This is a guide on how to use the card Cabal Therapy. Proper naming with Therapy is one of the most important and skill testing parts of the deck. This guide is far from perfect, and what you name will change based on very many factors, but this is a good resource on cards to name with it.
One of the most difficult things that may or may not be needed is the skill to be able to “Blind Therapy” someone. Although it may not happen often, having the ability to read your opponent can provide critical advantage to you in the long run. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you in developing your ability to be able hit a Cabal Therapy on turn 1 against an unknown deck.
- Prior to the start of the tournament, I always recommend taking a lap around the room. You will find players frantically writing decklists down and/or getting a few practice turns in against their friends. In some cases, there will be players just “goldfishing” against themselves to see how their hands play out. Either way, this is all valueable and free information. This can help you immensely if your first round opponent is someone you happened to watch and know what they’re playing.
- Read your opponent’s first turn – This is primarily relevant on the draw but did your opponent say “Basic Land, Go”? Legacy is not known for its Basic Land plays but the following provides insight as to which basic lands see play in which deck:
- Island – Storm, Miracles, Sneak and Show
- Swamp – Storm
- Mountain – Burn
- Plains – Death and Taxes, Miracles
It should be noted that there will be times where your opponent will lead with basic land but will proceed to play a card that should tip you into what they may be on. For example, Forest into Deathrite Shaman almost assuredly means they are on Elves.
- What about “Fetchland, Go”? Understanding which Fetchland played can provide valuable insight as to what your opponent is on:
- Scalding Tarn: Grixis Delver, Czech Pile, Sneak and Show, Miracles-variant, Temur Delver
- Polluted Delta:Grixis Delver, Czech Pile, Sneak and Show, Miracles-variant, ANT, Sultai Delver, Food Chain, Stoneblade, Reanimator
- Misty Rainforest: Grixis Delver, Food Chain, Sultai Delver, Sneak and Show, ANT, Temur Deliver
- Flooded Strand: Grixis Delver, Stoneblade, Miracles-variant, Death and Taxes (Blue splash)
- Arid Mesa: Miracles-variant, Death and Taxes (Red splash), Burn
- Marsh Flats: Deathblade, Dead-Guy Ale, Maverick, Tin Fins, Miracles-variant
- Wooded Foothills: Lands, Burn, Temur Delver, Aggro Loam
- Bloodstained Mire: Czech Pile, ANT, Reanimator
- Windswept Heath: Mirror, Maverick, Elves, Aggro Loam
- Verdant Catacombs: Depths, Food Chain, Sultai Delver, Czech Pile, Maverick, Elves, Aggro Loam, Nic Fit
Czech Pile (4C Leovold)
- Play: Brainstorm
- Draw: Hymn to Tourach
- Post-board Play: Hymn to Tourach
- Post-board Draw: Hymn to Tourach
On the play vs a fair blue deck, Brainstorm is one of the better names to hit. This holds true against Czech Pile. On the draw, Hymn to Tourach is a very strong card and should be avoided, as most Czech Pile lists are playing at least 3 copies.
This possibly changes on the draw based on the Czech Pile player’s opening line. Any line that involves Deathrite Shaman is potentially a Hymn to Tourach, but if the Czech Pile player plays basic Island or Tropical Island and passes, then it may be prudent to attempt to hit Brainstorm or similar action.
- Play: Force of Will
- Draw: Force of Will
Vs. Grixis Delver it’s important to develop your mana so you can get to the point where you can overwhelm them. A good Grixis Delver pilot knows to counter Veteran Explorer or GSZ for X = 1, so you want them to be unable to do so. If you know your opponent to play Stifle in his/her list name that first and only fetch your first land when they’re tapped out.
Sneak and Show
- Play: Show and Tell
- Draw: Griselbrand
Show and Tell is the primary win condition in Game 1 and is their fastest kill. Post-board, Sneak Attack becomes more of a consideration and Griselbrand becomes dangerous.
ANT / TES
- Play: Dark Ritual
- Draw: Dark Ritual
The ideal play against Storm is to name a ritual spell in the blind, and then business on flashback. Dark Ritual is often times the most common ritual that Storm decks are going to keep in their opener so it’s always a solid choice.
The biggest primary reasoning here is that most of Storm’s busted starts begin with Dark Ritual usually, and Storm pilots are more likely to keep hands that contain Dark Ritual in them for this reason. Because of how diversified payoff cards now are for Storm (between Infernal Tutor, Dark Petition, Ad Nauseam, and Burning Wish) naming a payoff card does no good because if they have a different payoff card in hand or draw another they go off anyways. Without mana acceleration, they are denied that quick kill and have to dig to assemble a kill condition, giving us time to push through a kill.
- Play: Natural Order
- Draw: Natural Order
This is the card that scares us the most in this matchup. Ensuring they don’t have it clears up a lot of information in this matchup.
Death and Taxes
- Play: Aether Vial
- Draw: Phyrexian Revoker
Deed is our best card here. We know and they know it, and Revoker is their answer to it. Shut it down. Vial is still better to name on the play, though, because sometimes you can catch them keeping the 1-lander+Vial hand, and punishing that when possible is good. Vial also lets them break timing with Flickerwisp. Vial has become even more critical as time has passed, due to the presence of Recruiter of the Guard (which combos with Flickerwisp to give Death and Taxes an actual lategame now). Note that sandbagging Therapy activations can be very strong here, as you can wait for them to fetch an equipment with Stoneforge or tutor a Flickerwisp with Recruiter.
- Play: Chalice of the Void
- Draw: Chandra, Torch of Defiance
On the play vs this deck, Chalice is the heaviest hit because it shuts off much of our early plays and removal. On the draw (if you haven’t been Chalice’d on 1 already), it’s better to try to his Chandra because she is their biggest engine.
- Play: Thought-Knot Seer
- Draw: Thought-Knot Seer
TKS is a fast and scary card that comes down super early and takes out best card, and Eldrazi is often willing to keep hands with multiples.
- Play: Stifle
- Draw: Stifle
It’s our number one enemy in this matchup. If they don’t have it, congrats, you have information and the go-ahead for Explorer to ramp past their tempo. Also keep in mind that they give you information on their hand from Delver. Write it down.
- Play: Reanimate
- Draw: Reanimate
A quickly Reanimated fattie can easily spell doom. Even though Entomb sets this up, they have plenty tools to do so. Reanimate however is the cheapest way to actually get it on the field, especially when they also run Lotus Petal. After that, just keep stripping relevant bits from their hand.
- Play: Fireblast
- Draw: Fireblast
Fireblast is how you die in nearly every matchup vs Burn. Another solid option in post board games can be Sulfuric Vortex since it additionally prevents us from outgaining life against them. In variants such as Scapewish, Price of Progess is also important to prevent from dying with Valakut triggers on the stack.
- Play: Invigorate
- Draw: Invigorate
Most of Infect’s truly insane starts comes from Invigorate followed by Berserk. Invigorate being free to cast gives incentive to the Infect player to keep hands with multiples.
- Play: Crop Rotation
- Draw: Crop Rotation
- Post-Board Play: Life from the Loam (if you have Surgical)
- Post-Board Draw: Gamble/Crop Rotation
Crop Rotation is how Lands “gets” us by being able to Rotate into a kill quickly. Since much of their cards involves the graveyard, trying to bin Life from the Loam or Punishing Fire only allows them to get their engine up and running faster. However, in post-board games where Surgical Extraction is a factor, binning a Life from the Loam and then Surgical’ing it is important. On the draw Gamble or Crop Rotation can be important cards to hit.
Nic Fit Mirror
- Play: Cabal Therapy
- Draw: Green Sun’s Zenith
You know how this deck works. Your opponent knows how yours works. Don’t give them the chance to mess up your plan. If you get to cast Cabal Therapy on the draw they probably didn’t have a Cabal Therapy of their own, so go for the next important thing and hurt their consistency as much as you can. This game’ll probably go long, so play accordingly.
A discussion of mainboard considerations