Fallen Empires

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For the Snow Patrol album, see Fallen Empires (album).
Fallen Empires
Fallen Empires symbol
Released November 1994
Size 102 cards
(functionally different) /
187 cards
(counting distinct artwork)
Print run 350–375 million[1]
Keywords None new
Mechanics Creature tokens,
"Tribal" creature types,
Designers Skaff Elias, Jim Lin, Dave Petty and Chris Page[2]
Development code Fallen Empires[3]
Expansion code FEM (FE)
The Dark 4th Edition

Fallen Empires was the ninth Magic: The Gathering set and the fifth expansion set, released in November 1994. Out of the set of 187 cards, 102 were functionally unique, with the remainder being variant illustrations of other cards in the set. The mechanics of Fallen Empires include a tribal subtheme and heavy use of counters and tokens. Thematically the set experiments with conflict within the colors. The expansion symbol for the set is a crown.[4][5][6][7]


Fallen Empires takes place on the continent of Sarpadia after the Brothers' War in Antiquities. Each of the major cultures on Sarpadia is confronted with internal threats caused by the cooling weather: the dwarves are attacked by orcs and goblins; the Vodalian merfolk face the homarid menace; the elves of the forest struggle to contain the fungus-like thallids; the proud soldiers of Icatia confront opposition from religious zealots; and the dark Order of the Ebon Hand fights a thrull revolt.[8] The storyline of Fallen Empires is continued in the Ice Age set.

Set history[edit]

Fallen Empires is widely regarded as one of the weakest sets in the game's history. Wizards of the Coast even points out on the product page of Fallen Empires that the set "with mixed reviews from players, and controversy over the set's effectiveness still rages on."[8] This along with the massive overprinting of the set make its cards next to worthless on the secondary market. Each card including the rares can usually be acquired for less than $2. After the set was released Richard Garfield described it as

It is easily the most complicated and best-looking of the expansions. The play value is high for the complexity, and the cards are very valuable for play. The flavor is probably the most cohesive since Arabian Nights. This expansion is easily my favorite.

— Richard Garfield, The Expanding Worlds of Magic[9]

Printing and distribution[edit]

Fallen Empires was released in November 1994. It was sold in boosters of eight cards with a box of boosters containing sixty booster packs. Each booster contained two cards from the uncommon and six from the common sheet. Of the cards from the uncommon sheet 36 were U1, meaning they appeared once on the uncommon sheet. They were thus three times as rare as most other uncommons and consequently dubbed the rare cards of the set. The remaining uncommons were 25 U3 and 5 U2 cards. Of the common cards each is equally common if each card with a unique artwork is counted as an individual card. Counting only functionally unique cards there were 15 common cards that appeared in four versions and 20 that appeared in three versions. There was also one common, Delif's Cone, that had only one version, making it just as rare as an U3 uncommon.[1]

Because previous sets were underprinted, often making them unavailable very quickly after they went on sale, more Fallen Empires cards were printed than any previous set. Wizards of the Coast announced the print run of Fallen Empires to be 350-375 million cards compared to 75 million for its predecessor, The Dark. Booster packs were thus available until 1998 despite the fact that Wizards stopped shipping cards in January 1995.[1]

Fallen Empires was the last set produced only in English although the two previous sets, Legends and The Dark had already been produced in Italian. Its successor, Ice Age was available in six languages.

Due to a printing error a small number of cards from Fallen Empires were printed with Wyvern backs when that game was manufactured at the same factory.[10] These were distributed in Wyvern starters and have an exceptionally high value on the secondary market relative to other Fallen Empire cards.[11]


Fallen Empires introduced a tribal theme that would later be revisited in Onslaught. Each color had two main creature types, as well as cards that benefit from controlling creatures of those types. Another theme introduced was color wars; specifically, each color making war on itself, with two major tribes for each color. A number of Fallen Empires cards also made heavy usage of counters and tokens.

Color Tribes
Black Order of the Ebon Hand and Thrulls
Blue (Vodalian) Merfolk and Homarid
Green Elves and Thallid
Red Dwarves and Goblins/Orcs
White Icatia's Order of Leitbur and Farrelite Cult

Notable cards[edit]

  • Hymn to Tourach — This powerful discard spell has seen play in tournament level Vintage and Legacy decks. Although a common card it is also the most valuable card of the set.
  • High Tide —Various combo decks have been built around the mana acceleration that this card provides.
  • Goblin Grenade — One of the earliest incentives to play a deck with many Goblin cards.
  • Order of Leitbur and *Order of the Ebon Hand - For their mana efficiency, protection from respective colors and combat oriented abilities, these clerics were used in many successful decks of this period.


  1. ^ a b c "Fallen Empires". Crystal Keep. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  2. ^ Rosewater, Mark (9 February 2009). "Whatever Happened to Barry's Land?". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 26 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "Gatecrashing the Party, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  4. ^ Miller, John Jackson (2001), Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide, p. 520. 
  5. ^ Moursund, Beth (2002), The Complete Encyclopedia of Magic The Gathering, p. 720. 
  6. ^ Searle, Michael (September 1995), InQuest, The Ultimate Guide to Card Games, p. 104. 
  7. ^ Wakefield, Jamie (1997), Tournament Reports for Magic: The Gathering, p. 169. 
  8. ^ a b "Fallen Empires". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  9. ^ Garfield, Richard. "The Expanding Worlds of Magic". The Duelist. Wizards of the Coast (4). Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast. 13 August 2003. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  11. ^ http://www.eternal-central.com/?p=2353

External links[edit]