Fallen Empires, the fifth Magic expansion to grace the history books, carries us past the Brother's War to new parts of Dominaria. While number five doesn't quite get us out of the weird, old parts of Magic like 8-card packs and inconsistent rarities it does give us a couple new ones and wraps some up. Notably, Fallen Empires is the last Magic set to use the tilted letter 'T' tap symbol. As for the new ones we see red-tinted text boxes and an extreme embrace of the multiple-art-per-card idea. It also expands on the early tribal themes and lays ground work for future tribal mechanics. Let's dive in and see how it stacks up against the sets we've seen so far.
Fallen Empires comes in at 187 total cards, an increase of about 57% from The Dark. This expansion is a story bridge between the Brother's War ending and the Ice Age story arc beginning so it makes sense that it falls between DRK and ICE in size; Ice Age is a little over twice the size of FEM. Fallen Empires notably finishes out the period of Magic before the big-small-small block paradigm was adopted.
While FEM boasts 187 cards, only 102 of them are unique. The set featured an experiment to guage player interest in multiple arts for common cards. The commons are split into three common rarities which I've explained in the past: C4, C3, and C1 (modern uncommon). Each C4 rarity card received four unique arts and flavor texts while each C3 received three, each with its own collector number. This greatly inflates the number of cards you can pull from FEM packs from a functional standpoint since each version is functionally identical.
Fallen Empires has perfect color parity, featuring 33 cards of each color. Coloreless cards come in at two-thirds of that split between the lands and artifacts. The equal color counts are an effect of the set's tribal theme; each color supports two or three tribes not just in types but in name and flavor. For example, the Icatians/Order of Leitbur are the white humans and green supports elves and thallids. The tribes play into the warring powers theme and it makes sense that they would be represented about equally.
The color identities of Fallen Empires are nearly the same as the colors. Ten of the eleven lands move over, while one land and all of the artifacts remain colorless. The only two multicolor identity cards are a kind of old-school color hoser: a white card that hoses red unless red is paid and a green card that hoses blue unless blue is paid. Otherwise there is no shift from colors to color identity.
Most of the change in color counts from The Dark to Fallen Empires can be accounted for just by the difference in set size. Fallen Empires is 68 cards larger than The Dark and each color received 14-15 more cards. The notable drop is in colorless identity cards which dropped by 11, mainly due to The Dark's high artifact count. Multicolor cards drop to zero in Fallen Empires, and multicolor identity cards drop by 3 cards as well.
As with all sets, Fallen Empires is dominated by creatures but it is especially fitting in a tribal focused set. A whopping 62.5% of Fallen Empires is creatures; the creature type beats the runner up enchantment by 85 cards. Of course not all 117 of those creatures are unique, due to the multiple arts, but they may as well be for pack purposes. Fallen Empires is also interesting because the most of any card type besides creatures and enchantments is 11, making the set incredibly light on all types of non-creature spells. This is likely an effect of having so many creature tribes and not yet having the rules and knowledge in place to support them more fully in spells.
In line with the overwhelming creature dominance of Fallen Empires we see a huge spike in that card type from The Dark. Fallen Empires exhibits a jump of 62 from the Dark's 55, accounting for almost the entire difference in set size. Other card types show a more muted change; enchantments increase by 12 and lands by 7 while instants, sorceries, and artifacts drop by 2, 2, and 5 respectively.
|Human 30||Thrull 17||Orc 12||Fungus 11|
|Merfolk 11||Homarid 9||Elf 7||Dwarf 5|
|Goblin 4||Avatar 2||Insect 1||Orgg 1|
The tribal themes in Fallen Empires are immediately obvious looking at the race breakdown. Both white factions are humans, which explains their dominance at 30 human creatures. This dominance is seen in other sets as well though, but thereafter it immediately diverges from the norm. Thrulls are the predominant black tribe and aren't seen in many other sets in large numbers. The next three most prominent races account for the other three colors: red orcs, green fungus, and blue merfolk. The other tribes continue until the counts dwindle to the oddbal races like avatars and Orgg.
|Soldier 26||Cleric 15||Scout 7||Knight 4|
|Shaman 4||Warrior 4||Wizard 4||Archer 3|
|Rogue 3||Druid 1||Monk 1||Praetor 1|
The classes are concentrated more at the high end because they tend to show up in multiple tribes. Soldiers, of which there are 26, show up in every color for example. Clerics and scouts show up in at least two colors, and as the numbers dwindle down we see the more specific classes. The lone druid shows up in green, the lone praetor in black.
Fallen Empires has far more commons than uncommons or rares, and far more than its predecessor. This is obviously due to the triple and quadruple printing of all the common cards, and adjusted down for that the 121 commons of Fallen Empires would look like a normal rarity distribution. It deviates by only about 14 uncommons down from The Dark and has just one less rare, so there is no reason to think any real change in rarity break down was intended.
The mana curve sits very low in Fallen Empires; 89% of the set's cards are CMC 3 or less. The 0-cost cards are all lands save for Delif's Cone, so the bulk of the spells rest squarely between 1-3 mana. The set tops out at CMC 8 with Deep Spawn and showcases a few cards in the 5-6 range. Most of the set's many creatures are cheap and agressive as many of Fallen Empire's mechanics were creature centric.
|Delta from DRK||-1||0||-0.6||0|
There is little change in the CMC stats between The Dark and Fallen Empires. This set tops out at 8 CMC instead of 9, but they both have 0 as the bottom end. The sets both have CMC 3 as their most common cost, which is still pretty common in modern magic. The biggest change is the drop from average CMC 2.9 down to 2.3 showing that FEM favors the low cost creatures considerably more than DRK did.
Fallen Empires is very keyword-light. Keywords show up on creatrues in FEM just 12 times, and none of them are new or terribly interesting. First Strike and Trample are the most common at 3 each, supporting the cheap aggressive creature theme noted above. The now defunct banding and downgraded protection keywords come in at 2, with defender and islandwalk bringing up the rear at 1 apiece. While at first this may suggest a lot of vanilla creatures, that is not the case. Most creatures had some sort of ability, from lord buffs to tapping for damage to saccing to regain life.
All together Fallen Empires showcases the work of 30 different artists. Some of them did as few as two cards, a couple did as many as 10 and I've shown only the 10 most represented artists here. Some familiar names make the top ten, like Mark Poole and Anson Maddocks, who have done plenty of Magic art over the years; popular artists like Quentin Hoover and Phil Foglio also did art for Fallen Empires just not quite as much. FEM artists cranked out 5.7 cards on average, just slightly less than in DRK which is pretty good given the big set size difference.
This brings us to the end of our exploration of Fallen Empires. It brought us favorites like the Thallids, oddball cards like the storage lands, and just a wealth of new creatures. I'd wager that FEM isn't anyones' favorite set, but it's definitely a neat one. More importantly it caps off an early era in Magic history; as we move on we'll see more familiar patterns in set sizes and card design as we move through Ice Age block and ever closer to modern Magic. Thanks for reading and I hope you'll join me next time as we expand our Magic adventure to Ice Age.