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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Commander Review: Khans of Tarkir – Mardu Horde

December 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Commander/General Ideas, Review

Hi there fellow EDH-ers and welcome back as we move on to introduce and discuss on another Khans of Tarkir Commander review. Today we will be looking at the Wedge color combination of Red as focus color with Black against White. The clan name is called Mardu Horde, a clan which admires the ancient Dragons’ aspect of speed. The symbol for the clan is the wing of the Dragon. They are a clan of fearsome Warriors who live for the heat of battle and thrive on the rocky wastes of Tarkir.


Outpost Raiders

Mardu Ascendancy

The Fast and the Furious

Mardu Horde, or more commonly referred as Mardu, is a violent semi-nomadic Warrior clan. They live mainly in encampments all over the rocky wastes of Tarkir with a main encampment at the cliffs where an ancient Dragon died. The skull of that Dragon had been used for generations as the throne for Khan of the clan. They routinely conduct raids against other clans for their supply; employing lightning magic and archery to strike at their enemy. Although seemingly ruthless and vicious with their way of life as raiders, every clan member actually abides by the warrior’s code called the Edicts of Ilagra; a series of codes inscribed on a collection of dragon-hide scrolls that govern the rules of honor and combat for the Mardu Warriors.

  • To conquer is to eat.
  • To rule is to bleed.
  • Victory or death.


Although not every member of the society rides to war, everyone follows the code. The clan mechanic is fittingly named Raid. The ability is a trigger on spells and Creatures which gives an advantageous effect if you have attacked with a Creature the same turn before casting the spell or the Creature entering the battlefield. It is a mechanic which encourages you to attack more. The way the clan live their life is loosely based on the Mongol hordes.

Mardu Heart-Piercer

Attacking Fast and Furious.


Sarkhan Vol, the Dragon loving Planeswalker used to be a member of this clan. Tired of being an expendable, he quickly rose in position and power in the Horde till he came to claim the title of general in his warlord’s army. He then grew sick of the endless fighting and went on to briefly joined the Temur Shamans and gain some level of peace. Though he soon grew bitter of worshiping nigh-extinct beast. When he finally returned to his Warrior life, his Khan grudgingly sent him to challenge the Sultai on his first expedition. Sarkhan was touched by an ancient Dragon after he had slain the opposing Commander. Sacrificing his own men, he unleashed a massive spell that wiped the battlefield clean as he ascended channeling the power of the Spirit he had connected to. This was his first and last battle as a general and since then he was stripped of his position by his Khan, leaving him with no bind to Tarkir and left to explore the multiverse. This had left his Khan to hold a vendetta against him for sacrificing all his men.


“You have returned from fire, traitor. This time I will see you leave as ashes.” —Zurgo, to Sarkhan Vol



The Khan of the Mardu was called Zurgo. He is an Orc who was a formidable Warrior on the battlefield. Having a vendetta against Sarkhan for his past crimes, he chased him down when Sarkhan finally returned to Tarkir. Unbale to concentrate due to the voices of Ugin in his head, Sarkhan was on the verge of defeat until Narset blocked Zurgo to allow Sarkhan to go through Ugin’s Nexus. In a moment of the heated battle, Narset lost her concentration and was struck down by Zurgo. Unwilling to let Narset’s sacrifice go to waste, Sarkhan went through the Nexus and left her and Zurgo behind.

Utter End

“I came seeking a challenge. All I found was you.”


Below is the stats of the vicious Orc Khan of the Mardu.


Zurgo Helmsmasher

Card Name: Zurgo Helmsmasher


Types: Legendary Creature – Orc Warrior

Card Text: Haste

Zurgo Helmsmasher attacks each turn if able.

Zurgo Helmsmasher has indestructible as long as it’s your turn.

Whenever a creature dealt damage by Zurgo Helmsmasher this turn dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Zurgo Helmsmasher.

P/T: 7/2

Zurgo is a very dutiful Khan in that his abilities supports the clan mechanic very well. Having Haste means that he can attack the turn he hits the battlefield. Furthermore Zurgo has a force attack clause on him that make him attack each combat if able. This ensures that Raid is possible. Zurgo also conveniently has Indestructible so there is no worry he would die in combat; save exile removals. He also has a bloodlust-like ability to grow bigger if the Creatures he damaged dies; getting a +1/+1 counter for every Creature that dies after being dealt damage by him. All these abilities combine with his power of 7 make him a very powerful attacker on the battlefield. The only downside to his stats is his low toughness of only 2. This places him dangerously within range of removals which are in forms of -X/-X (Bile Blight; Ulcerate) where any of these removals can easily take him out. Much worse is the fact that his Indestructible does not last pass your turn further endangering him to burn spells where a Pyroclasm can also take him out.


Raid the Money Raid the Food

If there is any true weakness to Zurgo it is his low toughness. While it does not seems likely, Zurgo basic abilities actually make him a very good Voltron. Because he has Indestructible throughout your turn, he is very well protected even when he has to attack each turn if able. Building on his Indestructible combine with high power and Haste, the rest of the abilities could look into making sure his attack go through. Giving Zurgo Deathtouch is also a good way to utilize his Indestructible while gaining some +1/+1 counters by killing the blockers blocking him. You can also throw in a Nemesis Mask to the mix to let him kill more available blockers of the defending player. Another option is to use Infect to kill. Although it may differ from playgroup to playgroup, the general lost for Poison Counter is mostly at the normal ten counters. Zurgo has a power of 7 to begin with which makes it fairly easy to grab a Poison Counter win. Grafted Exoskeleton and Phyresis can grant Infect to the Creatures they are Enchanted to and Equipped to respectively. Tainted Strike is like a surprise strike on the opponent when he let Zurgo through. Even without any enhancement, Zurgo power is high enough to make an impact. Together with his clan, one can reap many benefits with their Raid.

Ride down

“Give Me EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!”


Violent Outcome

Zurgo Helmsmasher

“That’s Mine!!!!!!!!”

Having said all the good points on Zurgo, he still feel somehow lacking to be a Mardu Commander in my opinions. As compare to other available Mardu Commanders, he does not really have a bigger impact like them. However he still packs quite a punch as a good attacker and can still be consider as a common Creature in the deck. Zurgo is a very Aggro Commander and this theme tends to run out of steam very fast. Unless you are up to the challenge to break Zurgo as a Commander, the following are still in my opinions better choice as a Mardu Commander: Kaalia of the Vast with her DAD theme; Oros, the Avenger as an all-purpose board wipe of sorts; Tariel, Reckoner of Souls with her random reanimate theme.


What do you think of the Mardu Khan? Are you up to the challenge of breaking him as a Commander? Share with us your opinions in the comments below. For now that is all we have for the Mardu Khan. Do come back for more Commander Review of the other Khans of Tarkir clans. Till the next article, may your raids be fruitful with the Mardu.


This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.



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