bife com parmesão – noun : Parmesan center cut steak; better than pineapple (or any other fruit)
Do you eat at your favorite restaurant because they have that one meal that’s just…so…good, and you get that same amazing dish at every visit?
Or do you adore your favorite restaurant because everything you’ve tried there has been exceptional, and you love knowing that whatever you feel like eating will be great?
My favorite restaurant is Rodizio Gill, a Brazilian steakhouse. It’s one of those places that offers a colon-demolishing variety all-you-can-eat meats brought to you table-side by costumed “gauchos.”
I should probably be ashamed to adore meat as much as I do, especially in 2021, when the environmental toll of meat production is becoming clearer and more alarming. Sadly, I’ve been a “meat and potatoes, hold the potatoes” guy since I was little. Though I eat less meat, especially red meat, than when I was younger, I doubt I’ll ever be able to shake the preference. I would be miserable as a vegetarian, considering I dislike almost all fruit and nuts, am pretty ambivalent about bread, and enjoy a rather limited selection of vegetables. I’m probably pickier about food than the average toddler. My family made a perpetual point of reinforcing in me the fact that if I didn’t like a particular food, it was a serious character flaw. My mother never tired of complaining about how my tastes (literally) were a burden on her and the rest of the family.
Yeah, I’ve got some serious food issues.
But this column isn’t about my bizarrely narrow palette or growing sense of guilt over my carnivorous cravings. It’s about how I view Strixhaven as the Brazilian steakhouse of Magic sets. Let’s talk about that, shall we?
My wife enjoys Rodizio largely because of one delicacy they serve (and it’s not even meat!) – abacaxí, menu-speak for their grilled pineapple. My son also loves it, but he eats a lot of the sausage and seems to like the various cuts of steak we prod him into trying.
Me? I like it all. Well, except for the abacaxí (use up precious stomach capacity on fruit? Are you serious?) Oh, and coração de frango temperado – chicken hearts. I just can’t bring myself to partake. I gladly eat the rest of the meats, though. Some are better than others, but there’s no single item that I load up on.
So far, Strixhaven feels like a Brazilian steakhouse – it all seems delightful. Obviously it’s very, very early, considering the prerelease weekend just wrapped. But I’ve watched streamers drafting, played with a Lorehold prerelease kit against my son’s Quandrix kit, opened a few draft and set boosters, built a Witherbloom deck from my limited packs, and squared off against some early Strixhaven-inspired builds in Arena. I’ve started tinkering with my first STX-based constructed deck, a Quandrix fractal concoction that isn’t working often, but is a hoot when it does. Perhaps I’ll expound on it in the near future.
While Witherbloom go-wide pest token builds have been a bit frustrating to push through, and appear to be – far and away – the most popular early build, nothing yet feels overpowered or obnoxious. There are assuredly some cards or strategies that will prove wearyingly ubiquitous, but I suspect there’s a lot of fun to be had with the set that will further blossom with the fall Standard rotation.
Prismari is the only college for which I’ve seen scant representation (though it looks intriguing.) I’ve yet to see anyone play it’s namesake elder dragon, despite early predictions that it would be the most powerful – and perhaps the only one with possible Standard meta aspirations. Other than Efreet Flamepainter, which has slotted into some of the spellslinger decks I’ve faced, Prismari looks like an early bust. Aggro gameplans in mono-red, mono-white, Lorehold, and Silverquill have all beat me embarrassingly fast. I do worry that my predilection for slower midrange decks will leave me irritated with what looks like a much faster meta so far. But nothing looks busted, and if I can find something wonky with a 30-40% winrate, I’ll likely consider that worthy of my Arena screen time.
The only possible abacaxí I’m seeing so far are Lesson cards. Learn/Lesson looks great for limited play, but I’m not convinced I’ll make much (any?) use of it in constructed. So of course my prerelease kit packs were very generous with the Lessons – 4 of my kit’s packs had rares in the Lesson slot, and the 5th had the only mythic Lesson in Strixhaven (I don’t believe the college-themed booster had a Lesson slot.) One of my two prize packs also had a rare Lesson. Six of the first seven STX draft packs I opened had rare/mythic Lessons. I shouldn’t complain about the extra rares, of course, and as cards they all seem…fine. But none of the Learn/Lesson cards I’ve seen beckon me to brew with them. Some people will surely enjoy them for constructed use, just as some (deluded) people would rather fill up on cheap and smushy pineapple instead of exquisitely grilled tenderloin or sweet and spicy chicken.
But hey – everyone should of course eat what they like. Based on my absurd preferences, I’m not one to shame someone for liking (*shudder*) fruit.
To quote the always amusing Tad Allagash: “Taste…is a matter of taste.”
Next time: Quandrix deck tech? Strixhaven Collector booster reveals? A complete retraction of this entire post once I discover I actually hate all the new Strixhaven-inspired strategies?