Get off the couch and get some Therapy

Posted in Feature on May 1, 2005

By Brian Rogers

Around the world, players are taking up the challenge. The DCI and your local storeowners have invited you to come and play the Magic: the Gathering® game. What’s more, just for showing up to play, you might get some much-needed therapy, Cabal Therapy. Every Friday during the month of May, Wizards of the Coast is giving you a great chance to win an exclusive foil version of this powerful sorcery with the Friday Night Magic (FNM) seal stamped on it.

Cabal Therapy

In case you aren’t familiar with this extended staple, here it what the card does…

Casting Cost: (B)


Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards all cards with that name.

Flashback—Sacrifice a creature. (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)

When the Judgment expansion came out, it introduced Cabal Therapy, an uncommon card, to the world of Magic cards. At first, many players saw this card as an inferior version of the highly played discard spell Duress. However, after we had a little more time to explore this card, it became clear that this was not just a watered down version of an old favorite.

For only one black mana, Cabal Therapy offers a player a chance to actually gain card economy over his or her opponent by forcing the opponent to discard multiples of the same card. Instead of choosing just one card for your opponent to pitch, you now have a way to get rid of all of the copies of any card other than a land that your opponent has in his or her hand if you make the right choice. Also, unlike Duress, this card is not limited to taking away your opponent’s instant and sorcery cards—almost anything is fair game when you play Cabal Therapy. Yet, one of the strongest aspects of this card might at first look like a weakness.

The Odyssey block introduced the flashback ability to us all. Flashback makes it possible to play cards in your graveyard for a cost. The flashback cost on Cabal Therapy is unique. To play it again, you have to sacrifice one of your creatures—normally not something you want to do. However, even this can be turned into an advantage. Pairing Cabal Therapy with a creature like Academy Rector enables you to take advantage both of the discard ability of Cabal Therapy as well as the search effect of the Academy Rector. In Extended, Cabal Therapy offers a way not only to jump-start your combo, but also a way to ensure your opponent isn’t holding a key card to disrupt your plans.

Hopefully, I have given you a couple of ideas about how to use Cabal Therapy, but before you can add this card to your deck, you are going to have to get some of them. To find out where you can compete in a Friday Night Magic tournament, contact stores in your area, or you can check out a list of stores that offer FNM on the Wizards of the Coast website. If there are no stores near you that run FNM, then tell your local storeowners you want a chance to play in these events.

Friday Night Magic is a great way for casual and serious players to tune and test their deck. FNM offers four exclusive promo cards each week that are given out to tournament attendees. Two of these cards are give to the players that finish first and second, and the other two are given out as a door prize to a couple of players who showed up to play but didn’t make it to the final match. This means that you don’t even have to win in order to get one of these incredible promo cards, just show up and have a great time!

Friday Night Magic can be either Standard, Booster Draft, or Sealed Deck, so to play in an FNM tournament, you need to plan on bringing a Standard deck. Standard is a format that uses only the newest Magic expansions, so you don’t have to have a lot of the powerful older cards to play. Right now, cards from Eighth Edition, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Champions of Kamigawa, and the newest set, Betrayers of Kamigawa, are all legal for Standard play. The upcoming set, Saviors of Kamigawa, will be legal for play in Standard starting June 20, 2005, so start planning to add these cards to your deck as soon as you can get them, but don’t actually play them in your FNM deck until June 20.

If you are new to the tournament scene, then Friday Night Magic is a great way for you to get into the game. All FNM events are run at Rules Enforcement Level (REL) 1, which is a more relaxed set of rules designed to maintain a serious level of play while not penalizing players for making errors due to inexperience. This helps to make FNM an excellent way for you to integrate yourself into the tournament scene.

You will need a DCI number to play in an FNM event. If you have ever played in any DCI sanctioned event like a prerelease or a Pro Tour Qualifier, you should already have a DCI membership card. However, if you don’t, you needn’t panic. The tournament organizer of the FNM event will most likely have everything you need to get signed up. DCI membership is free, and once you are a DCI member, you will be able to check out your rating and ranking against players in your area and across the world.

For more experienced players, Friday Night Magic can also be a great way to practice for bigger events. Attending an FNM event will give you a good idea about what decks players in your region are working on. Additionally, by testing you deck against other players, you might find an unexpected weakness in your game or learn new tricks that will come in handy while playing at higher-level events. Best of all, this is a great way to enjoy a great game without a lot of pressure to win.

Recently, I have started to realize just how many Magic players there are out in the world. Many of you are probably like me, and you enjoy attending tournaments and playing the Magic game as a serious endeavor. However, it seems like for every player like us out there, there are many more players who only play against a couple of friends in small groups and never think of entering a tournament. These casual players are the true lifeblood of the Magic community.

Many casual players probably stop by your local store and buy cards from time to time to power up their decks or to get a few packs of the newest Magic expansion. Friday Night Magic offers a wonderful opportunity for experienced tournament players and players who have never entered a tournament to interact and play a game that we all love. While it is nice to have the chance to get a cool promo card like Cabal Therapy, the real benefit of FNM is in finding new ways to enjoy the game. After all, there is nothing more valuable in any game than someone to play against.

Brian started playing Magic in spring 1994 (when you could still buy Antiquities boosters!) After becoming a DCI Judge in 1999, he has judged numerous Grand Prix, PTQs, local events, and even a couple of Pro Tours. He joined the Wizards of the Coast Delegate program in June 2004 and in what free time he has left after judging, delegating, and playing will be a contributing writer for the MPR newsletter.

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