Daily Dose of Ixalan – What deck do I build for prerelease?


Welcome all to the Daily Dose of Ixalan. As prerelease continues, today I'd like to talk about the different deck archetypes you can build this weekend. It might seem like there are just the four simple deck archetypes based on the four main creature types in Ixalan: Vampires, Merfolk, Pirates, and Dinosaurs. However, I believe that within each of these tribes there are two distinct archetypes. With over 260 different cards to play with in Ixalan, there are many different directions that you can go when it comes to building your deck.

Dinosaurs – Big vs Small

When it comes to Naya colours and Dinosaurs, there are two ways you can go about building your deck. You can go the more aggressive route with a lot of low-to-mid casting cost Dinosaurs, or you can go the large route and work towards the goal of casting big, stompy Dinosaurs that can take over the game. With Dinosaurs present in three colours, if you go the aggressive route you most likely want to choose two colours and build your deck for speed. If you are going the large route, you can work with three colours a lot easier as you'll need time and cards to get to your larger mana totals.

Here are some of the key cards you want in your deck when trying to build Dinosaurs for speed. (I’ve put in the cards from all three colours, though like I mentioned it would be best to choose two colours and stick to them.)


As you can see from the cards above, you want a bevy of two to four mana creatures that will allow you to be aggressive early in the game and get in some damage quickly to overwhelm your opponent. Some pump spells and combat tricks would work well in this deck too.

Now, let’s switch tracks and look at some of the key cards that you'll need to build a three-colour Large Dinosaur deck.


To make this deck successful, you want to make sure that you get some smaller creatures which allow you to ramp into your larger Dinosaurs. Once you get these Dinos into play, some combat tricks to make them fight your opponent’s creatures can be used as removal so that they don’t get blocked.

Vampires – Go Wide vs Go Big

When it comes to a Black/White Vampire deck, the cards of Ixalan seem to line up in two ways. One deck archetype seems to lend itself more to a strategy where you want to put a ton of creatures onto the battlefield and attack wide against your opponent. The other strategy is to get some of the larger, more powerful Vampires to do your bidding and control the game with large one-time attacks, with a more controlling deck build.

First, I want to look at the cards needed to build the Vampire deck that wants to go wide with lots of smaller Vampires. With this deck, you're looking to outnumber and overwhelm your opponent.


This deck involves playing a lot of one to three drop Vampires and spells that create Vampires so that you can go wide on your opponent. Using spells that pump up your whole team, or having creatures that can take advantage of the large number of Vampires you have will go a long way to making this deck a success.

Next, I'm going to look at the cards you want to be looking for when building a larger, more controlling build of the Vampire deck for Limited.


This build involves using some removal in the early game to allow your larger creatures to start taking over the game. The key to this deck is to not get overwhelmed by a more aggressive deck.

Merfolk – Evasion vs Counters

The next decision in the deck archetype challenge is how to build your deck when it comes to the green and blue Merfolk. There are two avenues you could go down with this tribe. The first option is an evasion heavy deck which relies on your creatures getting through with Flying or by being unblockable. The other option is to build a Merfolk deck where you try and build your creatures up with +1/+1 counters until they're larger than your opponent's.

First, let’s look at some of the cards that you'll want to have in your evasion Merfolk deck.


As you can see, you want to have a lot of creatures that have either Flying or are unblockable. This way you can either enchant them to get in more damage, or play combat tricks to get in extra damage.

Now that I’ve shown you the cards that you'll want for your evasion Merfolk build, here’s a look at all the cards you will need to build the other Merfolk deck with +1/+1 counters.


This deck involves taking advantage of the new Explore mechanic in addition to other ways to make your creatures larger than your opponent. Your goal is to make your creatures grow as much as possible so that they outclass anything your opponent can put on the battlefield.

Pirates – Quick Pirates vs Five-Colour Pirates

There are plenty of pesky Pirates running about Ixalan, which allows you to go in two directions when building your Pirate deck. You can choose a two-colour quick Pirate deck with a lower mana curve, or use Treasure to your advantage and choose the best cards from your entire sealed pool. Quick Pirates will want to get on the battlefield in the early game and use evasion, like Menace and Flying, to get in for some early damage. Five-colour Pirates on the other hand will want you to use the power of Treasure tokens to cast any spell you want from your hand.

Which cards will work best in a quick Pirates deck? Here are some of the cards you want to be looking out for.


With this deck, you want to get as many Pirates on the battlefield as possible. There are many cards that both make more Pirates and have advantages if you have many of them on the battlefield. Be aggressive with this deck and finish your opponent off as fast as you can.

So, do you want to play all the best cards from your Sealed pool? Here are the cards that can make it happen.


As you can see above, this deck involves playing a lot of cards that can get you Treasure. Using your Treasures to get any colour of mana that you want will allow you to splash in all the best cards from your Sealed pool, no matter what colour they are.

There you have it everyone, eight ways to build your deck at your local Ixalan prerelease coming up this weekend. I hope this will help you find a direction to take your deck build based on what you open in your Ixalan prerelease pack. Thanks again for reading the Daily Dose of Ixalan, and join me later in the week as I do a test build before the prerelease using the information I’ve already talked about this week.

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