Our Pirate Warrior deck list guide for the Ashes of Outland expansion will teach you how to play this budget list. This guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Budget Pirate Warrior
Back in the day, Pirate Warrior used to be one of the most scary and dominating builds in the meta, but between a few Pirate nerfs followed by a Fiery War Axe nerf, it finally disappeared from the ladder, and got relegated to a Wild-only build. At the time when it was in Standard, however, it was very powerful – amazing synergies between weapons and Pirates lead to some very, very fast starts and Turn 5-6 lethals. The deck packed so much damage that it was hard to stop even if you teched against it.
It made a slight comeback in Descent of Dragons, but it turned out that Galakrond version was simply better, so for the most part it was merely an off-meta build. Things are looking similar so far in Ashes of Outland. Pirate Warrior didn’t really get any powerful tools, although most of the ones it had last expansion are still there. There’s another Warrior build, which looks to be stronger – Egg Warrior (also called Tempo Warrior, Eggro Warrior etc.). At first I wanted to build it, but the budget version is missing so many key cards that it would work really badly. That’s why we’re stuck with the good, old Pirate Warrior for better or for worse.
Good news is that Egg Warrior is not the most expensive deck – it can be built within 6-7k Dust, so that’s what you should aim if you have a slightly higher budget.
Budget Pirate Warrior Mulligan Guide
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Sky Raider / Blazing Battlemage – Just like always, since you’re playing a fast deck, you want to open with a 1-drop. Those are your two best 1-drops. Sky Raider is a better of those two mostly because it adds something back to your hand, but also because it’s a Pirate and triggers the second card you want to keep…
- Corsair Cache – Weapons are important in Pirate Warrior, and Corsair Cache lets you draw one and buff it at the same time. If you draw Livewire Lance, you can play it on curve as a 3/3, making it way better (although it’s still no Ancharrr). Drawing Arcanite Reaper is worse right away, but it’s still a 6/3 weapon you now have in your hand.
- Parachute Brigand – Yep, I feel like Brigand is one of the reasons why this deck works well. You run so many Pirates that it will nearly always hit the board for free on T1 or T2, you need to be really unlucky for it to not happen. And, as you can imagine, 0 mana 2/2 in Aggro is very good.
- Bloodsail Raider – Your best standalone 2-drop, and while 2 mana 2/3 is not great (because you won’t have any weapon equipped yet if you drop it on curve), it’s definitely better than just Hero Powering, and Turn 2 is a weak spot for Pirate Warrior, so a 2/3 is still okay.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Skybarge – While I’m not a big fan of always keeping 3-drops in such an aggressive deck, I feel like Skybarge should be an exception. Anyone who played Wild knows how powerful can Ship's Cannon be, and Skybarge is a Standard version of that card. Still, having early game plays is more important, so keep it only if you already have a 1-drop.
Budget Pirate Warrior Play Strategy
Pirate Warrior is a pretty straightforward Aggro deck, so there’s not much to talk about when it comes to strategy. Just like with any other Aggro deck, you really want to curve out, get a solid early game board, push in some damage with it, and then finish the game with all sorts of instant burn damage. In case of Pirate Warrior, those are mostly minions and Charge minions.
While the deck doesn’t have that many “Pirate” synergies, it just happens that most of the Pirates are good cards you would want to play in your deck. The ones it has, however, are really good. First of all – 0 mana 2/2 is something every single Aggro deck would like to play (Parachute Brigand), and while it ain’t a Patches, it’s still one of the better cards in your deck. When you face Pirate Warrior, you want to preserve as much health as possible, and if Pirate Warrior can drop a solid board for cheap in the early game, you won’t likely have a way to stop everything. The second Pirate synergy is also amazing – Skybarge. While it’s a bit weaker than Ship's Cannon (mostly because of mana cost – you’d rather have the same effect on a 2-drop), it’s still amazing. Against slower decks, it will be used to push a lot of face damage. It’s not uncommon to get in 6-8 damage just because of its effect if they can’t remove it immediately (and honestly, at 5 health it’s pretty difficult to do it on curve). Then, in faster matchups, while a bit random, it can also help you with board control. If you drop it while you’re ahead, it pretty much seals the game. It’s basically like a Knife Juggler on steroids, but for Pirates.
Thanks to the weapons and Charge minions, Pirate Warrior can dish out a lot of damage from hand. Weapons are obviously the best way to do so. Starting with Livewire Lance – it’s not the most aggressive one, but its advantage is that it gives you Lackeys, which are very high tempo 1-drops. They might add extra damage, summon more minions or maybe give you some value (not optimal in this build, still but sometimes useful). And then Arcanite Reaper is an absolutely amazing way to close out games, especially if you combo it with Upgrade!. A 6/3 weapon is 18 damage over 3 turns. That’s like casting Fireball on your opponent every turn, 3 turns in a row, and all of that just for 6 mana. The downside is that weapons can get removed and blocked by Taunts. Weapon removal is not very common in the current meta, but Zephrys the Great is a bigger problem. It can disrupt your plans even if your opponent didn’t put any anti-weapon techs into his deck. Then there are Taunts. In theory, you could run Silence to go around them, but I don’t think that’s the way to play this deck. The issue is that Silence is useless in many matchups, and in the ones in which you would find it best (Resurrect Priest), opponent will have SO MANY Taunts that silencing a single one just doesn’t matter. Talking about weapons, you like them so much that you play 2x Hoard Pillager. While it’s only a vanilla 4/2 at the start, once your first weapon is gone, it’s a very efficient way to get them back while putting some pressure on the board. The best case scenario is getting Arcanite Reaper for 1 mana cheaper with a 4/2 body – that’s great!
While weapon damage will be your main source of burn, you also have some other ways to deal damage. First and foremost – Charge minions. [Kor'kron Elite will be able to deal some extra damage. Charge minions are good mostly because after dealing the damage they remain on the board, so your opponent has to clear them up, which takes time and resources, while you can smack them with something else. And then there’s Mortal Strike. 4 damage for 4 mana is not very good, but you play what you have. You will, of course, win some games thanks to activating a secondary effect, which adds +2 damage. It’s mostly relevant against faster decks, but even slower decks will have to kill you at one point, and unless they set you up to 13 health and then kill in one turn, you will often get into the 1-12 health range. One trick that might win you some games is that if you’re just out of range of 6 damage Mortal Strike and your opponent has Taunt, you can hit it with a weapon to get yourself down to 12 (or below) and then throw 6 damage at their face! I won a few games like that back in the day.
But, to put it simply, your strategy against slower decks is just to hit their face as hard as you can and try to kill them before their stabilize. Sometimes you need to think about playing around AoEs and stuff like that, but those matchups are really straightforward. Things get a bit more complicated against other fast decks, because if you just go face and lose board control as soon as Turn 3-4, they can snowball and still out damage you quite easily. That’s why in this case you might want to do some trading – ideally, you want to use your WEAPONS to control the board and your MINIONS to deal damage. Just be careful against other aggressive decks like Face Hunters – in this case sometimes it might be worth it to trade a minion and save some health (because they can also dish out a lot of damage), but it should be judged case by case.
Future Card Replacements for Pirate Warrior
There are some ways to improve this Pirate Warrior deck. You can add a few Legendaries and Epics that will make your build stronger. Keep in mind that even a full version is not a very strong meta deck – it’s maybe Tier 3, so I feel like there are better ways to spend your Dust. Still, here are the cards in case you do want to upgrade it:
- 2x Bomb Wrangler – A great 3-drop from Galakrond’s Awakening adventure. Even if it dies in just one hit, it leaves a Boom Bot behind, which is obviously random, but still great. And since it often takes 2 hits to die in the early game, it can be really annoying to deal with.
- 2x Southsea Captain – In the budget version, keeping to the 2x Epic limit, I had to pick between Livewire Lances and Captains and I feel like Lances are just better card to have (especially since they are also used in other Warrior builds). Still, Captains are good in Pirate builds (obviously).
- 1x Ancharrr – It was one of the strongest cards Warrior has ever got, but it was quickly nerfed from 3 to 2 Durability (for a good reason). Even as a 2/2, it’s still great – 3 mana to draw 2 cards is already a solid card (see Arcane Intellect), and you add a 2/2 weapon to that.
- 1x Captain Greenskin – It’s like an Upgrade! on a 5/4 body – it adds even more damage by buffing weapons, and between 4-5 weapons and Hoard Pillagers, you should have enough in your deck to have it up before playing Greenskin.
And here are the flex slots in your deck:
However, to be completely honest, I would not invest too much in this deck and instead build towards an Egg Warrior deck I’ve mentioned in the introduction. Here’s an example build you can work towards: