FE REDUX A Custom Magic Set Inspired by Fallen Empires Design by Nicholas Grayson
Before making FE REDUX, I identified three core concepts in Fallen Empires that I considered essential. These concepts are what make Fallen Empires feel like Fallen Empires. If my FE REDUX set was going to feel like a spiritual successor, it needed to keep these three pillars in mind from the start:
1.) Flavor Driven – The stories that informs Fallen Empire are very clean. Internal struggles within five empires lead to the destruction of each empire. That idea must remain, along with the smaller stories that intertwine the empires.
2.) Tribal – Fallen Empires is considered the first “creature type matters” set. There actually aren’t that many tribal cards, but based on the perception, I should capture that theme.
3.) Counters – Fallen Empires had fourteen different types of counters, many of which only appeared on a single card. Hving so many different types of counters isn’t something modern design would do. On the plus side, I will have a mostly untapped mechanical space to mine for card designs.
Fallen Empires is a 187 card set, but only has 102 unique card designs. This is due to multiple versions of each common appearing in the set. Each color has 7 common designs and 24 printed cards. * 3 of those designs had 4 cards with different arts and flavor texts. * 4 of those designs had 3 cards with different arts and flavor texts.
I wanted to make FE REDUX using only the original Fallen Empires art. And I wanted to use as much of its original flavor text as possible.
With so many of the set’s art assets being variations of the same design concept, it would be tricky to make cards with clear mechanical differences.
This is also true of similar flavor texts, although that’s not as hard to work around.
There’s an unequal distribution of creature types in Fallen Empires, making a Tribal component difficult for FE REDUX.
Relying on the art of Fallen Empires means reconciling the small numbers of Dwarves, Elves, Homarids, and Merfolk with the overabundance of Humans, Orcs, Thallids, and Thrulls.
With much of the art being creature-focused, it would be hard to equalize tribes just by reducing the overall number of creature cards in the set.
I decided to constrain my design in a number of ways:
I avoided mechanical tropes like “newer” evergreen keywords (deathtouch, lifelink, hexproof), enter the battlefield effects, modal spells, planeswalkers, etc.
I included some modern design elements like “old” unnamed evergreen keywords (defender, reach, vigilance), race/class creature types, reminder text, “creating” tokens, “exiling” permanents, etc.
I skipped older mechanics and color pie concepts that aren’t used anymore. No banding, protection, regeneration, “bury” effects, blue ping effects, etc. I didn’t include any flying. This is a spiritual carry over from Fallen Empires, but also practical, as only two arts show flying. There are other evasion mechanics.
Flavor Driven – I made a lot of top down designs in FE REDUX. For example, black cards in Fallen Empires reference thrull breeders, a thrull rebellion, and the fall of the Ebon Hand. In FE REDUX I made black cards that let you play out those moments and not just read about them.
Similarly there are cards for the six Sarpadian Empire volumes, cards depicting the food shortages that drove the elves to grow thallids, and a card depicting the fall of each empire.
I added flavor text to the dwarven empire. Because their empire was lost and little was known of it, I chose to showcases how long they were under siege before they fell, and how tough they were as reflected by the length of time they withstood these sieges.
I added archons to the top of Icatia’s hierarchy, as a manifestation of the justice and militarism of that empire. The king’s champion isn’t just a man, but a supernatural judge. This is a little different to how archons are depicted in later Magic sets.
Tribal – I continued tribal design techniques and went with two-color tribes in FE REDUX. Since the art elements of Fallen Empires rely so heavily on a mono-color identity for each empire, I couldn’t easily use tribal races. The Vodalian Empire is mono-blue Merfolk. It wouldn’t work to split Vodalia between two colors. So I used class for my tribal component. This way there could be Soldiers in two colors, but they didn’t have to both be part of the same empire. There are five classes in FE REDUX:
The other five color pairs have dual-class crossover:
There’s a 10-card cycle of lords for the races in the set for players who don’t want to just build around class.
There are spells that let you choose a creature type so players can build their own tribal interactions.
Counters – I leaned into a strong counter theme for FE REDUX, doing several things you could never do in a modern design. The abundance of counters makes the set feel more like a boardgame then Magic, but this whole set is about playing the “what if” game and trying something very different. As a result, almost every cards deals with counters in some way.
I put the names of counters in all caps. For example, Tide counters are referred to as TIDE counters, and after the first mention, just shortened to TIDE in subsequent text references.
FE REDUX has counters that grant keywords. If a creature has a counter on it with the same name as a keyword, it grants the creature that keyword. For example, a goblin with a HASTE counter on it has haste.
LIFE and DEATH counters trigger abilities but are not named keywords. When a creature dies, it counts the number of these kinds of counters on it for a scaling effect.
Dirge is a keyword in FE REDUX that has a death trigger that counts any kind of counter on the creature, not just a subset with a particular name.
Necrogenesis and Sporogenesis are two keywords in the set that mix and match counters for similar effects. One of them builds counters to make a single scalable sized creature token, and the other builds counters to make a scalable number of 1/1 tokens.
There are two power/toughness modifying counters, but they aren’t +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters. These power/toughness changing counters are named POWER and TOUGHNESS. They give a +1 pip to either power or toughness, as named.
A cycle of four power/toughness setting counters change a creature’s base power/toughness. Most effects that make these counters will first remove any other base power/toughness counters from the creature.
There are a total of 17 counters in FE REDUX which can be batched together into a four main mechanical concepts. All of them have reminder text when used, except when they are used in a keyword, like with necrogenesis and sporogenesis.
POWER and TOUGHNESS counters do not have reminder text.
KEYWORD GRANTING COUNTERS
COWARDICE – Grants a creature the new cowardice keyword.
DEFENDER – Grants a creature the defender keyword.
DIRGE – Grants a creature the new dirge keyword.
FIRST STRIKE – Grants a creature the first strike keyword.
HASTE – Grants a creature the haste keyword.
SHROUD – Grants a creature the shroud keyword.
TRAMPLE – Grants a creature the trample keyword.
VIGILANCE – Grants a creature the vigilance keyword.
BASE POWER / TOUGHNESS SETTING COUNTERS
SMALL – Sets base p/t to 0/1.
MEDIUM – Sets base p/t to 3/3.
LARGE – Sets base p/t to 5/5.
ENORMOUS – Sets base p/t to 7/7.
POWER / TOUGHNESS MODIFYING COUNTERS
POWER – Gives a creature +1/+0. Also used for necrogenesis and sporogenesis keywords.
TOUGHNESS – Gives a creature +0/+1. Also used for necrogenesis and sporogenesis keywords.
DEATH TRIGGER COUNTERS
LIFE – Count the LIFE counters on a creature when it dies. Its controller gains that much life. Also used for sporogenesis keyword.
DEATH – Count the DEATH counters on a creature when it dies. Opponents lose that much life. Also used for necrogenesis keyword.
7 NEW KEYWORDS
Cowardice – This is a reflection of the defender keyword. Creatures with cowardice can’t block.
Dirge – When your creature dies look at the top cards of your library and find one with a shared creature type to put in your hand to replace it. The number of cards you look at equals the number of counters (any kind) on the dead creature.
Focus – This static ability stops all players from casting spells or activating abilities during combat after blocking creatures have been declared.
High tide – This is a keyword that cycles through you drawing an extra card and discarding a card, tracked over four turns with TIDE counters. High tide starts at the card draw part of that cycle.
Low Tide – This is a keyword that cycles through you drawing an extra card and discarding a card, tracked over four turns with TIDE counters. Low tide starts at the discard a card part of that cycle.
Necrogenesis – Build up DEATH, POWER and TOUGHNESS counters to make a / Thrull creature token that’s as big as the number of counters you built up.
Sporogenesis – Build up LIFE, POWER, and TOUGHNESS counters to make a number of 1/1 Fungus creature tokens equal to the number of counters you built up.
Cowardice (This creature can’t block.)
FE REDUX features red 2/2 Orc creature tokens with cowardice.
Some creatures enter the battlefield with a COWARDICE counter on them, but would be able to block later if the counter is removed.
There’s a rare in FE REDUX that let’s you Flametongue Kavu every time it gets into combat, with damage based on the number of creatures you control with cowardice.
Dirge (When this creature dies, for each counter on it, look at that many cards on top of your library, reveal a card that shares a creature type with this creature, put it into your hand, then put the rest on the bottom of your library in random order.)
Dirge looks for the total number of counters on its creature when it died, not the kinds of counters on it. The counters can all be different kinds.
Multiple instances of dirge will trigger separately.
Dirge is printed as a keyword on some creatures, and other creatures enter the battlefield with a DIRGE counter on them which grants them the keyword.
You can choose to not reveal a creature that shares a creature type, and it would be randomly put on the bottom of your library with the other cards you looked at.
Focus (During combat after blockers are declared, players can’t cast spells or activate abilities that aren’t mana abilities.)
Focus is a static ability which affects both players equally.
Triggered abilities will still occur, and you can still tap a permanent for mana.
All the cards in the set with focus also have an activated ability that could create board complexity if left open to use at any time during combat. Focus is a keyword that changes how players will interact during combat, and should greatly reduce this complexity.
High tide (This creature enters the battlefield with four TIDE counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a TIDE from it. Whenever its fourth TIDE is removed, draw a card. Whenever its second TIDE is removed, discard a card. Whenever its last TIDE is removed, put four of them on it.)
The draw, discard, and “reload TIDE” abilities will trigger whenever the designated numbered counter is removed, not just during your upkeep.
Cards with high tide are costed like slow-cantrips, since you will draw a card the turn after you cast them.
After you cast a creature with high tide it will be several turns before you need to discard a card. By that time, you may have an empty hand, or the creature may no longer be on the battlefield.
There are effects in red that like to “eat” counters. Use them to cycle through high tide quickly.
Low tide (This creature enters the battlefield with two TIDE counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a TIDE from it. Whenever its second TIDE is removed, discard a card. Whenever its last TIDE is removed, put four of them on it. Whenever its fourth TIDE is removed, draw a card.)
Low tide works exactly like high tide except the permanent starts with two TIDE counters on it instead of four.
Creatures with low tide are bigger than normal to account for the discard you will be forced to make the turn after you cast them.
Plan ahead which card you will discard, or cast when your hand is empty to get around low tide’s drawback.
There are cards in blue, and black that reward you for discarding a card. Try them with low tide creatures.
Necrogenesis (At the beginning of your upkeep, put a DEATH, a POWER, or a TOUGHNESS counter on this creature. Whenever it has one of each, remove them all and create a black Thrull Minion creature token with power equal to the total POWER removed this way, and toughness equal to the total TOUGHNESS removed.)
The “create a token” ability will trigger whenever the permanent has one of each kind of counter on it, not just during your upkeep.
These DEATH counters behave like other DEATH counters in the set even though the reminder text doesn’t spell it out. When a creature with DEATH on it dies, each player except its controller loses 1 life for each DEATH on it.
Once a creature with necrogenesis has at least one DEATH, one POWER, and one TOUGHNESS counter on it, you must remove them all and make a token. Only the POWER and TOUGHNESS are counted to determine the token’s p/t. There’s no benefit to the token if more than one DEATH counter is removed.
Sporogenesis (At the beginning of your upkeep, put a LIFE, a POWER, or a TOUGHNESS counter on this creature. Whenever it has one of each, remove them all and, for each pair of POWER and TOUGHNESS removed this way, create a 1/1 green Fungus Minion creature token.)
The “create tokens” ability triggers whenever the permanent has one of each kind of counter on it, not just during your upkeep.
These LIFE counters behave like other LIFE counters in the set even though the reminder text doesn’t spell it out. When a creature with LIFE on it dies, its controller gains 1 life for each LIFE on it.
Once a creature with sporogenesis has at least one LIFE, one POWER, and one TOUGHNESS counter on it, you must remove them all and make tokens. Only pairs of POWER and TOUGHNESS are counted to determine the number of tokens you make. There’s no benefit if more than one LIFE counter is removed, or for odd POWER or TOUGHNESS counters that don’t pair up.
This is the first version of FE Redux published on PlaneSculptors.net.