Happy National Inventors Month!
The Inventor Spotlight is a new series of posts where Ultra PRO Entertainment gets to introduce you to the creative minds behind our amazing games and gives you a little look at how the games you love were created!
Join Ultra PRO Entertainment in celebrating one of our fantastic game designers, Justin Gary.
Justin is a Magic The Gathering World Champion, game designer, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is CEO of Stone Blade Entertainment, lead designer of the hit Ascension brand, and an all around awesome dude.
For a limited time, when you buy a game designed by Justin Gary, we’ll give you up to four (4) FREE Ascension promo cards, a value of over $10! Use code JUSTINGARY at checkout. This offer ends 5/24/2021. These promo cards are limited release, and once they are gone, they’ll never be printed again! UP your game with unique abilities and enhanced powers!
Get it? Deck. Building. Yes, we know we’re hilarious.
Many of us dream of designing a game that will last for years, and Justin Gary has managed to do not only that, but he also created a game that keeps expanding and getting more awesome, drawing in old fans and new for years to come.
When we reached out to Justin to ask him about his inspiration for his wildly popular deck-building game, Ascension, he told us that, “Ascension was a game I originally just made for my friends and I to play, I never had any idea it would be as popular as it became!”
His original goal was to take the experience of drafting a deck for a trading card game and compress it into a single boxed experience. To do this, he drew on his years as a Pro Magic player to inform his design and development with the help of many talented friends. Those friends included Magic Pro Tour Hall of Famers Brian Kibler and Rob Dougherty, who, along with the original artist, Eric Sabee, turned what started as a kitchen table prototype into the Ascension we know and love today.
Justin then took that creative process and turned it on its head with a new game. He wanted to see what he could do after working 8+ years on deck building games and Shards of Infinity was the result of this experiment. Justin partnered with Gary Arant, and they made a fast and cut-throat game, with mechanical innovations like the Mastery track and Mercenary “Fast Play” cards. This made the experience faster and more tactically explosive than your average deck builder. They took this a step further and converted the game into a cooperative gaming experience with the Shadows of Salvation expansion.
After nearly a decade of work, Justin brought us Ringmaster, inspired by Fluxx and a variant of Magic (MTG) where the cards have no casting cost.
Including the rules on the cards lets the cards tell you how to win but still includes explosive effects and interesting strategic decisions in a game where the rules fit on a single card! But it wasn’t until Stone Blade’s creative director at the time, Denver Miller, came up with the circus theme that the whole game finally came together.
No, we’re not! The game design process can take years and years, but it can be super fun, especially when you get to work on a game with cute cats and dogs, like the super adorable card game, You Gotta Be Kitten Me!
Justin worked on You Gotta Be Kitten Me! with Ben Lunquist, and we hear they had a blast!
The inspiration was to combine Liar’s Dice with Uno, taking advantage of the fun bluffing elements along with powerful cards such as Skip and Wild.
The game itself started with a much more generic theme, and it took some time for them to land on cute cats and dogs with accessories before the game began to resonate with players of all ages.
Buy Any Game Designed by Justin Gary and get Four (4) FREE Ascension Promo Cards.
We’ve loved this peek into Justin Gary’s creative process. Getting a behind-the-scenes look into any designer’s creative process makes playing their games that much more fun.
We know you want to play all of the games mentioned here; we do too!
Hop over to the shop page and load up your cart!
Which games by Justin Gary are the most exciting to you?
Do you already own some of these games?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
You can learn more about Justin and get the latest updates on what he’s up to by visiting his website justingary.com
Ultra PRO's online store is young, only about a year old, and while it has come a long way from our initial soft launch in late 2019, we still are learning and exploring how to improve our operations. COVID and the holiday shopping season means we have seen the need for international shipping jump through the roof. With transparency in mind, we want to give you an insight to where our thinking has been and where we plan to end up.
We launched shop.ultrapro.com for domestic shipping only, meaning only addresses within the USA could receive orders from our store. In an attempt to share the love, in early 2020 we opened international shipping to test it out. Unfortunately, USPS let us down. Shipments were taking weeks longer to arrive than expected which resulted in unrecoverable chargebacks - meaning people requested refunds for items that had already been shipped - so Ultra PRO no longer had the product, nor the funds, nor the shipping fees. Needless to say, we shut that down immediately while we looked for alternate solutions.
In an effort to mitigate losses, we chose a more reliable shipping option for our friends outside of the USA. We found UPS to be not only the most reliable, but also the easiest to work with when shipping issues arise. We also understood, of course, that the price for reliability is not small, which is where most of your concerns come into play. We've been asked, "why the heck does it cost $70 to ship a playmat to Norway?!" And the reason is guaranteed and expedited shipping.
With the goal of reducing shipping prices for customers while still offering a more reliable service, we are going to work through our trust issues with USPS. It’s time to give them another shot. We have added USPS Global Priority, and Global Express to our shipping choices. We are also going to work on clearer communication by including a disclaimer for processing time to better protect us if chargeback requests should arise. We believe that the more informed you are about where your stuff is, the less likely you are to get concerned and request a refund.
Please also note, the pandemic has had unprecedented impact on warehouse and shipping around the globe. Processing times may take longer than usual due to reduced staff to meet strict social distancing requirements. We apologize for the inconvenience while we not only protect your collectibles, but also protect our employees in these challenging times.
All in all, we are learning, and your questions and concerns are what make us better. We apologize for any inconveniences you have experienced shopping with Ultra PRO in 2020, but we are taking active steps to improve your shopping experience for 2021.
Thank you for choosing Ultra PRO!
Here at Ultra PRO, we are always looking for ways to innovate and improve our products, and we hope these improvements are as exciting for you as they are for us.
- New US sourced materials mean quick and easier production of our sleeves!
- The slight color difference between the New Eclipse Matte and existing Eclipse Matte means NEW SKUs
- Improved ChromaFusion formula results in a seal that is stronger than ever!
We’ve protected your trading cards – now, it's time to protect you. Ultra PRO has joined the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic by switching our manufacturing from gaming and collectibles accessories to PPE.
The pandemic has forced us to change how we here at Ultra PRO maintain a safe workplace. This presented several problems that required solutions. An immediate issue was the procurement of PPE for our own employees to work safely, especially face masks.
Unfortunately, we do not have the capabilities to manufacture masks up to our high standards.
To solve this problem, we leveraged our extensive network and experience in overseas sourcing to vet and identify overseas vendors, securing a reliable supply chain for disposable face masks.
We have also taken note of the unethical price gouging in the open market by profiteers and fraudsters. We've decided to share our solution with the hobby shop community as a small way to give back to the thousands of stores that have partnered with us for so long.
We are currently procuring disposable face masks at what we feel is a reasonable cost.
While it is higher than typical market pricing prior to the pandemic, we believe this expense is well worth the effort to prevent COVID-19 transmissions, and reasonably priced given the current market conditions.
To purchase these disposable face masks at cost for your store and employees, visit our online shop at http://shop.ultrapro.com and use the promo code provided to you by our retailer program manager.
Please note that these disposable face masks are CE approved, but not FDA approved as we understand FDA approval is not required for non-medical use. These disposable face masks have a filtration efficiency rating of BFE ≥ 95%, but do not carry “N95” or “KN95” ratings.
Stay safe and apart, but stay connected and support each other. We’re in this together.