Recent efforts in investigating the mechanism of ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD) of biaxially textured thin films of magnesium oxide (MgO) template layers have shown that the texture develops suddenly during the initial 2 nm of deposition. To help understand and tune the behavior during this initial stage, we pre-deposited thin layers of MgO with no ion assist prior to IBAD growth of MgO. We found that biaxial texture develops for pre-deposited thicknesses < 2 nm, and that the thinnest layer tested, at 1 nm, resulted in the best qualitative RHEED image, indicative of good biaxial texture development. The texture developed during IBAD growth on the 1.5 nm pre-deposited layer is slightly worse and IBAD growth on the 2 nm pre-deposited layer produces a fiber texture. Application of these layers on an Al2O3 starting surface, which has been shown to impede texture development, improves the overall quality of the IBAD MgO and has some of the characteristics of a biaxially texture RHEED pattern. It is suggested that the use of thin (<2 nm) pre-deposited layers may eliminate the need for bed layers like Si3N4 and Y2O3 that are currently thought to be required for proper biaxial texture development in IBAD MgO.