Volo Ristorante is an authentic Italian restaurant located in the Myers Park neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina. Volo is run by Italians and opened its doors in the former location of Lumiere. During the COVID-19 crisis, Volo is forced to offer takeout only for its patrons. Since Ashley is a fan of authentic Italian cuisine, we decided to order a takeout dinner.
Volo's current takeout menu contains a variety of salads, antipasti, pastas, and entrees. Among the salad options, we ordered the Bietole (beets, arugula, goat cheese, honey vinaigrette) to share. The salad was a great starter to our meal with fresh ingredients. For an anitpasto, we ordered one of the Eggplant Parmigiana (baked eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomato basil sauce, Parmesan). We received a generous portion of the eggplant appetizer. The tomato sauce was flavorful and the eggplant was baked perfectly. We enjoyed this dish immensely.
While placing our order, we learned that the squid ink linguine and bucatini are made in house. This information led us to try the Nero (squid ink linguine, shrimp, spicy tomatoes confit) and the Amatriciana (Mancini gregnano bucatini, pork jowl, tomato sauce). Ashley enjoys a good squid ink pasta dish and the Nero did not disappoint. Volo can adjust the spice level to your particular taste. The Amatriciana appears simplistic at first, but contains wonderful flavors and spices. The pork jowl adds complexity to the dish. Either pasta dish is a great option for your next takeout dinner.
Volo also offers a variety of affordable wines by the bottle with takeout orders. We decided to order a bottle of Sangiovese. The bottle we received was a Il Raffaello Sangiovese Di Toscana. It is a young Sangiovese that pairs well with pasta, pizza, and other Italian dishes. We recommend pairing it with a meal rather than drinking by itself.
When we called to place our order, the owner spent over ten minutes on the phone with Ashley. He talked about the fresh ingredients and spices used in their dishes. He also explained their vision and ideal experience for guests dining at the restaurant. After placing our order, he invited us to come visit when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. We appreciated the time he took to share information about Volo and hope to visit soon.
Ashley and I spent almost two weeks in Italy in May, 2019. We tried a wide range of Italian cuisine throughout the country. Volo's dishes share many similarities with what we ate during our travels. If you are craving the next best thing to eating it Italy, look no further than Volo. We cannot wait to try more items on Volo's menu soon.
I wanted to take a moment to share some information and reintroduce myself to anyone who may be new to the website. I initially started this blog two years ago to share my interest in Japanese culture and travel. Over time, it has evolved to focus on Magic: The Gathering (MTG). I live in Charlotte, North Carolina with my wife Ashley and occasionally write articles about our experiences around town. New articles are posted every Friday. You can follow me on Instagram @card_knock_life to find out when a new article goes live.
Predominantly, I write about the financial aspects of MTG. Some examples of MTG finance topics include singles speculation, forecasting price movement, and historical analysis. I enjoy applying the knowledge gained from obtaining a Master of Business Administration and previous working experience toward MTG finance. I have played MTG throughout most of my life and regularly interact with the Charlotte MTG community.
I also enjoy attending and presenting at various Japanese culture conventions. My presentation topics include traveling to Japan and making sushi at home. You can find information from these presentations on My Weekly Grind.
Thank you for visiting and reading the articles on My Weekly Grind. I appreciate your support and continued patronage.
Magic: The Gathering's Commander (also known as EDH) format has grown in popularity over the past few years. Wizards of the Coast has announced multiple Commander cards and products releasing in 2020. While many players are focused on the new preconstructed Commander 2020 decks, there are still opportunities to acquire underpriced cards. Here are my current underpriced Commander cards with a potential to increase in value. Images have been updated May 25th, 2020 to show current pricing.
Journey to Eternity
A flip card from Rivals of Ixalan, Journey to Eternity is listed in over 9,000 decks on EDHREC. The card had a 2% spread on MTGGoldfish during the first week of May, 2020. It is typically more challenging for WOTC to reprint double-sided cards. Journey to Eternity slots well in popular commanders like Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Muldrotha, the Gravetide. I believe the current pricing (under $5.00) for this card is undervalued relative to its popularity in Commander.
Hostage Taker was a powerful card during its time in Standard. It is listed in almost 7,000 decks according to EDHREC. Hostage Taker had a spread of 8% on MTGGoldfish the first week of May, 2020. The color combination, creature type, and enters the battlefield (ETB) trigger make Hostage Taker a synergistic inclusion. Popular Commander decks for Hostage Taker include Yarok, the Desecrated, Admiral Beckett Brass, Aminatou, the Fateshifter, and Muldrotha. the Gravetide. Hostage Taker should be closer to $5.00 in price rather than $3.00.
Vizier of the Menagerie
It is easy to see the appeal of playing Vizier of the Menagerie in green creature decks. Two of Vizer's three abilities are also found on the Ikoria Planeswalker, Vivien, Monsters' Advocate. Playing both together in a Commander deck seems appealing. Vizier of the Menagerie had a spread of 5% on MTGGoldfish during the first week of May, 2020. The card is played in about 6,500 decks according to EDHREC. It is popular in Commander decks featuring Animar, Soul of Elements, Nikya of the Old Ways, and Chulane, Teller of Tales. I believe Vizier of the Menagerie has the potential to increase from $5.00 to the $7.00 - $9.00 range.
Sitting at a price around $4.00 the first week of May, 2020, Noxious Gearhulk is primed for a price increase. This mythic from Kaladesh sees play in over 9,000 decks on EDHREC. Theros: Beyond Death Promo Packs did increase the supply of available copies. However, the MTGGoldfish spread pictured at 0% is a possible indicator that Noxious Gearhulk's price is undervalued. Noxious Gearhulk has a great ETB trigger, synergizes with artifacts, and sees play in a multitude of Commander decks. It is another card that should be priced around the $7.00 - $9.00 range.
WOTC has printed quite a few "you win the game" cards in recent Standard sets. Such cards include Thassa's Oracle, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, and Simic Ascendancy. Mechanized Production had a negative spread on MTGGoldfish the first week of May, 2020. Negative spreads can lead to arbitrage opportunities. The card is played in about 5,000 decks listed on EDHREC. It synergies well with Commanders that care about artifacts like Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer and Breya, Etherium Shaper. Brainstorm Brewery recently posted a video about using Mechanized Production as a replacement for Copy Artifact. The potential for Mechanized Production rises as WOTC continues to make new cards like Mirrormade, Echo Storm, and Masterful Replication. I can see Mechanized Production moving up to its old high of $6.94.
*The information in this article is of my own knowledge and opinion. It is meant for informational purposes only.*
New sets in the Magic: The Gathering trading card game are released periodically throughout the year. Each quarter, large sets are released for the Standard format. New Standard sets are introduced in-person to players through prerelease events. A typical prerelease event occurs the weekend before a set's official release date. These weekends are exciting to players as it is the first opportunity to acquire brand new trading cards. Players participate in the Sealed and Two-Headed Giant formats during a prerelease weekend.
What Players Receive at a Prerelease Event
When a player registers for a prerelease event, they pay money to receive a sealed kit for the newest MTG set. This kit contains six booster packs, one promotional card, one spindown life counter, and an insert. Other special items could be included in the sealed kit depending on the featured set.
Players are given around 50 minutes to open the contents of a kit and build a 40 (or more) card deck. A built deck can only contain the promo card and other cards opened in booster packs found inside the kit. The only exception is that decks can contain any quantity of basic lands. Stores provide basic lands for players to borrow during a prerelease. There is a bit of luck and variance involved as some cards in the set are more powerful than others.
The Basics for Building a Deck
Building a deck can be challenging for new players or those unfamiliar with a set's mechanics. Other players and staff at the event will typically help newer players who ask for assistance. In general, a sealed deck contains 17 lands, 15 creatures, and 8 spells. These numbers can fluctuate depending on how a deck is built. For example, the pictured deck below contains 17 lands, 16 creatures, and 7 spells. There are multiple strategies involved in building a deck from a limited pool of cards.
One basic strategy is building around the most powerful cards opened. The most powerful cards are usually found at mythic and rare. Uncommon and common cards compliment many of the mythic and rare cards centered around particular mechanics. Multicolored cards at uncommon often act as guideposts for a set's themes and mechanics. In addition, non-basic lands that produce two colors of mana are used in preferred color combinations.
It is important to have creatures and spells at different mana costs. A good rule of thumb is to have seven to nine creatures with mana costs between one and three. This allows the deck to potentially cast a creature on each turn. Creatures and spells with mana costs between five and seven should be limited in quantity. Having one or two cards between six and seven mana is typically enough in an average deck.
Once a player has determined which cards to use in a deck, they need to decide the quantity for basic lands in each color. Sealed decks typically contain two colors. A common method to calculate a land ratio is to count the mana symbols on each card. Compare the results and use those numbers to determine basic land counts. For example, the deck below contains 11 black mana and 13 blue mana symbols. Since a dual color land was available in the pool, the remaining basic land slots were split evenly. Otherwise, the deck would likely contain 8 swamps and 9 islands. If a deck contains multiple cards with two of the same color mana in the casting cost, consider running more of that color's basic land. When splashing a third color in a sealed deck, ensure there are at least three sources of mana generation to cast one mana symbol of that color. Beyond basic lands, a source can be a creature that produces other colored mana or a spell that finds a basic land in the deck. It is recommended not to add a card containing two splash color symbols in its casting cost.
Playing Against Opponents
A prerelease event usually consists of three rounds against different opponents. When deck building is complete, players are randomly assigned an opponent for the first round. A player wins a round by defeating their opponent in two out of three games. A draw can occur if time is called and each player has won zero or one game. In Two-Headed Giant, players only play one game per round. Pairings for the next two rounds are assigned based on a win-loss record. Booster packs are awarded as prizes when the event ends. Players receive a quantity of prize packs based on their overall win-loss record.
Prereleases are a fun way to experience a new MTG set. They offer a casual environment for new and veteran players to compete in a Limited format. Many players believe prerelease events are the most exciting MTG event offered throughout the year. Prerelease events are something a MTG player at any skill level can participate in and enjoy.