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The Next Ironroot Chef: Battle Recycle


You chose the card. You chose the competitors. This is the first battle you’ve been waiting for.

It’s time to find the Next Ironroot Chef.

In one corner of flavor stadium is Emma LaBelle. The talented Commander player cut her teeth on the taste of finding the gems of creative discarded by others at Friday Night Magic. In the other is Roberto Moser. Claiming flavorful dominion with a background in real-world Italian cuisine, he looks to transform the neglected options into the tastiest dishes.

The challenge for them was to use the hilarious art and interesting restriction the Tempest favorite Recycle brings.


Whose cuisine can be supreme first? This is The Next Ironroot Chef: Battle Recycle!

Competitor Emma LaBelle

Cabin-hand. General. Immortal. Now, Dominaria's most famous goblin is adding "restaurateur" to his resume. Welcome to Casa de Squee, the hottest new spot in the multiverse for sixty-card casual dining!

Recycle makes it pretty clear how much Squee, Goblin Nabob is enjoying his turn as a chef. What if, in the years after his adventures on the Weatherlight, he decided to take it up full-time?

As it turns out, Magic’s flavor text has a surprising amount of insight into Squee’s favorite foods:

I didn’t want to extend the deck into black (goblin eating habits can be gross, but they’re not ghouls!). However, I couldn’t build around Recycle and not have some kind of graveyard component. I determined that Squee had taken a page from the urban-foraging community and begun scavenging the alleys of Ravnica for more culinary fodder:

Weird Harvest
Next, I looked at Squee’s peers to find his culinary influences. The boggarts of Lorwyn seem to especially enjoy worms (Worm Harvest and Phosphorescent Feast). Zendikar’s goblins prefer Scute Mobs. Goblin Gardener (Urza’s Destiny) has some straightforward advice: Just eat dirt! From what I had learned so far about goblin gastronomy, I was able to extrapolate some other stomach-turning goblin delicacies:

Of course, what’s a chef without his knives? I made sure to give Squee some kitchen implements to work with. I’ll bet you can smell the succulent, Searing Flesh of beetles already:

His restaurant staff, the Kitchen Finks and (provided your casual playgroup approves of you running the occasional silver-bordered card) Mons's Goblin Waiters are sure to make your dinner . . . well, if nothing else, I can guarantee it will be unforgettable.

Finally, should any of Casa de Squee's diners make it through their meals, I included a copy of Medicine Bag. The flavor text explains it better than I can.

The full list:

(Suggested Forests are Tempest #308.)

Competitor Roberto Moser

To the attention of Jace, the Living Guildpact and the Azorius Senate of Ravnica:

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
Greetings, Living Guildpact. I see you and the Azorius Senate have recently expressed concerns on our waste management and Recycle facilities.

I, on behalf of Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, am pleased to ensure you, as well as the Senate, that our recent policy changes and outsourcing programs are expected to increase sustainability and efficiency for the benefit of the whole City of Ravnica.

At the Golgari Swarm, we believe you can’t spell recycle without cycle! And it’s also a sustainable way to keep your cards coming!

Let me start by saying that we’re basing our facilities on high-sustainability lands: 73% of our lands have excellent (re)cycling capabilities, thanks to our recent acquisition of Barren Moors, Polluted Mires, Slippery Karsts, and Tranquil Thickets. We believe these new acquisitions will really go along well with our existing Overgrown Tombs, where most of our productivity has been based in the past years. Need proof of our landcycling effectiveness? Check our most recent Worm Harvest: the Boros Legion is still trying to free its Garrison from all the worms we’ve generated in the past semester!

I also need to mention that our new company motto is “keeping graveyards empty: recycling and reusing for a better tomorrow,” so we’ve recently decided to acquire nearby Bojuka Bogs for increased cemetery processing capabilities. But our sustainable exploitation of the territory doesn’t end here—thanks to the recent acquisition of the one and only Dark Heart of the Wood, we plan to recycle entire Forests starting next semester.

Golgari Guildmage
I would like to invite you and the delegates from the Azorius Senate to visit our new facilities. Our Golgari Guildmages are successfully coordinating live recycling activities, our new pride and joy. We’ve successfully developed new ways of recycling both living and undead creatures for improved production outcomes. Come and see how our plants mercilessly and efficiently process Elvish Aberrations, generously provided by the our neighbors, the Simic Combine; Twisted Abominations, one of our most famous products; and even Krosan Tuskers provided by the Gruul Clan.

Don’t forget to visit our Necrogenesis department; our Eternal Witnesses are perfecting procedures for the reuse and regrowth of extinguished assets, pushing efficiency to never-before-seen levels. And thanks to new, advanced Morbid Bloom procedures, graveyards have never been so empty! Let your wasted assets Fade from Memory and embrace Rapid Decay programs to cut cemetery costs!

Oversold Cemeteries in Ravnica? Not on our watch! Afraid we might over-consume graveyards? We have a backup plan! Our Decree of Annihilation policy will make sure we’ll never run out of rotten meat to recycle!

Our control department is also moving toward (re)cycling policies—with a 100% sustainable management of Death Pulses and Ichor Slicks, we are now sure we can Expunge any unwanted asset that might present problems while simultaneously keeping a flexible attitude toward the future.

On a related note, our risk managers are implementing safety mechanisms to make sure our graveyard policies are always on point. Try our Elixir of Immortality for a true recycling experience or ask us about our Living Death promotion: Your cemeteries are an asset, and learning to Repopulate your company with loyal undead employees can be the key to success! You don’t need Yawgmoth's Will to keep graveyards in check, but it’s always good to know we have multiple ways to manage graveyard-based assets.

Blight Herder
Now, you might be afraid our program is too shortsighted—just what will we do with all the assets we exile from Ravnica’s cemeteries? Can our program be even more sustainable? Well, as always, we have you covered: Our associate Vraska the Unseen (who I have reasons to believe you might know from a recent duel of some sort) has introduced us to a brand new opportunity: the Eldrazi!

They introduced us to new processing procedures, turning removed assets into recyclable resources. As of today, we’ve decided to outsource 5% of our production to the Eldrazi, our new offshore partner. Their three part program, featuring brand new Blight Herders, Void Attendants, and Brood Butchers, will turn “exiled” into “ex-idle”!

Looking forward to having you for dinner very soon!

Best regards,

Plant manager Varolz, the Scar-Striped.

(Day 176, Year 2 from the Guildpact restoration, one semester before the Eldrazi’s takeover of Ravnica)

The Vote

Below, you can read the judges’ scoring to see how Nate and Stybs cast their ballots. However, this is your chance to score the winner of Battle Recycle.

{six different polls, each with an end date of midnight 11/5}

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[poll id="682"]

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The Judging

Nate’s Review

Nathan Holt @walktheplanes

Nate’s the host of Walking the Planes, a documentary series about Magic: The Gathering with a healthy dose of sketch comedy (for value).

Not kidding, I finally got around to picking up a recycling bin just before writing this review. I had been using a broken-down plastic kitchen bin with Sharpie on it saying "recycli" because I ran out of room before getting to "ng". Needless to say, I don't have my recycling act together. But these IRCs, however (segue, baby!), have demonstrated a mastery of the art of Recycle, a Foglio-arted gem from Tempest. Let's dive in!


What an informative newsletter! If only my local politicians were as communicative with their constituency as those in Ravnica. However, we aren't scoring you as a man of letters, but rather as a chef. And to that end, I must say I'm a bit disappointed. Cycling is, in my opinion, a flavor-lite mechanic. At IRC we praise form over function (at least I do). I was hoping artwork, card names, and flavor text would be used to convey flavor more so than your cards' mechanics. And to that end, the Eldrazi aren't exactly a fit here either, as there're not many ways to exile opponents' cards. But the flavor of them as "processors" and recyclers is cool.

Your deck does create an experience of constantly using and reusing stuff, though, and that's cool. The experience of recycling is fun as well.

Creativity: 2

Boldness: 1

Adherence to theme: 2


This deck is a delight. You've turned Phil Foglio's kitchen goblin into the star of his own cooking show. You must've watched this year's Community Cup and seen how much of a sucker I am for cards themed on food and cooking. You went deep on flavor text to that end. Today, I learned from that flavor text that Squee is partial to eating, specifically, insects. Go figure! This makes the graveyard recycling "scavenging" work even better, as your Deadbridge Goliaths and Drudge Beetles synergize with multiple themes. Well done!

Creativity: 3

Boldness: 2

Adherence to theme: 3

Adam’s Judgment

Adam Styborski @the_stybs

Adam is the Content Manager for Gathering Magic. He's a casual player at heart and weekly columnist for MagicTheGathering.com. He also travels the country for Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage, and he shares his Pauper Cube everywhere.

Emma LaBelle

Barren Moor
Squee, Master Chef. I’m not sure I’d want to eat what that kitchen is cooking, but your first foray into flavor stadium was a well-prepared meal indeed. Avoiding black but recognizing the scavenger side of Goblin gastronomy was both clever and flavorful, and an equipped Squee with an array of on-name-point tools evoked the same winning recipe flavor Maria Bartholdi brought to the recent showdown in the 2015 Community Cup.

But it’s not a perfect preparation at work here.

Four copies of Recycle was a delight to see, but I have issues with the rest of your construction. You have multiple copies of lands—ostensibly to make the mana work well when playing the deck—but the remainder is all singletons. Is each of these tools just as important as the others? Is each of the ingredients in Squee’s kitchen just as equal to each other as everything else?

You nailed the mark on finding the flavor of Chef Squee, but the image you painted felt flat. Next time, consider the quantity of items to add texture and tell us what’s more important—or refit the mana to the wider world of flavors you’re trying to squeeze in.

Creativity: 3

Boldness: 2

Adherence to theme: 3

Roberto Moser

Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Like your competitor, I feel you took a cue from the Ironroot Chef show at this year’s Community Cup. Here, you crafted a presentation mixing the satire that’s Ravnica’s bureaucracy with the detailed walkthrough of your dish. I thought it was a bold move that clearly went to lengths being clever in slipping the card names in.

But I have some serious issues with your deck construction. Limited the copies of the core card of the challenge requires overwhelming reason to convince me it’s correct. I didn’t get that sense here. Leveraging the highly questionable sources for food across Ravnica is exactly what the Golgari do, making Recycle an excellent fit. But your execution left me questioning the follow-through on that flavor. Eldrazi partners off-plane? A mix of mass destruction and graveyard recursion? There’s a lot of literal recycling going on, and I’d like to have had a stronger angle one way or another. You chose the Golgari and Ravnica to center your flavor—and then veered quickly off that course.

I like your bold choices, but I wanted to see Recycle—the card—and the flavor you chose shine brighter here. Your presentation was full of effort—show me the flavors to match.

Creativity: 2

Boldness: 3

Adherence to theme: 2

Voting closes midnight Thursday, and the first winner will be announced Friday (11/6/2015). Follow @IronrootChef on Twitter for the final score and victory announcement and to share your ideas for secret ingredients. Chairman Holt will continue to use your suggestions to challenge our culinary challengers to the core.

Next week, we’ll feature the remaining Next Ironroot Chef finalists, the duo of Matthew Nielsen and Russel Lee. What card will they face off with? What flavor will our enigmatic chairman call upon for a creative card pile?

Follow us as the search for the next Ironroot Chef continues!

The Battle for Zendikar is here. Order singles, booster packs and more at CoolStuffInc.com today!

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