Have you got an Urge to Feed and a Discerning Taste? Maybe you have an Appetite for Brains or you’ve come to love the Taste of Blood? Either way, I hope you’ve worked up a Vicious Hunger for a Ghoul’s Feast, because today we’ve got a delicious recipe fresh from Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar’s Underworld Cookbook.
Grab your trusty Butcher’s Cleaver, pre-heat the Witch’s Oven, pour yourself some Wine of Blood and Iron and you’ll be a Master of the Feast in no time!
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is far and away the most unique legendary to come out of Modern Horizons 2, and certainly one of the strangest cards we’ve seen in years. She might not be the most powerful card from the set, but there’s no competition as far as flavour goes – pun very much intended. Asmor really brings a new meaning to kitchen table magic!
Today we’re going to be looking at how to build an Asmor food deck for Commander. No, not just a deck that focuses on her ability to turn Food tokens into lethal gastronomical attacks, but one that showcases the best culinary themed cards in all of Magic. You’ll be surprised just how many there are, and all the fun things there are to do with them.
Just so we’re clear, this deck focuses on fun above function and prioritises palate over power. The goal here isn’t to ruthlessly crush your opponents into submission, it’s to sit down over a nice – or not so nice – meal with your friends and have a good time. Within reason, almost every card in the deck references eating, drinking or preparing meals. Never forget that Commander is about more than winning!
So, other than a name that takes practice to pronounce, what does the infamous Underworld Chef bring to the kitchen table? Firstly, a downside: we can only bring Asmor into play via a discard effect, so a healthy helping of such cards are mandatory. Sadly those are the least flavourful, but some concessions have to be made for the sake of playability. The best of them are free, but they’re all quite cheap.
We can’t rightly cook anything without our chef, so we always want our opening hand to include cards like these. With over a dozen of them in the deck, it shouldn’t be difficult to make it happen and we’re running some of the best cycling lands to increase our chances. All of our enablers also have their own uses, so it’s never a worry if we draw them after we have Asmor in play.
Next up is Asmor’s tutor effect, which guarantees she’ll always have her trusty recipe book at the ready. The Underworld Cookbook is the real meat (sorry vegetarians, I couldn’t find any vegetable creatures) of the deck, and our reliable source of Food tokens every turn. In some ways Asmor feels like a partner deck because the Underworld Cookbook may as well be in the command zone. As to the goal of the cookbook? What else? Making food!
With almost 30 different appetising creatures to choose from, we’re absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to what we want to prepare. All sorts of demons and imps and zombies are on the menu, and the meals we make with them are just as deadly as you’d guess. In fact, I think Gingerbrute is the only thing in the deck that would make for a halfway appetising meal, and even then, you’d have to catch him first.
Two of the best cards to turn into Food tokens are Ovalchase Daredevil and Squee, Goblin Nabob. While neither of them are particularly flavourful, Squee brings himself back every turn and Ovalchase returns to hand the moment the food is ready, so they both provide a recurrable source of meat for our cookbook. Even the greatest chefs sometimes need to make use of leftovers, and these two make sure we’ll never run out of discard fodder.
Speaking of recurrable sources of food, we have the ever reliable Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar combo. Standard players of yesteryear need no reminding of how irritating this engine can be, and while it might not carry the same power in Commander, it really helps build a sense of being in a thriving underworld kitchen, even if it happens to serve ominous felines that don’t stay dead for long.
For all of you hardcore Vorthos’s who really want to go deep on the lore for Asmor, the three most important cards in the deck to turn into food are Granite Gargoyle, Gray Ogre, and the humble Atog. While none of them look like they have anything to do with food or drink, we do know that Granite Gargoyle is a classic Asmor recipe according to its flavour text. Gargoyle also happens to be the first ever mention of our masterchef, going all the way back to 1993. As for Atog, Asmor suggests you turn it into a nice pâté, and she also likes to cook Gray Ogre toes in a sweet black sauce. You’d think I was making this up on this spot, but this is all drawn from the first story that Asmor featured in – the wonderful Chef’s Surprise by Sona Orin Lyris, published in 1995 in the Distant Planes Anthology.
Yeah, you heard me right. Eating ogre toes is a genuine, canonical part of Magic: The Gathering lore. Yum!
Anyway, what do we do once we’ve assembled our demonic charcuterie board? The most obvious answer, if we have a mind to winning and interacting with the board, is to force feed our malignant meals to whichever creature looks the most threatening. A Sun Titan is a fearsome foe, but they aren’t much use when they’re sent to the graveyard with a bad case of gastro. The absolute dream is targeting something like a Phyrexian Obliterator, or anything else with a severe downside when it deals damage to itself, but that won’t come up often.
If you want to think a little bigger, try targeting your own Brash Taunter. The goblin’s iron stomach can handle anything, and rather than killing him, the damage it would normally take gets sent in the direction of an opponent of your choice. This is a family friendly website, but my headcanon for how this works from a lore perspective is uhhh… scatological to say the least.
Putting my Vorthos cap back on, I think the coolest possible thing you can do with Food tokens in this deck is to have Asmor feed them to Lord of the Pit. For those of you who aren’t clear on Asmor’s backstory, a quick refresher:
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is a Dominarian wizard who foolishly summoned a Lord of the Pit for a magic duel but lacked enough fodder to keep him sated. This particular demon lord went by the unassuming name of Vincent, and was merciful enough to offer Asmor a bargain. If she enlisted as his personal cook and returned to the underworld for seven years and seven days, he would spare her life. But should she ever run out of interesting dishes to feed him, her life would be forfeit. Lucky for Asmor, she ended up being such a brilliant chef that Vincent let her leave of her own accord, as long as she published an entire book of her recipes before she left.
While we lack a legendary Vincent card, LotP is a fine approximation, and the mechanics line up charmingly. As a 7/7, we can feed him every turn without ever killing him, but remember that we’ll need more than just food if we want to keep him from eating Asmor, so make sure you have some creatures already in play for him to eat raw. Alternatively we can let him go wanting and cop a whopping seven damage every turn, but I’d rather not cross a hungry demon. The whole thing is just *Chef’s Kiss*.
Moving beyond Asmor herself and down into the heart of the deck, we have a small handful of removal spells. Removal isn’t something we’re desperate for because Asmor takes care of it already with her activated ability, but we need backup for when we don’t have her in play.
Cards like Eat to Extinction and Feed The Swarm are not only useful and efficient in their own right, they’re so appetisingly named that it would be a crime against flavourtown to go without them. And that’s to say nothing of the best of the best, Roast and Bake Into Pie. Bake is a removal spell that turns the creature into a food token, what more could you possibly ask for?
Now, while you should use removal spells on whatever most needs removing, I have three tasty targets that I encourage every Asmor player to prioritise above all else. The Underworld Cookbook from MH2 is supposed to represent Asmor’s first publication, but she’s promised a sequel. While still in Vincent’s employ, word of her recipes reached the Dominarian overworld and culinary chaos ensued as aristocrats and gourmands grew fond of ogre toes and atog liver. Naturally, this didn’t make her many friends among the downtrodden proletariat species that featured in her recipes, and she has been hunted ever since.
In order to remedy this and turn the tables back on the nobles, Asmor has promised The Underworld Cookbook Vol. 2 will include brand new recipes that feature elven aristocrats, dwarven councilors and goblin princes…
So, taking our cues from Asmor herself, why not try out your own recipes and eat the rich? Roast a Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Bake a Muxus, Goblin Grandee into a pie. Sate your Urge to Feed with a tasty Lathril, Blade of the Elves!
The remainder of the deck is largely made up of cards that earn their place by virtue of their art, their name, or their function. Cards like Peppersmoke and Rain of Salt might not pull their weight with synergy or strength, but have you ever eaten a meal without proper seasoning? No thanks. The same goes for Elixir of Immortality and Chalice of Life. Who wants to eat without a refreshing beverage to wash it all down? You’ll need something to quench that Eternal Thirst!
I’ve tried to keep the deck as affordable and accessible as possible (which is why I’ve left out Fork, a necessity at any kitchen table, but unfortunately a reserve list card) and part of that has been making sure every card is legal in Commander. However, if you have a permissive playgroup willing to bend the rules a little, there are a host of fantastic cards from the silver bordered sets like Just Desserts, Chicken Egg, and my personal favourite, Saute, which deserves a special mention for the wonderful flavour text alone.
Want to take that further? Throw out the colour identity rules, allow festive cards and you’ll suddenly get access to Yule Ooze, Fruitcake Elemental, Thopter Pie Network and the hilarious Naughty//Nice! Food tokens might be relatively new to Magic, but the history of edible and potable cards goes all the way back to alpha. There are dozens and dozens of cards that didn’t make into this list, and feel free to chop and change according to your personal tastes.
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar might be my favourite character in all of magic lore, and if you’ve taken a liking or want to read more, see if you can hunt down an old copy of Chef’s Surprise. Here’s hoping that Sonia will write an actual Underworld Cookbook one day!
Jake FitzSimons is a certified Magic tragic. He keeps one land hands, forgets at least half of his Rhystic Study triggers, and names “Pot of Greed” with Demonic Consultation. He is at his happiest flipping for lethal with Yuriko. You can follow him @Jake_FitzSimons.