I remember years ago hearing about a rule/mechanic that existed in early prototypes of Magic the Gathering, before the Alpha set was released.

Basically all creatures had 3 combat stats: power, toughness, and initiative. After attackers and blockers were declared, creatures with the highest initiative would deal damage first, then the next highest initiative creatures would deal damage, etc. This proved to be tedious and was boiled down into first strike by the time the game got into print.

I think this may have been mentioned in the Battle Royale or Deckmasters booklets, but I sold them a long time ago and can't find a digital copy.

Can anyone verify this?

1 Answer 1


Mark Rosewater, Magic's lead designer, says it's not true that such a mechanic existed. He began working with Wizards of the Coast in 1995 (the game launched in late 1993) and has been the game's lead designer since 2003. From his blog, Blogatog (on February 22, 2016):

gatvin asked: Back when MTG magazines were a thing, I used to get Inquest Gamer. In one of their articles, they showed some early magic cards and they had three stats. Power, toughness, and initiative. Initiative determined damage order in combat and later turned into First Strike for simplification. Now, as with many things written by people, they were sometimes wrong. Do you know if that was true? It was weird to not hear anything about it at all in your story about the design of Alpha.

Mark: To the best of my knowledge, that is not true. The Star Wars TCG we made did have an extra stat for Speed. And yes, in our game Han was faster than Greedo. : )

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