Joe Fiorini's picture
By: Joe Fiorini, Joseph G Fiorini
Jul 24 2015 11:00am
Login or register to post comments


Cabal Therapy Session.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Tell me about your mother... How does that make you feel?


Welcome back to another installment of The Eternal Spotlight. A lot has gone on this week, including the biggest, most impactful announcement from Wizards of the Coast and the Magic Online team that I've ever seen. I'll discuss the announcement later, for now, I'm going talk about the deck that I've been brewing.

Last week, I wrote about a Delver deck that I have been working on. I still believe in that deck, and I would have played it in an event if I had the time or ambition. It was a one-day weekend, which is not nearly as much fun as a three-day weekend. Being exhausted sapped me of the energy necessary to enjoy staying up late to play.

I've been busy working on a few decks and I've had some success. Also, I managed to do some streaming on Twitch, which has been a lot more fun than I'd Anticipated. I don't have an overlay, and my setup isn't the best, but if you've wanted to watch me stream Magic Online for some odd reason, you can check out my Twitch.TV channel by clicking here. Feel free to follow me, and I'll do my best to entertain you. I promise, I come off a lot less reserved, dry, and long-winded when you hear me speak in person!

As for the decks I've been playing, I've been sticking to Delver decks. The reason for that is that all of the more exciting decks don't perform as well on average for me. Sure, now and then I manage to stick a Time Vault on turn one, with a Voltaic Key and counter back-up, but that's the minority by far. Generally, I find that combo decks have a harder time with Mishra's Workshop decks than many other lists, because they require more mana in general, or they need to play several cards in one turn. Some Shops decks can run Null Rod, which is pretty much the bane of a combo deck's existence. Then there's the fact that combo decks use up their card slots for combos, generally leaving their disruption suite rather paltry in comparison to control decks, or aggro/tempo-control decks. 

I wouldn't go as far as to say that you can't run combo in this meta, Oath is always powerful. Of all the decks that I've ever played, Oath had the best game-one win percentage against Shops, and I don't remember dropping a match to it. Oath has some game against Delver decks too, although there are many difficult hate cards to battle through. 

If your entire game-plan against Shops is to do nothing until you can play a Serenity or Hurkyl's Recall, I'd be a little concerned. I've learned that you can't base your entire plan on an artifact-sweeper, because the chances of casting one on-curve are slim. This is especially true if you don't have any early interaction like Ingot Chewer. People often rely on Force of Will to buy them some time against prison decks, but putting yourself down a card isn't the ideal solution. I've had games where I had two Forces against a Martello Shops deck, and after (Mindtwist)ing myself, my opponent resolved a Lodestone Golem and it was lights out. Hurkyl's is great if you can win the turn after you play it, otherwise it's somewhat lackluster in my opinion. I like it better when a deck can get other uses out of it though - bouncing your own moxen to trigger a Monastery Mentor, for example.

Whatever you decide to play, be realistic about the deck's chances. The metagame on Magic Online is well-defined, there should be no reason to be under-prepared.

Here's the deck I've been playing in my spare time: 


I know some people find Delver decks to be boring, but I assure you, winning makes the game fun and exciting. Besides, this isn't really a Delver deck at all; it's a Young Pyromancer deck at heart. This deck is also a seventy-five card excuse to play with Cabal Therapy. I always feel a lot better after an intense Cabal Therapy session, and my Cabal Therapist says that we're making a lot of progress. This deck was inspired by the Legacy Grixis Delver deck, and the Young Pyromancer deck known as Grixis Therapy. Randy Buehler is playing Grixis Therapy in the Vintage Super League, and I plan on trying that deck as well.

Here's a video deck tech for my Grixis Delver deck:

My love affair with Cabal Therapy stretches back into the Treasure Cruise era of Legacy, when I played a UR Delver list that splashed black for Cabal Therapy in the sideboard.  The interaction between Therapy, Gitaxian Probe, and Young Pyromancer should not be underestimated.

If played correctly, Cabal Therapy is the best Duress or Thoughtseize that mana can buy.  The fact that it can hit multiple cards AND be flashed back for zero mana is incredible. With a Young Pyromancer on the battlefield, the flashback cost doesn't really cost anything. Casting Therapy makes an Elemental Token from Young Pyromancer. Flash the Therapy back, make another token, and proceed to strip the rest of the relevant cards from the opponent's hand.

Cabal Therapy can also be used to check an opponent's hand for problem cards. Here's an example: Your opponent is tapped out, and you need to resolve a spell during your main phase. You can cast Therapy, and name Force of Will or Mental Misstep if those are the only cards that can stop you. Your opponent has to preemptively blow their counter on your Cabal Therapy to stop you, as the card is named upon resolution. There is a possibility that they could have two copies of the Force or Misstep, but that's a relatively small risk. You could potentially flash it back and go after the same spell if you so desired. This is a play that benefits combo decks more, as they have more chances to win the game immediately, but it's important to keep in mind.

Here's some videos of the deck in action!

That match was sure something, wasn't it? If you could only Snapcaster a Rest in Peace, that deck would have been unstoppable. Lucky for us, that last sentence doesn't make any logical sense as it pertains to Magic: the Gathering. The video was taken from one of my early morning, nobody is watching streams. It's pretty fun to stream Vintage Magic at five A.M.! Nobody trolls your chat at that hour.

That video was me playing against a deck called "White Trash", which gets my vote for funniest name. Death and Taxes is an old joke at this point. My opponent BlueDiamonrds was a classy dude, and we chatted a bit after the match. He mentioned to me that Gurmag Angler doesn't get bounced by Karakas the way that Tasigur, the Golden Fang does. That Tasigur would have stabilized me a bit, as it could block the creature holding the Sword of Fire and Ice. If I'd had been playing the pauper-pal delve fish, then I might have won that game. 

I think that overall that match was a good one, so I decided to use it. It's a bit disingenuous to only show the matches that your deck wins, because everyone loses some of the time. I hope you enjoyed the videos, and I plan on doing more soon. I promise that I'll get better at it as time goes on!


The Sky Isn't Falling.

I'm going to speak from the heart here for a little bit folks. I get pretty cheesed off when people get worried about something, and some smug individual waltzes in, injects themselves into the conversation, and patronizingly proclaims that "the sky isn't falling!" 

Of course the sky isn't falling, but your hyperbolic over-simplification of someone's concern is extremely reductive. Sometimes people voice their concerns in a fashion that is itself quite overblown, that is certainly true. But the using canned expressions and being overall dismissive of people's fears is not helpful, and it crosses over into rudeness.

Why am I bringing this up? I'd be surprised if anyone reading this article has not heard about the changes to constructed MTGO events that is scheduled to go into effect August 12th 2015. If for some reason you don't know, you can read Lee Sharpe's article here.

So folks, the sky isn't falling! Daily Event entry fees are doubling though. Let that sink in for a minute... It costs twice as much to play now. Surely you must be winning even more packs of digital delights now?!? Nope. You're going to be winning less packs.

That's not fair though, because you're winning MORE than just packs! You're also winning Play Points! These things are the un-tradeable offspring of the now retired phantom points. I never used the free cube draft's worth of points given to everyone around the winter holidays, so I am the "proud" owner of ninety-six Play Points. Play Points can be used only to enter more events. That's it, although there has been some unconvincing cryptic ramblings about "future uses" that people have speculated on wildly.

The idea is that before, people would just sell their winnings to re-enter tournaments, so the Play Points allow the exact same thing to happen. This doesn't take into account the fact that people could previously make their own decisions of what to do with their winnings, now half of their winnings are locked in as a future tournament entry. 

Surely there will be some people who win so much that they accumulate so many extra points that they become meaningless. I would imagine these people would end up using points to join limited events just to get product and drop immediately. That sounds awful to be honest.

Some people will go 3-1 enough to not pay for tournaments that often, and some folks will just pay full entry each and every time.  If you're one of the unfortunate souls who doesn't cash the events very often, you're going to be blowing through a lot of money in tickets in a hurry. How do I coax a new player to try out a Vintage tournament when they're likely going to lose a ton of cash if they stick with it?

I know for a fact that Vintage players are quitting Magic online. Not all of them, but plenty have already. Many more are looking at quotes for their collections, and some of those quitting are prominent members of the community. 

I don't want to quit Magic, and I don't want anyone else to either. I love this game, and I love the community too much not to be saddened by watching people quit. Vintage is a format that has periodically had trouble firing Daily Events anyway, now I'm extremely worried about the future of Vintage on Magic Online. Still, don't patronize me by saying that the sky isn't falling. 

In conclusion, there's a lot I don't like about these changes. I hope the management changes their mind, but the Play Points in my account tell me that they've made up their minds a long time ago. y the way, I didn't even get into all of the problems I see with this change! Two player queues don't even pay in packs anymore! They'll be paying in Play Points! You can pay to play in the queue, and if you win, you can play again for free! How is that better than playing in the casual room? Do they expect me to play a ton of these just to try to earn a free Daily Event? Good luck with that. You can tell me all day long that the 30 play points that a 2 player queue will pay out is worth more than a pack, but until I can trade those play points or open them to get more cards I don't see it that way.

If you like my articles, if you like constructed Magic, please tell the management how you feel about these changes by emailing them at Remember, this change could negatively affect the MTGO card-sellers and bots out there. This article you're reading is generously sponsored by MTGOTraders, without them, I have nowhere to post my Vintage content for all of you to read. Even if you're a casual player who doesn't play tournaments, this could devalue your collection! I assume nobody wants any of that to happen. So do your part and make your voices heard! Tweet to me, leave me a comment, or email Wizard's yourself. Do not just accept this if you don't like it!

For a wonderful article that breaks down the changes and strips away corporate double-speak, click here.

Sorrow's Path

That's all the time I have for this week folks. Sorry for the shorter-than-usual article. At least you're getting an hour's worth of video to watch! Normally, the passion I have for Vintage on MTGO drives me to write a ton of material. This week's announcement really took the wind out of my sails, so to speak. I'll be streaming as much as my time allows, follow me on Twitter, Twitch, Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, or Farmer's and I'll share with you the times that I'm live! 

Stay classy, Magic Online, stay classy.





Do people really troll your by Paul Leicht at Sun, 07/26/2015 - 03:34
Paul Leicht's picture

Do people really troll your streams?? Sick :( Though a watcher is a watcher I guess... I am wondering why your cabal therapy deck only runs 3 with none in the sideboard. Is there a particular reason not to go to 4? Is not good in your opening hand?

==Edit== for the fireballs.

Fish swim, birds fly, people by TheKidsArentAlright at Sun, 07/26/2015 - 06:31
TheKidsArentAlright's picture

Fish swim, birds fly, people on Twitch troll.

I was kidding :) I don't have by Joe Fiorini at Sun, 07/26/2015 - 07:08
Joe Fiorini's picture

I was kidding :) I don't have enough viewers to attract trolls yet!

Three Cabal Therapy is pretty much the industry standard for such a build.

The fact that you're flashing it back essentially for free means that you can potentially cast it six times in a match anyways, although due to the fact that you won't always draw them with under four copies, six is an exaggerated number.

Friday morning I downloaded a Grixis Therapy deck from MTGGoldfish, the deck that largely inspired this build. On a whim I played that in the Daily Event Friday night, lost round one to an Uba Stax deck (not sure if he had Stax, but it had shops, bazaar, Uba Mask and Ensnaring Bridge). I managed to win the rest of my rounds and cash the thing, so I'm very happy with the deck.

About that Ensnaring Bridge: I managed to beat down in game one with my pyromancer tokens, one turn I evaded his Ensnaring Bridge by targeting him with Ancestral Recall. I had my opponent down to six, and my out were Bolt Snap Bolt, Snap Ancestral, or Dack Fayden. Dack would have stolen the Bridge, causing it to look at the cards in my hand and allowed an attack. Too bad the deck only plays one! My opponent resolves Chalice at one, and I'm shut off of winning by any means other that Dack.
I managed to stay alive, and dig for Dack as much as I could. By the time I drew it, my opponent was at three, I said out loud that I could finally win. Dack cost 7 at that point from spheres, so of course I had to crack some fetches to play it. At that point, I reveal to myself that there are no more fetchable lands in my deck, and I cursed loudly. I forgot I was on camera, I may have apologized for swearing, IDK. I was pretty tilted! :D

Next game, I keep a hand with lots of land, pulverize, Dack Fayden. My opponent's first turn was Shop + Trinisphere. GGs man.

This is exactly what Grixis by wappla at Sun, 07/26/2015 - 12:45
wappla's picture

This is exactly what Grixis needs to be doing. Vault, Key, Vampiric Tutor, Tinker and even Yawgmoth's Will are not what they used to be because aggro-control decks are really good at punishing high investment. Would like to talk to you about this archetype in greater depth sometime.

Sure thing. Playing the by Joe Fiorini at Sun, 07/26/2015 - 13:39
Joe Fiorini's picture

Sure thing. Playing the Grixis Therapy deck on stream felt remarkably broken for a deck without Yawgwill and all it's associated cards.
What I mean by that, is that with Snapcaster Mage, I was playing double Time Walks with one or two Young Pyromancers out, or Snapping back an Ancestral. Many times I hit Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy, making two tokens, flash back Therapy, their hand was pretty empty at that point.

It's consistent and very powerful. Plus 3 moxen and Lotus make it more powered and that much more fun!