Commander Spotlight: Pollenbright Wings

What do an intriguing book, well-woven piece of investigative journalism, and a strong comedic joke all have in common?

They are all good at luring you in and captivating you with a story.

Whether it’s a plucky hero fighting atop the snow-capped mountains of some fantasy realm or trying to find out exactly why the standup’s trip to the 7-11 is at all relevant to the ongoing narrative, spinning a good story lies at the heart of all of these situations. Which makes sense. As the author, you want the audience to come along with you for whatever journey it is you’re telling, and ideally, you want said audience to be enthralled by that experience. This not only increases the chances that they’re going to continue reading, but if done right, it also creates just enough of an emotional investment – however brief – to make the payoff of the story worth it.

While there is no perfect blueprint for such storytelling, most do tend to follow the classic three-act structure. Often this also includes some prelude to what you’re about to dig into, be it a headline lede – “Corruption at City Hall Involves Mayor!” – or a quick sentence to clue the audience in to where your story is starting – “After being slapped around by an irate seal, I figured my day couldn’t get any worse, so I stopped into a local 7-11 on the ride home…”. This is the beginning of the first act. It sets the framework for the overall tale and provides necessary exposition of what’s to come. This may involve jumping right into the middle of something as a means of grabbing your attention, or the author may inch along, leaving you slightly confused but feeding you just enough breadcrumbs that you feel compelled to learn more. The first part of these stories is meant to fill in many of those blanks using all manner of cadences, plot devices, and worldbuilding. Whatever is necessary to rope you in and keep your curiosity piqued. Exposition is key to this process. It sets up everything to propel you forward.

The second act is all about ratcheting up what’s set before you, escalating the dangers and repercussions by the characters you were introduced to previously.

What will Paul Atreides do now that he has survived a full-on assault on his family?

“After reporting the accounting irregularities to the City Register supervisors several times and being told she was mistaken, Becky Anderson started getting additional assignments that had nothing to do with her daily job responsibilities, as if someone was giving her busywork just to keep her quiet or force her to quit.”

Since you as the reader have taken the time to learn about the people involved, if the author has done their job you feel compelled to want to know how they are going to get out of the conflict that has befallen them. If your Worst Day Ever already involved having your cell phone fall through a sewer grate, getting into a public fight with your boyfriend, trying to make it up to said S/O by going to the aquarium, getting punched around by a seal who was also having a very bad day, and then realizing the whole thing will end up on YouTube, what could possibly be happen at the 7-11 to make things worse?

The final act is generally seen as resolution, in whatever form that may take. From a novel standpoint, this wraps up the primary conflict for the protagonist(s). Did Dorothy escape the Wicked Witch and get home? Was the evil warlock slain? They may set up the foundations for future stories with unresolved plot elements, but the major questions are answered to some satisfying degree. Likewise, news stories must have a payoff as well. After all, their motivation is to inform the reader about the topic at hand. These pieces want you to know not only what was uncovered, but what was done about it – or not. And for comedians, it’s all about finding a way to make you laugh. Perhaps the payoff is a continuation of troubled events, or as is often the case, subverting expectations. To a comedian, whatever would be funniest in that moment will be the best conclusion to their anecdotal part of their yarn. Like after having the most ridiculous day imaginable, maybe the funniest thing to happen would be absolutely nothing. Or that they took two long drags of the best cherry Slurpee imaginable, happily paying for it at the register and pensively taking solace that their ordeal of a day is over finally…before immediately walking into the glass doors and spilling it all over themselves.

Anyhow, this is all a long-winded way of saying that we recently flew back in from Gen Con and boy are my wings still tired.

Specifically, these wings.

Today we have: Pollenbright Wings

Name: Pollenbright Wings

Edition: Ravnica / Planechase 2012

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Token Generation / Creature Evasion

Highlights: Pollenbright Wings is a great example of a card that meant vastly different things to different audiences when it first came out. For casual players who were bestowed it during the first Ravnica block, they saw it for what it was: a fantastic if slow enabler for Selesnya decks to generate the necessary token creatures that fueled its Convoke ability. For Limited players it provided significant, even lethal board advantage. And for the more competitive minded, Pollenbright was far too expensive and far too slow to be in a deck – especially during a time when hyper-aggressive Boros decks were all too common.

In all fairness, Pollenbright is not a cure-all. The main drawback to Pollenbright Wings comes in two parts. The first, as one would expect, is its cost. At six mana, it is a relatively expensive Aura (even by EDH standards), which makes a card better suited for the middle to later stages of a Commander game when you can better leverage the cost into some quick board gains – though the earlier you can press its use, the better. The second, albeit more hidden, is a natural reluctance on the part of many EDH players to put many Auras in their deck to begin with. There is often a fear that too much reliance on Auras can be prohibitive, both because losing a creature costs you two cards instead at that point, and it doesn’t work without a creature to put on in the first place. Auras have an ever-so-slightly more difficult hurdle to hitting the battlefield compared to other card types, and for some, any extra effort is enough to give pause.

That all being said, however, Pollenbright is well worth the cost and card advantage concerns, as even connecting once or twice with the right creature can massively make up for it. The card states that whenever the enchanted creature deals combat damage to a player, you get that many 1/1 Saprolings. Even something as modest as 5/5 creature doing damage means taking out 1/8 of someone’s life total and creating five more creatures in the process. That ability alone has the potential to create some massive swing advantage, especially since all you need is to do damage to an opponent – it doesn’t really matter which.

And if getting through defenses was even remotely an issue, Pollenbright Wings also grants the creature Flying, as the name implied. This sometimes overlooked feature makes attacking all that much easier and alleviates some of the danger of having the enchanted creature simply die off in mid combat.

Like most Auras, Pollenbright is a straightforward card that provides a lot of opportunity to hurt your opponent and being rewarded for doing so. In the proper hands, it can even be down right scary. But you don’t have to take my word for it; there’s plenty of stories out there to back fact that up.

Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.

You can discuss this article over on our social media!