Don Andres, the Renegade | Illustration by Daarken
Our first foray to Ixalan is remembered fondly for its typal themes, primarily for bringing pirates and dinosaurs into the official Magic canon. Those themes aren’t as present in the newest set’s focus on exploring the depths and history of Ixalan, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get plenty of exciting pirates and epic dinosaurs.
Besides swanky style and gleaming swords, pirates are known for collecting plenty of booty amid their pillages. Theft decks are tons of fun in Commander, so Don Andres, the Renegade makes for a fantastic, flavorful commander to plunder your opponents' libraries in style.
Ramirez DePietro, Pillager | Illustration by Anna Steinbauer
Breeches, Eager Pillager
Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator
Thief of Sanity
Breeches, Brazen Plunderer
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Ramirez DePietro, Pillager
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Plargg and Nassari
Xanathar, Guild Kingpin
Otawara, Soaring City
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Your deck doesn’t win. It uses your opponents’ decks to win. This is a dedicated theft deck whose primary game plan is to borrow the primary game plans of other players. You have tons of card advantage, as many effects that steal your opponents' cards do so by putting them into exile to cast later, ergo drawing cards.
In addition to the theft cards, you have quite a few pirate typal cards that add a solid subtheme to the deck and allow you to maximize all the text on your commander. The pirate cards also add an infinite combo to help close the game if your opponents’ cards aren’t up to snuff. There’s an appropriate mechanical overlap between pirates and theft effects, making them more than flavorful additions.
This is primarily a midrange deck with an abundance of card advantage and interaction that gives it legs in the late game but has plenty of aggressive leanings. This is because you gain control of creatures, and the pirate synergies want you to attack.
Overall, the deck lands at a middling power level. Some of the cards, like Dockside Extortionist and Rhystic Study, are a little above the casual level, and you have some infinite combos that are easy to assemble. This deck lacks the free interaction and fast mana characteristic of high-powered casual and cEDH decks.
Don Andres, the Renegade doesn’t help you to steal cards from your opponents; it rewards you for doing so. Pretty much any commander that makes multiple Treasure tokens is at least a little playable because of how broken the mechanic is. You have enough card advantage that you rarely lack ways to use the Treasure. Even if you don’t spend it all every turn, who couldn’t use more mana?
The line of text that excites me the most about Don Andres is the first ability that buffs stolen creatures. Other theft commanders primarily focus on rewarding you for casting spells for free or allowing you to cast them in the first place, like Tasha, the Witch Queen and Sen Triplets. Once you get ahold of the cards, they rarely care.
The buff makes stealing cards even more profitable and opens new play patterns. Threaten effects become much stronger because you get to really use the creature. +2/+2 and menace makes them significant threats, and adding the pirate subtype makes your pirate support cards sing because you don’t need to play a bunch of weaker cards with the relevant type.
Pirate Typal Support
Let’s start by looking at the pirates. These primarily give the deck a more aggressive leaning, often wanting you to deal damage or remove blockers to get powerful effects.
Ramping and drawing cards are all this deck wants to do, making Breeches, Eager Pillager a fantastic new addition. Making a creature unable to block is great to slip Breeches and other pirates past opposing defenses, especially with menace creatures.
Breeches, Brazen Plunderer gives you another fearsome goblin that lets you cast cards from exile, except this one steals from your opponents instead of taking cards from your library. Getting to play the cards is especially useful for making additional land drops.
Coercive Recruiter uses all its charm to convince opposing creatures to join your team. With enough pirates, either your own or your opponents, the Recruiter can end the game quickly by stealing the best creatures on board.
These are the cards that let you steal and cast your opponents' spells and are this deck’s bread, butter, and sword since you have very few ways to win without your opponent’s threats. This excludes the Threaten effects.
Dack Fayden is a fantastic tempo play. You don’t really have the means to abuse the ultimate, but simply stealing an opponent’s Talisman or Sol Ring puts you ahead while potentially crippling them. Later in the game, removing a Portal to Phyrexia or Cityscape Leveler can be equally backbreaking.
Tasha, the Witch Queen steals your opponents’ cards very slowly but makes up for that by providing a vital board presence. Getting an army of 3/3s not only defends this planeswalker but helps you win the game later.
Thieving Skydiver won’t often snag top-end artifacts like Bolas's Citadel, but taking pretty much any early mana rock is worth the mana cost. On the occasions you get equipment, the Skydiver can become quite fearsome.
Dauthi Voidwalker is a theft effect that doubles as a potent stax piece. Some decks function sub-optimally beneath the exile effect, while others grind to a halt until they can remove your measly 2-drop.
Thief of Sanity and Gonti, Lord of Luxury both let you take your pick of your opponents' top couple of cards, giving you much more control than effects like Breeches, Brazen Plunderer. They’re also some of my favorite creatures ever printed and the first cards to make the list.
Stolen Strategy allows you to steal multiple spells a turn. You won’t always cast all three of them, and there'll be unplayable lands every so often, but the potential of seeing three extra spells a turn cycle gives you tons of options.
You Find Some Prisoners gives you excellent utility. Sometimes, it’s a 2-mana cantrip. Others, it puts your opponents behind. In true split card fashion, neither is quite worth a card, but the choice of either makes it a flexible addition.
Hostage Taker nabs the best card in play. Even if you don’t get to cast it, the tempo is excellent and makes the opponent who lost the creature or artifact choose between spending a removal spell on a mostly irrelevant card or risk letting you play the spell yourself. This is another card well-suited to disrupting early mana development.
Xanathar, Guild Kingpin doesn’t restrict you to only casting spells or getting one effect. You get a Future Sight off the top of a player’s library, which offers options and the ability to make land drops. I like targeting players with cheap spells, especially those I suspect have lots of ramp and interaction to skim off the top.
Plargg and Nassari do more than give you access to your opponent’s cards, they cast them. You’ll usually get two extra spells every upkeep off this card, which is amazing value before you factor in making Treasures with your commander.
I’ve loved Mind's Dilation since it was spoiled, and I couldn’t be happier to have it in this deck. It’s a bit expensive but does plenty of work. It’s especially good against opposing blue decks slinging counterspells and cantrips on other players’ turns.
Blue Sun's Twilight has a lot to offer. It scales well with the game, swiping early plays as reasonable disruption, but becomes a serious threat once you have a lot of mana to pour into it.
Control Magic does the thing. This and Twilight are especially useful at removing opposing commanders; changing control of a permanent doesn’t cause it to change zones, so they won’t return to the command zone. Your opponent needs to kill their commander before they can access it again.
Breach the Multiverse is an expensive, but potent spell that often generates more mana value than the 7 required to cast it. Getting the best card from each graveyard can be disruptive and often leads to explosive plays.
These effects aren’t as permanent as the others, often allowing you to rent an opposing threat until you remove the blade from its neck. This includes threaten effects along with a few ways to use the stolen creature for extra value.
Threaten and Act of Treason are here because… well, nostalgia. I remember getting back into Magic around Origins, when Act of Treason seemed like the most unbeatable card ever that always wrecked me. Threaten is the classic version of this effect they’re named for.
Geyadrone Dihada offers a bit of life gain alongside a pretty strong Threaten. Stealing planeswalkers is a lot of fun, especially if you get to remove all their loyalty counters. The ultimate can steal slower games where you have the time to uptick Dihada.
Captivating Crew enlists your opponents' best and brightest for all kinds of jobs, like taking out planeswalkers and defeating foes that need a coalition. The activated ability gives you a valuable mana sink.
Zealous Conscripts is just an amazing card. Getting to steal any permanent lets you do a lot of cool tricks. Stealing planeswalkers or creatures is the norm, but snagging the occasional Gaea's Cradle makes for some creative lines.
Claim the Firstborn is a nice, efficient threaten to grab small creatures. If you steal mana dorks, this can often be mana-neutral or mana-positive before you dispose of the dorks.
Deadly Dispute and Fanatical Offering each let you sacrifice the creatures you’ve threatened for cards so the opponent doesn’t get them back. You’ll also generate plenty of Treasure to get rid of if the Threaten effects don’t show up.
Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools offers another sacrifice outlet. It pairs especially well with Captivating Crew to remove opposing creatures for 4 mana. The ultimate can win the game depending on opposing commanders and provides plenty of disruption even when it doesn’t win.
Helm of Possession might be the coolest card I uncovered while building this list. It’s both a theft effect and a way to sacrifice creatures you only have temporarily. Locking down an opposing commander for 6 mana and getting a threat out of the deal is pretty sick.
Reins of Power, Call for Aid, and Insurrection are among your best fair finishers. As an instant, Reins of Power has additional utility in warping combats to your favor, but the overall goal is to steal a bunch of creatures, buff them, and use them to eliminate at least one player whenever they’re cast.
Card Advantage & Interaction
You could call these your Grixis staples, the cards you don’t want to leave home without. These help you to force your creatures through combat, stop your opponents from winning the game, and find all the pieces necessary to get there yourself.
Most of your theft effects count as card advantage in one form or another, but raw card draw is something every Commander deck could use a bit of. Night's Whisper is one of the first cards I add to any black deck. Expressive Iteration is one of the best cantrips ever printed, and Rhystic Study’s steady card draw bumps this deck’s power up a notch. Jeska's Will provides a burst of card advantage and mana that’s especially useful with your expensive red finishers.
Narset's Reversal is a funny bit of interaction. You can steal a removal spell or deflect something game-winning. Extra turn spells are especially juicy to bounce and copy.
Alongside Reversal, your counter suite includes Swan Song, An Offer You Can't Refuse, Counterspell, and Mana Drain. These cards give you plenty of stack-based interaction to stop your opponents from casting the few threats you don’t steal.
The Mana Base
In addition to lands, a few mana rocks help get an early mana advantage. There’s the Grixis staples, Arcane Signet, and all the on-color Talismans, alongside Thought Vessel and Mind Stone, and a lone Dimir Signet for that extra oomph.
This build of Don Andres, the Renegade is a midrange deck with aggressive leanings. The buff your commander adds to stolen creatures wants you to attack often, as do your pirate typal effects. Additionally, going fast is important to get the most from your Threaten effects. Insurrection is only a good finisher once life totals are low.
Your theft deck does have legs in the later turns. You have tons of card advantage between spells that draw from your deck and theft cards like Stolen Strategy and Gonti, Lord of Luxury, allowing you to draw cards from your opponents’ decks. Backed by your interaction and whatever removal you skim from your opponents, you shouldn’t mind playing a long game.
Since you rely on your opponents’ decks for most of your threats, it’s important to target the correct opponents with your effects. In general, I’d want to steal cards from other aggressive decks when possible. That increases the odds of finding effects that complement your strategy rather than clash with it. Targeting players with green or white in their decks is also a great idea to access effects that you couldn’t otherwise use.
Your interaction is best used to defend your pieces. When you can hold up countermagic, consider if the threats your opponents are presenting are must-answer problems or creatures you want to try to take for your own. Control Magic is removal, after all.
When it’s time to close the game, you want to turn the tides on your opponents with your buffed creatures. This often takes the form of Insurrection or Call for Aid letting you take out one or two players. Should your aggressive plans fail, the deck has a few infinite combos to get over the finish line.
Combos and Interactions
The combos in this deck are primarily backup plans, but they’re quite lethal when assembled. All these combos notably benefit from Imperial Recruiter being in your deck, as it finds most of the combo pieces.
For this combo, you need both creatures in play, access to , and at least one card in hand.
This triggers Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator, which makes three Treasure tokens since each of your opponents took damage. You can use these Treasures to activate the Buccaneer again, burning the table out.
This combo hails from cEDH, but it’s considerably less consistent in this deck since Malcolm’s not in the command zone. Since you net a Treasure for each activation, you can often burn out the table even if one player has a significantly higher life total than the others. Even if one player survives, you’ll have seen a lot of cards and probably be ahead on board.
When the token comes into play, target Kiki-Jiki, untapping it. This loop makes infinite hasty attackers to end the game.
This is a pretty standard Kiki-Jiki combo. One big reason Kiki-Jiki’s in this deck is because it goes infinite with everything. While using theft effects, keep an eye out for cards like Pestermite and Restoration Angel in opposing decks that can go infinite with this creature.
Kiki-Jiki’s also more than just a combo piece; here are a few great interactions with other cards in the deck. These aren’t infinite but are great ways to leverage the legendary creature.
Hostage Taker is great friends with Kiki-Jiki. Instant-speed Hostage Takers can disrupt your opponents and steal their permanents or protect your creatures and artifacts by effectively flickering them until the end of the turn.
Dauthi Voidwalker goes from a one-off theft effect to a card-stealing machine with Kiki-Jiki because you can sacrifice the copy to cast a spell exiled by the original.
Pairing Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with Coercive Recruiter makes it easy to steal an opponent’s entire board since you’ll get two triggers off the activation alone and two more for every pirate you play after.
Rule 0 Violations
This is solidly a mid-powered deck. You don’t have a bunch of fast mana, but a couple of your cards like Rhystic Study and Dockside Extortionist are a little bit stronger than your typical casual cards.
Additionally, you have access to quite a few infinite combos. Of the four cards composing your infinites, Glint-Horn Buccaneer is the only one that doesn’t do much besides combo off.
Opposition Agent is a fairly expensive piece. It could become another pirate, like Captain Lannery Storm. If you really want to stop your opponents from searching their libraries, Ashiok, Dream Render is another option.
If you want to keep the power of the deck high but don’t want to shell out for Rhystic Study, Mystic Remora is a fine option that tends to provide a burst of card draw instead of steady card advantage.
An easy place to make budget cuts is the mana base. Shock lands could be the common taplands from Dominaria United, fetch lands could be gates, and the channel lands could be basics. That decreases speed and consistency, as we’ll have lots of tapped lands, but the mana base comprises most of this deck’s budget.
One alternative path you could take Don Andres, the Renegade would focus more on aristocratic strategies. Stealing your opponents' creatures and sacrificing them is something this deck dabbles in, but the addition of more Threatens as well as sacrifice outlets like Braids, Arisen Nightmare and Woe Strider would make it the central focus of the deck rather than a subtheme.
It would also be quite simple to drop the power level of this deck. Cutting out the combos and cEDH staples in favor of some more flavorful pirate additions like Admiral Beckett Brass and Forerunner of the Coalition would drop the power considerably. Throw in more tapped land, and this would be a perfectly respectable list to play against precons and other casual decks.
Bribery | Illustration by Kai Carpenter
Theft decks have a special place in my heart. Some of my favorite cards involve playing my opponents’ threats against them to steal victory in the most literal sense. Tying those effects to pirates is a great thematic choice.
Don Andres, the Renegade is a particularly interesting theft commander because of how much it benefits you from stealing spells. Which commander from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan are you having fun building? Do you enjoy theft decks? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord!
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