The Battle Box 101 project is designed specifically to teach new players the game. The 101 Box uses simple, iconic cards with common mechanics to provide a teaching tool for everyone who ever struggled to teach a new player this wonderful game.

Project Basics

There are a few basic guidelines I keep myself to when building a Battle Box. These are not necessary for the box to function, but help keep my projects tidy:

  • I use different colored sleeves for my deck, the land sets, tokens and any other distinct parts of the box. This helps finding everything quickly.
  • I design each box to fit into one Fat Pack cardbox. This helps to keep each box portable enough to be able to easily play it outside my house.
  • I try to adhere to any theme I have as closely as possible. If I'm doing a nostalgia box, a Tenth Edition printing of Shivan Dragon would not be acceptable; I would include an older printing instead. If there are no thematic restrictions I try to stick to modern bordered cards because their wording is mostly consistent and avoids confusion for newer players. Needless to say, the 101 Box will use modern bordered cards exclusively.
  • I like tokens, so I always leave enough room in each box to include at least one of each token I need. If the tokens don't exist, I'll usually proxy them by making a color print. Look here if you're looking to make some good token proxies.

Special Rules

The standard Battle Box rules apply. To make the Box suitable for both first-time players as well as players that have played some games before and want to refresh their knowledge, the Box is divided into two levels (see the cardlist below). For first-time players, I recommend you only use the cards in level 1. When players get comfortable with the basics, you can shuffle all the cards in the Box together (the level 2 cards are not meant to be played seperately). To make sorting the Box easier you could consider using different sleeves for each level.

Teaching Tips

The 101 Box is meant to teach new players the game. It is assumed that there will always be at least one more advanced player (presumably the player who assembled the Box) present to provide explanations about the different aspects of the game. To help that teacher get the most out of the experience, here are some teaching tips:

  • New players will not have any knowledge of the correct way to play Magic. During the first lessons, don't try to explain that Battle Box is not the normal way to play Magic. There will be plenty of time to explain those differences later.
  • Don't be too eager to explain everything at once. The most important things to know during a first game is that you need to get your opponent down to 0 life, what the approximate turn order is, how the mana system works, the difference between spells and permanents and some creature combat basics. The rest will be learned as you play.
  • Play the first one or two games with hands open on the table. This is not to allow you to explain in detail every card the new player has drawn, but rather it allows the new player to freely ask questions about his or her cards when they come up. Try to let the new player figure out as much as possible for themselves.
  • Try to let the new player set the pace. If they want to know every rule of every card as they draw it, that's fine. If they prefer playing first and getting an explanation later, that's also fine. Try to only correct mistakes if they really hurt the game. If a player plays his Giant Growth as a sorcery during the first few games, just let it happen. There will be plenty of future games to explain these finer points without overwhelming the new player during their first game.
  • When a player has mastered both levels of the Box and is interested in leaving the kitchen table and going to the local game store (I recommend going to a prerelease for the first time), the Box is designed to allow two players to practice constructing a sealed deck. Just shuffle the Box and deal out 85 cards to each player. The land sets should contain enough basic lands to accomodate two decks (you can use some unused basic lands as proxies for other basic lands if necessary). The different colored sleeves will make the constructed sealed decks look a little colorful, but they will allow you to explain limited deckbuilding and mana bases in a practical way.

Card Choices

To keep the complexity of the Box at a level where a new player can follow what's going on, I have selected cards mainly for their complexity level. Only evergreen mechanics are included in the Box, and the number of words per card tends to be low. The Box has a high percentage of vanilla and french vanilla creatures, and where possible I have used cards with reminder texts. I have focused less on power level, because variance in power level between cards is less important when you're teaching the game (in fact, it is useful to learn that some cards are more powerful than others). Where possible, I have used either the simplest or the most iconic version of an effect. For more background about the design and intentions of Battle Box 101, please read this article.

Project Cardlist (280):

Lands (4 sets of 10)
2 Forest
2 Island
2 Mountain
2 Plains
2 Swamp