Nearly four years ago to the day I wrote an article here on Quiet Speculation about one of my favorite sets: Homelands. The column opened with a tweet regarding Koskun Falls, a pseudo-Propaganda in black that also combos with King Macar, the Gold-Cursed.
Since then the black enchantment has slowly risen from about $0.65 to $3.50, with plenty of upside to go. Percentage-wise, an annualized return of over 100% is phenomenal. However anyone who bought a stack of these is going to have a miserable time selling them one-at-a-time to Commander players. Your best bet would be to wait for Card Kingdom to sell out and then ship 24 of them at once to their buylist.
Since the returns are so underwhelming, I started talking about other relevant cards in the set—not for speculative purposes but for awareness. Many of us have seen or combed through Homelands bulk in the past, and with no rarity indicators on the card it can be easy to overlook something relevant.
Four years later, another underappreciated set is making headlines: Fallen Empires. I want to run through some of the relevant cards in the set so you are aware of them. Perhaps some are already sitting in your bulk boxes at home, waiting to be picked and brought to the light of day.
Fallen Empires - A Brief History
The first few Magic expansions were largely underprinted relative to demand. Hobby shops would preorder a ton of boxes and only receive a fraction of what they wanted. Packs would sell out and local players would be massively disappointed. This is never a good place to be from a company’s standpoint.
So in November 1994, Wizards of the Coast printed a truly massive quantity of the latest set, Fallen Empires. The story goes that shops expected to get under-allocated product yet again, so they ordered well in excess of the quantity they actually needed. The thinking went, “If I really want 100 boxes, I had better ask for 500 so I get at least 50.” But the joke was on them: Wizards printed so much that shops were receiving what they ordered.
This, combined with the underpowered nature of the set, let to a major glut in the market of Fallen Empires boxes. This is why after 24 years you can still purchase boxes for around $170 whereas boxes of a similar age have rocketed through the stratosphere.
The print run numbers are available for this set on Crystal Keep, and you can readily see the crazy increase in numbers. There are 128,000 copies of each U1 (“rare”) in The Dark. In Fallen Empires this number jumps to 744,000!
In the grand scheme of Magic history, this is still a tiny print run relative to 2018 sets. If there were any relevant U1s in the set, they would be quite valuable. A shame there aren’t…until now!
A Relevant Fallen Empires Card?!
Everyone knows the only playable cards from Fallen Empires in a 60-card format: Hymn to Tourach and High Tide. Why aren’t these cards worth more? Because they’re commons printed with multiple artworks, that’s why! The number of copies could very well be breaking into eight-figure territory. Therefore the cards never really grew beyond a buck or two. Once High Tide fell out of favor in Legacy and Hymn to Tourach was reprinted in Eternal Masters, the financial relevance of these cards disappeared.
Once upon a time Hand of Justice reigned supreme, retailing for $6-$8. It combined well with white weenie strategies and was quite the menace back in the day. But I think the time since this card was worth any money can be measured in decades.
Very recently, a new card has risen in price to take the “most valuable Fallen Empires” crown. Say hello to Elvish Farmer.
Why is this card suddenly so valuable? It’s all thanks to a little uncommon called Slimefoot, the Stowaway.
At long last Fallen Empires fans have gotten their Fungus Lord! Not only does this creature give you benefits when your Saprolings die, it also helps you create new ones. At the low, low rate of just four generic mana, you can create Saprolings to feed your Deathspore Thallids, Nemata, Grove Guardians, and…you guessed it, Elvish Farmers.
Slimefoot has only been available on EDH REC for a tiny amount of time, so the number of datapoints for this commander is limited. But people are brewing and I must say the lists look pretty exciting for Saproling fans. So far Elvish Farmer shows up in six of the eight lists, but it’s way too early to tell if it’s a mainstay or not.
This doesn’t matter, of course. People are chasing each other on any buyout nowadays, and this Reserved List card from Fallen Empires is no exception. I’ll admit even I grabbed some played copies when I saw a QS Insider selling his copies for $7.99 a pop. That $2.20 buylist at Card Kingdom is a nice backdrop as well.
All in all, the relative risk/reward seemed attractive. We know the print run on these is fairly small as a U1, and the card can never be reprinted, so downside is minimal if the time horizon is long enough. Time will tell, but for now this card is Fallen Empires’s most valuable!
Other Relevant Cards
Elvish Farmer may have spiked, but there are other Fallen Empires cards worth picking or at least being aware of. First of all, there are 27 Reserved List cards in the set. I wouldn’t bother memorizing them all because they’re mostly terrible. But we know how reckless Reserved List speculation has gotten recently—you never know when one of these could be targeted.
If you have some Fallen Empires bulk lying around, it may be worth your time at least pulling out the Reserved List cards and setting them aside. However I would not advocate speculating on them. There are far better cards on which to spend your money.
Instead, I’d focus on the more playable stuff. For example, the cycle of storage lands are actually pretty cool, and are worth more than bulk.
A full playset of all five will commonly sell for about $13 on eBay. Not something to write home about, but definitely worth picking. They also show up on buylists due to their utility.
Next, there’s Rainbow Vale—a card I’ve actually written about in the past. While I’ve given up on Rainbow Vale Pack Wars, the concept is still pretty interesting. The card is also playable in Zedruu. This is one that pulled back from its spike but will continue to appreciate over the long term. Again, not worth going deep but definitely worth being aware of.
Another card that merits attention is Fungal Bloom. This Reserved List enchantment helps you accelerate the growth of your fungi.
Is this good enough for Commander? I have no clue. But if it hits speculators’ radar, that probably doesn’t matter. This card could easily match the price of Elvish Farmer for a day. I would not advocate speculating here either, but it may be worth nabbing a few cheap copies while you’re shopping for other stuff. The card also buylists to Card Kingdom for $0.80, so there is that.
Lastly, let’s talk about the only other Fallen Empires card with an MTG Stocks price of over $1: Goblin Warrens.
This enchantment is a Goblin-making machine! It actually shows up in nearly 1,000 EDH REC lists. This isn’t enough to get me excited most of the time, but for a Fallen Empires card this is pretty high! It’s even on Card Kingdom’s buylist for $0.38. That’s definitely worth picking if you ask me!
The downside with this one is that it’s not on the Reserved List; it was reprinted in 6th Edition, 5th Edition, and Anthologies. But let’s face it, these sets are all ancient anyway. As long as the card dodges additional reprints (as it has for 19 years), it does have some slow and steady growth potential.
Wrapping It Up
This week I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and appreciate what one of Magic’s least impactful sets had to offer. It seemed timely since Elvish Farmer topped MTG Stocks throughout the week. I’m quite excited to see a card from Fallen Empires make waves, and I really hope it is playable enough in Slimefoot to remain relevant.
Even if it doesn’t, I don’t see this Reserved List card from 1994 dropping below a buck again. These older cards are simply too rare and nostalgic, even if they are unplayable. Speculators have really reached as low as they could in the barrel, and it won’t be long before they discover Fallen Empires.
My take: don’t buy deeply on any one card. Instead, I advocate what I always do with these older cards. Buy what you want for your collection, pick up a few extra cheap copies while you’re shopping for other cards, and watch the market closely. Of course if you find copies of Elvish Farmer at the old price and below buylist, take advantage. But on other stuff that hasn’t moved in 24 years, it’s really not worth your time or money to go deep.
That said, it is definitely worth your time to be aware of the relevant Fallen Empires cards. There are just a few that buylist for more than a dime, so it should be fairly easy to remember them. Then there are the 27 Reserved List cards in the set—mostly terrible, but they’ll never be reprinted again. If these buyouts continue, we may see a day when these become worth something. The U1s are about 6x more common than U1s from The Dark. If Frankenstein's Monster can be worth $6, then maybe Icatian Lieutenant can be worth $1 or $2.
With the passing of time, we’ve seen movement in all Magic’s earliest sets. Perhaps it is finally time for Fallen Empires to have its time to shine. If not, these are still classic cards with great flavor worth your appreciation in the meantime.
- Card Kingdom increased some of their buylist prices fairly aggressively over the past week. I already talked about dual lands recently, but those continue to climb. Also buylisting for a new high is Mana Crypt from Eternal Masters, which Card Kingdom will now buy for $85.
- This one is a bit random, but I noticed Card Kingdom added the Land Tax Judge Foil to their hotlist. They’re paying $62 for Near Mint copies of the card. There really aren’t many copies of Land Tax on TCGplayer, and the Judge promo is the only foil printing. I’m not sure what you can do given how few of these are for sale, but I would certainly pick one up now if you want one. Just be careful. It could show up in some Masters set down the road and crush the value of all printings besides the original Legends.
- After being bought out a couple of times, it appears the higher price on Sliver Queen is sticking at last. Card Kingdom still has a $52 buy price on the legendary creature. This is wild given she’s not even a preferred Commander choice for tribal Slivers—Sliver Overlord is almost ten times more popular on EDH REC. But you can’t argue with nostalgia and the Reserved List. These make up a nasty combination sure to make any classic card expensive.