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Baby Steps Part III (A Fan Set) November 4, 2013

Posted by James in : all, random, fake cards, design , trackback

You should first take a look at Baby Steps Part 1: Teaching Kids Magic Using Baby Steps. This is part 3.

Baby Steps consists of cards used for various difficulty levels. I have already discussed the beginner and intermediate difficulty level. I have now created the advanced difficulty level. The first two difficulty levels have enchantments, auras, creatures, basic lands, nonbasic lands, sorceries, and six different keywords. The advanced level introduces the following more complex elements:

  1. The stack
  2. New turn order rules
  3. Two new card types: Instants and artifacts
  4. Triggered abilities
  5. The following effects: counter effects, copy effects, and redirect effects
  6. The following keywords: flash, intimidate, landwalk, defender, trample

The stack

The stack is where cards go after they are played and before they resolve. The stack and instant-speed elements are perhaps the most complex part of the game, so I decided that only players ready for the advanced difficulty level need to know about such things.  The stack is only needed when instant-speed elements are used because such cards require that there is a time before spells resolve, so that other players can respond to spells.

New turn order rules

The upkeep and end steps mainly exist to have a time players can play instant-speed cards and abilities. There was no point to needlessly complicate the game with these steps before such elements were introduced.

Two new card types: Instants and artifacts

Instant cards


The reason that I added rules for the stack is almost entirely so that instant cards can be added. Instants help the game have many new interesting interactions, such as combat tricks, counter spells, copy spells, and redirect spells.


Artifacts are pretty much the same thing as enchantments, so I don’t view them as an essential part of the game. For that reason I decided not to include artifacts in the easier difficulty levels just to keep those difficulty levels as easy as possible. Also, artifacts require players to know the rules for generic mana, which was only introduced in the intermediate level. Even so, the rules for artifacts are almost non-existent, and I decided to add some to the advanced difficulty level.

Triggered abilities

angel of fury

Triggered abilities were introduced. They aren’t that complicated, but I decided that they were needlessly complex for the easier difficulty levels.

Also note that activated abilities were introduced immediately because basic lands use activated abilities. The tap ability was introduced in the intermediate difficulty level because it was used for the nonbasic land abilities. And now the advanced level introduced activated abilities on other permanents (creatures and artifacts). The reason that I didn’t introduce activated abilities on creatures before is that they are instant-speed effects that use the stack, and I didn’t want to have instant-speed elements in the game yet. Nonmana abilities on lands are an exception since they don’t use the stack.

New game effects

Certain instant-speed game effects were introduced (counter spells, copy spells, and redirect spells). I decided to include them to show off what instants can do, and I gave them reminder text.

The drawback on Duplicate might be a bit severe, so more playtesting will help me decide what to do.

New Keywords

Five new keywords were introduced:

  1. Flash
  2. Intimidate
  3. Landwalk
  4. Defender
  5. Trample

Flash was introduced now because instants were also introduced. The mechanic wouldn’t make sense before that.

Intimidate was introduced now because artifact creatures were also introduced.

Landwalk and defender are simple abilities that could have been introduced in the intermediate difficulty level. The decision not to include them earlier on was mainly that I just don’t find these abilities very interesting.

Trample in particular is a complicated mechanic, so I decided to wait to include it in the advanced level.
giant ape king kong

King Kong (Giant Ape) shows off the trample reminder text, which requires five lines of text. Of course, it would only need four lines of text if I decided to remove the reference to planeswalkers on it.

Other keywords that have not yet been introduced:

  1. Protection – I think protection is perhaps the most complex keyword that is still found in the core sets. I find it interesting that reminder text is almost never used for it.
  2. Hexproof – It’s not the most complex keyword, but I don’t find it all that important to have cards with hexproof in the game.
  3. Indestructible – Indestructible is a little complex, but it’s mostly just not needed in the game.
  4. Double strike — Double strike can easily be included after first strike is introduced, but it is not a particularly important mechanic.
  5. Regeneration – Regeneraion is a complex mechanic and it was not particularly needed.

What is not in the advanced set

None of the following elements have been introduced in Baby Steps:

  1. The exile zone
  2. X spells
  3. Colorless mana (for the mana pool)
  4. References to converted mana costs.
  5. Planeswalkers
  6. Multicolored cards.
  7. Legendary permanents.
  8. Replacement effects.

The reason that these elements weren’t introduced is that I think they would make things needlessly complex for this intro-level Magic set — at least for the first three difficulty levels.

The cards and rules

The cards and rules for Baby Steps 3 are available here: Baby Steps 3: The Advanced Level



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