Ultimate Masters was revealed to the world last week through a clever marketing scheme of distributing the new Ultimate Box Toppers as gifts to customers who had problems ordering the Mythic Edition box from the Hasbro online shop.

After the dust settled from Monday’s epic announcement stream about the latest supplemental product, I caught up with DailyMTG editor-in-chief and co-host of the announcement stream Blake Rasmussen to talk more about Ultimate Masters.

Hipsters of the Coast: The world found out about Ultimate Masters through the Ultimate Box Toppers sent out to customers last week. It looks like Wizards was very keen on making amends for the issues with Mythic Edition earlier this year. How did the idea to send these packs come about?

Blake Rasmussen: This one actually was fun and the timing was a bit of a quirk. I happened to have come out of a meeting about UMA and walked straight into a hallway conversation about doing something for the people who had issues with Mythic Edition, and we were discussing what we could do for them. We had a plan for previewing UMA box toppers in a fun way, but when this opportunity arose, the conversations kind of converged. We thought, what if the way people first learned about these cards was by receiving them in the mail? We’d never really done anything quite like it, and everyone thought it sounded fun. There were a ton of logistics to work through, but teams on two different continents moved mountains to make this happen in time. It was a confluence of things, but it worked out really nicely.

HotC: The announcement and reveal seem a bit unorthodox. Was it always the plan to have a surprise announcement or did that come about because of the compensation packs?

Blake: It was the original plan. The timing of the packs was a bit of lucky timing and a bit of hard work.

HotC: ChannelFireball announced that two Grand Prix events will have their format changed to Ultimate Masters limited. How involved was Wizards in that decision?

Blake: Changing formats for an event is never done lightly. This is one of the reasons we’re moving to a more flexible format schedule in 2019 for Pro Tours and why ChannelFireball Events chose to do the same for Grand Prix.

HotC: Will there still be normal community previews for Ultimate Masters even though so many of the cards were previewed on Monday?

Blake: Yes

HotC: Most recent sets have been announced via the twice/year announcement days. Is this a one-off departure from that model or are we seeing changes come to the announcement process?

Blake: We are rethinking how and when we announce products. This was an opportunity to try something different and see how far to one extreme-as close to release as possible-we could go. Would there be leaks? Would the right people get the information in time? Would the rumor mill grab this? How does it shift our internal dates? We’re exploring different options for 2019 and beyond, and this was something of a stress test for the timing of set announcements. We probably won’t be cutting it this close with everything we do, but now we know we’re capable of something like this.

HotC: The Ultimate Box Topper has a lot of parallels to the Buy-a-Box promo cards in Standard expansions. Is there a possibility that this could signal a shift in the Buy-a-Box promo system for other products?

Blake: I think what it shows is that we’re always trying out new things and trying to one-up ourselves. Magic is a game that thrives on change and innovation, and it’s how we grow and stay the best game in the world. If it signals anything, it signals that we’re not going to rest our laurels when it comes to creating and delivering cool new things we think players might like.

HotC: Last but not least, is your co-host Steve available for our new podcast tentatively titled, “Steve Reads the Flavor Text for Every Magic Card Ever”?

Steve: Yes, I am 100% available for this.

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