Our budget Pirate Warrior deck list & guide for the Darkmoon Faire 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
Pirate Warrior used to be one of the most iconic builds for the class, but it hasn’t seen any competitive play in a while. It’s not like the deck is TERRIBLE right now, it actually has some solid synergies in Standard, it’s just not nearly good enough to see common meta play. However, unlike the Control Warrior builds which require multiple Epics & Legendaries, their main advantage is that they can be built on budget. And here we are.
When it comes to new, Darkmoon Faire cards used in this build – there’s exactly one. Sword Eater is actually really decent – the card is really powerful in general, but it gets some extra synergies here. Not only it’s a Pirate, but it also gives you a weapon, something you really like to have when playing this deck. But sadly – that’s it. No other cards that fit it were added in the expansion, making the full build… quite weak, honestly. If you really like the gameplay, I guess that it’s good enough to hit Legend with if you try really hard, but I wouldn’t invest too much into it. If you like Aggro decks in general, there are better options (like Aggro Demon Hunter or Highlander Hunter), and if you want to play Warrior, you should probably invest in one of the Control versions instead.
Budget Pirate Warrior Mulligan Guide
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Imprisoned Gan'arg – The deck is weapon-based, you really need them to deal damage and synergize with some of your cards. And Gan’arg guarantees a Fiery War Axe on T3, with a 2/2 body on top of that. It’s quite slow initially, but makes up for it when it wakes up.
- Sky Raider – A great 1-drop – it’s 1/2, it adds another card to your hand, and it has a Pirate tag for the sake of synergies. The best tempo move on T1 (but Gan’arg is still better long-term).
- Parachute Brigand – It’s a 0 mana 2/2, which you obviously love as an Aggro deck. You just need to drop a Pirate and it will come down for free – in particular, it’s amazing with T1 Sky Raider.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Bloodsail Raider – When you already have a good T1 play. Sadly, on Turn 2 it’s just a 2 mana 2/3, you prefer to drop it later after you already have a weapon equipped (e.g. a 5/3 for 2 is much more scary), BUT it’s better than skipping T2.
- Skybarge – Good keep vs Control decks. Sadly, it’s a bit too slow vs Aggro, since it’s a vanilla 2/5 unless you activate its effect (and trust me – it won’t survive). However, Control decks might not have an easy time removing a 5 health minion so early, and then you can really snowball with it.
Budget Pirate Warrior Play Strategy
Your gameplan is about as straightforward as it can be. You want to hit face. A lot. Yeah, that’s what you do most of the time. Sadly, your minions aren’t particularly powerful – most of the slower decks will have quite easy time getting rid of them and faster decks might win the board control. Skybarge is a card that can snowball your board – if you drop it, it sticks, and you follow up with a bunch of Pirates, then you will either clear your opponent’s board or at least deal a lot of face damage. Sadly, most of the time you have to expect that your board will be taken care of quite easily. That’s why you rely heavily on another type of cards – weapons.
You technically run only a single weapon – 2x Reaper's Scythe, but in reality Imprisoned Gan'arg adds two and Sword Eater adds two more. Those minions creating weapons are actually quite powerful because they also add some on-board tempo. Between all of that, you should easily be able to find one every game, and that’s when you really start rolling. Not only the weapons will help you tremendously with board control, but they will also make your other cards stronger. With a weapon equipped, Southsea Deckhand gains Charge, Bloodsail Raider is at least a 5/3 for 2, Dread Corsair costs 0-1 mana and – of course – you get super cheap draws with Cutting Class. Your Upgrade! cards are also no longer dead.
Talking about Upgrade – they might not seem like much, but they’re your main source of damage. Or rather – the weapons you upgrade. See, a regular 3/2 weapon deals “only” 6 damage – it’s good, but not outstanding. However, if you Upgrade it, it’s now a 4/3, which deals 12 damage in total. You doubled the total damage outcome for just 1 mana. Yes, it requires 1 extra turn to swing it, but it’s still adds a ton of damage. In fact, weapon damage is your main source of burn against slower decks – Pirate minions are just an addition to keep your opponent busy (because outside of some early game hits, they won’t survive long enough). However, if you keep swinging weapon every turn, you might put your opponent in a difficult situation very quickly. Now add some Charge damage (Southsea Deckhand / Kor'kron Elite) and you might have enough to kill your opponent before they can come back into the game.
The situation against Aggro decks is a little bit different. Here you can’t just rely on “burn” damage from weapons and Charge minions – you need to keep a board advantage, otherwise you will die long before you can kill them. So what that you deal 3-5 damage with weapons every turn if they swing for 10+ with a massive board. That’s why you want to keep board control with weapons and use minions to push face damage. Weapons have limited durability, minions can stick for much longer and the damage really does add up. Aggro decks don’t run enough removals to deal with your board if you manage to drop a few minions at the same time. Especially protect your key minions such as Skybarge or Southsea Captain. Reaper's Scythe is particularly good at board control thanks to the Spellburst effect. It’s one of the reasons why it’s played over Arcanite Reaper (which is 2 more damage, but for 1 more mana). If you combo it with a cheap spell (and you run a few of those) you can cleave your opponent’s board quite nicely. Comes really handy against decks that rely on minions to win. Against Control it won’t be as useful, since you will be mostly swinging face, but 8 damage for 4 ain’t too shabby.
You also run a bunch of card draw – Cutting Class is already solid with a 3 damage weapon, great with 4 and insane with 5 – drawing cards for 0 mana is something every deck loves, but Aggro in particular (since you can’t afford to spend too much mana on drawing). Then, you run 2x Voracious Reader – while the card sucks in the early game, Pirate Warrior runs out of cards quite quickly, making it a solid refill, even if it draws “just” 2. This, alongside some random Pirate generation from Sky Raider, should be enough to stay in the game for extended periods of time.
Future Card Replacements for Pirate Warrior
Like I’ve mentioned earlier, can’t say that I fully recommend going for a “meta” build, but if you decide to do it, you should keep in mind that it’s probably a T3 deck – something that you theoretically can climb with, but you will have a hard time against actual, powerful Tier 1 decks. There are a few major differences between a budget build and a full meta one. For one, you run Ancharrr, which is obviously an auto-include in Warrior decks playing Pirates. 3 mana to draw 2 cards is already okay baseline, but you’re also getting a 2/2 weapon AND you’re tutoring specific cards (which is often quite a useful thing). There’s also an even bigger weapon synergy package. Either Captain Greenskin and Doctor Krastinov extend your weapons for longer – they’re an amazing follow-up to Turn 4 Reaper's Scythe or Sword Eater. They also make your Cutting Class better, because higher Attack weapon = cheaper card draw. However, since the deck is already quite top heavy, a build with only one of them will do just fine. I prefer Krastinov, since it’s faster and has a chance to buff your weapon twice (the downside is that you can’t tutor it with Ancharrr, but you still have a bunch of great draws, so it’s not a problem).
Some builds also include Steeldancer, which is just a solid pile of stats – in the worst case scenario you will summon a random 2-drop, and 4/4 + a random 2-drop for 4 mana is okay-ish. But realistically, you will usually get a 3-drop or a 4-drop, which are way better and make the card quite scary. There are also some high rolls, like a 6-drop (after buffing Reaper’s Scythe twice), and that’s amazing, but will rarely happen. However, it’s not in the particular build I’ve featured mostly because it would get too heavy on 4 mana cards. If you want to run it, you can replace your Sword Eaters, Kor’krons or Greenskin/Krastinov – it might be something worth trying if you feel like experimenting more with the build.