Mike Turian is one of the most respected Limited players in the world, and current events show that him and the rest of CMU have Odyssey Limited mastered. Turian won Grand Prix Montreal, and teammates Eugene Harvey and Andrew Johnson came in first and second at Grand Prix Atlanta. Results don't lie, and the story they've been telling lately is rather simple: CMU owns Odyssey draft. For this reason, many have been expecting a similar performance from the team at this Pro Tour.
For the first draft of the weekend, Turian went into red right away after reading the table. He had late picks during the first few packs, and set up slowly with Mad Dog and Halberdier. Green is the most desirable color to play with red but Turian saw that it was being drafted heavily, and shifted into white with Mystic Visionary. This was followed by Shelter and it seemed that he was locked into red/white. Bryce Currence to his right opened Mystic Enforcer, but would likely splash for it since he was already in black.
Turian then opened his pack, and things got a bit weird. It contained Cabal Patriarch and not much else, so he took the board-dominating creature. From that point the black dried up, and Mike stayed with red/white, with the exception of a sixth pick Ghastly Demise that found its way to him in a strong pack. His deck ended up with plenty of removal including two Volcanic Spray, Flame Burst and Firebolt, in addition to a solid aggro creature base. I sat down with Turian as he built his deck to find out what he thought about his deck, and the draft.
Sideboard: How do you feel it went?
Turian: I think the draft was really crazy. The two guys to my right...Bryce (Currence), and I don't know the other guy's name...they were kind of all over the place. So, what ended up happening is I knew I was red because Bryce certainly wasn't going to be. He took a black card first, and most people don't like black/red. I got a good first red pick, and good red early on. I saw there was a gap in white and since Bryce went into green I needed to find another color. I'm not going to play red/blue or red/black, and then I got a Shelter. Then I opened the Cabal Patriarch pack and took the Cabal first. I took it over some okay cards like Reckless Charge and I was like "Maybe there's an off-chance I can fit him into my deck. I'm just going to take him." From there the only real problem was there weren't enough good white cards opened up. There were no Mystic Zealots in the draft, there were no Aven Flocks either, there were no more Shelters besides the one I took early. There were a few Patrol Hounds and Second Thoughts...a lot of second rate white cards. There was no "Oh, this white card floated to you fifth", which is really what you're looking for if you pick colors based on what people are drafting around you. So what I ended up doing was drafting a pretty solid red/white deck. I took the Ghastly Demise because I'm pretty sure I can get it in my deck off the sac-lands, so between that and the fact that after sideboarding now, against the slow blue/white decks and the slow blue/black decks, I can just bring in Painbringer and Cabal Patriarch, and make my mana crap but whatever.
Turian: The reason for that is I felt my deck needed a few more creatures, and a little more aggression. I wasn't positive I was going to get the first Ghastly Demise into the deck. I was leaning that way, but Ember Beast is such a good red/white creature that I didn't feel that I could pass him up. That gives me double Beast, which is really devastating if you get that draw. I also already have two Pardic Firecats, and turn three Ember Beast, turn four Pardic Firecat is almost always a win, even against the most aggressive decks. I do have a lot of removal cards, like Flame Burst, Firebolt, Reckless Charge, and Volcanic Sprays. The Demise would be a little harder to operate in my deck.
Sideboard: You started off red and you were leaning towards white, and then you took the Patriarch. Were you planning to go red/black and it just didn't work out?
Turian: No, I wasn't really planning on going red/black. I don't like red/black, and also Bryce was still taking black cards. I was hoping he might give up on black, because he had taken a blue card. I was thinking that if he goes into green/blue that puts me in a pretty good black position even though the guy next to me is still going to be in blue/black. When I took the Cabal he second picked Psychatog, so he's obviously not going to give up on black there. I was hoping Bryce would give up on black because he had just taken a Mystic Enforcer, so I was like "Oh, maybe he's going to go green/white/blue" and move away from black. At which point, yes I can get the Cabal into my deck, but it became pretty apparent in the next few packs that it just wasn't going to happen. As I'm sure you saw I just shuffled the Cabal to the back of my pile pretty quickly. Like I said, he'll be good to side in, but in the maindeck it's just not reasonable. Especially with the green/red decks being as good as they are.
Sideboard: In which situations would you side it in, and what would you take out?
Turian: Well, I still have to finish putting my deck together, but pretty much against the blue/black decks, the blue/white decks and the three color guy. Any deck that I feel it's going to be a long game, and it doesn't matter if my mana doesn't come up perfectly on the first three turns of the game. On turn sixteen I'll just be like "Here's Painbringer! Here's Cabal Patriarch! You don't have cards that kill this guy. He's gonna come out, and he's just going to wreck your team." I'm never going to get him killed from Second Thoughts. It's just like "How do you beat this?" They can't. They aren't able to, they just have to race it with something like one Aven Windreader. There weren't that many blue fliers either, which I was happy about.
Sideboard: Did the packs being weird screw up anything else besides you not getting the white cards you expected? Do you think it messed up signals in any way?
Turian: Well, the early packs. It was more like the guy who was two spaces over to my right, he was just so over the place. He just bounced, and bounced, and bounced (from color to color). That was the other factor that was really screwy, because then he made Bryce bounce around, which made me bounce around, which made Justin Polin bounce around. That made Justin really unhappy, and he got the short end of the stick when all was said and done. Between that and the packs, it made the draft a lot more unusual than most drafts I've been in.
Sideboard: What record do you think you'll get with this deck? Is it a 3-1 deck? A 4-0 deck? Are there any cards you're afraid of in the draft?
Turian: Well, the guy with two Overruns, he seems to be the biggest problem. Also, Labarre's deck is very good. Both green/red decks at the table are excellent, which is why I'll maindeck Pilgrim of Justice in an effort to really slow down their aggression. I don't think any of the other guys' decks turned out particularly well. The one good thing that happened was there was a ton of Cephalid Looters in the draft, and I have tons of cheap Looter removal. I have Engulfing Flames and two Volcanic Sprays, and that's really ridiculous against those guys.
Sideboard: Is that why you were taking the Sprays so early? It's not generally a card that's taken as early as you were taking it.
Turian: I think I like it more than most people. That's one of the reasons, and besides that, killing the one toughness guys is so big. I have a couple of my own which is a little unfortunate, but between that and the Chainflinger you get a lot of really good removal combinations. I find it to be an excellent card almost always.
Turian: Engulfing Flames is excellent, I think it's really underrated. Once again, the removal of two creatures is just great. Red/white needs card advantage, and Flame Burst doesn't do that. I only had one Pardic Firecat at the time and that synergy is nice when it comes up, but it's not something I plan on always happening.
Sideboard: You've been testing this environment a lot, and red/white isn't very common. Is this deck something you're comfortable with as far as red/white goes?
Turian: Yeah, it seems like a pretty decent red/white deck. I've played it some, I'm not thrilled about it. I really want to be green/red, I want to be blue/black, I want to be blue/white.
Sideboard: Those three color combinations seem to be what everyone wants.
Turian: Oh yeah, besides that and blue/green, which is like this ideal world type of thing where if you get it, it's just ridiculous. That's what you want to be, but the way Rochester draft is, you can't sit there just fighting the person in front of you over and over again. The guy in front of me was green/black, the guy behind me was blue/black, and I was already red, so I had to be red/white. If I had been blue, things would have been a lot better. I could have been blue/white the whole time. The guy behind me had gone into blue, and I just didn't have a chance to go into it, so red/white it is.
Turian: I think I'll probably go 3-1 with the deck. The double Overrun guy would be the one bad match, but I think I can handle everyone at the table, including him.