MORE LEGENDARY PLAYING CARDS
Something for Everyone
When I first had the idea for doing another article on Legends Playing Card Company, I didn't really expect to come to the conclusions you'll be seeing here below. Now I've written about Legends Playing Cards before (here and here), and I've stated how impressed I was with their decks of playing cards. In fact, I was impressed enough to consider them an industry leader, capable of producing playing cards on par with big name producer United States Playing Card Company (USPCC). And that's saying something, because USPCC is widely regarded as being a printer of choice for decks of custom playing cards, and their established brands like Bicycle, Bee, and Tally Ho, are used all over the world, and are highly regarded for their superior quality and smooth handling. To say that Legends Playing Cards can match this - as I did - is high praise indeed.
Now it was simply my plan to review another half a dozen decks from Legends Playing Cards, and confirm this high praise. But over the last months, I've been blessed with the opportunity to try a lot of different decks of playing cards, from both USPCC and Legends Playing Cards, and I've had to adjust my conclusions somewhat. Because I've changed my mind. Legends is not on par with USPCC. They are better! By far. Now I don't say that lightly. But the evidence is staring me in the face, and I'm completely convinced of it.
Behind Legends Playing Cards, is Hong Kong magician Lawrence Sullivan. But Lawrence is more than just a magician. He's more than a businessman, and more than the producer of playing cards. He's also a perfectionist. And it is this pursuit for perfection that lies at the heart of his success with Legends Playing Cards. His relentless passion for producing the absolute highest standards in every respect accounts for playing cards that are the very best you'll see, starting from amazing looking tuck boxes, to the quality of the playing cards themselves.
In this feature article, I'll cover another half a dozen great decks from Legends, and then I'll wrap it up with my conclusions, to demonstrate why Legends Playing Cards isn't just producing decks of playing cards that match the quality of USPCC, but are better in almost every respect. As a disclaimer, I should mention that Legends is not paying me to write this. In fact, this article isn't even their idea. They don't even know about the superlative conclusions I've come to - these are simply a result of my own positive and extensive experience with their products over time. I hope you enjoy my coverage of some more great decks, and enjoy these and more as much as I do!
NOVELTY: For the Collector
First of all, let's check out some very creative decks that feature aspects of novelty. While they are certainly playable, they feature unusual aspects that will make them particularly appealing to the card collector. Nearly everyone can appreciate the novel and unusual, and the decks featured in this category are ones that have eye-catching or otherwise intriguing features that will immediately catch your attention and generate interest.
If you look at lists online of the most amazing playing cards, you are almost certain to come across the Glitch deck, designed by Soleil Zumbrunn. The original Glitch deck proved to be a worldwide hit, making headline news on many tech websites globally. After the original Glitch decks sold out, Glitch 2.0 Playing Cards was created in 2015 as an updated version of these reality bending art playing cards. Here, then, is the newer and improved version of this popular deck.
The stunning looks begin with a very eye-catching tuck box, which is made of full reflective foil, and a bright and attractive design with a deliberately misprinted look. The basic idea of the Glitch deck is that it looks like the cards were printed with buggy graphic software or a defective printer, which has messed up the colours and printing in various ways. Of course that's not the case at all - it's all deliberately engineered and carefully created by designer Zumbrunn.
Glitch 2.0 was made with two versions: [Circuit Fail] (green/yellow) and [Error Msg] (orange/yellow). Both have borderless backs that immediately introduce the deck's intriguing concept: misprinted cards. The two Jokers feature large diamonds with the signature misprinted look that reprises the theme and style found on the card-backs and tuck boxes.
All the cards are still legible and easily identified - especially in version 2.0 of the deck that is shown here - but have a definite "glitchy" look.
There are some key differences and improvements from the original Glitch deck:
1. The tuck box has brighter and more glitchy colours, with different artwork.
2. The cards have brighter colours, with neon/flourescent pantone spot colours rather than CMYK.
3. The cards are re-designed, to make them less headache inducing and more usable.
4. There's a new seal, which includes a holograph.
While the original Glitch deck was very popular, it has to be admitted that form did trump function. That's why Soleil decided that it would be important to make sure that the artwork remained glitchy, but that the cards still should be recognizable and usable at the same time. This more balanced mix of form and function is what Glitch 2.0 seeks to achieve.
Each card has a unique and hypnotic look. The first version of Glitch attractive highly positive reviews, so retaining this popular Glitch effect while also making the deck more functional only makes something already very good even better.
With its bright flourescent colours and attractive good looks, the Glitch deck is sure to turn heads and catch people's attention!
The concept for the Soundboard Playing Cards comes from the mind of card flourisher Patrick Varnavas. One of the in-house designers from Legends, Stuart Palm, is the artist who did the illustrations to make this a reality.
The idea: a deck of playing cards that resembles an audio cassette player, including a sturdy clear plastic window. The side of the tuck box has artwork depicting the various buttons you'd have for playing music, while the top has a volume control. Silver foil adds a nice touch, giving the appearance of a chrome finish and chrome buttons. This looks especially nice on the back of the box, which features artwork depicting a gramophone in yellow and silver on a blue background.
There are other decks that have experimented with unusual packaging - for example the VHS Playing Cards has a tuck box that resembles a VHS cassette. But this has to be one of the best yet, with a tuck box case that even includes a plastic viewing window to show the cassette style card-backs inside. The outside of the tuck box has all the visual elements you'd expect from a small portable cassette player, and being able to see the cards inside strengthens the illusion even more. It's a very well designed tuck box, and the graphic design really makes this something appealing from the moment you first hold it in your hands!
The cards seen through the display window are actually the Jokers, which both feature a custom design that looks just like the side of a cassette. Labelled with a handwritten "Soundboards 1" on the side, they include an image that looks like a spool of cassette tape and the other parts of this now old-fashioned audio phenomenon that was later superceded by CDs. When the Joker is placed on the outside of the deck, it can be viewed through the plastic window of the deck box, and looks just like a cassette tape.
Besides the custom Jokers, the face-cards are all standard, with one notable exception: a beautiful custom Ace of Spades. This has oversized blue and yellow embellishments based on a treble clef shape, adding a wonderful musical touch in keeping with the deck's overall theme.
The card-backs are white bordered, with a light blue background, on which are illustrations of various musical devices for producing audio, including a record player and gramophone speaker. While I like the look of the Jokers, I'm glad that the "cassette-style" look wasn't used for the card backs, and the more subtle musical backs are much more pleasant and functional to use.
This deck was printed in Legends' high quality and popular Classic finish, so they also handle beautifully.
The tuck box was also designed with a non-conventional style, with a side-loading feature - just the way you'd insert cassettes in a player. One side of the box has an oversized flap that can be opened outward, so you can insert your phone in the empty box, which will usually be a natural fit. If everything is right, you might even notice the sound of the music from your phone is somewhat amplified.
This is a deck that should appeal to anyone with a sense of nostalgia, and who appreciates a very unique tuck case, which is obviously the major selling point of this deck. With a bit of imagination, you can picture yourself back in the 1980s, carrying a Walkman!
STYLE: For the Connoisseur
The decks featured above are more curiosities for collectors, although certainly the Soundboards deck is entirely usable as well. But at times we might be looking for something stylish and classy that we can use for playing card games. And certainly the custom playing card industry has produced some very original and stylish decks, bursting with character and energy, while still having somewhat of a traditional or more serious look. In this section I'll feature a couple of such stylish and classy decks that Legends has produced.
Sam Schuna is the creator of Tough Luck Playing Cards, which he first made as something special to surprise his family with for their annual week-long card playing sessions while on holidays in the woods.
The tuck box is constructed from a very unusual material that gives this deck a very unique feel immediately from the outset. The texture of the box has been described as having a "tree bark" style, and that's indeed how it both looks and feels! Once again Legends demonstrates their ability to create novel and innovative tuck boxes of high quality!
The artwork features some classic images from the world of playing cards in the traditional playing card colours of red, black and white, while also have a very custom look.
The card-backs continue the simple red and white colour scheme, which serves to emphasize the intricate lines and details that include pip shapes from all four suits, as well as other features that incorporate a royal crown and various linked lines, for a very classic look and feel.
The number cards are fairly standard, although they have elegant and customized pips and indices. All four Aces are highly stylized, featuring elaborate custom designs and text banners wrapped around oversized pips. Meanwhile a unicycling jester adds some exhuberance to the Joker.
The real center piece of this deck, however, are the magnificent court cards, which make an immediate impression with the size and grandeur of their artwork.
These have full-bleed artwork that goes right to the very edge of the cards, making them stand out prominently from the other cards in the deck.
This effect looks truly stunning, and they are filled with rich details to explore and admire!
But all this beautiful artwork does come at somewhat of a cost, and it's an issue with most decks that have full-bleed artwork, i.e. the edges can sometimes be discerned and recognized when face down. In addition, the special inks used on these particular cards can transfer onto your fingers and onto the edges of the cards.
Obviously these aren't fatal flaws, and to compensate for this disadvantage, Legends has released this at an especially attractive and lower-than-normal price-point. So if you do find the artwork and style of this classy deck attractive, it can be a great deck to pick up for a relatively low price.
Tolkien's literary genius has had a huge impact on defining the staples of fantasy genre, and its his influence that also shapes the artwork of the Teliad decks, which have been given Evlvish names. Teliad means "playing" in Elvish. The three decks of Teliad playing cards have as their setting a classic and Tolkienesque fantasy world inhabited by humans, dwarves, orcs, and elves
Each of the three decks takes a unique approach to depicting the fantasy world:
- Teliad Heren (meaning "fortune" or "fate") is the earthly deck, representing nature, life, and harmony.
- Teliad Dur (meaning "obscure" or "dark") is the evil deck, representing darkness, and corruption.
- Teliad Alfrin (meaning "immortal") is the heavenly deck, representing timeless, eternal life.
It is the Teliad Alfrin Playing Cards deck that I'm featuring here. This is the limited edition of the Teliad series, and has some particularly noteworthy and special features that help make it stand out.
First of all, the tuck case of the Alfrin deck has a dragon-scale look and feel, and has been printed with stylish emerald green foil. High quality paper sourced from Italian paper manufacturing leader Fedrigoni, which some have called "the Ferrari of paper", was used for these unique tuck cases. The result is a scaly texture that is great to touch and feel by rub your fingers over it. If ever there was a reptile-like tuck box, this is it!
The card backs continue the dragon-scale theme of the tuck box, with green dragons adorning the reverse of the cards. In keeping with the immortal theme, these have been printed with gold and silver ink in the limited edition Alfrin deck. To achieve a very unique look, the ink has been printed in two layers, with a metallic ink as a base layer, on top of which there is a CMYK print, for an amazing result.
Freelance artist Federico Bollo is a great fan of Tolkien's work, and he's the one who came up with the concept and artwork for these decks. He worked closely with others from the Passione Playing Card team, which hails from Italy and is known for creating art projects with a distinctly Italian touch.
All the court cards have a classic style of fantasy artwork, with the Clubs suit picturing the Elves.
The Hearts represent Humans, and the Diamonds the Dwarves.
Unlike the Heren deck, the Alfrin deck pictures the heavenly version of Teliad, and thus for the Spades it pictures Knights of Rohan rather than Orcs.
One of the unique elements of this deck's design is the highly stylized and coloured indices. The style of the font used for the card values has been inspired by Medieval runes, creating a look that fits well with the fantasy theme. As for the pips, theses are also heavily customized, which is particularly evident in the oversized and ornate Aces. In the case of Spades and Clubs the pips are a metallic silver colour, while the Hearts and Diamonds are a burgundy red. On cards with a center pip, this is in a yellow/gold that matches the corners of the cards, to add even further customization and class.
The Jokers are also completely customized, featuring an Ent-like creature, and a human wizard.
Produced by Italian company Passione Playing Cards, and printed by Legends Playing Cards in their Classic finish, the Teliad decks are the beautiful result of a unique collaboration.
SECRETS: For the Magician
Yes, magicians definitely have their secrets, and one of them is a marked deck of cards. Having said that, most magicians prefer to work with a standard deck, and have developed such skills with sleight of hand that you can hand them an ordinary deck of quality playing cards and they can work miracles with it. But once in a while, there's a need to perform miracles of an extraordinary nature, and marked decks give that possibility - as long as they used simply for entertainment purposes, and not for gambling or anything illegal! In other words, the specialized decks featured below are something I'd only recommend as suitable for someone who performs serious card magic.
Like the Sharps deck coming up next, the Cadenza Playing Cards is a rare deck with a secret marking system built in.
Produced in two colours (vintage blue and vintage red), only 700 of each were printed. This deck comes from comedy magician NKW (Ng Ka Wai), who is based in Hong Kong. The name Cadenza originates in the world of music.
There's a lot of unique features with the Cadenza deck, and it starts with the tuck box, which is made from a special water-proof and tear-proof synthetic paper.
I haven't tried tearing it apart yet, or taken it swimming, but the material sure feels unique enough to take the publisher's word on the fact that it's going to be long lasting and durable - as this brave picture of the deck being immersed under a stream of water from a running tap also demonstrates!
But the star attraction of the Cadenza deck is the rare secret that has been woven into the floral back design, which has a timeless look and feel.
More than just classic beauty has been poured into this design. In addition there's another important ingredient secrecy. There are in fact several marking systems that have been incorporated here, two of which work independently to give the key to the card's identity (one is UMD style, the other is Boris Wild style).
To unlock these secrets, owners of the deck can scan the QR code on the tuck box to get access to a 50 page eBook that will teach you all you need to know. Not only does this explain all the features of the deck, but it has an amazing amount of content, including some suggested ideas for tricks and routines.
A third marking system indicates each card's Mnemonica number. The deck is shipped in Mnemonica order, and those familiar with this system can put it to work straight from the box.
Magicians will also appreciate the two gaff cards that come with each deck:
- The blue deck includes a double facer and a queen with unique artwork that includes a 4 of Clubs card reveal.
- The red deck includes a double backer and a `Banker wins' gaff card (ideal for the close of a Monte effect).
The court cards and pips employ a soft burgundy colour instead of the usual harsh red, and the use of a soft grey instead of the usual garish blue results in a more sophisticated look, while still retaining the classic look and feel of a traditional deck of playing cards.
Two Jokers are also come with this deck, both with custom art-work that hints at their Jester-like nature, at the same time offering a reprise of the floral card-backs, similar to the Ace of Spades.
The snappy and high quality Diamond finish for this deck will ensure that it is long-lasting, and will perform well even in humid conditions.
I've seen comments from other magicians on this deck, and they are unified in their praise for this deck, some considering it the best marked deck available.
The Sharps Playing Cards is an extremely unique and also a rare deck of playing cards. Three different colours were released, with only around 300 of each: Blue, Green, and Red.
The tuck box has a textured matt feel that immediately reveals quality.
It also showcases Legends' skill in creating exotic tuck boxes, with the die-cut design on the back of the tuck box being of particular interest. This design cleverly reveals a Lawrence Sullivan monogram that is on the center of card backs themselves.
In addition there's an artistic and clever Lawrence Sullivan ambigram on the old-school styled over-sized tuck box flap.
Why all the self-referential elements? Well, from time to time Legends produces an in-house deck to showcase some of their new technologies and to expand their product line in new directions. That's why the Sharps deck has such a highly stylized and impressive tuck case, with many signature elements. But this in-house produced deck was also a landmark for Legends: it has the distinction of being the very first deck produced in Legends' Classic Finish, which would subsequently become one of their more popular finishes, with a paper stock that has a higher degree of embossing than their Diamond Finish, and a feel more similar to the paper stock of a standard Bicycle deck.
The overall look of this deck was inspired by David Blaine's famous and very popular White Lions deck, and that's evident already from the tuck case, and continues on the card backs. These repeat the Lawrence Sullivan monogram in a tiled design (a similar idea to the "db" on David Blaine's deck), along with thin borders. Unlike many USPCC produced decks, these narrow borders are consistent and beautifully precise, to complete a classy look.
But hidden secrets lie within for the initiated. These decks are the result of an extremely difficult printing process that required extensive experimentation to get right: a printing of white on a white `shade'. This means that parts of the cards have an additional white printing that is very difficult to detect unless you know how and where to look.
Dubbed a "Shade" pattern, the system employed here is more about the hues on the back design than obvious marks, and it will take time to train yourself to notice the small and subtle colour changes that are key to this deck's secrets. It's a devious system that even the usual "riffle" test of taking a deck to the movies won't reveal. In fact, many people own this deck without even realizing it is a marked deck - that's how clever it is!
There's nothing too unusual about the face cards, which are standard, with the exception of the signature Ace of Spades.
There's also a single card with a blank face, and a single Joker. As with some other in-house decks from Legends, the Joker features a Dragon. In this case the dragon is enclosed within a diamond shape, and also has a nice card reveal that magicians will appreciate.
All in all, the Sharps is a very classic looking deck, and yet it has a high degree of sophistication. As an extra bonus, if you master the key that unlocks its secrets, in the hands of an experienced and smooth magicians it can perform wonders.
ACCESSORIES: For Everyone
Most people who enjoy card magic or collecting playing cards will know that there's also a wide range of accessories available for playing cards. And not only does Legends Playing Card Company print playing cards, but they also offer some very high quality accessories as well, like card clips and card cases.
If you're at all familiar with the world of playing cards, at some point or other you're going to come across mention of card clips. What is a card clip, and why would you need one? A card clip is typically a u-shaped metal container, the size of a deck of playing cards, and into which you can snugly fit a single deck of cards.
The main function of a card clip is to protect your deck of playing cards. Custom playing cards aren't cheap, and if you've invested some moolahs into getting a quality deck, it makes sense to look after it. It's not hard to damage a deck of cards permanently - you only need to walk around for a day with it stuffed in your pants pocket to know what I mean. That's where a card clip comes in. Made out of metal, it will protect your deck of cards from getting damaged or warped, even if you're carrying around in your pocket all day. It's effectively like adding a snug suit of armour around a deck before bringing it into battle. Card clips will especially be of benefit in humid conditions, which can quickly can cause a deck to warp or go out of shape, immediately affecting its handling and performance. And in some cases, a card clip can even help straighten out a warped deck.
The Carbon Fiber Card Clip from Legends Playing Card Company is among one of the best card clips you can get. Most card clips on the market are metal, but this also means they can be heavy. Furthermore, a cheap metal card clip can easily get out of shape, in which case it won't do its job properly. This particular clip from Legends is made out of carbon fiber, which means that it is only half the weight of a typical metal clip, so it is not going to start making your pants start sagging if you load it in your pocket!
Not only is it light, but it's also super strong - I'm told that it's made with the same technology used to create F1 racing cars! It's advertised as follows: "Around the weight of 12 playing cards, this solid carbon fiber card clip is stronger than steel!" That means it is very durable, and won't easily bend - as it shouldn't.
Every deck will have a slightly different thickness, depending on the card stock used, so there's no capacity standard for a card clip. I find that with most decks, 52 cards will fit in nice and snugly, so I usually take out the Jokers to make this work. Having it fit too tight can make it difficult to remove the deck, and can also damage the box. I've tried decks from different publishers, including Legends, USPCC, and others, and they all fit fine, although sometimes I need to take out an extra card or two. I also find that leaving part of the shrink wrapper can give additional protection to a tuck box when housed in a card clip, and I'd certainly recommend doing that if you can.
This card clip does its job beautifully. If I'm walking around with a single deck in my pocket, I try to get into the habit of only pocketing the deck when the protective and light-weight armour of my card clip is there as well. And if a deck is starting to look or feel somewhat warped, into my card clip it goes overnight, and chances are it will be in better shape by next morning.
The looks are fantastic too. These things aren't easy to make, and it's worth having a read on the product information page at the Legends website to read how they are produced - it's very impressive. But they're also attractive. The one I own has a matt 3k twill weave, which has an eye-catching pattern that looks attractive. Other designs and finishes are also available, including a black textured clip, and black-green Kevlar/Carbon one. So there's no shame in pulling a card clip out of your pocket before putting a deck to work; on the contrary, it looks stylish and impressive.
For quite some time, I've been on the lookout for a convenient way of carrying some of my packet tricks. A packet trick typically consists of only a few cards, so there's no need to carry around an entire deck. Yet you do need a way to ensure that the cards are protected and don't get all bent or damaged in your pocket.
I've tried a few things, but I'm pleased to say that with this handsome Leather Tab Card Wallet from Legends, my search is over. This luxurious wallet is effectively a small carrying case for up to a dozen cards. It features a quality black leather outside, with stitching on three sides, and a stylish custom blind embossing/stamping of Legends Playing Card Co in small print on the bottom of one side. The leather casing is firm enough to ensure that cards inside won't become bent, and yet it opens easily.
Inside are three separate compartments you can use to house playing cards, with two dividers doing the separating. Staggered gaps at the top of the dividers ensure that each compartment is easy to access separately. Each compartment can house around half a dozen cards without difficulty, although the capacity of the entire wallet is around a dozen cards. For most of us, that means two or three packet tricks, which is ideal.
Having dividers to keep them separate is a welcome feature. The cards are easy to put inside, and yet if you turn it upside down and shake it, they won't fall out - I've tried! So they're safe and snug inside, and yet easy to access. If you wish, you could also use this for business cards or credit cards as well.
This card wallet is a very elegant product that looks very stylish and classy when you pull it out of your pocket and it's also very functional and convenient. It does a good job of doing exactly what it was made to do - which is to safely store a handful of cards, while ensuring that they are protected and portable - and it looks good while doing it.
So what is it that makes Legends Playing Cards stand out, and why am I convinced that their decks of playing cards aren't just a match for industry giant United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), but significantly better? Here are some reasons and conclusions:
Legendary tuck boxes: For Legends, a tuck box is your first experience with a deck of playing cards, and so Lawrence is constantly stretching the boundaries of what is possible, and experimenting with new technologies and ideas to make them the most classy and beautiful that they can be. For him, foil accents and embossing are just the beginning of this quest for elegance, innovation, and creativity. Much more is possible, and his decks prove it: Die-cut windows that reveal part of the deck (e.g. the Sharps deck); Embroidered touches (e.g. the Persian deck); Synthetic materials that are water-proof and tear-proof (e.g. the Cadenza deck); Textures that feel like bark or reptile scales (e.g. the Tough Luck and Teliad Alfrin decks); Creative designs (e.g. the walkman-like Soundboards deck). Clearly Legends doesn't just have the ability to produce a run-of-the-mill tuck box. These are incredibly outstanding tuck boxes that look beautiful, and stand out far above the average and the ordinary.
Legendary printing: If you come from a standard department store or corner store deck, USPCC decks like Bicycle are going to seem very impressive due to their superior quality and handling. There's no doubt about the fact that USPCC makes a quality product. But as I've sampled a large range of USPCC custom decks, I'm more and more starting to notice recurring weaknesses as well, particularly with their printing registration. On numerous occasions, the borders of USPCC-produced decks aren't printed consistently and evenly. It's just a small thing, to be sure, but it takes away from a perfect look, especially when the borders are narrow to begin with. And once you notice it, you can't help but notice it every time you use that deck. I've never experienced this issue yet with a single deck from Legends. Their printing registration is always right on, and this means that they can produce playing cards with consistently narrow borders if desired, and the result will always come out beautiful. Narrow borders are quickly going to look ugly if the printing is only slightly off, but that's never been the case with all these decks and many more I've seen so far from Legends.
Legendary finishes: One thing I really appreciate about Legends is that they offer a range of different finishes. Newcomers to the world of playing cards might wonder what USPCC means with a "linen finish", "cambric finish", or "linoid finish". Well quite honestly, these are identical. While these terms had their origin with different materials used for printing many years ago, the modern production process has been standardized. USPCC continues to use these terms because each of them is associated with a specific brand like Bicycle, Bee, and Tally Ho respectively, but in reality they are all embossed air-cushion style finishes and are actually identical. The Classic Finish from Legends is an embossed finish that looks and performs similarly to this air-cushion style finish from Bicycle. But Legends also offers other choices, including their Diamond finish, which is less papery and slightly smoother, but is also snappier and longer lasting. Then there's their Elite Finish, which has a softer feel and a different embossing pattern. In recent times Legends has been experimenting with other finishes as well, such as their Emerald finish (also known as the JN Finish, a reference to the legendary Jerry's Nuggets), which uses stock around 0.1mm thinner than the Diamond finish but with a similar texture, and is said to handle somewhat similarly to the legendary icon of playing cards. Hopefully in a follow-up article I can give more information based on further experience with the new JN Finish, and also with the new Stud finish that Legends is currently experimenting with. But all their current finishes are excellent, and it means that creators of custom playing cards have some real choice, all of which are quality. Represented in the review above are decks with the two most popular finishes, i.e. the Classic finish (Soundboards, Teliad Alfrin, Sharps), and the Diamond Finish (Glitch 2.0, Tough Luck, Cadenza)
Legendary handling: Because of the embossing on the paper stock used by the above finishes, and a coating that Legends uses on the cards at the end of the production process, their playing cards handle beautifully. The embossing creates tiny dimples and air pockets between them, and means the entire surface of each card isn't in full contact with the next card. This makes sure that they slide smoothly and evenly over one another, and it's what makes them spread and fan consistently and beautifully, and also shuffle nicely. You don't want cards to have so much friction that they don't slide evenly, but you also don't want them so slippery that the deck won't stay in your hands without cards sliding all over the place. The qualities of the playing cards from Legends gets this balance just right.
Legendary durability: Playing cards wear. It's just a fact, and there's no getting around it. The longer you use a deck of playing cards, the more that you'll notice the edges starting to chip or get ragged, the colour can fade, and the handling can be affected. Eventually, the cards won't slide as smoothly and evenly anymore, and you'll especially notice how this affects the performance of fans and spreads. This is true for any deck of playing cards, although cheap cards will already have this issue straight from the box, after just a shuffle or two! But in my experience, Legends Playing Cards last a whole lot longer than other decks I've used, including those from USPCC. One of the best ways to test this is to use a deck with black cards. Black cards look stunning out of the box, but they are notorious for getting chipped edges, which reveal the white of the cardstock underneath (less noticeable with white cards, obviously). With USPCC printed decks I have, this has been a real problem with black cards, and as much as I love black decks, I know that they just won't go the distance for this reason. I'm pleased to say that I've noticed a real difference with black decks from Legends. Legends claims that their cards are more durable and long lasting, and you really do notice this with their black decks, such as the Pipmen Shadow edition, which has jet black cards, and yet doesn't show signs of chipping or wear quickly. The Diamond finish is especially durable and is an excellent choice for black decks like this, and will give superior results to a standard USPCC produced deck.
Legendary cut: When I first saw a picture about the difference in edges between USPCC cards and Legends cards, I thought it was an exaggeration. But folks, there really is a massive difference - ask anyone who has taken the time to compare them. Legends Playing Cards uses what they call a "diamond cut" to make the edge of their decks absolutely smooth. This process doesn't prevent the cards from doing weave shuffles like the faro, and yet the result is completely crisp, and the edge of a new deck feels like glass. Compare that to the edge of a deck from USPCC, and you'll instantly notice that it looks and feels rough. You don't even need to be a trained expert to see and feel the difference - my son can immediately tell the difference between a Legends and a USPCC deck with his eyes closed, just by feeling the edges of a deck, seriously! So straight from the box, there's an instant quality difference in the cut of the cards.
Legendary prices: I've not produced a deck of playing cards myself, so this isn't something I can comment on from first-hand experience. But I have had contact with a lot of creators of playing cards, and more than once I've read some frustration with the minimum order requirements that USPCC has, and how they calculate their costing. Effectively you need to budget on making more decks that you actually need, because there is a percentage error factor that is built in to their pricing. I don't know all the details, but I do know that because Legends is based in Taiwan, their Asian base of operations means that they can offer a superior product without needing to charge higher prices. In other words, Legends isn't a more expensive option, despite their quality.
Legendary accessories: If you're looking for accessories like a card clip, Legends also has you covered with that as well. These aren't typically cheap, but if you are looking for a quality product like a carbon card clip, you can expect to pay for it. But the quality is superb, it's long-lasting and functional, and it also looks fantastic. These would make great gifts for the serious card enthusiast, or even a useful accessory for the person who is constantly walking around with a deck in his pocket.
Now, as I said at the beginning, Legends Playing Card Company isn't paying me to write any of this. They have no idea that I'm going to write such high praise, and they certainly don't know about the enthusiastic conclusions I'm writing here. And when I first decided to do this feature article, it wasn't initially my intention to bring such high praise. But I couldn't help myself.
After spending a lot of time over the last number of months tinkering with decks from both Legends and from United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), and using them both for cardistry, card magic, and card games, the difference in quality is becoming more and more obvious to me. Sure, USPCC cards are good, and there's a reason why they are an industry giant. But they lack the passion and perfectionism that Lawrence Sullivan brings to the table at Legends Playing Cards. Lawrence also has the advantage that he has access to printing processes and technologies of a factory in Taiwan, whereas USPCC is an entirely American outfit.
I'll continue to appreciate USPCC produced cards, and if a designer of custom playing cards is using USPCC, that will give me an assurance of quality. But if I was to give advice to anyone considering producing a project of custom playing cards, I'd definitely suggest they consider Legends if they want the very best. Legendary playing cards indeed!
Want to learn more?
Legends Playing Card Company: www.legendsplayingcards.com
Playing Card Online Store: www.legendsplayingcards.com/collections/playing-cards
Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
Novelty: For the Collector - Glitch 2.0 Playing Cards, Soundboards Playing Cards
Style: For the Connoisseur - Tough Luck Playing Cards, Teliad Alfrin Playing Cards
Secrets: For the Magician - Cadenza Playing Cards, Sharps Playing Cards
Accessories: For Everyone - Carbon Fiber Card Clip, Leather Tab Card Wallet
For more of my reviews on custom playing cards, subscribe to this list: Pictorial Reviews of Playing Cards by EndersGame
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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- Last edited Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:08 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:22 am