One of my main hobbies when I am not tied up with work, school, and other responsibilities is playing Magic: The Gathering. Magic is a trading card game that has existed for 25 years. I was introduced to the game in 1995 when a neighborhood friend brought over a starter deck they had purchased to show my brother and I. We barely understood the rules of the game at that time. Slowly, we build a card collection and decks to play against each other at home and with friends. I have played off and on over the years taking a large hiatus from 2005 to 2013. I entered back into the game with the release of the Theros set and never looked back.
One of the fun ways to customize a card game experience is to use a playmat. While not required, playmats help keep surface areas clean and come with many different illustrations and colors. Players like to use mats with popular Magic card artwork or ones that they received at a tournament. My favorite playmat is the one shown above that was illustrated by John Avon. The image is of dragon flying around the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan. I acquired the playmat because of my love for Kyoto, Japan. John has done commissions for large Japanese tournaments incorporating various Japanese landscapes and locations. The created artwork is used for playmats, deck boxes, mouse pads, and other giveaways at the tournaments.
One of the required supplies for players to have is game dice. Players use dice to keep track of various game states and actions that occur. My dice are carried in a drawstring bag depicting sumo wrestlers. My fiance's mother gave me the bag as a gift after she attended a sumo wrestling event in Japan last year. It works perfectly for carrying dice and goes well with my Japanese playmat.
The most important supplies that players use for trading card games is deck sleeves. Different people have their own personal tastes, but I enjoy using the Japanese KMC Hyper Matte Black sleeves. They have held up well over time and I use them with all of my competitive decks. Having the same sleeve across multiple decks makes it easier to share and swap cards among them. The cards pictured above are park of my Standard format deck that I have played with since the release of the Dominaria set. The green and black cards have treated me well with great finishes in multiple tournaments and weekly events. The company that manages the Magic card game releases new card sets every three to four months. With the next set release in October, the Standard format will change again keeping the game fun and interesting.
Legion Brewing opened their brand new restaurant and taproom last week in the SouthPark neighborhood of Charlotte, NC. There has been a lot of excitement and anticipation for the newest brewery location. The actual building two-story building is located just behind the Piedmont Tower Center across from the Harris YMCA Express. The wood ceiling, walls, and brewery tanks give create an inviting atmosphere for customers. I really liked the attention to detail in the decor. Their restaurant area resembled a inviting home-like atmosphere that complimented their farm-to-table menu options.
The downstairs area of the location contains a taproom and full service restaurant. While I did not try their food, the large pretzels and dips were very popular. They offer a large selection of Legion beers along with some wine options. I also saw other local beers available in cans. The upstairs area contains a smaller bar with plenty of space for mingling. There is a back room behind the upstairs bar for private parties and general use.
A great outdoor patio circles the building for customers to enjoy. They had a few corn hole games setup for general use. I did not see anyone serving drinks or food outside. All of the customers outside had to go inside to order drinks at the taproom bar. The restaurant was very crowded and on a wait for a table. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of staff running the bars and serving in the restaurant area. The place looked well prepared for serving a large crowd. Once they have a grand opening in October, I would like to go back and try some of their food options. You should definitely stop by Legion Brewing's newest location next time you visit the SouthPark area. You will not be disappointed.
I went to one of Charlotte's newest restaurants, Let's Meat, for my birthday last month. Let's Meat KBBQ is a Korean BBQ restaurant where you grill meats and vegetables at your table. It is an authentic experience for enjoying Korean BBQ. If you have never tried a grill-your-own restaurant before, it can be a little overwhelming. Knowing what you are getting into and having a great server will go a long way.
The menu at Let's Meat may look overwhelming, but it is fairly straight forward. For $30 a person, it is all you can eat for 2 hours. You can choose from a variety of meats and side dishes. Some of the meats are marinated and others come as expected. Examples of meat options include varieties of chicken, pork, streak, and shrimp. The side dishes are also enjoyable. Some examples of side dishes are brown rice, salad, and picked vegetables. You can order three meats at a time to cook. This may seem like a restriction, but the grill can only hold so much at one time.
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available for an additional charge. They have a large variety of Asian alcoholic beverages that come in different flavors. Craft beer and wine are available for those interested in typical alcoholic beverage options. I would recommend trying some of the more interesting beverages as they were better than expected.
Using the grill can be challenging for your first time. Ask your server for cooking tips when you order different meats and vegetables. You are given a pair of tongs and scissors to assist with cooking. I would suggest not sharing a grill with more than three other individuals. Having five or six people sharing one grill makes it challenging to feed everyone in a timely manner. However, cooking and socializing with friends over Korean BBQ is a fun experience. If you love meat and Asian cuisine in general, definitely give Let's Meat a try. Even if you are a vegetarian, they have plenty of options for you as well.
Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of college football season with the National Football Season starting soon after. Charlotte, NC has grown to become a football city with calling the Carolina Panthers its hometown professional team along with other local colleges. In addition, multiple neutral site college games, such as the 2018 Belk College Kickoff between the West Virginia Mountaineers and Tennessee Volunteers.
Last month, I attended the preseason Panthers game at home against the Miami Dolphins. I had a great time watching the Panthers win with friends and my fiance. The Panthers season opener is this coming weekend against the Dallas Cowboys. We hope to make it to a regular season game later in the year.
The highest profile Division 1 college team in Charlotte is the University of North Carolina 49ers. They won their opening game against Fordham last weekend. The 49ers are a relatively new program as their first season was in 2013. This season, the 49ers are playing against two strong teams. Appalachian State is their opponent this coming weekend. They face off against Tennessee later in the season. While these teams are not in the 49ers conference, it provides them opportunities to grow and shine on a larger stage. There is plenty of great football to watch in Charlotte between college and professional this season.