The Top 10 Cards To Help You Exploit (But Not Pronounce) Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar

Just call her Asmor for short. This discard-loving Modern Horizons 2 preview has Bryan Gottlieb brewing up a storm.

Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, illustrated by Ryan Pancoast

All right, Wizards of the Coast (WotC). Today is the day you made things personal.

Years of speech therapy. People routinely mocking my pronunciation. A general fear of public speaking.

I overcame all of that to be able to talk about and broadcast the game I love. And now, after 27 long years, you do this to me.


I forgave Phelddagrif, joked my way around Jokulhaups, and never even naysayed Nyxathid. Verily, I even eventually vocalized Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. But Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is where I draw the freaking line.

We are at war. Expect dramatic overwrought articles, rampant Twitter complaining, snarky emails…

Huh? Aaron Forsythe says we can just call her Asmor?

Okay, yeah, I guess that’s an acceptable solution as well. War is off. For now…

Asmor here represents the absolute best of the Modern Horizons experience. It’s a nostalgic, flavorful call back to Magic’s past that’s unlikely to dramatically destabilize the Modern format. It is, however, just strong enough to get my wheels turning. That’s a difficult window to nail within the context of Modern, which is one of the reasons why I find myself so resistant to the Modern Horizons concept.

So many of these designs are absolutely brilliant and I want all of them to have an opportunity to be part of my Magic experience, which is very much focused on competitive play. However, many of these cards will struggle making the cut in the absurdly powered-up worlds of Modern or Legacy.

Imagine a world where these cards are spaced out across years and years of our Standard experience. Sure, that means the broken cards are coming along with things like Garth One-Eye or Chatterfang, Squirrel General. It sounds preposterous to exalt the virtues of an alternate timeline where Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Urza, Lord High Artificer had their run in Standard, but seriously, are those cards anywhere near as dominant without the deep bench of the Modern format? Are they any worse than Oko, Thief of Crowns or Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath?

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis Urza, Lord High Artificer

Oko, Thief of Crowns Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

I think the answer on both counts is no. Segmenting off Commander cards sort of makes sense. The goals and sensibilities of that format are reasonably far removed from the competitive Magic experience. I wouldn’t say the same thing about Modern cards. Sure, they do weird things, but weird things in Standard that are just not quite supported are some of my favorite cards to sink deckbuilding hours into.

I recognize this is very much an “Old Man Yells at Cloud” moment. Modern Horizons is super-popular, and hell, I kind of love it too. I just like asking the “what ifs” when it comes to Magic.

Anyway, back to Asmor. As I see it, this card offers players four tangible payoffs when you are willing to jump through its hoops.

  • A one-mana 3/3
  • Raw card quantity
  • A cheap artifact of dubious quality
  • Recursive removal

These tools appeal to a lot of decks in Modern, so I want to spend the bulk of my article today talking about the cards I view as the best at fulfilling Asmor’s precondition for casting. I reviewed all 708 Modern-legal cards with the word “discard” appearing in the text, and for the most part, I don’t think you’ll be surprised at the suspects I turned up for my Top 10 list. They’ve all seen play in the past, which is critical in a format like Modern.

If we had to make too many odd card inclusions, there’s no way we could compete on raw power level. After all, while Asmor seems strong, there’s nothing intrinsically broken about the plays it gives you access to. We’ve got Wild Nacatl, Elvish Visionary, all the Affinity enablers you can shake a stick at, and some of the best removal ever printed already available in the format. Asmor will have to fill its role effortlessly if it is to make the cut.

Honorable Mentions:

Bartered Cow Aether Vial

Here are the cards that aren’t quite Asmor enablers but are still doing something interesting in conjunction with her. Ari Lax once listed Bartered Cow as one of the Top 10 most broken cards in Throne of Eldraine. Maybe that has never quite manifested into actual game impact, but I still think his analysis is sound, even in retrospect.

“Bartered Cow effectively has ‘madness zero, make an artifact.‘ One of the hallmarks of broken cards is being able to convert resources at no cost, and Bartered Cow is just that. I’ve played Welding Jar in multiple decks as a zero-mana artifact for Mox Opal with some other text. It’s not hard to assume that ‘Basking Rootwalla but an artifact’ is a big game.”

I agree that free resource generation can’t be ignored. This lines up with Asmor’s removal ability and is being fueled by similar enablers. Every sketch I came up with felt like the presence of Bartered Cow was only making the deck worse though. This is either a miss, or a puzzle I just haven’t been able to solve.

Meanwhile, Aether Vial does the very cool trick of putting Asmor onto the battlefield on Turn 1 with no discard. It’s pretty easy to envision a game snowballing from there if you’re able to quickly produce additional Food to stifle your opponent’s growth. The main problem I see with this synergy is that I’m not sure the typical Asmor deck (whatever that means) is going to be all that creature-dense. And while the payoff is good, it’s probably not worth warping your deck around.

I do have a sketch of Rakdos Sacrifice that might be on to something though. Cauldron Familiar decks haven’t successfully ported to Modern because they’re only at their best in creature-heavy metagames. Maybe the printing of Ignoble Hierarch alongside Aether Vial freeing up your mana for disruption can be enough to bring the deck to yet another format.

On to the core list.

10. Smuggler’s Copter

Smuggler’s Copter

Weird beatdown decks are some of my favorite in all of Magic, and Smuggler’s Copter is exactly the glue needed to staple some mediocre dummies together. Add in Mox Amber so we can start playing the game at Modern speed, and a small-ball Boros Taxes deck starts to show some promise.

I concede that Asmor appearing alongside Leonin Arbiter is weird, but I’m pretty sure it’s fine. We’re more interested in the cheap but sizeable body to turn on our Mox Ambers anyway. I’m entirely unsure if the move away from more expensive permanents is worth it to play Lurrus of the Dream-Den. It’s a common tension in all of the Asmor decks. In most other instances I chose to go up the mana curve (usually for Street Wraith). I’ll give it a shot like this to start, and I’m happy to move towards Skyclave Apparition and Stoneforge Mystic if experience proves me wrong.

9. Smallpox


I will readily admit to having a weak spot in my heart for Smallpox, but Asmor really seems like it’s doing a lot of things these decks are typically asking for. It functions as pure resource generation, an early clock, and possibly the best follow up to an early Smallpox you can ask for. Gerry T was working on this list pre-Modern Horizons 2, and I moved a few pieces around to see if I could make Asmor work. In truth, I have no idea how many enablers you need to reliably bring Asmor online, but it helps plenty that it has utility even when it’s not being played as an early creature, and The Underworld Cookbook from the first Asmor can always set up the second.

8. Faerie Macabre

Faerie Macabre

It’s worth keeping track of every way you can potentially drop an Asmor on Turn 1. Faerie Macabre is certainly capable of the job, and I did spend some time building a deck that was just looking to maximize the number of Turn 1 Asmors. I wouldn’t recommend playing it, but it was an interesting experiment.

7. Magma Opus

Magma Opus

Does Asmor actually fit in a control deck? As usual, the answer is “it depends.” The value of a cheap early blocker is significant in a deck like this, especially if we’re going to see a lot of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer on Modern battlefields. Meanwhile, turning redundant resources into lifegain or removal can be a real boon for a deck looking to go long. Even reshuffling The Underworld Cookbook into your deck with Jace is a pretty neat play pattern, and if you’re ever in a spot to turn a Cookbook into a Torrential Gearhulk, it’s probably game-breaking.

My main concern with the following decklists is that I don’t love our non-Magma Opus ways of getting Asmor onto the battlefield. I’m fond of Prismari Command, but Asmor costing four mana at sorcery speed sort of misses the point. Still, there are some powerful new tools available to Blue Moon-style decks. I’ll at least give this one a shot.

6. Insolent Neonate

Insolent Neonate

Insolent Neonate is just solid, consistent glue. I featured it in the Smuggler’s Copter list above, but any creature-based strategy that’s looking to get Asmor into the mix should give Insolent Neonate a look. See our next entrant for a list that’s hard-focused on the ability to make something of pitched cards.

5. Seasoned Pyromancer

Seasoned Pyromancer

Seasoned Pyromancer looks odd alongside Asmor, since it’s really not doing much to set up early plays. However, it benefits from being both another discard outlet and a discard payoff. From pitching redundant copies of your legend, to just settling in for the long value game that Asmor will occasionally allow you to play, I think Seasoned Pyromancer does a lot of small things well.

Here’s an attempt to play a “fair” Grief, without its partner in crime Ephemerate. Is it just a facially good card? I have to believe so, especially when you can use it as setup to empower your Cabal Therapist.

4. Goblin Lore / Burning Inquiry

Goblin Lore Burning Inquiry

Asmor is another potential payoff in the existing but long-forgotten Hollow One decks, and even has the benefit of bringing along The Underworld Cookbook to empower future turns. Is it better than Flamewake Phoenix? Gurmag Angler? It certainly has to help that it’s a far less graveyard-reliant card. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel here, just trying out something resembling a very stock list and seeing if it moves the needle at all.

3. Liliana of the Veil

Liliana of the Veil

Now we’re getting into the “solidly powerful” portion of the list. I don’t feel the need to build a specific deck around Liliana of the Veil, since a smattering of the card appears elsewhere on this Top 10. It’s just a card that combines well with Asmor almost by accident.

It enables casting. It converts the excess resource of The Underworld Cookbook into raw material to pitch to Liliana. There are late-game scenarios where pitching the card drawn to The Underworld Cookbook to make Food is dramatically preferable to just discarding to Liliana. Add in the ability to farm your graveyard for the best closing threat after stabilizing, and it’s not hard to see that these two cards are destined to become fast friends.

2. Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality

Similarly, Collective Brutality appears all over these lists. The card is certainly down from its apex, when it was one of the most important cards in the Modern format. Still, it’s good solid removal, and with Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Ignoble Hierarch getting ready to hit the streets, it feels like removal is about to be on the uptick. May as well use the removal that also gives us a one-mana 3/3 and an additional card.

1. Street Wraith

Street Wraith

Look, Street Wraith is barely a Magic card. As far as fundamentally broken stuff still remaining in the format, Street Wraith has got to be near the top of the list. Turn 1 Asmor is silly on so many levels, and when using Street Wraith to do it, you’re not even going down resources. I’d love to find a way to use every part of Street Wraith, and it’s for that reason that this fresh take on Rakdos Death’s Shadow has me pretty excited.

Again, there’s a real tension in passing on Lurrus for Street Wraith, but it’s got to be correct here. Still though, I’m interested in Mishra’s Bauble for its ability to turn on Dragon’s Rage Channeler more reliably. These two one-drops should open up far more aggressive lines for the Death’s Shadow archetype, and I won’t be surprised when I see this deck regularly closing on Turn 4 with plenty of disruption along the way.

Obviously, these decks are all up for review on a moment-to-moment basis. With non-stop powerful cards coming down the pipeline, as well as a madness theme in red and black, don’t be surprised to see Asmor spicing up more dishes in the preview season weeks to come. I am crossing my fingers that this card makes it to the big stage… just not in a match that I’m covering.