Tuesday Night Takeover

Merchant Raiders Pirates Pauper EDH

“Come with me, my pirate friend. To a land far away from the ice and snow.”

Art:Merchant Raiders by Deruchenko Alexander

Merchant Raiders is a card I have wanted to feature on the site since they were spoiled. This card is a ton of fun! While being in Mono-Blue has its constraints, it is still a strong “control” style deck with many cards that will have your opponents asking to read your cards. We are a control-deck that aims to lock down our opponent’s boards through our commander and chip in with damage. Since many of our pirates are not the strongest in combat, we have some equipment to help them hit much harder. Combine that with blue staples like draw and counterspells, and we have a recipe for fun. Without further adieu, let’s get it!

The Deck:

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Merchant Raiders Pirates!

Commander (1)
Merchant Raiders

Creatures (26)
Cloud Pirates
Kitesail Corsair
Shipwreck Looter
Shipwreck Sentry
Silver Myr
Talas Explorer
Burdened Aerialist
Captain of Umbar
Reef Pirates
Rishadan Airship
Sailor of Means
Siren Lookout
Trove Tracker
Azure Fleet Admiral
Deadeye Rig-Hauler
Elgaud Shieldmate
Kitesail Skirmisher
Littjara Kinseekers
Storm Sculptor
Talas Air Ship
Talas Lookout
Waylaying Pirates
Prosperous Pirates
Staunch Throneguard
Havengul Skaab
Mirrorshell Crab

Instants (13)
Arcane Denial
Arrester’s Admonition
Brackish Blunder
Depths of Desire
Essence Scatter
Ray of Command
Siren’s Ruse
Spell Pierce
Urza’s Rebuff

Sorceries (9)
Artful Dodge
Deep Analysis
Distant Melody
Lórien Revealed
Pirate’s Prize
Theft of Dreams

Artifacts (11)
Prying Blade
Amorphous Axe
Goggles of Night
Pirate Hat
Sky Diamond
Spare Supplies
Wedding Invitation
Pirate’s Cutlass
Raiders’ Karve
Whispersilk Cloak

Enchantments (5)
Aqueous Form
Sea Legs
Witness Protection
Kasmina’s Transmutation
Fall from Favor
Lands (35)
Command Tower
Desert of the Mindful
Evolving Wilds
Hidden Cataract
24 Island
Lonely Sandbar
Mystic Sanctuary
Path of Ancestry
Skyline Cascade
Terramorphic Expanse
The Surgical Bay
Tocasia’s Dig Site

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Why Merchant Raiders?

Merchant Raiders is what makes our deck work in a lot of ways. Tapping down a creature and tapping it until Merchant Raiders leaves is a potent ability that helps us slow down and control the game. While we don’t have a ton of ramp, Merchant Raiders provides a ton of value throughout the game and is a permanent we always want on the battlefield. We have a few strong counterspells that allow us to protect Merchant Raiders, which is our number one permanent to protect.

Deck Overview:

This section contains information about cards in the deck and how they function within the deck! I also highlighted some of my favorite cards in the deck!


There are some real classic cards within our creature package! With old-school cards like Cloud Pirates, Reef Pirates and Talas Explorer will have you feeling like we are playing some old-school MTG. The commonality within our creature package is that nearly all of them are pirates, which is a flavorful win and a great way to trigger our commander. Deadeye Rig-Hauler is an excellent way to bounce an opponent’s creatures or one of ours, depending on the situation. Kitesail Skirmisher is a strong creature that can also help make another creature more evasive in combat. Prosperous Pirates is a strong mana producer and a 3/4 creature for only five mana, which is an excellent creature for our deck. We also have a bunch of strong non-pirate creatures like Havengul Skaab, Littjara Kinseekers, and Storm Sculptor which are all strong supporting cards that help to further the gameplan.


We have some strong counterspells like the namesake Counterspell as well as Arcane Denial and Essence Scatter. These are strong in various situations, whether we protect merchant raiders or counter some shenanigans our opponents are doing. They are all strong ways to protect us and our board. We tap down many creatures, so cards like Ray of Command allow us to take our opponent’s best creature and swing with them for a turn. Siren's Ruse is a powerful protection spell that often gets us a card; whether we use it as a protection spell or for re-ETB’ing this card is vital. Urza's Rebuff is a little expensive for a counterspell, but having the option to tap down two creatures makes this card strong in the deck.


We have a lot of card draw within our sorcery package. One of the best cards that interacts perfectly with Merchant Raiders is Theft of Dreams, which can give us a crazy amount of card draw. We also have format staples like Ponder, Preordain and Lórien Revealed which are all strong pieces of card draw for the deck. If we have a buffed-up creature Artful Dodge is a cheap way to guarantee some damage; being able to flashback it later is also solid. Ravenform is a solid piece of removal we can foretell; in testing, I found that I rarely did this and just held it for a turn when a key commander or creature was causing havoc.


We don’t have many high-value cards in the deck, so we only have one mana rock, Sky Diamond, which can help us get ahead but is unnecessary within the deck to function. We have a ton of equipment to help us close out games, as many of our pirates are not the biggest attackers. Some of my favorite equipment include Bonesplitter, Whispersilk Cloak, and Prying Blade. These cards are great ways to improve some of our unremarkable creatures and help end games quickly. Raiders' Karve is a flavorful card for the deck and a great way to get some extra mana and a strong attacker. We also have Spare Supplies, a solid supplemental card draw for the deck. Pirate's Cutlass does not have a lot of stats for three mana, but since we can “auto” equip it to one of our many pirates, it is pretty strong in the deck.


We have a lot of removal in our enchantment package; while most of it is “soft-removal,” it can be strong enough to leave the opponent with a tapped-down or debuffed creature. Witness Protection and Kasmina's Transmutation are strong enchantments that can be highly effective against an opponent’s commander or any essential creature. We can effectively remove all value from those creatures, whether we are opening them to die quickly through removal or combat. Fall from Favor is basically a second version of Merchant Raiders, but since we become the monarch, it provides a ton of upside for only three mana. Aqueous Form is a cheap way to get in free hits every turn; with this equipped on a bigger creature, we can put a fast clock on our opponents. Sea Legs is a flavorful card that can be used offensively and defensively; in either application, this card is powerful for only one mana.

Land Base:

We have a simple land base because we are in Mono-Blue. We mostly have a ton of islands, but we do have a strong supporting cast as well. I have loved the new “Hidden” lands in PEDH, and Hidden Cataract is a mighty strong way to get some free cards. We also have classic drawlands like The Surgical Bay and Desert of the Mindful, which can be a great way to grab an extra card. We have a ton of instants and sorceries in the deck, so Mystic Sanctuary is an excellent piece of recursion for critical spells. I have included Tocasia's Dig Site in almost every PEDH deck lately. Being able to surveil is a powerful way to cycle through the deck and eliminate potentially bad draws. We have a simple land base, but I found it effective through testing.

Strengths of the Deck:

  • Our commander allows us to control our opponent’s boards
  • A ton of card draw
  • A decent amount of removal

Weaknesses of the Deck:

  • General weaknesses that come with being in Mono-Blue
  • Weak to creature hate
  • Weak to aggressive strategies as our board can be quite weak in the early game

Deck Stats:

Sample Hands:

Main Win Conditions:

There are no infinite combos or loops in the deck. We typically win by attacking since we can control our opponent’s boards through Merchant Raiders trigger. Since many of our pirates are not the biggest and best in combat, we have strong and on-flavor equipment like Pirate's Cutlass and Pirate Hat. Controlling the board with our commander and consistently getting in and all of our buffs makes it so we have a pretty easy path to victory in many games.


Merchant Raiders is a fun commander with only one other deck on Moxfield! I think this is one of the strongest commanders from Lost Caverns of Ixalan. While this deck has the general weaknesses of being in Mono-Blue, it is still fun, flavorful, and effective. Merchant Raiders allows us to play more of a “control” style game plan, enabling us to draw games out and slow down our opponent’s boards. We are effective against mid-range decks or anything that isn’t too fast or slow! Thanks for reading to the end and for all your support!