Competitive Commander (cEDH) Deck Guide: Temur Pirates

Casting Pirates has never looked so good.

Temur Pirates (or commonly known as Temur Malcolm & Tana) is a creature-combo cEDH deck that often looks to be the most aggressive deck at the table, beat out only by the most all-in of Ad Nauseam decks. It is my favorite competitive Commander deck to play, and I have gotten a Top 16 finish in several tournaments with it. It’s an incredibly flexible list that uses a range of powerful spells and creatures. Let’s get into the details, including how to win, the must-play cards, what to look for in mulligans, and more.

The Temur Pirates Commanders

Temur Pirates is headed up by Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator with Tana, the Bloodsower, and they combine to give us the titular Temur color combination. But what do these two Commanders do for us competitively?

Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator (Foil Etched)

Commander Legends

Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator (Foil Etched) - Commander Legends - Magic: The Gathering

Malcolm brings a powerful value engine and half of a two-card game-winning combo to our command zone. Additionally, thanks to his affordable mana cost, he is often in play turn two at the latest. Once he’s out, he lets us chip down opponent’s life totals while also giving us a Treasure token, an ability that is severely underestimated by many opponents when it comes to competitive Commander games.

Tana, the Bloodsower (Foil Etched)

Commander Legends

Tana, the Bloodsower (Foil Etched) - Commander Legends - Magic: The Gathering

Tana, on the other hand. Tana, the Bloodsower is very good at adding Red and Green to our strategy. In the longer competitive Commander games, she can slowly increase your clock on opponents and, in a pinch, can be turned into one of your win pieces. But that is where the benefits begin and end — my kingdom for a more practical Gruul partner.


Temur Pirates

Market Price:$5405.95

Maindeck, 98 cards

Sortsort deckCommander (2)

  • 1Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator
  • 1Tana, the Bloodsower

Creature (21)

  • 1Allosaurus Shepherd
  • 1Birds of Paradise
  • 1Corridor Monitor
  • 1Dockside Extortionist
  • 1Elvish Mystic
  • 1Elvish Spirit Guide
  • 1Fyndhorn Elves
  • 1Glint-Horn Buccaneer
  • 1Imperial Recruiter
  • 1Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
  • 1Llanowar Elves
  • 1Phantasmal Image
  • 1Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  • 1Simian Spirit Guide
  • 1Snapcaster Mage
  • 1Spellseeker
  • 1Spellskite
  • 1Tinder Wall
  • 1Toski, Bearer of Secrets
  • 1Vexing Shusher
  • 1Wandering Archaic

Sorcery (10)

  • 1Bring to Light
  • 1Eldritch Evolution
  • 1Finale of Devastation
  • 1Gamble
  • 1Gitaxian Probe
  • 1Jeska’s Will
  • 1Last Chance
  • 1Neoform
  • 1Rite of Flame
  • 1Warrior’s Oath

Instant (27)

  • 1Alchemist’s Retrieval
  • 1An Offer You Can’t Refuse
  • 1Autumn’s Veil
  • 1Chain of Vapor
  • 1Chord of Calling
  • 1Cyclonic Rift
  • 1Daze
  • 1Deflecting Swat
  • 1Delay
  • 1Dispel
  • 1Fierce Guardianship
  • 1Final Fortune
  • 1Flusterstorm
  • 1Force of Will
  • 1Lightning Bolt
  • 1March of Swirling Mist
  • 1Mental Misstep
  • 1Mindbreak Trap
  • 1Muddle the Mixture
  • 1Mystical Tutor
  • 1Noxious Revival
  • 1Pact of Negation
  • 1Snap
  • 1Spell Pierce
  • 1Swan Song
  • 1Veil of Summer
  • 1Worldly Tutor

Artifact (9)

  • 1Arcane Signet
  • 1Birthing Pod
  • 1Chrome Mox
  • 1Jeweled Lotus
  • 1Lotus Petal
  • 1Mana Crypt
  • 1Mana Vault
  • 1Mox Diamond
  • 1Sol Ring

Enchantment (4)

  • 1Mystic Remora
  • 1Rhystic Study
  • 1Survival of the Fittest
  • 1Sylvan Library

Land (27)

  • 1Ancient Tomb
  • 1Arid Mesa
  • 1Breeding Pool
  • 1City of Brass
  • 1City of Traitors
  • 1Command Tower
  • 1Exotic Orchard
  • 1Flooded Strand
  • 1Gaea’s Cradle
  • 1Gemstone Caverns
  • 1Mana Confluence
  • 1Misty Rainforest
  • 1Otawara, Soaring City
  • 1Polluted Delta
  • 1Rejuvenating Springs
  • 1Scalding Tarn
  • 1Spire Garden
  • 1Steam Vents
  • 1Stomping Ground
  • 1Taiga
  • 1Training Center
  • 1Tropical Island
  • 1Verdant Catacombs
  • 1Volcanic Island
  • 1Waterlogged Grove
  • 1Windswept Heath
  • 1Wooded Foothills

How to Win With Temur Pirates

Glint-Horn Buccaneer
Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator

There are two main combo win conditions present in this deck, Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator and Glint-Horn Buccaneer or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Corridor Monitor. The former, Malcolm and Glint-Horn Buccaneer, is definitely the primary plan due to the ease of Malcolm being accessible in the command zone. But, how does this combo work?

With Malcolm and Glint-Horn both on the battlefield, we need to move to combat. Then, once Glint-Horn has been presented as an attacker, we can pay a generic mana and a Red, along with discarding a card, to activate Glint-Horn’s ability, which draws a card. Since we discarded a card, Glint-Horn’s other ability will trigger, dealing a damage to each of our opponents. Then, of course, since this damage comes from a pirate, Malcolm will give us a Treasure token for each opponent damaged this way. Since this usually gives us three Treasure tokens, we can continue with this loop until all of our opponents are dead.

There are two things to watch out for with this combo. Since we rely on our opponents being alive to get Treasure tokens from them, you can get into awkward life total situations that may allow you to kill only two of your opponents, leaving one behind. Now, this may be beneficial to you, depending on the game. I’ll leave that to your discretion. However, most of the time, you’ll probably want to try to pivot towards the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo. The other thing to watch for is end-of-combat comboing potential. Many players assume that once they have attacked, blockers have been declared, and the damage is done, combat is over, and Glint-Horn is not an attacker. This is incorrect as after combat damage has been dealt, usually netting you two Treasure tokens due to Malcolm and Glint Horn hitting opponents, there is another round of priority in which our favorite Minotaur Pirate is still technically attacking, allowing you to cash in any resources gained throughout combat to initiate your combo.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Market Price: $10.53

Corridor Monitor

Our other main win-con is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Corridor Monitor. This one is simple — cast Kiki, cast Corridor Monitor then activate Kiki, making a hasty copy of Corridor Monitor, which untaps Kiki-Jiki when it enters the battlefield. Repeat until you have an arbitrarily large amount of Corridor Monitors, and then kill your opponents in combat. This combo being present in the deck offers a solid backup plan that is still easily assembled through our mass of creature-based tutors such as Imperial Recruiter. The shared downside to both of these combos is the deck’s main weakness. To assemble either of them and successfully win the game, you do most of your work in the first main phase (unless through some miracle you untap with them in play). This lessens options for you, neglects resources you could get through the combat step, and gives your opponent plenty of time to interact with you as you move through phases.

Niv-Mizzet, Parun

In the past, my list has also been on two other main combo lines, Dualcaster Mage plus Twinflame, and Niv-Mizzet, Parun plus Curiosity effects. However, over time, I came to find weaknesses in them that personally made me cut them. For the Dualcaster Mage combination, we suffered the same issues with pre-combat assembly and the deck also struggled to find Twinflame quickly. Similarly, while Niv-Mizzet Parun is a powerful engine independently, trying to use him as a win condition is difficult when your deck can not consistently search up the Curiosity effect needed to go infinite with him. If you’re feeling short on win opportunities, I’d recommend finding room for Niv-Mizzet and Keen Sense.

The Staples of Temur Pirates

Mystic Remora (Borderless)
Sylvan Library (Borderless)

Market Price: $29.03

Rhystic Study

Market Price: $40.98

Since we’re a highly competitive Commander strategy, there’s a range of cards we have to play. Rhystic Study and Mystic Remora give us explosive card draw at any point in the game. Sylvan Library does a pale imitation but also falls into the must-play territory, in my opinion, due to our lack of draw in the command zone. Equally important is our selection of busted mana rocks — Arcane Signet, Chrome Mox, Jeweled Lotus, Lotus Petal, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Mox Diamond, and, of course, Sol Ring. If you want, you can certainly find room for one to three of your on-color Talismans as well. We round out our “entirely not-fair mana acceleration” package with both Elvish Spirit Guide and Simian Spirit Guide. Not only do these allow us to power out Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator as early as turn one, but they also quickly let us cast all of our other spells ahead of schedule.

Elvish Spirit Guide (Borderless)
Mana Crypt

Market Price: $324.51

Chrome Mox

Market Price: $77.50

Also included are a suite of cards that grab Glint-Horn Buccaneer (or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker) into our hand or in play quickly, specifically Worldly Tutor, Eldritch Evolution, Neoform, Survival of the Fittest, Birthing Pod, and Finale of Devastation (which also happens to be able to get your Glint-Horn from the graveyard). Not forgetting Imperial Recruiter, while more expensive and theoretically less flexible, tutors every creature that matters out of our deck, from Dockside Extortionist to Kiki-Jiki.

An Offer You Can't Refuse
Survival of the Fittest

Market Price: $228.23


Also in the must-play category is the every-present cEDH counterspell suite — An Offer You Can’t Refuse, Dispel, Fierce Guardianship, Flusterstorm, Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Mindbreak Trap, Pact of Negation, and Swan Song. These Blue instants are your true ride-or-dies as they’ll keep you alive and they’ll protect your wins.

Veil of Summer
Force of Will (Borderless)

Market Price: $61.86

Mindbreak Trap

Market Price: $49.00

Speaking of protecting your wins, the last two are true must-plays in this list, in my opinion, are Autumn’s Veil and Veil of Summer. These spells use Green mana (which you will often have extra of) to protect your creatures and spells against some of its most common threats, making them pseudo-counterspells for one mana.

The Temur Pirate Mana Base

Volcanic Island

Market Price: $980.97

Ancient Tomb

Market Price: $86.23

City of Traitors

Market Price: $326.29

There isn’t much to write home about in this mana base. It’s a relatively typical cEDH Temur configuration. Be careful about fetching in the early turns, as you may need to make any combination of double Blue, double Green, or double Red by turn three to win the game and protect said win (this is more likely than you think). Aim to get Tropical Island first, followed by Volcanic Island for most hands, especially ones that rely on a mana-producing creature. If you’re casting Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator on turn one and want to cast Glint-Horn Buccaneer from hand, Volcanic Island into Taiga is usually better. Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors are two of our most important lands in helping cast an early Malcolm, but they can get you in trouble for color requirements if you’re not careful.

The main utility land in the current list is Otawara, Soaring City. If I were to go to twenty-eight total lands in my list (which I personally wish to do), I would add Boseiju, Who Endures as another land, without a doubt.

How to Play With Temur Pirates

Going past the nitty gritty of the cards in the list, how should you be looking to pilot this Temur Pirate strategy? I’ll expound on this below.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets (Showcase)
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer (Borderless)

Market Price: $69.46


Market Price: $82.83

If I had any advice to pass on about how to play this deck, it is that, unless you are playing against Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh & Silas Renn, Seeker Adept featuring Ad Nauseum, you are likely the most aggressive deck at the table. Ideally, you are looking to win as quickly as possible while your opponents are still developing their board states, lessening the amount of interaction they have available to them. Even our mana creatures, such as Fyndhorn Elves, help us get there quickly, as we can win by spending as little as six mana. The broad suite of efficient tutors and ways to cheat Glint-Horn, Bucanner into play brought by our Green color identity make this easier than it appears, and running three Final Fortune-style effects also gives us the option of stealing turn equity from our opponents to win at the right time. We are also one of very few decks that happen to have a primary combo in the command zone, with the advantage of our relevant Commander also being castable off Jeweled Lotus alone.

Another thing, If you see a route to casting Glint-Horn Bucanner and winning the game immediately, take the line. Eldritch Evolution your mana creature into it. Use Birthing Pod to turn a one drop into Corridor Monitor which untaps Pod and then turns into Glinthorn.

Worldly Tutor (Borderless)

Market Price: $11.52

Wandering Archaic (Extended Art)
Eldritch Evolution

Market Price: $12.42

However, if Glinthorn isn’t eminently available, what should you be looking to do? Pirates can play a pretty solid midrange strategy, grinding mana advantage through mana creatures and Malcolm triggers. Focus on assembling one of your draw engines (such as Rhystic Study,  Mystic Remora, Toski, Bearer of Secrets, or Sylvan Library in the midgame) to help you find what you need, be it counterspells, Survival of the Fittest, or Worldly Tutor. This is especially important in Stax-heavy games that may constrict your access to Malcolm or turn you off of your treasures, your main source of advantage over your opponents. Wandering Archaic also can flip slower games on their head, forcing your opponents to pay a hefty tax lest you copy they’re powerful spells. It also functions somewhat as a Defense Grid, helping you protect wins by either giving you copies of counterspells or forcing opponents to use more of their mana to stop you.

All of your decisions should be moving you towards finding one of your win cons, but it’s important to be able to stay alive as well. Don’t shy away from those counterspells you find along the way to remain defensive. They can’t protect your attempt to win if you’re dead. But, before we get to the mid-game, we have to begin the game. Let’s talk about what is the most essential part of any cEDH game — mulliganing. 

How to Mulligan With Temur Pirates

Breeding Pool (Borderless)

Market Price: $28.69

Gemstone Caverns

Market Price: $55.67

Verdant Catacombs

Market Price: $32.73

To preface this, the London Mulligan, the system that is currently used for most Magic: The Gathering formats, is entirely broken. You should be using it entirely to your advantage in every game. As I have often said in the past, looking at twenty-eight cards is much better than looking at seven. I, at minimum, keep hands that cast Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator as late as turn two. However, if a hand of seven or six doesn’t cast Malcolm on turn one, you should probably look at shipping it back and looking at another as it’s the best thing your deck can be doing. In addition, don’t be pulled in by hands that cast Malcolm early together with spells that don’t ultimately contribute to winning the game. If you don’t have a tutor, a draw engine (Elvish Mystic, Rhystic Study, Sylvan Library, or Toski, Bearer of Secrets for openers), or Glint-Horn Buccaneer itself in hand, it’s almost certainly time to send that hand back as well. Cards such as Vexing Shusher or counterspells for protection are definitely the cherry on top but shouldn’t be deciding factors on whether or not to keep an otherwise medium hand.

Don’t be afraid to go low on hands either. A powerful four that you get to mould from seven cards is significantly better than a mediocre seven. However, once you do get into small hand scenarios, the best hand you’re often going to find is a  combination of lands, mana rock, and cards that allow you to draw seven. This sets you up with a fresh seven while potentially disrupting your opponent’s perfectly sculpted openers. Thanks to Temur Pirate’s high density of relevant cards, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The one remaining mulliganing pitfall I would advise you on — do not keep Survival of the Fittest hands that do not have an extra creature to discard.

The Most Important Temur Pirate Lesson of AllPlease don’t forget both of your main combo lines are pre-combat assembly. Please. I’ve lost so many games to this on accident. I am not the wisest man.

That’s All He Wrote

Snapcaster Mage

Market Price: $71.23

Arcane Signet (201)

Market Price: $15.79

Last Chance (Borderless)

All in all, I hope you’ve learned more about what Temur Pirates is in competitive Commander! From some individual card decisions to some of the specifics of how to play, I tried to touch on it all. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to reach out on Twitter. There’s also the Malcolm in the Middle Discord server which is a good resource for all things Malcolm. There are so many ways to build Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator in competitive Commander, many of which are excellent, and there is always more room to innovate.

Just remember. When you’re sailing the high seas, the Pirate Minotaur is always your best friend.