether it gives you an additional turn to draw lethal. If you intend to use a minion to trade, consider whether it can go face instead and force the opponent to trade into it afterward. In practice, you often want to use your weapon to trade in the early game to give your minions additional turns to go face, and then switch over to going all face a little later in the game.

There are a lot of Rush minions in the current meta, and that may affect your decisions. For example, Faceless Corruptor can provide a huge swing turn at five mana, so you need to carefully consider whether you want the opponent to have any minions on the board going to their five-mana turn. Likewise, you can use your own Faceless Corruptor to gain the upper hand, if you have any minions alive. As a Warrior, you can even draw your Faceless Corruptor with Town Crier and proceed to immediately give the poor Town Crier a new perspective when you are at six mana.

There are lots of weapons in the deck, and deciding when and how to use them is one of the key strategic decisions you make in a Pirate Warrior game. Ancharrr is your best weapon, so you try to use it as often as you can. Usually, you want to start your turn with the Ancharrr swing, because the Pirates you draw can affect your decisions, and in case of Parachute Brigand, even get on the board for free.

However, sometimes you want to spare your weapons: First, you do not make your last attack when you need to swing for board control next turn and you will not have the mana to spend then to equip another weapon. Second, you do not make your last attack if you cannot set up a beneficial position with a weapon topdeck and you still have weapon buffs in the deck. More often than not, you will end up with some extra weapons in hand and you will hope that you would have used your weapons more often. Then again, sometimes all you get is one weapon and you need to make the most of it. In games like that, it is the last attack that you can wait with, other than that you are always attacking a minion or face.

VS Aggro Decks

Aggro mirrors are fascinating. They often turn into control-style games where both players avoid taking damage and attempt to gain board control. Your role in aggro games can vary a lot: ideally, you can get the beatdown role where you have a higher health total and can push face damage and force the opponent to trade because they cannot keep up in a face race.

If your opponent is playing a board-centric deck, it is also possible to win by gaining board control, because aggro decks generally lack the means to regain a lost board. Much depends on the amount of reach your opponent has: if they can deal a lot of damage from hand, you cannot afford to use your weapons too much for board control, or you risk getting burned down. Games against other Pirate Warriors or Zoo decks tend to be heavily board-focused in particular. In games against Face Hunter, I am more inclined to use my minions to trade to minimize the damage I take and to keep my board size small enough to not get punished by Unleash the Hounds.

VS Control Decks

Against control decks, you need to move in quickly before they stabilize. Deal as much damage as you can, as fast as you can, and play around their removal tools when you can afford to do so. For example, try to not play too much into the three points of area-of-effect damage from Crazed Netherwing from Warlock and try to create boards that cannot be fully wiped with Mass Hysteria against Priest. This is a continuous balancing act: How much you play into removal depends on your hand. If your hand is pretty dry, going all-in can give you the best chance to win, whereas if you have more resources, you can afford to hold some back to ensure success even if your board is wiped.

Skybarge is one of your best tools against control decks, because it is difficult to remove and it provides a constant stream of damage as long as you have Pirates to play. I still do not keep it in the mulligan because it is more important to hit the game running and get a minion on the board on the first turn, but whenever I find Skybarge, I try to make it as difficult to remove as possible.

Pirate Warrior Card Substitutions

Even aggro decks do not come in cheap nowadays, with the sole exception of Face Hunter. Pirate Warrior includes a number of Epic and Legendary cards, and all of them are among the most powerful cards in the deck, so replacing them is not easy. There are still some things you can do if you’re missing some of them though.

  • Captain Greenskin is straightforward to replace: you can put in another Upgrade! to get the same weapon buff effect, but you miss out on the associated body, so the deck will be somewhat weaker.
  • Leeroy Jenkins is the most iconic aggro Legendary to have ever existed in Hearthstone. A key finisher in many aggro and combo decks, and a Classic set card to boot, Leeroy is well worth crafting if you enjoy anything where burst plays a role. That said, a Reckless Rocketeer can serve as a substitute: it does fairly well in Pirate Warrior, because you do not run any combo effects where one mana makes all the difference.
  • Livewire Lance is where things start to get rough. Replacing it is difficult because there is no other card that gives you a weapon for board control or damage and additional resources to keep going. Fiery War Axe can help, but you risk running out of steam.
  • Town Crier is another card that is almost impossible to replace. It draws Rush minions from your deck while providing a body for early game or for a Faceless Corruptor to take over. The best I can suggest is Frightened Flunky, but this is getting to the point where playing the deck gets hard.
  • Ancharrr is the best card in the deck and the main reason for Pirate Warrior’s resurgence. Replacing it is not advisable.



Old Guardian

Ville "Old Guardian" Kilkku is a writer and video creator focused on analytic, educational Hearthstone, and building innovative Standard format decks. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/OldGuardian Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/old_guardian

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Leave a Reply


  1. PitLord
    December 28, 2019 at 4:15 am

    Why not southsea captain on the list?

  2. Llopis82
    December 27, 2019 at 4:21 am

    Usa highlander rogue

  3. Yehui
    December 26, 2019 at 9:48 am

    As a rogue player sometimes I’m wondering how does this pirate theme works. Pirates suppose to be the main tribe for rogue. Valeera is even their the captain. But NEVER in HS history there was a vible pirate deck. There always been murloc for Shaman and demon for warlock. What if I just don’t like to play deathrattle rogue? Nothing left for me in HS right now really.

    • Orasha
      December 26, 2019 at 12:38 pm

      That’s simply not true. Rogue has had powerful pirate decks as recently as Rise of Shadows. Before the Raiding Party and Preparation nerf it was one of the best decks. Odd Rogue also often used a pirate package with Southsea Captains, and in wild can continue to do so. Speaking of Wild, aggressive pirate rogue with Kingsbane also used to be one of the best aggro decks in the format, even better then pirate warrior! And many players have hit high legend with pirate rogue with necrium blade and apothecary shenanigans.

      • Tuscarora87
        December 26, 2019 at 7:08 pm


      • Yehui
        December 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

        Maybe I ranted a little too hard. But i still think Rise of Shadows rogue deck is called tempo rogue. Sure it had 7 pirate cards in it and best deck at the time but a lot less “pirateish” compare to patches era warrior then and current one now. I’m think of the core card in the deck, patches and acharr.

        But now i found Galakrond rogue is pretty nice. 🙂