Duskmourn Art | Art by Martin de Diego Sádaba
1, Jul, 24

Spicy Duskmourn Spoiler Is A Game-Changer For Aggro Decks!

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Magic’s release schedule has really kicked things into overdrive this year. There are still two sets before it waiting in the wings, but already we’re getting our first taste of the unique brand of horror Duskmourn will be bringing to the table. For a new player, this is a lot to keep straight. The set looks pretty exciting though, both aesthetically and mechanically, and one card in particular has a lot of players talking. That card is Screaming Nemesis, and it may just be the best Aggro card MTG has seen in years.

Screaming Nemesis: A Wild New MTG Design

Screaming Nemesis | Duskmourn: House of Horror

Screaming Nemesis is a 3/3 with Haste for three mana. Not bad, but not great either. The juice here is in the ability. When Screaming Nemesis takes damage, from any source, it gets to reflect that damage back at a player. Much like a Boros Reckoner or Stuffy Doll. Unlike those cards, Screaming Nemesis also prevents any player it damages this way from gaining life. For the rest of the game.

Forget the nightmarish artwork: that single line of text is the scariest thing to come out of Duskmourn so far. It represents a permanent ability the likes of which we’ve rarely seen before. We’ve seen effects that shut down lifegain for a single turn, such as Skullcrack. We’ve even seen creatures that shut down lifegain while in play, like Rampaging Ferocidon. But the only lifegain denial effect on this level we’ve seen before is Stigma Lasher; a much, much harder-to-use card.

To put it bluntly, Screaming Nemesis’ ability is insanely powerful. Any Midrange or Control deck that relies on lifegain to stabilize will be demolished by this card. Worryingly, this ability isn’t even that difficult to activate.

Unless your opponent is planning on taking three damage every turn, which is a great way to lose to Aggro, they’ll need to block Nemesis at some point. When they do, it’ll turn off their lifegain tap for the rest of the game. Of course, there are ways around this, like non-damage-based removal. But even against those, there are ways to ping your own Nemesis to trigger the ability in a pinch.

Screams In Standard

Standard Aggro Cards

So Screaming Nemesis is a big deal for MTG design, that much is clear. But how well will it perform on actual tournament tables? That’s another question entirely. Standard will likely be its first, and best, port of call. The format is already rich with aggressive red decks that can make great use of a card like this. Additionally, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse isn’t rotating until 2025, so cards that can counteract the constant lifegain from that nightmare are welcome indeed.

At the moment, both Mono-Red Aggro and Boros Convoke are some of the best decks in Standard. Both care about dropping cheap creatures and turning them sideways, and therefore both could easily find room for a card like Screaming Nemesis. Three mana is on the high end for Mono-Red Aggro, but I could easily see Nemesis taking the place of Squee, Dubious Monarch as a higher-impact option.

The same is true for Boros Convoke, which caps out at a similar cost. This deck has one up on Mono-Red Aggro in that it tends to run a few copies of Legion Extruder: a value card that can also serve as an enabler for your Screaming Nemesis in a pinch. In any event, Nemesis will definitely find its way into the sideboard of both decks, as an answer for decks that pack a lot of incidental lifegain.

Of course, when considering the Standard format, we need to factor in Bloomburrow too. We haven’t seen much of this set yet, but early indicators are pointing towards a couple of potential new aggressive decks in W/R Mice and R/G Raccoons. If either of these strategies is successful, then Screaming Nemesis will be a card worth considering. Even if it doesn’t exactly fit with the wholesome forest folk theme of such decks.

An Eternal Curse?

Screaming-Nemesis-MTG-Eternal-Cards

Standard is almost a shoo-in, but the more interesting question is how Screaming Nemesis will perform in Magic’s older formats. Does the card have a shot in Pioneer, or even Modern? I’d say quite possibly.

For starters, the card can completely shut down Amalia Combo decks in Pioneer if you manage to get its ability off. If your opponent can’t gain life, they can’t get the Amalia/Wildgrowth Walker loop going, and in many cases they can’t win the game. Given that Amalia Combo is one of the top three decks in the format, it’s safe to assume that Screaming Nemesis will become a staple in red sideboards, and possibly even a main deck addition to Mono-Red Aggro.

Modern is a tougher call to make. As last weekend’s Pro Tour has shown, the format is extremely combo-heavy at the moment, and the kind of grindy attrition that Nemesis helps to counter isn’t a huge force. That said, bans are looking likely, so we could easily shift into a more Nemesis-friendly format any day now. The most likely home for this card would be a deck like Boros Energy, Gruul Prowess, or Izzet Murktide: decks that care about life totals and creatures on board. Alternatively, it could be a fun tech inclusion in any deck running Orcish Bowmasters, since they make it incredibly easy to trigger Nemesis’ ability early on in a game.

However it works out, Screaming Nemesis is one of the most exciting MTG cards we’ve seen in years and one that truly deserves all the attention it’s currently getting. Don’t be surprised if it jumpscares you at every post-Duskmourn event, regardless of format.

Read More: MTG Duskmourn Commander Decks Reinvent Archenemy Format!

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