"Where is it written that beasts must cause pain?" -Delif, Ponderings
There is few characters as much as a deep cut as Fallen Empires very own Delif. Appearing on exactly two cards in the entire game (his cone and his cube), he's one of the only Fallen Empire characters to never have appeared outside the set. Technically Jherana Rure appears on the flavor text of the 5th edition version of Necrite. Furthermore, any of the material written about Fallen Empires back in 1994 don't feature anything about him (including Duelist Magazine). This means all we have to work with, is these two cards. So who is the enigmatic Delif? Well, my own personal theories as well as what we can assume from the settings of Fallen Empires, Delif is a philosopher, and perhaps an artificier that lived in ancient Icatia. He may have been a pacifist given his quote on Delif''s Cone. Outside of this, anything else is fair game. Was he from the golden age, before the temperature began to cool, or was he thinking all of these during the final days of the empire? Was it even an he, or a she? None of these things matter as far as the cards are concerned, and we can't possibly figure it out without treading into the dangerous marsh that is fan theories. So we are stuck, unless a designer of the set wishes to chime in, on these two cards.
Flavor: Delif's two artifacts have similar functions, they prevent damage through some mythical mysterious means, and use that energy to either gain you life, or regenerate a creature. The effects are certainly unique to these two artifacts, as every other 'saboteur' ability appears either on an enchant creature spell, or on a creature. That's really it. For this simple flavor they work and are easy to understand. 3/5
Art: Mark Tedin rarely disappoints. Both pieces are uniquely his, but cone is the better of the two. Man there is so much going on in it, the lightning, the protruding spikes, the metal bars. It's a great piece that evokes mystery. The fact in the background a mountain also absorbing a strike of lightning can make one wonder, if that another Cone in the background, and if so, just how big are these cones.
Cube while a fine piece itself, lacks the grandeur compared to the cone. It does however show a cube dissolving, which I long theorized how it exactly regenerates creatures. It does have good color composition of green on a pink and purple background, and does, in some ways, look as if the background is organic, though that is up to interpretation. If anything, Cube's biggest problem is compared to Cone is it is boring. It is however serviceable in its own right.
In this regard I give Cone a 4/5 for art, and Cube a 3/5 for art.
Playability: In Fallen Empires, there was a push for the 'Saboteur' mechanic, as they described in the Duelist #3. The mechanic is when a creature is unblocked, you can prevent all damage it would deal to do some other effect. While not technically introduced in Fallen Empires (Merchant Ship and Floral Spuzzem predate the set), it was the first set to really explore with the concept. These cards are clearly designed around this thought process, and are designed to compliment the mechanic since you can stack them with the already activated abilities. So you could in theory put a counter on the cube with Ophidian while also drawing a card, or making your opponent discard a card with Mindstab Thrull. In this regard, neither are all that playable. I did try using cube with some ninja's (outside Old School obviously) and with Ornithopter (in the context of Old School). It's the two mana that kills it, if it was just two mana on one cost, it would be almost playable. However the fact it requires four mana, even over the course of several turns, make it unreliable and difficult to use. Cone, while in theory free, will usually just net you a small amount of life, on average three, or you will be better off not gaining the life and doing the damage. The only time this might be a case is if your opponent is running something like Eye for an Eye or other reflection/redirection effects and you want to instead prevent the damage. However that is such a situational effect, it might as well not even be viable for discussion. In reality, because of this I'm giving both of these a 2/5 on playability. I'd give Cone a 1, but it is a 0 cost artifact, and that is always good, even in a format with numerous 0 drops.
I do wonder how these will do in that new Fallen Empires format people have gone insane and started playing.