Fallen Empires: Old School player´s manual (part II)

We return with the second part of the article dedicated to Fallen Empires. We remind you that we are going to analyze those cards that are not played that much but that, in our opinion, have potential and could be included in some decks (they are not arranged in any specific order). In conclusion we will try to understand Fallen Empires in the current context of the Old School.

(If you want to read the first part of the article, click here).

We start!

DWARVEN ARMORER:

fem-50-dwarven-armorer

I was always a fan of this card because of its illustration, I just love it, a great work by Bryon Wackwitz. But let’s analyze in more detail how it works, it tells us that for a red one mana we discard a card and put a counter on target creature, the counter is good because you can put it to himself, but what I find interesting is his ability to discard, since it´s a creature that you can play in turn 1 and for a deck with reanimator cards it can be good to have discard from the beginning if we don´t have access to Bazaar of Baghdad.

GOBLIN WAR DRUMS:

fem-58b-goblin-war-drums

One of the first cards to provide the menace ability to your creatures, and in this case to all!

It seems to me that it could be combined with creatures that do something when they damage the opponent, such as Hypnotic Specter, Mindstab Thrull, Farrel’s Zealot, Whirling Dervish, creatures that put poison counters, or even with Orgg for when an opponent’s defender remains untapped, and it’s another enchantment for Verduran Enchantress, and doesn´t have a disproportionate cost.

SOUL EXCHANGE:

fem-43-soul-exchange

Here we´ve a little played and a underrated reanimation card, I’m not saying it’s better than Animate Dead, but in a deck with many thrulls can surprise, or even without thrulls you can sacrifice any creature, and don´t worry about the dreaded » 2×1 «of the opponent that, like the Grenade Goblin, the sacrifice is part of the cost, will not be able to kill the creature in response.

ICATIAN TOWN:

fem-15-icatian-town

Okay, all right, it has a high cost, but putting 4 creatures in white is always something to keep in mind, especially with Crusade on the battlefield. Combine well with Hand of the Justice, Lord of the Pit or Soul Exchange.

INITIATES OF THE EBON HAND:

fem-39b-initiates-of-the-ebon-hand

The initiates were always a card that I liked a lot, they enter turn 1 and filter black mana. Black is a color that desperately needs the double swamp and, moreover, it´s normal to play colorless earths like Strip Mines or Mishra’s Factory, so you have to be careful with the opponent’s Mines and correctly design the mana base to ensure that double black. With this creature that problem is minimized and would fit well in a Black Weenie strategy, for example. You could turn your Mana Vault into Dark Ritual, or generate huge Drain Life with Urza´s lands.

BREEDING PIT:

fem-35-breeding-pit

It´s a card that could have more potential but its upkeep cost condemns it. It could be combined with a bunch of cards, with Bad Moon or Thrull Champion, or as food for Lord of the Pit or Soul Exchange. The positive part is that it puts the token in the same turn it enters.

MINDSTAB THRULL:

fem-40c-mindstab-thrull

This card was played before more than now, you can see this deck («The deck of taxes», list that appears towards the end of the article) that was published in the fanzine Serra 5. Its power is that you can clean the opponent’s hand in one go, combined with The Rack can be lethal.

FARREL’S ZEALOT:

fem-3a-farrel-s-zealot

It’s not as bad as it looks, you can activate your ability right after assigning blockers, so you can kill another blocking creature before it assigns its damage, so in all combat phases the opponent will have to think very good blocking and attacks. If you manage to evade it, it becomes more dangerous and, unlike the Mindstab Thrull, it´s not necessary to sacrifice it, in certain cases it will be a Lightning Bolt and we already know everything we can kill with a Lightning …

SEASINGER:

fem-25-seasinger

I don´t know why this card is played so little, it’s true that it has several handicaps (not just one, but several), you need to have islands, your opponent too, and it’s a 0/1 for cost 3, but in a deck of merfolks, you always have islands and there is a card called Phantasmal Terrain, you can enter more than one copy, and blue is the most played color, so in most cases there will be islands in between. And the good thing is that you choose the objective and in instant speed you can steal the opponent’s best creature, which will have to think more than once before hitting. The drawing is also an exquisite work of art by Amy Weber.

VODALIAN KNIGHTS:

fem-29-vodalian-knights

It’s on the list because it’s the only Fallen Empires creature that can fly —paying a blue mana—, and it has First Strike base. The problem is that it inhabits islands, although, since it’s a merfolk, you’re almost always going to have islands and your opponent too. A merfolk of turn 3 that could enter with a couple of copies in the merfolks deck.

VODALIAN MAGE:

fem-30c-vodalian-mage

Another merfolk that is hardly played, perhaps because of its high cost, but I think it could work on a deck with a lot of land destruction, its ability to «Force Spike permanent» seems very interesting.

VODALIAN SOLDIER:

fem-31c-vodalian-soldiers

We have already said that being the River Merfolk these soldiers are not the first option, but in a deck with many fast creatures and that are swollen by the Lord of Atlantis or by Sunken City it does not seem a bad idea to have a couple of copies, and also don´t need double blue for turn 2 if you want to play a factory instead of an island.

DWARVEN CATAPULT:

fem-51-dwarven-catapult

It seems a good sideboard card against decks of small creatures like White Weenie, Mono Black, or Mono Green. The best thing is that it makes its effect in instant speed so the opponent doesn´t expect

GOBLIN WARRENS:

fem-59-goblin-warrens

The card itself is quite funny, for the illustration and its effect, in a goblin deck it can help you to always have a goblin on the battlefield to play that Grenade or Goblin King Saviors.

ORCISH SPY:

fem-61c-orcish-spy

I´m still trying to find this card useful. Getting information about the cards that the opponent is going to receive is always useful, and maybe it can works well in decks with Millstone, to know when to activate it.

RING OF RENEWAL:

fem-89-ring-of-renewal

Could it be that we are facing one of the most underrated cards in Old School? It seems at first glance an artifact with a high cost and that makes you lose a random card on the way, but if we think it coldly we find that the Jayemdae Tome costs only one less to play, and one less to activate, no one is going to discuss how good the Tome is, the Ring of Renewal is worse than this, but what if we don´t have any cards in hand? Well, we can activate it because discarding a card isn´t a cost (the discarding happens before the drawing), it´s not necessary if you don´t have cards with which you would draw two cards, and that’s when it improves. Its cost is perfect to play it in an Urzatron, and it becomes a 5/5 with Titania’s Song.

ZELYON SWORD:

fem-91-zelyon-sword

One of the first «pseudo-equipment» that there was, this one in particular gives +2 to the power and you can keep it tapped in your untap phase so that it continues to have effect, it’s good if you combine it with creatures with first strike or that have evasion. Who said Flying Men or Stone Throwing Devils?

THALLID:

fem-74c-thallid

The fungus deck is one of the tribal decks that you can get only with FE cards, decks that you could not do if you did not have access to this expansion. The Thallids are the lowest step in the evolutionary scale of the fungus and will be spore producers from the beginning.

THORN THALLID:

fem-80b-thorn-thallid

His ability to deal damage to any target can be useful when the game is extended and you need to scrape those points of damage needed to win. If you combine it with Fungal Bloom it can be even more powerful.

THALLID DEVOURER:

fem-75-thallid-devourer

His ability gives some consistency to this card and can generate some respect between the opponent’s creatures or get rid of a Lightning Bolt. He also produces saprolings.

GOBLIN FLOTILLA:

fem-55-goblin-flotilla

I have to admit that this card is on the list because they are the only goblins that have island walk and because I like the artwork XD, but inside a goblin deck it´s not bad for their evasion ability and because they are a 2/2 which isn´t usual in the old school goblins.

HOMARID SPAWNING BED:

fem-21-homarid-spawning-bed

It´s a pity that the creature to sacrifice has to be blue, but hey, it´s not so bad and it can be a card that generates many creatures to get +1+1 with a Sunken City.

ELVISH HUNTER:

fem-67a-elvish-hunter

It was a card that at time seemed like it was going to see more game, its ability could stop big creatures and control them quite well, but Royal Assassin was much more effective. Can see game with a couple of copies.

SAC LANDS:

fem-100-ruins-of-trokair

The first lands they designed that came into play tapped were these, and that condemned them to ostracism, but their ability to sacrifice to give double mana can be useful when you solve a Balance or activate a Land Tax.

THELONITE DRUID:

fem-78-thelonite-druid

One of the creatures with more potential of FE. You can design a strategy around his ability, and it can even sacrifices to herself or, in advanced game, serve as a finisher and attack in a whirl with your forests that will become creatures 2/3 which is something not negligible.

HAND OF THE JUSTICE:

fem-5-hand-of-justice

It costs a lot of mana to play, I know, but it has resistance 6 and that means it can block Juzam, and combined with Icatian Town it can be a good removal.

ELVISH FARMER:

fem-66-elvish-farmer

This atypical elf has a very interesting ability: to gain 2 lives for each saproling you sacrifice can give you some extra turns, it´s also self-sufficient and doesn´t need other cards to work; although Fungal Bloom could help a lot, or combined with Greed, for example, it can become a good drawing engine.

FUNGAL BLOOM:

fem-70-fungal-bloom

In a deck of Thallids it´s necessary, imagine being able to inflate the Thallids or to get more food for Elvish Farmer. With the right mana you can do many things.

CONCH HORN:

fem-83-conch-horn

Another «artifact boon», this worse than Aeolipile, but can have some use if you combine it with Sylvan Library, because if you know what you have in the top of the library you can exchange it with one of the bad cards in hand at the speed of instant (in case your opponent cast a Hymn to Tourach or similar), and if you´ve Land Tax and you can activate it in your next upkeep phase, you could exchange a básica Land for a good card of the top and to look for the same land that you left and to see three new cards on topdeck!

Another use that occurs to me is if you play with ante rules, because if you know what you have at the top of Library tren activating Conch Horn you can exchange a bad card from your hand for the top card and thus not lose one of your good cards, or against Tempest Efreet.

DWARVEN SOLDIER:

fem-53a-dwarven-soldier

Normally in the Sligh they play with Ironclaw Orcs but they have a serious problem when it comes to blocking, and the Dwarven Soldiers don´t have that handicap, they can block an Erhnam Djinn, for example, and they can even block the Ironclaw and kill them without piety thanks to his ability, and it´s not so rare to find a Sligh in a tournament.

They help for the curve and can replace the orcs —or combine them with these— in a deck like Sligh, the problem is that they can be an easy target for the Icatian Javelineers.

CONCLUSION:

I have to admit that FE wasn´t one of the best expansions and didn´t cause a great impact among the players of his time, which isn´t the same as causing an impact now in our current format; I think that now it has more importante than before.

With two good cards such as Goblin Grenade or Hymn to Tourach is already causing some impact but, as we have seen, there are more playable cards, more than they may seem at first glance.

One of the main problems of FE is its bad reputation. It was an overproduced expansion, and it´s true, but is this enough to say it´s not Old school? I think not, it was published in the same year as the Revised Edition, which was the expansion with which we began to play many of those that we are today in OS 93-94. FE is an expansion with several design errors, the first is that they forgot the flying creatures, they only included one! And it´s a merfolk that you have to pay a blue mana… And on top of that it inhabits island! That made very few creatures truly competitive. The other error that I detect is that there are some cards that are overcomplicated, you read the text, that sometimes it´s difficult to understand, and then, when you understand it, you realize that it´s an effect that practically doesn´t do anything. There are also cards like Tidal Influence, where you have to be putting and taking counters every turn and each counter does something different, which complicates to players more than providing fun.

fem-28-tidal-influence
In general, Fallen Empires is one of the expansions with the largest number of different tokens and counters

But let´s look at the positives and what FE adds to the format:

The narrative element of FE is quite worked, if you read the flavor text of each of the cards is as if you were reading a story, contains a narrative, that makes me think that FE was an expansion designed with love, with a storyline and narrative behind each card.

fem-13a-icatian-scout
A pretty narrative example of flavor text

It shows that the expansion was designed with love and artistic direction (on behalf of Sandra Everingham, who repeated as director after doing the same with The Dark) was one of the best within the so-called Old School formats. The graphic aspect is very successful and it shows a great work in the artistic direction. The truth that the art of FE is the best thing that there is in MTG. It´s noted that it was designed to collect for the good taste with which the illustrations are made and because there were several versions of the common cards, at that time I think I think they were experimenting in WotC.

For the first time emphasis was placed on the tribes, and on the effects of some cards combined with others if they belonged to a specific tribe. Improves tribal strategies and these tribals decks would not be the same, or by far, without FE, such as Goblin or White Weenie (soldiers), for example.

fem-34b-basal-thrull
The thrulls are one of the most «exotic» tribes

Including FE in OS 93-94 gives more variety and lowers entry prices, makes it more affordable and allows players to keep innovating (and this always generates more fun). It contributes a lot to a Singlenton format or to one like Brawl. In the end it´s a more fun than powerful expansion, so there is no fear so much, provides more fun than power, and if we talk about mediocre cards, we would have to say that in Legends or The Dark also there are a few.

In short, Fallen Empires is an old expansion, with an interesting narrative element, with an excellent art, which is gorgeous at a battlefield, with black border, with beautiful artworks, affordable, more fun than powerful, which gives enough variety to the Old School format and improve tribal strategies.

************************************

This has been all for today, thank you for having gotten here, today has come a long article and I hope it has been to your liking. As you can always tell me what you want and I would like to know which is your favorite Fallen Empires card and if you notice any absence in the list, hit me in the comments of this blog, or in my Instagram account: @retroplayermtg

Until next time!

Carlos Piélago

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