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)

Forest
Island
Mountain
Plains
Swamp

Level 1 Cardlist (120):

White (27)
Creatures (17)

Ampryn Tactician
Arashin Cleric
Assault Griffin
Attended Knight
Crusader of Odric
Dawnstrike Paladin
Doomed Traveler
Elite Vanguard
Kemba’s Skyguard
Kinsbaile Skirmisher
Leonin Snarecaster
Loxodon Wayfarer
Oreskos Swiftclaw
Seraph of Dawn
Serra Angel
Thraben Purebloods
Youthful Knight

Enchantments (4)

Divine Favor
Glorious Anthem
Pacifism
Serra’s Embrace

Instants and Sorceries (6)

Day of Judgment
Immolating Glare
Inspired Charge
Midnight Haunting
Mighty Leap
Seize the Initiative

Blue (14)
Creatures (8)

Aether Adept
Amphin Cutthroat
Darkslick Drake
Gryff Vanguard
Mahamoti Djinn
Mist Raven
Wall of Air
Wind Drake

Enchantments (1)

Spectral Flight

Instants and Sorceries (5)

Call to Mind
Concentrate
Divination
Turn to Frog
Unsummon

Black (17)
Creatures (11)

Bloodhunter Bat
Felhide Minotaur
Gloomhunter
Gravedigger
Markov Patrician
Mass of Ghouls
Minotaur Abomination
Nether Horror
Rotting Fensnake
Warpath Ghoul
Zombie Goliath

Instants and Sorceries (6)

Assassinate
Disentomb
Doom Blade
Go for the Throat
Murder
Zombify

Red (22)
Creatures (13)

Axegrinder Giant
Beetleback Chief
Bloodrock Cyclops
Bonebreaker Giant
Crossway Vampire
Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass
Fire Elemental
Hill Giant
Lightning Elemental
Pitchburn Devils
Prodigal Pyromancer
Regathan Firecat
Volcanic Dragon

Instants and Sorceries (9)

Dragon Fodder
Flame Slash
Heat Ray
Hordeling Outburst
Outnumber
Pyroclasm
Searing Spear
Shock
Thunder Strike

Green (22)
Creatures (14)

Alpine Grizzly
Centaur Courser
Charging Rhino
Duskdale Wurm
Eternal Witness
Grizzly Bears
Hollowhenge Beast
Nettle Swine
Reclamation Sage
Rumbling Baloth
Spined Wurm
Stampeding Rhino
Stomper Cub
Yavimaya Wurm

Enchantments (2)

Elephant Guide
Oakenform

Instants and Sorceries (6)

Giant Growth
Naturalize
Recollect
Titanic Growth
Wildsize
Windstorm

Multicolor (12)
Creatures (6)

Bull Cerodon
Drakewing Krasis
Highspire Mantis
Sky Spirit
Skyknight Legionnaire
Sprouting Thrinax

Enchantments (1)

Unflinching Courage

Instants and Sorceries (5)

Colossal Might
Gerrard’s Command
Heroes’ Reunion
Terminate
Warleader’s Helix

Colorless (6)
Artifact Creatures (6)

Glass Golem
Guardians of Meletis
Peace Strider
Perilous Myr
Pierce Strider
Steel Wall

Level 2 Cardlist (120):

White (14)
Creatures (6)

Benalish Knight
Blinding Mage
Master of Diversion
Seeker of the Way
Skyhunter Skirmisher
Village Bell-Ringer

Enchantments (2)

Banishing Light
Journey to Nowhere

Instants and Sorceries (5)

Miraculous Recovery
Raise the Alarm
Reprisal
Swords to Plowshares
Timely Reinforcements

Planeswalkers (1)

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

Blue (23)
Creatures (10)

Caller of Gales
Clone
Faerie Invaders
Jhessian Thief
Merfolk Looter
Neurok Invisimancer
Pestermite
Phantom Warrior
Puppeteer
Skywinder Drake

Enchantments (3)

Encrust
Mind Control
Sensory Deprivation

Instants and Sorceries (10)

Bone to Ash
Cancel
Disperse
Dissipate
Downpour
Ghostform
Mana Leak
Negate
Remove Soul
Time Warp

Black (16)
Creatures (12)

Accursed Spirit
Blind Zealot
Disciple of Griselbrand
Fleshbag Marauder
Giant Scorpion
Keening Banshee
Phyrexian Rager
Reassembling Skeleton
Sengir Vampire
Tormented Soul
Vampire Aristocrat
Vampire Nighthawk

Instants and Sorceries (4)

Disfigure
Infest
Last Gasp
Sign in Blood

Red (18)
Creatures (10)

Boggart Brute
Crimson Mage
Kamahl, Pit Fighter
Kiln Fiend
Mage-Ring Bully
Mogg Fanatic
Monastery Swiftspear
Seismic Elemental
Shatterskull Recruit
Shivan Dragon

Enchantments (2)

Impact Tremors
Madcap Skills

Instants and Sorceries (6)

Act of Treason
Cleaver Riot
Fling
Relentless Assault
Trumpet Blast
Volcanic Geyser

Green (18)
Creatures (12)

Ancient Silverback
Conclave Naturalists
Cudgel Troll
Deadly Recluse
Giant Spider
Ivy Elemental
Penumbra Spider
Primal Huntbeast
Sacred Wolf
Satyr Grovedancer
Stingerfling Spider
Ulvenwald Tracker

Enchantments (1)

Trollhide

Instants and Sorceries (4)

Epic Confrontation
Fog
Lead the Stampede
Prey Upon

Planeswalkers (1)

Garruk Wildspeaker

Multicolor (13)
Creatures (9)

Ascended Lawmage
Bronzebeak Moa
Drana’s Emissary
Iroas’s Champion
Jhessian Infiltrator
Moroii
Pharika’s Mender
Stun Sniper
Trygon Predator

Instants and Sorceries (4)

Consume Strength
Electrolyze
Obzedat’s Aid
Utter End

Colorless (18)
Artifact Creatures (7)

Juggernaut
Manor Gargoyle
Runed Servitor
Silent Arbiter
Soliton
Sylvok Replica
Triskelion

Artifacts (11)

Bladed Pinions
Brawler’s Plate
Darksteel Axe
Fireshrieker
Jayemdae Tome
No-Dachi
Staff of Nin
Strider Harness
The Hive
Vulshok Battlegear
Worn Powerstone