I love the Creative department at Wizards of the Coast. They consistently create vivid worlds, unique characters, and deliver a focused, consistent visual style from a wide breadth of individual artists.
From my experience working closing with the Creative department at the company I work for, these points are as far from trivial as it gets.
Additionally, the use of nouns that lie outside the everyday vernacular we employ is pleasing to anyone with a deeper-than-TV vocabulary. Today’s card is one that I’m sure threw quite a few people for a loop: Bladed Pinions.
First, from TheFreeDictionary.com/pinion:
- The wing of a bird.
- The outer rear edge of the wing of a bird, containing the primary feathers.
- A primary feather of a bird.
Which explains how the art matches up to the name. However, there is an alternate definition for pinion that I find more intriguing:
- A small cogwheel that engages or is engaged by a larger cogwheel or a rack.
Bladed Pinions is a frightening piece of equipment in Scars of Mirrodin Limited decks running the infect strategy. First strike with wither was strong; infect marries that strength with poison to players, which is something that flying certainly helps make happen.
The alternate definition is the one I like here because Bladed Pinions feels like that cog helping drive a larger piece of strategy. It’s the little helper that gears your infect deck to a different level.
In terms of pauper cubes in general, however, Bladed Pinions doesn’t feel quite as powerful. First strike is always solid and flying adds an aggressive layer to decks but there are many more creatures with flying, among other forms of evasion, in cube than Scars of Mirrodin. Toughness is harder to find but defensive decks will have them in spades. Neither ability is as dominating without infect running around.
While this isn’t to say that the abilities aren’t very useful (they are) but that winning creature battles and races often comes down to straight power and toughness rather than keyword bonuses. This is why Leonin Scimitar and Bonesplitter are picked very high: they incrementally improve every creature for a minimal investment.
Two mana to play and another two to equip without any numerical boosting makes it challenging to compete with the current equipment. While I want to refrain from the classic pitfall of “If this cost less it would be more interesting.” I know that nearly every aggro deck I run wants to make their already good creatures better, and their weaker creatures good.
Bonesplitter and Scimitar let even a Llanowar Elf become much more aggressive, and that’s the catching point: a 1/1 flying, first strike just isn’t as scary as a 3/1 or 2/2 without abilities.
I’m still going to acquire and hold a foil copy of Bladed Pinions; it’s certainly on the cusp of interesting and I have made mistakes in evaluation before.
And now, after all that, do you think Bladed Pinions is worth it?