Tag: smoke-teller

Avatar Bruce Gray - December 23, 2014

Crack a pack MTG Khans of Tarkir with Bruce #18 (7th)

Crack a pack MTG Khans of Tarkir booster

Crack a pack MTG Khans of Tarkir with Bruce #18 (7th)

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Well Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are enjoying the time with your friends and family…and maybe opening a few cool new treats that Santa left for you!  It’s a pretty busy time of year for everyone with visiting family, big turkey dinners, and generally being festive during the Holiday season.  However, I know that those of you who are Magic players can’t wait for Fate Reforged to drop in a couple of weeks and for the Draft format to get totally turned on its ear again, so I thought what better way to start getting ready than to crack open a holiday treat a little early and see what we find.  Let’s take a look.















Well then…we opened ourselves up a Mythic…and a pretty good one at that.  Zurgo is pretty devastating bomb to open up in limited because there really isn’t much in Limited that can handle him.  He attacks all the time and can be very difficult to handle when he attacks because of the indestructibility he gets.  Also, blocking profitably is really just an impossibility with this guy so you are always on your back foot.  Kill Shot and other such removal won’t really do the trick either.  So, you end up having to get him with clunkier sorcery removal on your turn…which is not a bad thing or impossible, but it just makes the whole process of killing him harder and more narrow.  5 mana isn’t impossible and the fact that he has 3 different colours might be an issue…but the fact is the upside in terms of power is likely well worth the risk.  He would immediately get moved to the front of the pack for serious consideration.

In this pack, to complement Zurgo, there is a Nomad Outpost, Highspire Mantis, a Ponyback Brigade, and a Trumpet blast.  All of these would see themselves thumbed to front of the pack as well.  We have the makings of a pretty solid Mardu deck that would absolutely cause our opponents a bunch of trouble.  However, here is the issue.  These are all good to very good Mardu cards meaning that one of your neighbors is going to take a look and decide that Mardu appears to be open and move in too.  That is an issue because Zurgo is going to reward you most when you have the ability to curve aggressively into him and then go on a massive offensive.  The very real reality could be that none of these cards wheel around to you and that you have a number of other players competing for the Mardu deck too.  So, while Zurgo is still a very strong card, and this pack has a whole of bunch of super nice cards to complement it, there are still going to be some issues that you will need to negotiate as you move through the draft.

Longshot Squad is likely the next card that gets my attention.  It is a very solid creature, has a relevant ability and is just a very useful Green creature.  I have been a fan since day one and will continue to be a big fan. It may not be a game breaker or spicy the way Zurgo is, but he’s solid, reliable, and knows his role.

Sidisi’s Pet…no…I’m not taking this.  A 1/4 is woefully inadequate in this set even with the Lifelink.  The ONLY plus is that he can be a Morph in a Secret Plans/Trail of Mystery deck, but since that doesn’t appear to be the direction I will head with this pack it would be WAY down my list of cards  for this pack.

Smoke Teller is a potentially useful 2/1 for 2…and that’s it.  He’s a Bear with an ability.  I feel like his ability is under-utilized, but I’m not really surprised.

Disdainful stroke is useful and shuts out pretty expensive bombs.  I would be looking at this in the mid-to late rounds of this first pack if I was in Blue, but since this pack looks Mardu heavy it will likely be a late pick.

Awaken the Bear…and no once again.  It is a marginal trick that in most situations is really just a Giant Growth.  Occasionally the trample will be relevant, but the biggest issue is the casting cost.  Giant Growth is 1 mana for +3/+3.  Titanic Growth is 2 mana for +4/+4.  This is 3 mana for +3/+3…and some trample.  No.  If you are looking for a pump spell, this really isn’t a good option.  It feels slow, is too expensive, and is not something I can get behind.

Gurmag Swiftwing has a load of abilities, and even flies…but is a 1/2. He could be useful, but I’m not lining up to get this little critter.  A serviceable choice in the mid-rounds, but that is about it.

Rakshasa’s Secret feels like an expensive way to target your opponent’s hand.  Yeah, 3 mana isn’t outlandish, but it feels a little slow to be relevant regularly and is likely on the outside looking in for most decks.  Besides, this pack is looking like a Mardu style pack and the Secret plays into a Sultai deck a little bit better.

Salt Road Patrol is just about the only reasonable White card in this whole pack but even that isn’t saying much.  Yes, 2/5 is tough to fight through, and to Outlast him once makes him just about impossible to fight through, but really, he’s kind of bland and just not overly exciting. I would take him in the mid-round and be pretty ok with it.  Like I mentioned earlier, this pack has a number of Mardu cards in it meaning that it could get striped of prime Mardu cards long before the pack wheels.  However, this might be something that you might find should the pack wheel  meaning you would at least get a second solid playable out of this pack for your Mardu deck.

Weave Fate is an acceptable card draw spell, but it is dwarfed by Treasure Cruise in terms of flexibility and overall power.  You might see this get forced at the end of this pack, and that’s ok…or you might see this card disappear to a Blue player around the table because blue cards in this pack are so sparse.  On the whole…Blue players will curse this pack while players packing Red are going to be drooling.



Top 5 Cards

  1. Zurgo Helmsmasher
  2. Nomad Outpost
  3. Highspire Mantis
  4. Ponyback Brigade
  5. Longshot Squad



First Pick

My first pick goes against almost all of my beliefs.  I don’t like taking a three coloured spell first…it potentially pigeon holes me into those three colours.  Three coloured spells are rough to cast because your mana invariably takes a beating and you lose a bunch of consistency. It just feels like you are forcing a very narrow understanding of your deck and not allowing the cards to come to you to make up your deck.  HOWEVER, I have seen that many of the three colour spells are just ridiculous BOMBS.  Villainous Wealth is evil.  Duneblast ends games on the spot in most situations.  There is no reason NOT to expect that Zurgo would have a significant impact on the game as well.  Also, just because I open up with a Mardu mythic creature does not mean that I am FORCED to play Mardu.  There are almost 3 full packs for me to change directions if I start to notice that something else is open.  So, with that in mind, I want to take a first pick that offers the most potential upside and highest power ceiling.  So, I’m going to grab Zurgo and cross my fingers some of those other Mardu treats come back my way.  I realize the Outpost and Mantis are likely gone, but there is an outside chance that the Ponyback brigade, Trumpet Blast or the Salt Road Patrol will come back meaning that I would have a complementary card for a Mardu deck.

Well, there we go.  That was an interesting pack to say the least.  A tough choice if you want to venture down the Mardu path because you know you will be fighting with a number of other players for the same pool of cards, but the upside on Zurgo might just be too much. What would you have done?  The Outpost for the fixing? The Mantis because it only leaves you in 2 colours?  Maybe the Longshot squad because you appreciate the simple reliability of it?  Let me know what you think.

Once again, Merry Christmas to all of you and I wish you all a happy holiday season with your friends and family.  May you have a terrific end to 2014 and an amazing start to 2015!

Until next time, may you open nothing but Mythic bombs.

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
Avatar Three Kings Loot - May 19, 2014

Khans of Tarkir Spoiler – Release notes, Artwork & Card Gal...



Set Name Khans of Tarkir
Block Set 1 of 3 in the Khans of Tarkir block
Number of Cards 269
Prerelease Events September 20-21, 2014
Release Date September 26, 2014
Launch Weekend September 26-28, 2014
Game Day October 18-19, 2014
Magic Online Prerelease Events October 3-6, 2014
Magic Online Release Date October 6, 2014
Magic Online Release Events October 6-22, 2014
Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir October 10–12, 2014
Pro Tour Khans of TarkirLocation Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Pro Tour Khans of TarkirFormats Swiss:

  • Standard
  • Khans of Tarkir Draft

Top 8:

  • Standard
Official Three-Letter Code KTK
Twitter Hashtag #MTGKTK
Initial Concept and Game Design Mark Rosewater (lead)
Mark L. Gottlieb
Zac Hill
Adam Lee
Shawn Main
Billy Moreno
and Ken Nagle
Final Game Design and Development Erik Lauer (lead)
Doug Beyer
David Humpherys
Tom LaPille
Shawn Main
and Adam Prosak
with contributions from Matt Tabak
Languages English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Available in Booster Packs, Intro Packs*, Event Deck*, Fat Pack*

(* – Not available in all languages)

(Magic Online only available in English.)


Khans of Tarkir is going to be a large set—small set—large set block structure (like InnistradDark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored, with a special consideration for Limited and “a time travel element” yet to be revealed.

Tarkir itself is a plane of five warring clans, each worships a different aspect of the plane’s (now extinct) dragons.

  •  The five clans are based around a single color in WUBRG order with one ally and one enemy
  •  Each clan has it’s own mechanic plus morph

Abzan Houses – White ManaRed ManaGreen Mana, Aspect: Endurance, Khan: Anafenza, Symbol: Scales, Theme: Control
Jeskai Way – Blue ManaRed ManaWhite Mana, Aspect: Cunning, Khan: Narset, Symbol: Eye, Theme: Tricks
Mardu Horde – Red ManaWhite ManaRed Mana, Aspect: Speed, Khan: Zurgo Helmsmasher, Symbol: Wings, Theme: Aggro
Sultai Brood – Red ManaGreen ManaBlue Mana, Aspect: Ruthlessness, Khan: Sidisi, Symbol: Fang, Theme: Resource manipulation
Temur Frontier – Green ManaBlue ManaRed Mana, Aspect: Savagery, Khan: Surrak Dragonclaw, Symbol: Claws, Theme: Midrange fatties


Intro videos to Khans of Tarkir Spoiler


Khans of Tarkir Trailer from WotC


Khans of Tarkir WPN Retailer Video


Khans of Tarkir Spoiler

KTK card reviews by authors Daniel Crayton and Bruce Gray


 Abomination of Gudulainok trackeralabaster kirinalpine grizzlyAltar of the Broodarc lightningarcher's parapetArmament Corpsarrow stormawaken the bearbarrage of bouldersbecome immensebellowing saddlebruteblinding spraybloodfire expertbloodfire mentorbrave the sandsbring lowburn awaycancelcanyon lurkersCranial archivecrippling chilldazzling rampartsdead dropDeath frenzydebilitating injurydefiant strikedisowned ancestordragon gripdragonscale boondutiful returnerasefeat of resistancefeed the clanFirehoof Cavalryforce awayglacial stalkerHeart-piercer bowhighland gameHighspire Mantisincremental growthjeskai studentkheru bloodsuckerkheru dreadmawkill shotkin-tree wardenKrumar Bond-Kinleaping masterlongshot squadmardu blazebringerMardu Hateblademardu hordechiefMardu RoughriderMaster the waymistfire weavermonastery flockmystic of the hidden waynaturalizePonyback brigaderite of the serpentroar of challengerotting mastodonRush of Battlesage-eye harrierSagu Archersalt road patrolscaldkinscion of glaciersscout the bordersseek the horizonseeker of the wayset adriftshattersiegecraftsinging bell strikesmite the monstroussmoke tellerSnowhorn ridersultai flayersultai scavengerSultai Soothsayersummit prowlerswarm of bloodfliesswift kicktaigam's schemingtake up armsThrottletimely hordemateTomb of the Spirit Dragontormenting voicetrumpet blasttusked colossodonvalley dashervenerable lammasuwar behemothWarden of the Eyewaterwhirlweave fateWetland Sambarwhirlwind adeptwindstormWoolly LoxodonUnyielding KrumarMonastery SwiftspearBloodsoaked ChampionHordeling OutburstDig Through TimeAbzan FalconerBriber's PurseChief of the EdgeChief of the ScaleEmbodiment of springGurmag SwiftwingHigh sentinels of ArashinKin-Tree InvocationMer-Ek NightbladeMolting SnakeskinPine WalkerRakshasa's SecretRetribution of the AncientsRide downTrap essenceTuskguard CaptainDespiseWinterflameAbzan CharmJeskai AscendancyDisdainful StrokeGoblinslideGrim HaruspexHooting MandrillsQuiet ContemplationSavage PunchSecret PlansSidisi 's PetSurrak DragonclawTreasure CruiseVillainous WealthBear's CompanionButcher of the HordeEfreet WeaponmasterKheru Lich LordMaster of PearlsWitness of the AgesAbzan BannerJeskai BannerMardu BannerSultai BannerTemur BannerAbzan Battle PriestHooded HydraJeskai CharmSiege RhinoAdamant NegationAshcloud PhoenixMurderous Cut Deflecting PalmTemur CharmPearl Lake AncientTrail of MysteryBloodfell CavesBlossoming SandsDismal BackwaterJungle HollowRugged HighlandsScoured BarrensSwiftwater CliffsThornwood FallsTranquil CoveWind-Scarred CragMardu CharmMeandering TowershellRakshasa DeathdealerSultai AscendancyEmpty the PitsFrontier BivouacHardened ScalesIcy BlastMantis RiderOpulent PalaceSandsteppe CitadelSavage KnucklebladeSuspension FieldMindswipeWar-Name AspirantClever ImpersonatorCrater's ClawMocking InstigatorSage of the Inward EyeKheru SpellthiefRaider's SpoilsDragon's Eve SavantsFlying Crane TechniqueGhostfire BladeHorde AmbusherRuthless RipperTemur ChargerWatcher of the RoostWingmate Roc Avalanche Tusker - Intro packs alternate artAnkle Shanker - Intro packs alternate artRakshasa VizierAbzan AscendancyAnafenza, the ForemostMardu Ascendancy Sagu MaulerSee the UnrwittenUtter EndSidisi, Brood TyrantEnd HostilitiesHowl of the HordeSorin, Solemn Visitor Ugin's NexusBitter RevelationAbzan Guide Ainok Bond-KinHeir of the WildsIcefeather Aven Jeskai Windscout Lens of ClarityMardu WarshriekerShambling AttendantsBloodstained MireFlooded StrandPolluted DeltaWindswept HeathWooded FoothillsRattleclaw MysticSarkhan the DragonspeakerNarset, Enlightened MasterCrackling DoomTemur Ascendency - Khans of Tarkir SpoilerSultai CharmDragon-Style TwinsDuneblastHerald of AnafenzaMardu SkullhunterNecropolis FiendIvorytusk FortressZurgo Helmsmasher Dragon Throne of Tarkir

Khans of Tarkir Tokens

Goblin Token Bear Token Zombie Token Vampire Token Snake Token Spirit Warrior token Spirit Token Morph token Emblem - Sorin Emblem - Sarkhan Bird token


 Each of the Khans of Tarkir Intro Packs will have alternative art

Sage of the Inward Eye

Sage of the Inward Eye – Jeskai Way Intro packs alternate art

Rakshasa Vizier

Rakshasa Vizier – Sultai Brood intro pack (alternate art)

Ankle Shanker - Mardu Horde prerelease promo

Ankle Shanker – Mardu Horde Intro pack (alternate art)

Avalanche Tusker

Avalanche Tusker – Temur Frontier Intro pack (alternate art)

Ivorytusk Fortress - Khans of Tarkir Spoiler

Ivorytusk Fortress – Abzhan Houses Intro pack (alternate art)

Promo Khans of Tarkir Spoiler

Rattleclaw Mystic - Buy-a-box promo Dragon Throne of Tarkir - Launch Promo Heir of the wilds - Game Day participation promo Utter end - Game Day  top 8 Game Day Khans of Tarkir champion playmat


DD: Speed vs. Cunning – Khans of Tarkir Spoiler


Jeskai Elder - Khans of Tarkir SpoilerMystic Monastery - Khans of Tarkir SpoilerNomad Outpost - Khans of Tarkir SpoilerMardu Heart-Piercer - Khans of Tarkir SpoilerThousands winds - Khans of Tarkir SpoilerZurgo Helmsmasher

Artwork for KTK

Demon art ktk Jeskai art 1 Jeskai art 2 Jeskai constructs Mardu Horde art 1 Sorin 1 Sultai art 2 Sultai art 3 Sultai art Temur art 1 Temur art 2 Termur art 3 Termur art 4 Ugin's Nexus

Duneblast artwork Herald of Anafenza artwork Khans of Tarkir art 1 - Mardu Skullhunter artwork Rattleclaw Mystic artwork

Fetch Lands artwork for KTK

Bloodstained Mire artwork Flooded Strand artwork Polluted Delta artwork Windswept Heath artwork Wooded Foothills artwork

Sarkhan Vol artwork Sultai brood artwork Temur Frontier artworkKhans of Tarkir Artwork 6

Abzan Houses clan artwork

Abzan Houses banner Abzan Houses clan art 01 Abzan Houses Clan art 02 Abzan Houses clan art 03


Jeskai Way clan artwork

Jeskai Way bannerJeskai Way Clan art 01 Jeskai Way Clan art 02


Mardu Horde clan artwork

Mardu Horde bannerMardu Horde clan art


Sultai Brood clan artwork

Sultai Brood banner Sultai Brood clan art


Termur Frontier clan artwork

Temur Frontier Banner Temur Frontier Clan art 01

More Khans of Tarkir spoiler artwork

Khans of Tarkir artwork 01 Khans of Tarkir artwork 02 Khans of Tarkir artwork 03 Khans of Tarkir artwork 04 Khans of Tarkir artwork 05 Khans of Tarkir artwork 06 Khans of Tarkir artwork 07 Khans of Tarkir artwork 08

Clan Symbols for Khans of Tarkir Spoiler

Abzan Houses symbol

Abzan Houses symbol

Jeskai Way symbol

Jeskai Way symbol

Mardu Horde symbol

Mardu Horde symbol

Sultai Brood symbol

Sultai Brood symbol

Temur Frontier symbol

Khans of Tarkir Spoiler

Clan Champions Artwork

Abzan Champion

Abzan Houses

Jeskai Champion


Mardu Champion


Sultai champion


Temur Champion


Intro Pack Rares of Khans of Tarkir Spoiler (Alternate art)

JESKAI - Sage of the Inward Eye

JESKAI – Sage of the Inward Eye Illustrated by Anastasia Ovchinnikova

SULTAI - Rakshasa Vizier

SULTAI – Rakshasa Vizier Illustrated by Peter Rohrabacher

ABZAN - Ivorytusk Fortress

ABZAN – Ivorytusk Fortress, Illustrated by Matt Stewart

TEMUR - Avalanche Tusker

TEMUR – Avalanche Tusker illustrated by Eric Deschamps

MARDU - Ankle Shankler

MARDU – Ankle Shankler illustrated by Steven Belledin


Tarkir Clans

Abzan Houses

Abzan Houses

Mardu Horde

Mardu Horde

Sultai Brood

Sultai Brood

Temur Frontier

Temur Frontier

Jeskai way

Jeskai Way

Khans of Tarkir Artwork 1







Surrak Dragonclaw

Surrak Dragonclaw

Zurgo Helmsmasher

Zurgo Helmsmasher

Sarkhan Vol

Sarkhan Vol

Khans of Tarkir Artwork 3 Khans of Tarkir  Artwork 4Khans of Tarkir Artwork 5