Despite the banning of Fury and Up the Beanstalk over a month ago, the Modern metagame has yet to drastically change from where it was. Not only is Rakdos Scam still an extremely strong and popular deck choice, but small Creature decks have not been on the rise much at all. Even with Fury gone, small Creature decks still have to contest with the likes of Orcish Bowmasters and Wrenn and Six.
While players are no longer Cascading into Up the Beanstalk, Cascade decks are as popular as ever, just with Crashing Footfalls in the mix instead. In this sense, there hasn’t been much innovation over the last month, unfortunately.
That being said, one strategy that is clearly a tier or two below Rakdos Scam or Temur Cascade managed to emerge victorious in a recent major Modern event. This deck is none other than Asmo Food, using the power of Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, some strong discard outlets, and aggressively costed Creatures to take over the game. This archetype hasn’t been much of a factor in the metagame for months, so seeing it make a resurgence is rather enticing.
Getting Asmo Into Play
Asmo is an amazing card in this deck. It is efficient, aggressive, and in conjunction with The Underworld Cookbook, can help remove rather large threats from the opponent. Using the Underworld Cookbook to discard a card is the simplest way to get Asmo into play quickly. Given that this deck makes use of Jegantha, the Wellspring as a Companion, using Street Wraith to cheat Asmo into play turn one is not an option.
Even so, as long as you can get The Underworld Cookbook into play, casting Asmo is rather trivial. Fortunately, Urza’s Saga can tutor up the Cookbook at will, which is a nice option to have.
Additionally, in a deck with a bunch of cheap Creatures and discard outlets, Inti, Seneschal of the Sun is an amazing addition. First of all, it can provide a power boost to your other Creatures by letting you discard a card when you attack. When you discard a card, you also get to exile the top card of your library and play it until your next end step.
Because Inti doesn’t care how you discard cards in the first place, using The Cookbook allows you to keep your engine going, digging for copies of Asmo, which can in turn find more copies of Cookbook. Things can get out of hand pretty quickly.
Abusing Ovalchase Daredevil
Where you can really start to pull ahead on card advantage is when you have access to Ovalchase Daredevil. Ovalchase Daredevil essentially acts as a recurring resource to discard at will when used alongside Cookbook. If you discard Daredevil to Cookbook, you then generate a Food token. Once the Food token comes into play, Daredevil’s ability triggers from the graveyard, and you get to return it to hand.
This allows you to continue generating tons of Food tokens without running out of cards. Asmo can start going nuts killing opposing Creatures at will, and your Construct tokens created by Urza’s Saga threaten to grow exceptionally large.
Furthermore, if you have Inti in play at the same time, you start to generate an absurd amount of card advantage. Because all of the cards in this deck are super efficient, it’s quite easy to cast multiple spells in the same turn. Unless your opponent has graveyard hate, Daredevil just keeps coming back, meaning you never have to discard anything meaningful to trigger Inti.
An Aggressive Slant
With access to Urza’s Saga and Inti, this deck is fully capable of playing a longer, grindier game when necessary. However, part of the strength of this Asmo Food variant is that it puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. Stalactite Stalker is an excellent one-drop that grows over the course of the game. With Fetchlands present, you can start growing Stalker as early as turn one.
With Cookbook in play and Daredevil in hand, you can guarantee Descend every turn, forcing the opponent to interact. Stalker might not seem threatening at first, but it grows rather quickly, has built-in evasion thanks to Menace, and can hit harder if you can play Inti on curve.Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is great here as well. Besides being a great card on its own, the Treasures it creates help make Urza’s Saga Construct tokens even scarier. Throw in some copies of Thoughtseize and Lightning Bolt for interaction, and you’ve got a solid strategy.
Strengths and Weaknesses
What’s nice about the way this deck is built is that, while Asmo and The Underworld Cookbook are extremely synergistic together, you don’t need to draw Asmo for this deck to function. Simply playing powerful Creatures up the curve and mixing in interaction and Urza’s Saga can be plenty good enough to win the game.
That being said, Asmo’s presence adds a whole extra element to the deck that helps in a variety of matchups. Six damage conveniently kills Primeval Titan, for instance, and racing the Amulet Titan deck can be a bit tough without Asmo.
Unfortunately, though, one important Creature that Asmo can’t kill is Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Yawgmoth has Protection from Humans, so it can’t be targeted by Asmo’s ability. As a deck with lots of small Creatures, Yawgmoth’s presence can make the matchup rather problematic. Not to mention, Yawgmoth shells get to make use of Force of Vigor out of the sideboard, which can destroy both Cookbook and Saga at little cost.
Still, in many matchups, this deck’s ability to attack on multiple angles is a nice boon. If you prepare to heavily for Saga and Cookbook, you risk getting run over by Ragavan and Inti. However, on the flip side, Saga is excellent against generic removal spells, and the Constructs you generate can be enormous. This deck is quite powerful, and its win in a major event with over 300 players helped showcase its versatility. This is a great example of an underdog rising to the challenge and emerging victorious.