This week, the deck voted as “Jank of the Week” was Alison’s “Screaming Disciples OTK” deck, an aggressive haunting scream deck based in justice for quality 2 and 3 drops in Rilgon’s Disciple and Kosul Battlemage, as well as more effective pump spells in finest hour and paladin oathbook.
There are a few key card choices to note here. First off, this list is running a large amount of unit buffs. With 4 rapid shot, 4 finest hour, 3 paladin oathbook, and 2 jumpkick, you maximize your potential for high amounts of burst damage. However, this usually comes at the cost of inconsistency, with you drawing lots of tricks but no units to use them on.
I interviewed Alison to hear her thoughts about the deck. My first question was about the deck’s history. Where did she come up with this idea?
Alison: So, I first came up with the idea of the deck when I was chatting in Discord about Scream decks, and I wrote something like "I think at some point there will be a deck that combines Blitz and Scream, and it will be pretty decent." Just as a sort of proof-of-concept, I threw together a shell, added in a bunch of cards I thought would be neat in the deck, and posted it. Some folks were interested, and I ended up refining the deck over a few days with some community help, adding in Paladin Oathbook and Acquisitive Crow and phasing out my initial idea of Gorgon Fanatic. A day or so later, I was watching Grimfan's stream and realized that Carlose175 had actually created a deck with a similar idea as mine, only with a slightly different shell (adding cards like Vara's Intervention, which I thought was really smart). We compared decklists, and Nrausch1 later made their own list which took elements from both, tweaked them slightly and managed to ride it to top 100 Masters on a 10-0 record. I was really excited when I saw that, and the list that Nrausch1 generated based on ours ended up being the one that I took to Casual Friday.
This is a really in-depth answer, and just goes to show that building the best deck can’t be a one-person job, it needs to be a collaboration of multiple people working hard to figure out the best decklist.
I next asked Alison how she felt about the deck going forward. What tier does she think screaming disciples is? How well will it perform in the current metagame? What changes does she advise making to the list she played in the tournament?
Alison: I think it's definitely a deck that isn't even close to perfected both in terms of tweaking/fine-tuning and in terms of learning how to pilot it. I think this could well end up being a solid T2 deck, especially in the current meta where there's a lot of Temporal Control, since Scream decks have done well against it historically.
I don't think I'd make any change, no. It feels solid to me so far. I might tech in a Reinvigorate if Permafrost and other stun-based interaction becomes more common, but other than that I like it as it is.
Now, learning about the deck is cool and all, but I want to learn a bit about the player who piloted the screaming disciples deck to a top 8 finish in the ECL Casual Friday tournament. How do you deal with the pressure of having to play round after round, knowing that if you lose just a few games your top 8 chances are history? Then, once you make it to the top 8, how do you keep calm when faced with best-of-five matches where 3 losses mean you’re out of the tournament for good?
Alison: Honestly I just was trying to relax and have as much fun as possible with the meme deck. It turned out to be surprisingly solid and got a lot of wins from just slamming opponent faces in and dealing lethal on T4 or T5. Blitz is my second favorite deck to play, next to Temporal, and it was really fun for me, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and draw lethal from nothing.
I was a bit nervous because I wasn't completely confident about piloting this version of the deck yet, having only practiced a few hours with it, but a lot of the time I spent playing Blitz (which was quite a lot, I took it to Masters a couple of seasons ago) paid off really big there. You have to check for lethal pretty much every turn, but it feels so satisfying when you finally get it.
I ended off the interview by asking Alison a few questions about individual card choices. At this point, most people are familiar with the Feln Berserk deck that’s established itself as a solid contender in the tournament metagame. This is a very similar list, but there are some key differences that I was curious about.
I think the justice units are really key to this deck, because they provide a lot of our burst damage and OTK potential. There's a reason I sometimes call this deck "Screaming Disciples" - Rilgon's Disciple is just amazing at making up a ton of the burn damage that this deck wants to have, as well as Finest Hour. I think these two cards provide the main advantage that this deck has over Feln Scream, just by upping the damage potential of every turn. I also think that Paladin Oathbook a clear advantage that this deck has over Feln Scream, because being able to build tall boards and the nice Berserk synergy is something you can't really get in Feln Scream alone.
Feln of course has the advantage of being more consistent because it's 2F, and that consistency means it can afford to run cards like Rindra which may not have as much raw damage but give it a lot more grinding power, especially against aggro decks. So it's a question of whether you think the extra burst from Disciple and Finest as well as the Berserk synergy from Oathbook make up for the extra chance of being power screwed and being unable to run Rindra.
One card that Feln could run but doesn’t is crow, how come with more options thanks to justice you still decided crow was worth running?
With Rilgon's Disciple and Kosul Battlemage, having a bunch of cheap 1 cost spells to activate their effects was really useful. Also, we run Oathbook, which means that Crow deals 7 raw damage on the first attack (it buffs to 3, then berserks for 4), unbuffed by anything except Oathbook. That means that Crow creates a lot more value in this deck than in a Feln Scream deck.
Normal Feln scream runs 4 rapid shots and 4 cabal standards, you're running 4 finest, 4 rapid shot, 2 jump kick, and 1 cabal tactic.
Did you ever get overloaded with combat tricks?
Sometimes, yeah. But I think any deck that runs a lot of combat tricks - including Feln Scream, TJP Blitz and this deck - will sometimes just draw into a hand full of nothing but tricks and then goldfish. It happens, it's a risk of the deck. At heart I think of this more as a Blitz deck than a Scream deck, so to me at least it made sense to have a lot of tricks to increase the burst damage. I'm sure that variants of this deck with less tricks and more threats could be run, and I encourage other people to experiment with playing around with combat trick ratios and improving the deck, but I'm happy with the amount of tricks this deck has right now.
Most scream lists nowadays are running 4 copies of dusk raider, how come you're only playing 2?
I don't know what I'd cut in favor of Dusk Raider. I think cutting the Jump Kicks leaves us with too few tricks, and cutting the Annihilates leaves us too weak to Sandstorm Titan. As a card that doesn't output raw damage by itself and is more useful for its ability to draw more cards and empower them than anything, it's the natural weak link to cut instead of our actual damage dealers. Keep in mind that since we run Territorial Elf and Acquisitive Crow, some of our threats already have Berserk and don't benefit at all from Dusk Raider. So while Dusk Raider is definitely a great card to have if you get a good draw with it, by itself it doesn't do much except create nightfall to draw more of our combo. If I had a good card to cut to add more Dusk Raiders in I would, but I don't.
I will say I am not 100% convinced that this is definitely optimal and it might well be the case that in the future I will end up eating my own words and going with a 4x Dusk Raider list.
Well, that’s about it for today’s Jank of the Week article. This justice scream deck looks to be quite powerful. I look forward to seeing other people’s take on this new and exciting deck. Can’t say I look forward to playing against it though, Temporal being my favorite deck and all...