Ultra PRO Entertainment Celebrates Inventor Justin Gary

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! 

(Deck) Building a Dream

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.

This is the Greatest Show

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. 

You’re Kitten Me!

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! 


You can learn more about Justin and get the latest updates on what he’s up to by visiting his website justingary.com 


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