It’s funny how one card can change everything.
Before Bryan Gottlieb so rudely sniped my article topic on Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, I was doing my usual pre-game research, trying to see what would go well with Asmor in Modern. I know for a fact I came across Ovalchase Daredevil and didn’t even consider it, despite testing decks abusing it for a Pro Tour at one point. Once you realize a single Daredevil removes the activation cost on each copy of The Underworld Cookbook, you start to wonder what’s possible.
Initially, folks were enamored with the idea of recapturing the glory of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis using Feasting Troll King. When your Cookbooks can create a steady stream of Food for Feasting Troll King, returning it becomes almost trivial.
Still, there are many flavors of Asmor decks, each looking to take advantage of different engines. Splashing green enables Trail of Crumbs and Gilded Goose, plus Life from the Loam if that interests you. Blue provides Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Metallic Rebuke for the lean versions and Urza, Lord High Artificer combined with Academy Manufactor if you want to get bigger. Red typically leaves you with an aggressive stance thanks to Lightning Bolt, Seasoned Pyromancer, and maybe Hollow One. White, as always, provides little.
The whole concept of this archetype is bizarre because you operate on a spectrum. Go too slow and you risk losing to things like Primeval Titan and Hedron Crab and if you go too fast, trying to maximize your Turn 2 Feasting Troll Kings, you get weaker to graveyard hate. Most of these decks shrug off one-shot graveyard hate like Nihil Spellbomb and Tormod’s Crypt, although they’ll usually struggle against Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, or Dauthi Voidwalker to some degree.
These decks all have the same game plan: generate artifacts, make two Constructs with Urza's Saga, and control the battlefield with Asmor. Does that plan seem too slow for Modern? In some matchups, it can be. Decks with Primeval Titan or Archive Trap can easily go over the top of you. Dredge can be faster. That's what the rest of your deck is supposed to address.
Gaining Asmor would have been enough to make Food a viable option but we also happen to have Urza’s Saga as a backup engine.
The Elephant in the Room
Let’s talk about Urza’s Saga for a moment.
Bryan Gottlieb and I were quickly able to identify the potential of this card. The Constructs can be huge in the right archetype and being able to tutor up a key piece to an engine is exactly what some decks in the format needed. It seemed powerful and I didn’t even realize you could make a second Construct on its way out. The first time I saw that happen might have been the biggest “uh-oh” moment of my life.
Even if your opponent is doing a good job of keeping your synergy under control, a single Urza’s Saga later and they might be dead. If you have a second copy, chances are they can’t beat it without something extreme like Creeping Corrosion.
It’s still too early to definitely talk about bans but the Food decks will still exist even if Urza’s Saga goes the way of Hogaak. In the meantime, we should focus on how to build the best version of the deck and how to attack the metagame in general.