During my time playing competitive Magic, I've never been too fond of cards that tutor up only one specific other card. I can't recall any such example seeing competitive play since I've stuck with Magic, which is why I initially didn't give Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar much thought either. At first glance, it looked to me like a card with great flavor (pun only partially intended) but not much more than that. Long-time lore fans are probably already aware that this isn't the character's first appearance. She and her Underworld Cookbook are mentioned in flavor texts of some pretty old cards like Lightning Axe and Granite Gargoyle.
Now, I don't know why we're getting these two so long after their debut, but one thing is for sure. If Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar was able to surprise a demon with her recipes every day for seven years, she should be well capable of surprising Modern players, at least for a short while. So far, it is safe to say that she is well on track, whipping up ever new dishes in rapid succession.
There now are various Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar variants floating around, but it's interesting how an early frontrunner looks. Of course, the sample size is still too small and the environment still not fully explored, but Sultai Food is already making waves for a reason. If you're hearing about this deck for the first time though, it might take a few moments to figure out what it does.
|drew3141's Sultai Food, 5th at Modern Challenge, June 6|
What it does, ideally, is this:
Turn one: Cast and activate The Underworld Cookbook for one Food token.
Turn two: Activate Cookbook again. Cast Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. Search for, cast, and activate another Cookbook. Sacrifice three Foods to put Feasting Troll King from your graveyard onto the battlefield. Pass the turn with 10 power on the board.
Ask yourself: "Is this a Hogaak situation?"
If you also happen to have Ovalchase Daredevil in your hand, you won't even lose any cards in the process. The Underworld Cookbook's activated ability works so that you first need to discard a card, as that's part of its activation cost. A Food token gets created as a result of that ability resolving, so the Daredevil will already be in your graveyard at that point. Unless an opponent exiles it in the meantime, it'll go straight back into your hand, and you'll have yourself a handy Food token for free. Yum! It goes without saying that you can do this again and again over the following turns. The only limitation is the number of Cookbooks you have in play.
Of course, there is a catch here. You can't realistically expect to have all of these cards in your starting hand every single game. Luckily, there's some redundancy built into the deck. Cycling Street Wraith allows you to cast Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar even earlier, and you can find at least one Cookbook that way. In fact, Street Wraith appears in almost every list because it's the easiest means of unlocking our legendary chef. With a little luck, Emry, Lurker of the Loch can check out a book from the library too and/or mill over a Daredevil.
Finally, the final chapter on Urza's Saga can find a (-nother) Cookbook, while its Constructs grow to enormous sizes because of all the Food. Besides them, Troll King, and Cauldron Familiar, Food is also useful for Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar oftentimes overlooked own activated ability, which takes care of opposing creatures. Notably, not even General Ferrous Rokiric is safe from such Food poisoning, and an Inkmoth Nexus with up to five counters won't bequeath any to The Ozolith when it deals 6 damage to itself, whereas larger specimens will at least shrink to a more manageable size.
The above also uses the infamous Cat/Oven combo that got banned from Standard for additional Food and artifact shenanigans. The Oven is especially good when people try to send a Troll on a Path to Exile, as "Baked Troll à la King" is a meal for two that'll almost imediately revive the dead Troll. It also includes Trail of Crumbs as a flex slot, as well as a little countermagic in Metallic Rebuke.
Other versions of the deck often run Gilded Goose for some additional speed and/or Life from the Loam for additional longevity. The latter can source extra cards to discard if you don't have a Daredevil, can mill one of them or a Troll King via dredge, and allows you to retell the story of Urza's Saga.
As it usually goes with deck building, a perfect list doesn't appear overnight. That's why some early Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar variants even used to play random Throne of Eldraine Food cards like Bartered Cow. That one was quickly ditched, but it's important to realize that it took pilots a while to come up with current builds. Maybe even the aforementioned Sultai list isn't the best one yet. There are many more directions this archetype can take, especially considering the fact that you only need black and/or red for Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. Red-green or even mono-red versions have been seen, although the most common is probably Golgari.
|Vilaboy's Golgari Food, 5-0 at Modern League, June 11|
I don't want to discuss these other versions in detail. You understand how all this works by now. Though I do have to note the sweet tech of Finale of Devastation here, which can go grab an Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar from the library for just two mana. What I will also mention is that there are multiple Golgari variants that went 5-0 on Magic Online. Others rely on Stitcher's Supplier instead of ramp in the early game, or even use Lotleth Troll as an additional discard outlet.
Still, there's probably no real reason why you wouldn't want to run three colors. You can even splash red and add an additional win condition in Mayhem Devil, or a backup plan like Greater Gargadon:
|VTCLA's Jund Food, 4-0 at Modern Preliminary, June 9|
When all is said and done, it's too early to tell, but I believe that this deck is here to stay. Similarly to Hardened Scales decks, Urza's Saga increases its effectiveness tenfold, but it'll probably stay decent even without it. Although far less consistent than Hogaak, this deck can finish its second turn with 10 power on the board, which is no joke. It also has a pseudo-infinite loop with The Underworld Cookbook and Ovalchase Daredevil, as well as room for plenty of interesting tech cards both in the main and the side.
Finally, for dessert, I would like to end with two more sweet Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar builds that look like a lot of fun. They also feature cards I haven't mentioned so far, yet feel like I should.
Famous streamer and Mythic Championship winner Piotr Głogowski was seen playing a version with Karn, the Great Creator and Academy Manufactor. Shutting off all of the opponent's Cookbooks et cetera is obviously great. What's even greater is to retrieve a Time Sieve from the sideboard and to invest all of the artifact tokens the Manufactor adds into extra turns.
|kanister's Dimir Food, 5-0 at Modern League, June 11|
In case Urza's Saga gets banned, the following might gain popularity because not just Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar but also Blazing Rootwalla work well with Vengevine. Casting both for only one mana is a neat way to trigger the furious green Elemental and summon it from the dead. With Faithless Looting gone, this deck is basically forced to play random discard spells. The Underworld Cookbook, as you'd expect from an instruction manual, at least adds some direction to the madness. If you enjoy the taste of Vine-stuffed Hollow One, you'll find this list to be a Chef's Kiss. Until next time, bon appétit!
|Nammersquats's Jund Asmor, 5-0 at Modern League, June 8|
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